Understanding laser hair removal
We don't know about you, but years ago when you heard the words 'laser hair removal' the only image that came to mind was red lights resembling lightsabers painfully blasting your skin.
Luckily for us, this couldn't be further from reality and these days the treatment has become more accessible than ever before.
Of course there are still worries, such as how it will affect your skin and how much/if it will hurt. But that's where the intense pulsed light (IPL) option comes in as it offers a virtually painless process thanks to ultrasound gel and treatment in patches rather than aiming light at the whole area.
"What you're feeling, compared to the patch test, you'll just feel the warmth building up. If it gets too hot at one point I can stop and cool the area," Samantha Larkin, director of London beauty salon NuYu, explained to Cover Media during a session.
"You'll probably feel it more along the shin bone and ankles, but the rest of it shouldn't be too bad. It's just a warmth - sometimes when it's first treatment you feel that prickliness because you've got more hair there under your skin, but that's fine."
If the sensation does become unbearable, Samantha would lower the fluids during the treatment. This doesn't mean the laser is having less of an effect - it simply lowers the energy so it may take slightly longer, but only mere seconds more.
"Essentially how it's working, laser is a single beam of light, the light is travelling in straight lines into the skin and the hair follicles sit quite uniform - that's why it works most effectively over IPL because IPL is scattered light. And what it does is it picks up the pigments within the hair and then basically the energy travels down the hair and then it kills that hair," Samantha continued.
Those working the machine try to catch the hair during the active growth phase known as anagen, amid which hair grows around 1cm every 28 days. Once the circulation to the follicle is killed by the laser, no more hair will grow.
Those getting the treatment are recommended to avoid heat for 24 hours afterwards, so no hot baths, saunas or sun, as this may distort the laser's work. Tattoos are also a no-no due to the ink pigments, which are warped by the rays.
"No treatment is permanent, but users are looking to get years of results from the set amount of sessions," Samantha said, pointing out that results can be seen five to 19 days after the first session.
Eventually the hair will just fall out, but there should be no picking or plucking. Gently wash them off while in the shower or bath and don't worry if it's patchy to begin with - different follicles take longer to disappear.