The Complete Guide to Laser Hair Removal

Photographed by Jérémy Zaessinger for Savoir Flair

Excessive or unwanted hair on the face and body can be a real source of distress and anxiety for both men and women. In the Middle East, where excess hair collides with amazing beach weather for the majority of the year, it’s considered a troublesome, and unfortunately common, problem. Whether you suffer from hair on your face, legs, arms, stomach, or anywhere else on your body where it’s not wanted, chances are you’ve battled with most of the traditional forms of hair removal – from shaving and epilation to waxing and sugaring.

In recent years, more extreme methods of hair removal, such as IPL and electrolysis, have become exceedingly popular with those searching for a more permanent solution. Laser is one technologically advanced option which is FDA-approved and is able to treat a range of skin and hair types with reduced risks. This month, our Beauty Editor Basma Faramawy has teamed up with Amal Rashkidi, the Medical Director at renowned laser medical center Silkor, to bring you everything you need to know about laser hair removal – from what you should consider before embarking on your treatment to how to care for your skin post-removal.

What is laser hair removal?
During laser hair removal, direct pulses of laser light are used to destroy a hair follicle’s ability to regrow. The pigment in the hair follicle absorbs the light and then converts it to heat, which damages the follicle without damaging the surrounding skin. Laser treatment is often confused with Intense Pulse Light Treatment. Although both use light energy, IPL is cheaper and less effective in actual hair removal. It plays a more important role in skin treatments such as hyperpigmentation and fine blood vessels. Lasers, on the other hand, will effectively eliminate hair no matter how deeply the follicles are embedded. This will not work on gray, light red, or light blonde hair. People with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome may experience poor results as well, unless they receive medical treatment alongside the laser.

Does it hurt?
Some people may experience some pain or a feeling of intense heat beneath the skin, and in these cases they may prefer to apply a topical anesthetic cream around 30 minutes prior to the treatment. Silkor has machines that use an exclusive double cooling system, which blows a continuous stream of cold air onto the skin with an added chilled applicator tip that actively cools during and after the treatment. In addition to this, the machines are enabled with Zero Pain vacuum technology, which produces gentle suction to slightly stretch the skin. Nerve endings are stimulated by the vacuum and are “fooled” into perceiving less pain.

How many sessions are needed?
Although the laser disables active hair follicles deep in the skin, not all hairs are active at the same time. Hair in fact grows in three stages; first the active growth cycle (Anagen), then the dormant cycle (Catagen), and finally the shedding cycle (Telogen). Laser is most effective at the Anagen stage of growth, which is why a number of treatments will be needed depending on the size of the area being treated. In many cases, significant reductions can be seen immediately after the very first session. The average number needed can be anything from three to eight sessions. Depending on the size of the area being worked on, one session can take between 10 and 60 minutes.

Are there any side effects?
On the whole, if approved machines are used by experienced professionals, the risks of damaged or burned skin are minimal. There is, however, a possibility of minor short-term reactions such as sensitivity and mild redness (which should eventually subside).

How are treatments priced?
This depends on where you decide to carry out your treatments. Prices are usually given per area, per session, or as a flat-fee package, with many clinics offering multiple-area and multiple-treatment discounts.

Photographed by Jérémy Zaessinger for Savoir Flair

What You Need to Know

Before Treatment

1. Avoid exposing the area to the sun or self-tanning products for at least two weeks before the laser treatment.
2. Do not remove the hair for at least two weeks prior to your laser session. Avoid waxing, tweezing, depilatory creams, and epilation.
3. Refrain from using retinol products, Accutane, bleaching, or exfoliating creams before and after the treatment.
4. Areas to be treated on the body must be shaved the day before. This does not apply to the face.

On Treatment Day

1. Do not apply any kind of fragrances or essential oils on or near the area that’s going to be treated.
2. Wear loose clothing and breathable, cotton underwear for areas such as the bikini line.
3. If you have particularly sensitive skin, apply a topical anesthetic 30 minutes before treatment.

Post-Treatment

1. Immediately after your treatment, you may experience some redness, similar to mild sunburn. This is normal and will usually disappear within a few hours.
2. Avoid rubbing or scratching the area.
3. Stay away from sauna, hot showers, and chlorinated swimming pools for 48 hours.
4. Avoid sun exposure and tanning products throughout the course of your treatment.
5. Use a sunscreen with an SPF 50 at all times on the treated area.

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