Getting excited about your laser hair removal treatment? Chances are, you’re gonna love it. And treatment is pretty simple: for the most part, you just lay back and relax!
But leading up to your appointment, there are a few steps you will want to take, as well as some mistakes you should avoid, to ensure you will get the best possible results.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
In order to better understand what you should and shouldn’t do before your treatment, it can help to understand the basics of the laser hair removal process. Concentrated light energy is applied to the skin’s surface. This energy is attracted to pigmentation (the color that we find in hair caused by melanin).
When the light energy touches the melanin in our hair, it is converted to heat and causes damage to the hair follicle (the tube under your skin that grows each strand of hair). When the follicle is damaged, it can no longer grow hair.
Laser Hair Removal Prep Do’s and Don’ts
Now that you have a basic understanding of the process, it is time to move on to some of what you should and shouldn’t do leading up to your laser hair removal appointments.
Don’t: Pluck or Wax
You should stop these hair removal methods at least 4 weeks prior to your scheduled appointment. Plucking and waxing pull the entire hair out, removing not only the shaft (the visible portion of the hair) but also the root (the portion of the hair under the skin, within the hair follicle).
Because laser hair removal utilizes the pigment of the hair to target the hair follicle and prevent growth, if there is no root, there is no pigment, and the follicle will be unaffected.
Don’t: Use Hair Removal Cream
Hair removal (or depilatory) creams work by dissolving the hair shaft. Unlike waxing and plucking, these creams leave the root intact. However, they can significantly irritate the skin. As a result, you risk your skin being extra sensitive to the laser and make you more likely to have an adverse reaction.
We know we told you not to pluck, wax, or use depilatory creams, but you have the green light to shave. In fact, you absolutely SHOULD fully shave the treatment area 24-48 hours before your appointment.
This is because any hair growth outside the surface of the skin can make the laser less effective. As we said, the laser targets pigment. We want it to target the hair pigment within the hair follicle, not hair growing outside the follicle.
Avoid tanning beds and the sun (and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen) leading up to your laser hair removal treatment. UV rays stimulate melanin production in the skin, making it darker. For laser hair removal to be effective, we want as much of a contract between the skin and the pigmented hair as possible. This means tanning in any form is a no-no.
Sorry to say, but avoid self-tanners before your treatment as well. While it is always the healthy choice to pick self-tanners to get a bronzed glow, these creams and spray tans can also darken the skin, making laser treatment less effective.
Do: Take an OTC Pain Medication
If you are nervous about discomfort, it is okay to take an over-the-counter pain reliever before your treatment. In addition, your provider may offer topical numbing cream as an option. Ask about pain management at your consultation so you will be prepared at the time of your visit.
Don’t: Forget to Mention Prescription Meds
Most medications will not affect laser hair removal treatment. However, there are a few prescription medications that can interfere with effectiveness or can make skin more sensitive to treatment. Discuss any medications you take or prescription creams you use prior to your treatment.
Do: Ask Questions
We are here to help. If you have any questions about your upcoming laser hair removal treatment, just contact our office. Our knowledgeable staff is here to help!