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The 411 on Laser Hair Removal

Body hair—it’s something we spend lots of time, energy, and money on removing. Whether you’re tired of shaving your legs or armpits or pained by waxing that upper lip, laser hair removal may be a good choice for you.

How does laser hair removal work?

This safe and effective way to permanently reduce hair growth and thickness on your face and body involves a low-energy laser beam. Your cosmetic specialist will point it at your hair follicles, and the beam locates your hair by its color—the hair colors that respond best to laser hair removal are dark colors, like black and brown. The beam then travels down the hair shaft and disables the hair follicle, which harms the follicle’s ability to grow new hair.

According to University of Utah Health estheticians, the laser only works on dark, coarse hair because it uses a wavelength of light that is attracted to the pigment in the hair follicle. It doesn’t recognize red, white, or blonde hair.

Does laser hair removal hurt?

Although laser hair removal is a relatively painless process, your cosmetic specialist may prescribe a numbing cream before our treatment to reduce any pain. The pain is often described as a hot rubber band snap. The numbing cream is especially helpful for more sensitive areas like the facial or bikini areas.

How long does laser hair removal last?

Although it varies from person to person, most need at least 12 treatments for best results. Your hair follicles aren’t always growing at the same time, so hair that wasn’t growing during a treatment won’t be affected by the laser. After a treatment session, you’ll notice these hairs growing in while others don’t.

Facial hair should be treated every four to five weeks; underarms and bikini area should be treated every five to six weeks; and back, arms, and legs should be treated every six to seven weeks.

Although laser hair removal doesn’t eliminate hair completely, you will notice a significant decrease in both the amount of hair and the texture of hair.

Prep and recovery time

You’ll need to shave the area being treated the day of your appointment.

After your appointment, your skin will be a bit red, warm, and sensitive for a few hours. Some patients use a small ice pack and apply aloe vera gel to calm the skin.

Avoid using any creams, ointments, perfumes, or lotions that could irritate your skin following treatment. You also shouldn’t pluck or wax the treatment area. Your cosmetic specialist will give you specific instructions to follow after your treatment.

Click here to learn more about laser hair removal with U of U Health.