Laser Hair Removal Questions & Answers

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Laser hair removal is one of the most popular forms of hair removal treatment that people use to get rid of unwanted hair permanently. Find here answers to some of the frequently asked laser hair removal questions.

Laser Hair Removal Questions & Answers



What Is Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal is one of the most efficient methods of permanent reduction of unwanted hair currently available.

It is also referred to as photoepilation (light hair removal) and is one of the most commonly used laser or light-based cosmetic medical procedure in the world routinely performed by dermatologists, other physicians, and non-physician personnel.

Laser hair removal is a hair removal process which involves using a device that shoots long pulse laser in the form of concentrated rays of light into a part of the body to remove unwanted hair from the body.

Laser hair removal treatment is usually performed by a specially-trained laser specialist or a doctor (depending on the clinic and state regulations) by pointing a laser device at shaved skin to destroy the hair follicles in order to stop the follicles from producing hair.

Nowadays you can also purchase home laser hair removal kits that you can safely use in the convenience of your own home. They are not as strong as the ones used by clinics and doctors but are capable of getting the job done.


Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?

Laser hair removal devices can disable hair permanently as long as the right type of hair is treated with an appropriate type of laser at effective settings.

Although heavily advertised as a permanent solution, the fact is that laser hair removal devices and are only approved to be marketed as a “permanent hair reduction.” device.

No matter what some clinics may claim, hair removal lasers cannot and do not remove 100% of the hair in an area. With proper treatments, laser can remove the majority of the coarse hair on a body area, but they cannot remove finer hair. Be cautious of clinics making claims that seem too good to be true.

Electrolysis is the only other proven permanent hair removal method, which involves treating one hair at a time and is a good option for smaller areas where precision is necessary (like eyebrows or upper lip). At this time, electrolysis is as the only permanent option for any fine and light-colored hair.

If you are interested in permanent hair removal as opposed to permanent hair reduction… you might want to consider the Electrolysis method of hair removal.


Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?

Laser hair removal is inherently safe, provided it is carried out by a suitably trained, qualified and experienced practitioner in a safe and controlled environment. You will need to carry out research to check that the clinician is medically trained, fully qualified and experienced for the equipment being used.

There are also home laser /ipl hair removal kits approved by the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) that you can buy to use safely at home yourself.

Find out more about home laser hair removal kits here


Are IPL Hair Removal Devices The same As Laser Hair Removal Devices?

Intense Pulse Light (IPL) machines are not lasers. Whilst IPL (intense Pulse Light) hair removal devices are similar in use to Laser Hair Removal devices and both use light energy to attack the hair folicle, they both actually use a different form of light energy to disable the hair follicle.

Laser hair removal devices use a monochromatic beam i.e. light rays of a SINGLE wavelength, whilst IPL produce a WIDE polychromatic bandwidth of light i.e. FULL spectrum light and low-range infrared radiation, which is filtered to allow range of wavelengths (between 500 – 1200 nm’s).


How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

Laser hair removal technology works by using light energy to target and destroy the hair follicles that are in the growth stage (anagen Stage) thereby leading to hair removal.

You will need to have multiple treatments of laser treatment in order to disable each batch of hair as it enters the anagen phase of growth (as various hairs throughout the body enter their growth cycle at different times)

Laser / IPL hair removal works by delivering pulses of intense light energy down the hair shaft to the follicle through a handheld device.

The laser device is built to operate on a wavelength that specifically targets the dark pigment (melanin) in the hair follicle which in turn absorbs the heat energy from the laser that results in the destruction of hair follicles (that are in the growth stage) while leaving the skin undamaged

Since lasers devices are built to target the dark pigments, treatments are most effective on coarse hair because it has a lot of pigment and can absorb a lot of heat. Fine hair don’t have a lot of dark pigments and therefore cannot absorb much heat.

It is important though that the surrounding skin is lighter than the color of the hair and contains less dark pigments, so that the energy of the laser is concentrated in the hair shaft, effectively destroying it without affecting the skin or the follicle.

For the laser hair removal treatment to be effective, you will need about 6-8 treatments at intervals of 8-12 weeks to completely disable most of the follicles in a given area (since various hairs will enter their growth cycle at different times).


What Is The Hair Growth Cycle?

Hair growth in each hair follicle occurs in a cycle

There are 3 main phases of the hair growth cycle namely: anagen, catagen and telogen.

Anagen Stage – is the ACTIVE growing phase of the hair. This is when the hair fiber is produced.

Catagen Stage – is the period of controlled regression of the hair follicle. This phase is when the lower part of the hair stops growing, but does not shed, and the follicle is reabsorbed.

Telogen Stage – is the last stage of the hair growth cycle and is a resting phase. In this resting phase, the old hair falls out in preparation for the development of a new anagen hair.

Normally this cycle of hair production will continue for the duration of the individual’s life.

The hair on any particular spot of the body may be in a different hair growth cycle at any particular point in time and the Hair cycle length also varies depending on body part.

Laser hair removal can ONLY damage follicles that are in the growth phase (that is in the anagen phase of growth only)…

It is the reason why you have to return for follow up laser hair removal treatments to treat the hair that might have been missed during the previous sessions.


Will Laser Hair Removal Work For Me?

Both men and women can use laser hair removal to remove unwanted hair. You can use it to remove unwanted hair from your underarm, pubic area, legs, abdomen, lip, chin, back, buttocks, thighs, face, neck, chest, arms, and toes.

The best candidates are patients treating areas with dark coarse dense hair growth. You will find that laser hair removal devices works best if you have pale skin and dark coarse hair. The lighter your skin and the darker and more coarse your hair, the better are the results.

Click here to read more about who laser hair removal will work best for.

There are however some limitations based on how Laser technology works, which is by targeting dark pigment. Unfortunately, Laser Hair Removal is ineffective on individuals who have blonde, orange, or red hair. This is because the laser used throughout this noninvasive procedure is attracted to dark hair pigment.

Since most red or blonde hair tones do not contain harsh pigments, the laser cannot effectively pick up the contrast between hair and skin pigment.


Why Do I Need To Keep Returning For Laser Removal Treatment?

Laser hair removal can only destroy hair follicles whilst the hair is in the growth phase (anagen phase).

The problem is that the hair on any part of the body are at any one time at different stages of growth… the only way you can get to capture all the hair follicles are the growth stage is to repeat the laser hair removal sessions at different times over a period of time.

Hence the reason why you need multiple treatments in order to disable each batch of hair as it enters the anagen phase of growth.


How Many Laser Treatments Will I Need?

Most patients tend to need at least 6-8 effective treatments spaced 8-12 weeks apart depending on the area you are getting treated. Because your hair grows in cycles and the laser hair removal device can only disable hairs that are in the growth phase only, several sessions will be necessary in order to affect all hair on any given area.


How Far Apart Should Laser Hair Treatment Be Scheduled?

Once the hair sheds, patients should experience a hair-free period for several weeks. Once new hair comes in again, patients should come in for their next session.

Shedding of all treated hair should be expected within 3 weeks of each treatment. The hair that doesn’t shed and is growing as usual after 3 weeks has likely been either missed or not affected due to inappropriate settings. If this is the case, a touchup treatment is necessary at that time. All 6-8 treatments should be good effective treatments in order to achieve good results.

Due to length of hair growth cycles, treatments are usually needed once every 8-12 weeks. Hair cycle length varies depending on body part. Face usually requires more frequent treatments (about 8 weeks apart) whereas legs and back need less frequent treatments (closer to 12 weeks apart).


What Are The Different Types Of Laser Hair Removal Laser Devices?

Currently, there are many manufacturers of laser machines on the market that you will find used in laser clinics but there are only 4 main types of lasers and 1 other system known as IPL that are used for laser hair removal.

The 5 types of laser hair removal devices used for hair removal purposes are as follows:

1. Ruby Lasers – Ruby Lasers are ideal for skin types 1 and 2

2. Alexandrite lasers – Alexandrite lasers are best for people with skin types I-III

3. Diode lasers – Diode lasers are best for people with skin types I-IV

4. Nd:YAG – Nd:YAG lasers are best for people with skin types IV and darker.

5. Intense Pulse Light systems (IPLs) – Although not a laser in strict terms, Intense Pulse Light systems (IPLs) are ideal for skin types 1-IV and also used for permanent hair removal.

As you can see, skin types 5 and 6 should only receive treatments from an Nd:YAG laser. This is the only type of laser that should be used on skin types V and darker or any tanned skin type. Using any other types of lasers on this type of skin can result in burns if they are used at settings that disable the hair permanently.


What Are The Popular Professional Laser Hair Removal Brands?

Some of the more popular professional brands of laser hair removal devices currently available on the market today are:

1. Alexandrite laser hair removal devices: GentleLASE, Apogee
2. Diode laser hair removal devices: LightSheer, F1 Diode, MeDioStar, Palomar SLP 1000, Comet (w/RF technology)
3. Nd:YAG laser hair removal devices: CoolGlide, GentleYAG, Lyra-i, Sciton
4. Alexandrite/ND:Yag Combination laser hair removal Devices: GentleMAX, Apogee Elite, Apogee MPX
5. IPL hair removal devices: Palomar Starlux and EsteLux, Harmony, EpiLight, Aculight, Vasculigh, Aurora (w/RF technology)

In order to determine the best device to use, patients need to figure out their skin type using the Fitzpatrick Skin Chart.


What Is The Fitzpatrick Scale?

In 1975, Thomas B Fitzpatrick, MD, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, developed a classification system called the “Fitzpatrick scale” for  identifying different skin types based on a person’s response to sun exposure in terms of the degree of burning and tanning that the individual experienced.

Using the fitzpatrick scale, it is possible to identify which laser type is safe to use for a particular skin type

Below are the different skin type classifications

*This tool is approximate

TYPE I: Highly sensitive, always burns, never tans. Example: Red hair with freckles or Albino

TYPE II: Very sun sensitive, burns easily, tans minimally.
Example: Fair-skinned, fair-haired Caucasians

TYPE III: Sun sensitive skin, sometimes burns, slowly tans to light brown.
Example: Darker Caucasians, European mix

TYPE IV: Minimally sun sensitive, burns minimally, always tans to moderate brown.
Example: Mediterranean, European, Asian, Hispanic, American Indian

TYPE V: Sun-insensitive skin, rarely burns, tans well.
Example: Hispanics, Afro-American, Middle Eastern

TYPE VI: Sun-insensitive, never burns, deeply pigmented.
Example: Afro-American, African, Middle Eastern


How Long Will The Effects Of Laser Hair Removal Last?

The effects of laser hair removal can last for many years, however, so long as we’re alive and healthy some new hairs can grow out. (You’ll know they’re new because they tend to be fine in texture).

How long the effects of the laser treatment last does depend on many variables, including the type of laser device used, how the laser device settings are set, underlying causes of the hair growth, the technician’s experience, etc.

That is why it’s a good idea to start treatments on one small area before committing to an expensive course of treatments on many areas at once.

You will need to maintain your results by doing a touch-up treatment once or twice a year.


How Much Does Laser Hair Removal Cost?

Prices vary widely from clinic to clinic. It’s a good idea to get quotes from several clinics in your own area to compare prices and other factors.

Some clinics do offer discounts if you pay for a package of multiple treatments upfront. It is however adviceable to try out clinics before you buy any package as buying a package might prevent you from switching providers if you are unhappy.

Below is very general average pricing information for most commonly treated areas at clinics across the US:

Price per session:

  • Underarms (both) – $50-150
  • Regular bikini – $100-200 (definition varies by clinic)
  • Brazilian bikini – $200-300 (definition varies by clinic)
  • Half legs (both) – $200-400
  • Half arms (both) – $200-400
  • Butt – $150-300 Back – $200-500
  • Chest – $100-300 (definition varies by clinic)
  • Abdomen – $100-300 (definition varies by clinic)
  • Full face – $150-300
  • Upper lip – $50-150
  • Chin – $50 – 150

The overall cost of any hair removal treatment programme will obviously vary depending upon a number of factors.

Given that full treatment is likely to consist of up to 8 sessions, it is easy to see that a significant outlay will required.

It is important to “shop around” before making a choice. We would strongly advise against making your choice of what clinic to use for laser hair removal treatment purely based on cost alone. We would also advise a cautious approach to cut price deals.


Is Laser Hair Removal Painful?

Laser hair removal does not hurt any more than waxing or tweezing, though the sensation is different. With each pulse, the feeling resembles a rubber band snapping against the skin for a quick second. Pain is only felt while laser is hitting the skin and doesn’t last. This is especially true if the correct laser device is used and your technician is familiar with the required settings.

Of course, some parts of the body are slightly more sensitive to any and all hair removal methods. For women, the most sensitive areas are the upper lip and the bikini area. For men, it’s the front of the neck and the chest area.

If you have a sensitive skin, you can take some precautions to help reduce the pain such as use a topical numbing cream 30 to 60 minutes prior to your treatment cream.

It should be noted though that not feeling any pain during treatments may be an indication that the laser is set too low to produce permanent results.


What Are The Laser Hair Removal Risks Or Side Effects?

A little reddening and local swelling of the skin, similar to sunburn, are the most common side effects. Both usually go away in a few hours or less. In extremely rare instances, blistering may occur, though it isn’t likely.

Very few patients have to deal with side effects but it might depend on the hair thickness and the area being targeted. Be sure to ask your laser technician for a complete run down of the risks and benefits of laser hair removal that correspond with your skin type.

It should be noted that all the side effects listed are temporary and will possible be cleared up within a few days after the treatment.


Can I Use Laser Hair Treatment To Reduce Hair Density in a Certain Area?

Yes. This can be achieved with 3-4 treatments instead of the full course of 6-8 treatments.

To achieve an even reduction without patchiness, it is imperative to find an experienced laser operator who overlaps properly while covering the area and doesn’t miss spots.

It’s also a good idea to wait at least 12 weeks between sessions in order to correctly assess the amount of reduction achieved at any point during the course of treatments.


Does Laser Hair Removal Work On Men’s facial hair?

Laser hair removal has proven to be popular and beneficial choice for men who wish to remove unwanted hair.

Laser hair removal for men can either remove or simply thin out large quantities of hair. Because hair follicles become inactive during this treatment, hair naturally grows back thinner. However, if an individual would prefer no hair growth, more appointments are necessary.


Does Laser Hair Removal Work On Blonde Hair?

Unfortunately, Laser Hair Removal is ineffective on individuals who have blonde, orange, or red hair. This is because the laser used throughout this procedure is attracted to dark hair pigment only.

If you have blonde, orange or red hair, there is not enough of the dark pigments in your hair for the laser to target effectively… so the laser /ipl hair removal method might not be the best option for you.

The other options you have for hair removal if you have blonde, orange, or red hair, that you might want to consider is the option of waxing and electrolysis for those with these hair tones. The option of electrolysis will give you a permanent hair removal solution.


Why Do I Need To Shave Before Laser Hair Removal?

You are required to shave the same day as the treatment in order for the lasers to solely penetrate the hair follicle.

For the laser hair removal treatment to be effective, the laser needs to reach below the surface of the skin to where the hair shaft is located in order to effectively destroy the hair follicle.

If some hair is left on the skin, side effects such as burning may occur because the hair present may absorb some of the wavelength’s energy leading the treatment to become less effective.

Whilst you are required to shave before laser treatment, it is important that you do not pluck or wax prior to or between treatments. Because the laser targets pigment, it must be able to identify the hair follicle.


What do I do before my appointment?

It is recommended that you trim or shave the area the night or morning before your appointment. No plucking or waxing prior to or between treatments. Because the laser targets pigment, it must be able to identify the hair follicle.


How Do I Choose The Right Laser Clinic For My Needs?

The lasers used in clinics and salons are much more powerful than the ones used at home and can therefore cause more damage to the skin or result in injury if not used well.

You therefore need to select a clinic that has your own best interest at heart.

Schedule consultations with at least 3-5 clinics with the best laser type for your skin type before making a commitment. You need to be an informed consumer and ask questions to assess the clinic’s knowledge of laser hair removal.

Avoid clinics with high-pressure sales tactics. Prices can vary by as much as 100-300%, and are often negotiable.

You also want to know that the clinic has the best laser equipment for your own skin type. Do not fall for marketing hype. Every laser can technically be applied to any skin type without adverse side effects by manipulating the settings, but only the right laser at appropriate settings will result in permanent hair reduction.

If your skin type is between skin types on the Fitzpatrick skin chart, you should get test spots done with various laser types to determine whether their skin can handle aggressive settings on the more powerful devices.

The person operating the laser device at the clinic should also have extensive experience specifically in laser hair removal. The best technicians are those who have the most hands-on experience, not those with the most education on paper. It’s a good idea to find out whether the same person will be performing each session.


Got Any More Questions?

We’ve tried to be as exhaustive as possible with our FAQ’s, but if you have any more questions about laser hair removal devices then let us know in the comment box below and we will get back to you with an answer!

If you are considering getting a home laser hair removal device, you will also find answers to some of the frequently asked home laser / IPL hair removal questions here.

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