Laser hair removal is on the rise in terms of popularity, and it’s no wonder why. After years of fussing with waxing and shaving, of course, you want a more permanent solution to hair removal. Before proceeding, however, you have questions, and at Soza Clinic in Richardson, Bedford, and Winnsorbor, TX, we’re happy to provide answers.
How Do You Get Ready for Laser Hair Removal?
This treatment is the most effective way to remove unwanted hair from almost any place on the body. To ensure a seamless and successful treatment, we recommend you avoid waxing and tweezing prior to your appointment. The laser works by locating and targeting hair follicles. If you pull hair from the root, the laser will be rendered ineffective. It’s therefore best to put away your hair removal tools starting about six weeks before treatment.
You can put away all your tools except for razors, that is. Shaving is acceptable because it only cuts hair at the skin’s surface without disrupting follicles. In fact, you’ll want to shave 24 hours before your session. Just remember to use a new razor to reduce the risk of dermatitis caused by bacteria.
Stay Out of Sunlight
This may be the single most important directive we give: stay out of direct sunlight for two weeks before your session. Also, avoid tanning beds and self-tanning products. Not only can their use cause skin discoloration, but a sunburn is extremely painful. Many professionals won’t administer laser if your skin is even slightly burned. The best way to avoid this is by using a daily sunscreen – which is a healthy habit to start anyway.
Skip the Makeup and Moisturizers
While we do recommend you bathe before your appointment, we similarly suggest you use nothing more than mild soap and water to cleanse your skin. Afterward, skip the fragrances and your usual makeup routine; the ingredients contained in beauty products can alter your laser hair removal results. Depending on where you plan to have treatment, you should omit lotions, ointments, and deodorant as well.
If you do choose to wear makeup and then remove it, simply rinse your face with water afterward. This gets rid of all residue. You essentially want nothing covering your skin that could block the laser’s ability to locate hair follicles.
Put Away the Bleach
If you bleach any of your body hair, it’s important you stop six weeks prior to treatment. As we mentioned earlier, laser targets and destroys roots. It is your hair pigment, however, that absorbs the laser’s light. Bleaching your strands alters that pigment and makes the root more difficult to find.
Tell Us About Your Medications
We’ll need to know all the medications you’re currently taking, both orally and topically. Some of these may interfere with your treatments, while others are likely to make your skin more sensitive. Some of the most common medications we know patients take include:
- Acne prescriptions
- Birth control pills
It’s unlikely you’ll be told to stop your medications, but a member of our staff will need to adjust treatment in a way that works with your body. Likewise, if you start any new medications – even a multi-vitamin or daily supplement – let us know before your next appointment.
Use Caution with Your Skincare Regimen
Chemical peels can transform your entire appearance, but you’ll want to avoid these treatments for two weeks before your laser session (if you’re having facial hair removed). Certain skincare products must also be banished in the week leading up to your session. We’re talking about products that contain:
- Alpha hydroxy
- Beta hydroxy
If you have a Botox or other dermal filler appointment planned, make sure it’s at least 14 days prior to your laser hair removal. This gives the injections plenty of time to settle and your skin ample opportunity to recover.
Get Medical Clearance
If you have skin lesions or unusual moles or spots on the treatment area, you’ll need to be medically cleared by a doctor before proceeding with treatment. The same is true if you’re prone to cold sores; we recommend you start an anti-viral prescription, like Valtrex, to avoid treatment delays. An active cold sore on the day of your appointment will force us to reschedule.
Pick the Right Time to Exercise
Exercise naturally increases your body temperature and in turn causes you to sweat. This creates the perfect environment for skin bacteria to grow and infection to ensue. Equally irritating, you may also get ingrown hairs – small, painful bumps nearly all of us have experienced after shaving. You should therefore wait 24 hours to embark on any activity that may increase your temperature, including taking a hot shower and sitting in a hot tub or sauna.
Manage Your Expectations
We’ll craft a treatment plan that’s based on your needs, but until that time, we can’t say with certainty how many treatments you’ll need. It’s important to remember results build upon each other, and you will need more than one session (everyone does). By managing your expectations throughout this time, you’ll have a much more enjoyable treatment.
If you’re hoping to be hair-free in time for a big event or major celebration – such as your wedding – now is the time to start treatment. Each session will need to be spaced several weeks apart, which should factor into your overall timeline. And if you’re going on a honeymoon or other vacation, remember sun exposure is a no-no for at least two weeks after treatment.
Ditch the Alcohol and Caffeine
The night before your treatment, skip the after-dinner drinks or glass of wine before bed. A hangover is the last thing you need with treatment, especially if you’re already feeling a little nervous. Likewise, cut the caffeine for about 24 hours. It heightens anxiety and can make you jittery, and during treatment, you’ll want to be still so the laser can work as expected.
Caring for Skin After Treatment
Now that you’ve made it through your first session, you need advice on caring for the treated skin. Let’s start by saying that within four weeks of your session, dead hair follicles will start shedding. One of the best ways to protect your skin and encourage this shedding is with exfoliation. All you need is a mild scrub and a washcloth, moving over the treated area with circular motions. Do this several times per week to keep skin smooth and glossy.
Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Here it is again: more advice on sun exposure. And just as before, we’re recommending you safeguard your skin at all times, even when the sky appears gray and overcast. Apply sunscreen and, if you plan to be outside, wear a hat as well – or long sleeves, long pants, or another garment that adequately covers the treated area. Tanning beds and self-tanning products are also off the table, at least until your treatment plan is complete.
Avoid Beauty Products
For the first few days after laser hair removal, skin should have a chance to breathe. It will be in a stage of healing, meaning it will also be sensitive, and immediately wearing makeup, deodorant, and moisturizers can clog pores and cause irritation. You’re better off delaying these products for about 24 hours, and then you can freely resume them.
Opt for Cool
Continue taking cool showers for about 48 hours after treatment. Hot water can burn and blister skin, and not only is this painful, but it will interfere with your treatment results. During this time, you should also avoid hot tubs and saunas, much like you had to do before treatment. Last but not least, keep heating pads at bay as they can irritate the skin.
In the shower, wash treated areas with fragrance-free, mild soap. Don’t scrub or apply pressure, but instead cleanse gently to avoid damaging skin tissues. When finished, use a soft towel and dry with light dabbing motions. The goal is to minimize trauma to the skin so it can heal.
Apply Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera is well-known for its skin-loving properties. It’s packed with antioxidants, enzymes, and vitamins that can soothe dry skin and burns. And because it’s suitable for all skin types, nearly anyone can use this gel on almost any body part.
We tell you this because, in place of your traditional moisturizer, aloe makes a great substitute in the days following laser hair removal. It’s even known to support healing. If you don’t yet have a jar or bottle in the house, we recommend you get some. It’s a great companion to your routine skincare products.
A Few Final Details
Yes, treatment will give you hair-free skin, but it also offers two additional benefits you need to know about. First, you’ll see far fewer ingrown hairs because laser encourages strands to grow back straight. This is a welcome relief for those who have suffered repeated bouts of the red bumps that often follow waxing and shaving.
Second, because hair removal is permanent, you can look forward to your skincare products working to much greater effect. Without the barrier posed by hair, those products can finally sink into tissues the way they were meant to do, meaning your overall skin health will also improve.
Sessions Are Quick
Depending on the number of areas you’re having treated, a session can be completed in as little as 20 minutes. Of course, if you’re having your legs done, this timeframe will increase slightly, but the point is you won’t be in our office for long.
Treatment Is Very Safe
Laser is a tried and true treatment, and when it comes to hair removal, you can count on its high safety profile. You should, however, use caution when considering online discounts – this isn’t a therapy where you want to cut corners. And know that during your session, both you and our staff will wear safety goggles to prevent eye damage.
As for at-home laser devices, we advise against them. They’re generally less effective and offer more room for error because the beam is less targeted. You should simply plan on coming into our office for the safest and most viable way to remove unwanted hair.
Laser is generally quick and easy, and by following a few pre-treatment guidelines, you’ll be on your way to smooth skin in no time. Avoid sun exposure, keep skincare products to a minimum, and shave the night before – these and a few other easy steps are all that’s required. Schedule your consultation today by contacting Soza Clinic in Richardson, Bedford, and Winnsorbor, TX.