Answering your questions about Laser Hair Reduction
At Bodé, we do a lot of body grooming. A LOT! Backs, butts, chests, brozillians; every day, all year round. Eventually, regular waxers ask us “What do you think about laser hair removal?”.
We decided to write this guide to answer your most popular questions.
First, here’s what you need to understand about hair before we talk about laser hair reduction:
- The color of your skin and your hair is pigmented by the melanin your body produces.
- A hair follicle anchors each hair into the skin.
- At the base of a hair follicle, there is a bulb.
- Inside the bulb, living cells divide and grow to build the hair that you see (hair shaft).
Essentially, a single hair is formed inside the hair bulb, growing longer and up through the hair follicle from the bulb.
Question: “How does laser hair reduction work?” – the concept
The foundation of laser hair reduction is built on the idea that if you destroy the hair follicle and bulb, hair will no longer be produced. Think of your hair as being similar to a dandelion. If you never want to see that pesky dandelion on your lawn again, you need to make sure that the entire root is destroyed. Otherwise, that flower is just going to grow back again.
If the hair follicles are not entirely destroyed, then hair will probably regrow. However, if the treatment severely damaged the follicle, then any hair that is still produced will likely grow impaired; slower, thinner, weaker, less dark.
Question: “How does laser hair reduction work?” – the mechanics
The laser machine еmіtѕ рulѕеѕ оf lіght dіrесtlу tо thе ріgmеnt (“color”, aka melanin) оf thе hаіr follicle. Іt aims to damage, preferebly to dеѕtroy, the hаіr fоllісlеs tо рrеvеnt hаіr rеgrоwth.
Question: “When will I see results?”
You will likely see some immediate results after your first 1-2 treatments. Remember though: you need to the do a series of consecutive sessions to thoroughly damage the hair follicle to stunt hair growth. It generally takes 8-12 treatments for full results. Sessions are usually schedules about 6-8 weeks apart.
The more difficult it is to differentiate between the pigment in your skin and the pigment in your hair, the more sessions you will likely need. This applies equally to darker skin clients with dark hair (Fitzpatrick 5 & 6) and pale skin clients with very light blond hair (Fitzpatrick 1 & 2).
Question: “Why do you keep using the term ‘reduction’, instead of ‘removal’?”
There has been a trend in the esthetics industry to move away from the term “hair removal” because too many clients found it misleading. Here are two of the popular misconceptions:
Misconception #1 – 100% smooth
Most guys think that once they completed their sessions, their lasered body part will be completely hairless.
That is not a realistic expectation for most men. A realistic expectation is to have between 60-90% of the hair completely removed. The remaining hairs will be softer, lighter in color, and grow much slower.
Misconception #2 – The results are permanent
Once you have completed your sessions and achieved some results, you will need to schedule maintenance sessions. Depending on your individual needs, you may need a maintenance session once or twice a year. The reason is to keep the hair follicles in a damaged state.
Question: “Does it work?”
Yes, laser hair reduction DOES work, if you understand that:
– you will not be 100% hair-free, and
– that you will need maintenance sessions.
Question: “What factors affect the success of treatment?”
According to Health Canada, there are many factors that influence the success of your treatment:
- the color of the skin and hair of the person being treated;
- the characteristics of the laser, including wavelength, power settings, duration of each energy pulse, amount of time between pulses, and number of pulses per treatment;
- the training and skill of the person using the device;
- the number of treatments administered and part of the body treated
Wow! Quite a list, right?
In a previous article, “Why does my skin color matter for laser treatments?”, we explained that the color of your skin and hair play a significant role. The easiest candidate to perform laser hair reduction on is a man who is pale (Fitzpatrick 1 or 2) with dark coloured hair.
Even if you are a good laser candidate and you chose the appropriate laser technology for your skin and hair, there is still lots of room for a variety of results based on the technician and the settings that they choose for the machine. Add a splash of “no two bodies are the same”, and you can understand why it’s impossible for a laser clinic to promise specific results.
Question: “How much does it cost?”
It depends on a number of factors: the area being done, the laser technology you are compatible with, the experience and reputation of the technician, etc. A back or chest will generally cost approximately $300 per session.
Question: “Does it hurt?”
Clients have described the sensation as like the snapping of a rubber band or a small static shock. Most laser machines have a cooling system, so you will feel a cold air or a spritz of water.
Question: “Are there side effects?”
When done correctly there is rarely any serious side effects. Just as with any procedure or treatment, there is always the potential for some side effects. Click here for the list from Health Canada.
Question: “Which laser would suit you best?”
In our article “Why does my skin color matter for laser treatments?”, we made the following recommendations:
Fitzpatrick 1 & 2: 755 Alex or 810 Diode
Fitzpatrick 3 & 4: 810 NM Diode, followed by 755 Alex
Fitzpatrick 5 & 6: Nd:YAG laser with a 1064 NM wavelength
The clinic you go to will be able to examine your Fitzpatrick skin type and choose the best option for you.
Another popular mode of hair removal exists called IPL. Based on the testimonies of numerous clients, IPL appears to yield lesser results. Here is a summary of the difference between IPL and Laser: