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Image of 2 smiling ladies back to back representing laser hair removal questions and answers

All your laser hair removal questions, answered

Written by
Chloe James

When you finally lose patience with shaving, waxing, and tweezing, it’s time to start thinking about the alternative: laser hair removal. Destroying hair straight at the root, laser hair removal has become the go-to treatment for silky smooth skin. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s powerful, and can eliminate up to 90 per cent of unwanted fuzz. What’s not to love?

But even once you understand the science, some things about laser hair removal remain a mystery. We’re talking about the things you really want to know, such as: can you do a workout post-treatment? Do you need to skip the exfoliants and fake tan? And just how important are those top-up sessions? These are the big questions – and thankfully, we have the answers.

Find a clinic or practitioner near you and enjoy a risk-free booking process thanks to free in-clinic consultations and the option to pay in-clinic. Also, you can now split the cost of your treatment into four equal, interest-free instalments using Tabby.

Everything you need to know

I’ve moved and need to change clinics halfway through my treatment plan. Does it matter if my new clinic uses a different laser?

Not really, no. While it’s true that some hair reacts better to different lasers – and you may want to stick to the same laser if it works for you – your treatment plan should continue as usual if you do switch. If you’re still unsure, have a chat with your new practitioner about whether their laser is right for your skin tone and hair type.

Do I really need top-up sessions in the future?

If you want to maintain your results, yes. Even if your skin is silky smooth after your ‘final’ session, some hair follicles can – and will – grow back with time. The good news is that they probably won’t be as dark or thick as before and are easily zapped with a top-up session once or twice a year.

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Is it really an issue if I apply fake tan before my appointment?

Practitioners don’t just advise against fake tan for the fun of it. Lasers may be pretty clever, but they can’t tell the difference between the pigment in tanning products and the pigment in hair follicles. If you’re wearing fake tan, there’s a chance your skin will absorb more energy than your hair and your treatment will be less effective. So, unless you want to sabotage your own results, you may want to just embrace your natural skin tone for a while.

Can I get the more intimate parts of my body lasered? And will it hurt?

To the first question: yes. If the area has hair, it can be lasered. As for the second question, that depends on you. Skin tends to be thinner in our intimate areas, which makes them more sensitive than other body parts. However, everyone’s pain tolerance is different. Some people describe the sensation as like waxing, while others only feel a slight stinging. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, you can always apply numbing cream ahead of time to make the process more bearable.

Why does my laser treatment hurt sometimes but not others?

If your first laser hair removal session was a breeze but your second was a different story, don’t worry – your pain threshold probably hasn’t plummeted overnight. Some women report feeling more sensitive while they’re on their period, or just before their period. Also, if the equipment used during your session has recently been serviced, it might be more powerful – and if it’s more powerful, it can feel hotter on your skin.

How long do I need to wait before exercising?

Between 24 and 48 hours. Exercise itself isn’t the issue. Instead, it’s the heat and sweat that irritate your hair follicles. These are already swollen and sensitive enough after being lasered, so try to give them a break – and reduce your risk of ingrown hairs – by skipping the gym for a day or two.

Is there a best age to get laser hair removal?

Not necessarily, although results can differ in some age brackets. The easiest hair to target with a laser is thick and dark. But as we grow older, our hair tends to become thinner and lighter. Thankfully, this doesn’t make it impossible to remove, as we’ve come a long way with lasers in the past decade. You’ll just need to make sure your practitioner is using the right kind of laser for your hair type.

Can my hormones affect my results?

Sometimes. Hormones can have a huge impact on hair growth, which is why conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome – which impacts testosterone levels – can lead to excess hair on the face or body. Those with higher hormone levels may find they have more regrowth after laser than those without. This can also mean you need more sessions before you see your final results.

Will laser hair removal affect the skin around the hair?

Only if it’s done wrong. The whole idea of laser hair removal is that the melanin in hair pigment acts like a magnet to the laser’s energy. That means it doesn’t resurface the skin in the same way as other laser skin treatments, so your skin should look exactly the same post-treatment as it did before (albeit, temporarily, a little bit red).

Does it really matter if I pluck or wax in between sessions?

Yes! This is rule number one of laser hair removal. Plucking and waxing removes both the hair and the follicle itself, which leaves the laser with nothing to target. And if there’s nothing to target, your session is a waste of time (and money). Tempting though it may be to strip away any short-term regrowth, stick to shaving for silky smooth skin in the long run.

Which skincare ingredients do I need to avoid before and after my session, and for how long?

Your skin is temporarily more sensitive post-laser, so it’s best to avoid anything else that will make this sensitivity worse. AHAs and BHAs are a big no for the week before and after your session. The same goes for retinoids, hydroquinone, vitamin C, and any exfoliants. And while moisturiser can go a long way in soothing any post-treatment itchiness, try to use fragrance-free products for 48 hours.

I have some spider veins on my leg. Will laser hair removal get rid of them too?

If you’re looking to kill two concerns with one treatment, we have some bad news. Yes, technically, the same lasers are used for laser hair removal and spider vein removal. But getting rid of spider veins requires a wavelength long enough to reach and damage the blood vessel – and this isn’t the same wavelength used for laser hair removal.

Your laser hair removal journey

It’s natural to have questions about a treatment – especially one as powerful as laser hair removal. However, once you know what to expect, the road to hair-free skin can be as smooth as, well, your skin. Happy lasering.

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