Is Laser For You?

If you're less than satisfied with the hair removal methods you've tried, laser hair removal may be a good option for you. But it pays to do your homework. This method isn't suitable for everyone.

The success of laser and pulsed light beams for hair removal has a lot to do with your natural coloring. The ideal candidate for this method is a dark brunette with fair skin. It's true that there are some new devices on the market meant to work on those with light hair, and/or dark skin, but the jury is still out on whether these devices manage to overcome the shortcomings of the standard laser wands. One device combines light pulses with radio frequency to treat blonde or gray hair, but these have half the success rate of other laser devices.

If you're a woman of color, or a white woman with tan or dark skin, the laser treatment can end up causing you grief in the form of permanent discoloration of the skin in the areas treated. Again, as for women with blonde or gray hair, laser devices have been created for use on darker types of skin. Check with a laser facility to see if they have experience with ethnic, dark, and tanned skin, and ask if they have a special laser device for darker-skinned clients.

Dark Target

Laser works because it is attracted to the dark pigment in your hair. When the light pulses find their target, the melanin or dark pigment in your hair, it destroys it by breaking it down. Lasers just aren't attracted to blonde and other fair hair types. On the other hand, lasers will also find the dark pigment in the skin of dark-skinned women, be they tanned or ethnic, and this can lead to discoloration of the skin, due to destruction of the pigment.

Hair has three growth phases: growing, resting, and shedding. Laser and light pulses only target hair that is in its growing phase. Keep in mind that the hair removal isn't automatic, and the hair won't fall out until 10-14 days have passed.

One advantage of laser hair removal over electrolysis is that laser and pulsed light can treat a large area at one time. If you have a hairy back, for instance, it would take years of electrolysis for you to attain the smooth hairlessness necessary for you to don a backless dress. But if you chose laser hair removal, it would take less than two hours of treatment to achieve the same result. Laser hair removal is ideal for treating the chest, shoulders, back, and arms.

Smaller Areas

Upper lip and chin hair can be treated with lasers, but unless you have dark hair, it won't be effective. If you're a blonde, opt for electrolysis which will give you permanent hair removal in these smaller areas.

In general, you'll need 4-6 sessions for laser hair removal. It's best to space the treatments about a month apart, to ensure that all the hair in a specific area is treated while in its growing phase, when laser hair removal is effective. You should see a 70-80% reduction in hair growth. Laser hair removal technicians advise annual maintenance sessions for at least two years after the initial 4-6 treatment sessions.


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