You need to shave before your laser hair removal session. That is something every certified technician will tell you. It is one essential thing to do when preparing for your session. We get why you may be confused. It does seem indeed counterproductive. After all, you undergo laser hair removal to be rid of your hair and never shave again. So what is the deal then?
How does laser hair removal work?
Laser hair removal is a long-term hair removal method. Indeed, it can reduce hair growth by up to 90%. Although it does not qualify as a permanent hair removal method as per the FDA standards, a lot of patients still experience permanent hair removal.
Laser hair removal uses a concept called selective photothermolysis. It is an optical technique used to ablate tissue in targeted regions. The major goal of the technique is to heat targeted tissue with a laser and destroy it without damaging surrounding tissue.
During a laser hair removal session, the laser emits light energy that targets the pigments in the hair. Once the melanin has absorbed the energy, it travels through the hair to the hair follicle. There, it turns into thermal energy and anchors itself to the follicle.
The heat damages the follicle permanently, thus preventing any further hair growth. While some hair follicles may be temporarily damaged and regenerate, others will be destroyed after just one session. It is the successive effects of multiple laser hair removal sessions that will lead to long-term hair removal.
The benefits of laser hair removal
Laser hair removal is a great option for people who are tired of waxing, shaving or using depilatory creams. Indeed, none of those methods are sustainable in the long-term nor permanent. Shaving will make the hair look like it is actually thicker and darker. Creams are very damaging for the skin.
As for waxing, not only is it painful and time-consuming, it also has some bad side-effects that we’d all like to avoid. Redness, bleeding or infections are some side effects. A very well-known one remains ingrown hair, which can also happen with shaving.
Shaving and waxing cuts or removes the hair in the direction opposite to growth. Thus, the hair will grow back too thin or curl on itself, thus unable to pierce the skin. Ingrown hair can turn into infection if not looked after. Laser hair removal damages the hair follicle so that no new hair grows, thus removing the likeliness of ingrown hair.
Laser hair removal is also cheaper in the long term than any other hair removal methods. Indeed, it is a one time cost and upfront investment that produces results over a year. After a treatment, patients find that their hair growth has reduced enough not to shave or wax ever again. Thus, they are able to save big on skincare.
Why you need to shave before your session
The core principle behind laser hair removal is to heat the hair follicle to damage its stem cells and inhibit new hair growth. However, when the hair is too long, the laser can singe the hair and burn the skin. That is why it is very important to shave before your laser hair removal session.
Furthermore, if the hair is too long, beyond the risk of burning the skin, it is also probably that the treatment is less effective. Indeed, the longer the journey to the hair follicle, the less energy makes it to destination.
Excess body hair during a laser treatment may also result with small temporary grazes on the top of the skin. Those may take a few days before they fully heal and fade away. They are not worrisome although they can get a bit sensitive.
In conclusion, you must shave before your laser hair removal session because it makes it easier for the laser to locate the hair. It also decreases the risks of burning as the heat energy won’t be concentrating on the parts above the epidermis, and this will prevent skin damage and unnecessary pain. Furthermore, it also increases the efficiency of your treatment.
Tips for shaving before your session
While not shaving can make laser hair removal risky and inefficient, shaving just before your session is just as dangerous. Simply because shaving removes the upper layer of the skin and makes it very sensitive, and thus more vulnerable to UV rays.
Indeed, the skin gets a bit dry immediately after shaving. It can take a bit of time for the oil glands to replenish the oil content in the skin. If your skin is dry when receiving treatment, it may become super itchy and irritated following your laser hair removal session. This reaction is quite uncomfortable and can take a few days to heal. It may be a good idea to use shaving cream as well.
To make sure your skin does not get sore or sensitive, do not apply too much pressure on the razor. Buy a new razor whenever you can, especially if you always shave the same areas. Make sure you always shave with a clear razor blade to avoid a build-up of bacteria that can result in acne or infection.
Give yourself enough time in order to shave properly. Rushing under the shower is a sure way to injure yourself and get cuts all over your skin. Lasering the areas would be very difficult then. It is always better to shave the evening before your laser hair removal session so that your skin has time to heal and the hair is not back just yet.
How to prepare for your session
Preparing for a laser hair removal session is rather straightforward. Patients must stay away from the sun at least ten days before their appointments. Tanning puts the skin into an excited state that can interfere with the procedure.
Shave before your laser hair removal session. Make sure your skin is clean of any lotion, cream or moisturizer. If you used to wax or sugar, stop at least six weeks before your appointment. Waxing removes both the hair and root and there would not be anything for the laser to target.
If you take medication, tell your certified technician. Indeed, some medications such as antibiotics or Accutane increase photosensitivity. They may make the treatment more unpleasant.
After your session, stay away from the sun for at least 15 days. Laser hair removal leaves the skin quite sensitive and more vulnerable to sun damage. Avoid any sweat or heat inducing activities (i.e. hot showers, working out, etc) as they create the perfect environment for bacteria development.