Does laser hair removal work ? Read further and let’s find out together.
Some hair removal methods work better than others. Shaving is easy to do, but usually causes rashes and it doesn’t last long at all, from a couple of hours to a day or two. Waxing usually provides smooth results, but not for everyone, as people with sensitive skin in particular can develop bumps and rashes, and the occasional in-grown hair.
IPL and laser are the newest methods of hair removal, and both use heated lights. The difference between the two is that IPL relies on interspersed flashes (after all, it is called intense pulsed light), while lasers use targeted beams. But does laser hair removal work?
Who can have laser hair removal?
Up until now, the only answer was: people with light skin and dark hair.
The reason is that the laser focuses on the pigment in the hair follicle to destroy it, and this works better when there is a contrast between the skin and the hair.
This means that lasers aren’t as effective for white, gray, red or blond hair and/ or dark skin.
Whereas the lighter hair poses more of a problem, darker skin can undergo laser hair removal, but it will require more sessions than lighter skin does.
Does laser hair removal work: results
The time you have to spend on your technician’s table depends on the size of the hair removal area.
From the very first session, you will notice the treated areas have about 15% less hair. Full results take about 6 to 8 sessions, roughly spaced about one month apart, though.
Therefore, the answer to the question “does laser hair removal work” is “yes, for most people”. Once treatment is over (about 6 sessions), as much as 70% of the unwanted hair should be gone.
You should know that lasers do not provide permanent hair removal, but permanent hair reduction. The hair that grows back eventually will take much longer to do so as compared to shaving and waxing. Currently, only electrolysis can guarantee permanent hair removal.
Moreover, not all hair reacts the same to the laser treatment, with some hairs being resistant and other hairs growing back again.
The new hairs should be finer and lighter in color, though, and require less frequent shaving. Thus, many patients say they only have to shave a couple of times per month rather than every other day like they used to.
There are various factors that play a role in the lasting of your results; these factors are individual, so they are unique to you.
- Your gender, age and ethnicity will influence your laser hair removal experience, as will your hair’s growth cycle and structure.
- We have already seen that the color of your hair and skin can make you a suitable candidate for this procedure or not.
- Similarly, the growth rate of your hair influences the number of sessions you need and the time between them. Hair grows in cycles, and these cycles are not the same throughout the body, so you will need several sessions to make sure you get most of it.
- Hair growth rate and your age are also related, since young people’s hair grows faster than the elderly’s.
Finally, even after you finish the sessions, you may notice a change in hair growth rate. If up to that point, your hair was taking longer to grow, all of a sudden it might start to grow faster. That’s because hair grows in phases, and therefore these changes are seasonal, with a marked growth rate in spring and summer that subsides in fall and winter.
In order to keep the results long-term, you will also need periodic maintenance treatments spaced from a couple of months to one year apart.
Benefits of laser hair removal
Obviously, the most important benefit is the extended hair-free period, with only occasional shaving in between sessions.
Using lasers to remove unwanted hair guarantees smooth results, even though your skin might become a little irritated after treatment. Any redness and swelling should be temporary and subside within a couple of hours.
Moreover, since lasers destroy the follicle, hair is less likely to grow back which means zero in-grown hairs (to the contrary, waxing only damages the follicle).
Potential side effects of laser hair removal
You cannot answer to the question “does laser hair removal work” without considering its cons. As with any type of procedure, lasers can have their share of side effects.
These can range from minor ones like redness, itching and swelling to more serious ones like blistering, pigmentation, even scarring and infection. Minor side effects tend to disappear after a few days, while the more serious ones are very rare.
When the laser is not handled by a professional (that is, a trained dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon), it can cause permanent scarring, so do your research before choosing a particular clinic.
Moreover, if the technician uses an incorrect laser or incorrect settings for your skin and hair type, other side effects can also occur. For example, although rare, blisters are more likely for people with darker skin.
Check out my guide on laser hair removal at home!
Costs of laser hair removal
After considering the answer to the question does laser hair removal work, consider the costs involved.
These vary greatly, depending on the country where you get the procedure, and on whether it is a doctor or an aesthetician performing it.
How much you end up spending also depends on the size of the area to be treated (think of the upper lip versus a whole leg) and on the number of treatments required (this will also influence the length of each session).
The most up-to-date and widely available data comes from the USA, where one laser hair removal session costs $235 on average (though prices range from $200 to $500 per session); in other countries around the world it is much less. Maintenance treatments cost about $100-$150 each.
If this doesn’t convince you that laser hair removal works, be sure to check out my other guides related to laser hair removal.