Laser hair removal is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures for permanently removing unwanted hair from any part of the skin. There are more hair removal options such as waxing, threading, shaving, tweezing but laser hair removal is your closest means to getting that smooth, almost permanently hairless skin.
The process involves repeatedly burning the hair follicles using the laser until they become inactive and stop growing for a long while. While it requires several sessions and periodic maintenance, the long-term results it gives are still preferred by many, especially women.
But before you go for a laser hair removal procedure, it’s important to also know how to properly take care of your skin before and after the procedure. This will help you get the most out of each session, and protect your skin against the usual side effects of laser hair removal
Here are the most highly recommended skincare tips before and after laser hair removal sessions:
Before The Procedure
1. Schedule A Consultation
Before anything else, make sure to consult with the clinic first. Aside from getting a proper assessment, this will help set your expectations, and allow you to ask the aesthetician any questions you might have about the procedure. If you have skincare concerns, this is also the best time to bring them up to find out if the procedure will work for you and if there are alternatives.
A consultation will also give you the best advice when you have issues that may be making you think twice about getting the procedure. For example, scars and pigmentation on the areas you want to be treated, which may require a different procedure to achieve your goal.
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2. Avoid Sun Exposure
If you’re planning to get the treatment for your legs, make sure they’re not exposed to the sun at least 4 weeks prior to your scheduled session. If you love going out especially during summer, it may be best to schedule your laser hair removal treatments during fall or winter. You should also avoid tanning the treatment area in any way, even with artificial tanning products.
The laser used in hair removal targets melanin, which is the dark pigmentation in hair follicles. Sun exposure increases melanin in the skin, so if your skin gets tanned prior to treatment, the laser will likely burn your skin too, and even lead to long-term pigmentation. Your treatment will be more effective if your hair follicle is darker than your skin so the laser can target them better.
3. Prepare The Treatment Area
It’s recommended to shave the treatment area a day before the treatment. Shaving can cause irritation, which can be aggravated by the laser, so it’s ideal to allow your skin to heal from shaving before doing laser. You can also lessen the usual irritation from shaving by using shaving cream or oil to keep your skin moisturized.
Avoid plucking and waxing as those methods remove the hair follicles that the laser targets. The root of the hair must be present for the laser to be effective. However, shaving the hair on the surface is important because any strand of hair that’s too long will just be burnt by the laser.
Make sure the treatment area isn’t too dry as dry skin is more prone to irritation and can become worse after laser treatments.
4. Stop Using Skincare Products
Stop applying make-up, creams, deodorant, sunscreen, oils, moisturizers, lotions, and other skincare products before the treatment begins. Applying anything on your skin may cause you to sweat and trap foreign materials on your skin, which can prevent the laser from reaching the root of the hair.
Take a shower before your treatment so you have a clean slate. Inform your laser technician if you happen to have already applied anything on your skin prior to treatment so they can take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the treatment during your visit.
After The Procedure
1. Stay Out of The Sun
This is a critical rule to follow after your laser hair removal. You’ll have to avoid the sun at all costs for the first 48 hours. You should also avoid activities that can make you sweat. This also applies to having hot baths, saunas, exercise and hot showers. These activities can increase the body temperature, and cause the skin to heat up.
Such activities will put you at a higher risk of scarring, sunburn or permanent pigmentation. Stay indoors as much as possible and make use of some good sunscreen to minimize the effects of excessive heat on your skin. Applying sunscreen should in fact be your habit when you’re undergoing treatments, which will also save your skin from premature aging.
2. Apply Calming Cream
Laser hair removal can irritate your skin and make you feel uncomfortable, so you’ll need to apply a calming cream to reduce any discomfort after treatment. This is a recovery cream that will keep the treatment area cool and hydrated.
You should be able to get a calming cream where you did the procedure, or the aesthetician will recommend one for you. But if you can’t get one or run out, you can also apply an ice pack on the treated area to numb the pain and get rid of the redness after the procedure. Taking a cool shower will also help calm your skin down.
3. Exfoliate The Treatment Area
A few days after the treatment, exfoliate the treated area to prevent ingrown hair. Dead hair strands from the treatment will also start to shed and may appear like stubbles or new hair growth.
You’ll need to help these shedding hair strands fall out faster by exfoliating the skin with a washcloth or a mild scrub wash. Do this at least three times a week to speed up the shedding process.
Laser hair removal has long-term benefits when done correctly, which includes proper skincare before, after and in-between treatments. While there are uncomfortable side effects such as redness and mild irritation, they’re only temporary and can be easily addressed as soon as the procedure is finished. But more importantly, communicating with your aesthetician and following their advice will help you get the best results.