You're Doing It Wrong: Laser Hair Removal

Unwanted stubs, begone!

By Alanah Joseph Oct 18, 2016 11:17 PMTags
ESC: Chrissy TeigenIgnat/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Tweeze it. Wax it. Shave it. Thread it. Flip it. Bop it.

It's exhausting just thinking of all of the ways women try to get rid of hair. So, when scientists introduced laser hair removal to the beauty industry, Hollywood stars were among the first to adopt the practice. Celebs such as Chrissy Teigen and Khloe Kardashian rallied behind hairlessness, and thus contributed to the rise in demand of laser tools.

Now, thanks to discount sites like Groupon, prices are much more manageable. Even mere mortals like us can book appointments at celeb hot spots like SEV Aesthetics, where stars like Karreuche, Vanessa Hudgens and Kylie Jenner often frequent, for just $10 to $150. 

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No hair for less money sounds great, right?

Not quite. Discontinuing hair growth is an intricate science that includes skin tone, hair color and hair texture. Those variables determine the type of laser that is best for a patient's skin. The wrong laser could leave you burned, with darker spots and more hair. Not cute. 

Be wary of those too-good-to-be-true deals—and read this before you make your next hair removal appointment. 

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Here's How it Works: The laser distributes infrared light into the skin at the selected wavelength setting. The light then transfers into heat as it encounters high amounts of melanin, burning the hair follicles. After about 10 days, the "zapped" hair will emerge from the skin and fall with all of your worries, leaving you silky smooth. Initially, the hair will grow back, but this will subside once you've completed your recommended number of treatments.

Find the Right Laser for You Skin Tone: Generally, lasers detect the contrast between skin and hair, making it most effective for women with lighter skin tones and darker hair (à la the Kardashians). The high-intensity light searches for melanin. Women with lighter complexions, or low levels of melanin, can use the laser without their skin being negatively affected.

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When laser hair removal first rose to fame, women with darker skin, or with higher amounts of melanin, had significantly higher chances of burning or hyperpigmentation. However, there have been technological advances within the market that provides alternative lasers to women with darker complexions. (Read: Find out which lasers the salon has before you book your appointment!

"Our laser machine has two lasers: a Nd:YAG and an alexandrite," said SEV Aesthetics owner Sevana Petrosian. "The Nd:YAG doesn't see color [in the skin]; it only burns the root of the hair. It allows us to service clients from all ethnicities." You may want to avoid lasers called diode and IPL. "I'd stay away from those," she added. 

Laser Hair Removal Doesn't Permanently Get Rid of Hair: Once you've completed the sessions, it is commonly thought that your hair will never grow back. This is false. The amount of time before regrowth depends on the person. Hair growth is highly dependent on the hormonal levels. Women with higher levels of androgens, including testosterone, will experience regrowth faster. Most women will require a retouch of the treated area after an average of three years.

You Can't Laser All Hair: You can laser hair anywhere on the body, but its effectiveness is dependent on hair color and texture. The infrared light is attracted to melanin, so it will miss hair that is lighter. Blonde and "peach fuzz" may require more treatments without the promise of eradication. It is better to use the hair removal tool on areas with hair is thicker and darker, such as your underarms or bikini line.

Can a hair-free dream become a reality? Absolutely. You just need the right laser for your body.