What Is Laser Hair Removal?

What Is Laser Hair Removal?


We are all tired of waxing, plucking, and tweezing our ways through our hygiene oriented lives. Laser hair removal is an FDA approved procedure where exposure to short pulses of laser light that penetrates the skin destroys hair follicles. It is revered for its safety and efficiency in getting rid of unwanted hair. In order to better understand laser hair removal we have to get into some light physics and biology.

Understanding laser light for laser hair removal

A laser is an intensely focused same directional beam of light. Laser light is measured in wavelengths. These wavelengths have a direct correlation with the ability of light to penetrate the skin and reach hair follicles at their base to make treatment possible. Known as selective photothermolysis, the laser distinguishes between your skin and dark hair follicles. The lasers used in hair removal like to distribute their energy to the darkest pigment, transferring all their heat energy into dark hair follicles without damaging surrounding skin tissue.

Understanding Hair Growth and its effects on laser hair removal

Hair growth begins deep within thin cavities of the skin called follicles. Hair grows in a 3 phase cycle.  Each hair growth cycle goes through a anagen, catagen, and telogen phase. What you need to really know is that a hair has a resting phase (telogen) and an active phase (anagen).  In order for laser hair removal to be effective we must always target the anagen or active phase of growth where melanin is at its darkest and is attached to the papilla (knoblike structure at the bottom of each hair responsible for growing and nourishing new hair) in the cycle. Multiple sessions strategically spaced out 4 weeks apart are required so that all hairs can be treated in the active phase.

Here is a blog specifically going over information on hair growth cycles.

Types of Lasers used for hair removal

The two most advanced and effective lasers for hair removal on the market are long pulse Alexandrite and Nd:YAG lasers. These lasers are specifically used for hair removal due to their ability to penetrate the skin. The Alexandrite laser penetrates the skin 755nm (nanometers), just enough to get past the surface of the skin and target hair follicles. The Nd:YAG laser penetrates the skin deeper at 1064nm.

Understanding your skin type

The correct laser for the most optimal and safe treatment is decided upon using the Fitzpatrick skin type scale. The Fitzpatrick scale is a numerical classification of skin color from 1 to 6. Type 1 is very light skinned like those of northern European descent, whereas type 6 is very dark skinned like those of African descent. An Alexandrite laser can safely laser skin types 1-4. Due to the amount of melanin (responsible for skin and hair color) in darker skin types, we have to use a laser that penetrates deeper. The Nd:YAG laser with its 1064nm reach skips the surface melanin of the skin while still effectively targeting the hair follicle below.

What to expect with laser hair removal

Laser hair removal is the most effective way to combat unwanted hair.  Sessions can be as little as 2 minutes  and as long as 45 minutes long based on the size of the area that has to be treated. Your technician will go over the do’s and don’ts of laser hair removal with you before your first session.  

You will be asked not to pluck or wax the treatment area but will have to shave it the day of.  Once the area is treated you will see hair growth that falls out within the first 10 days.

With scheduled regular sessions at least 4 weeks apart from each other you will start to notice less and less hair returning as all the active growth phase hairs are targeted.  The industry standard number of sessions for effective laser hair removal of a specific area are 6-8 sessions.  

We’ve  seen clients that have needed as little as 4 sessions and clients that have needed more than 8 sessions. Results are highly predicated on the client’s individual factors involving hair growth and ability to come in on time for each session.


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