We spend hours every month tweezing, plucking, waxing and shaving unwanted hair from our bodies. But there are alternatives, and they’re quick, easy and, most importantly, permanent
Laser hair removal – the basics
Laser hair removal became popular about 10 years ago, and, as the technology has improved year on year, is continuing to grow as an effective method of removing unwanted facial and body hair. It is also used as a skin treatment for thread veins and even tattoo removal. There are several types of lasers available, and it is important that before embarking on laser treatment for facial hair removal, for example, that you have a full consultation with your practitioner, as some skin types are not suitable for certain types of laser treatment.
This process works by heating melanin (the colour pigment) in the hair. This destroys the growing area in the hair follicle without damaging the surrounding skin. Laser hair removal tends to work most effectively on those with fair skin and dark hair.
The treatment can only affect the hair in the active growth stage, so it may take from four up to seven treatments to reduce the amount of hair by up to 90%. Once this stage has been reached, it may be necessary to have a further one or two treatments a year to ensure that the follicle does not become active again and to ensure that the hair removal is permanent.
Types of lasers
The three main types of lasers dermatologists use are:
· Alexandrite – which emits the shortest light wavelength at 755nm (nanometers)
· Diode – which emits 810nm
· Nd:Yag – which emits the longest wavelength at 1064nm
There is also a new form of treatment called Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) which should not be confused with laser hair removal treatment, as it emits light at multiple wavelengths and may not be suitable for some types of skin.
Melanin absorbs light best at short wavelengths, but this also means that tanned or dark skin may also be affected by the treatment. For darker skins, a longer wavelength such as that produced by the Diode or Nd:Yag laser is less likely to damage the pigmentation of the surrounding skin. This is why it is so important to have a full consultation before embarking on laser treatment. A skilled practitioner will be able to tell which form of treatment is best suited to your skin type. They will also be able to carry out effective facial hair removal and other forms of skin treatment using lasers without damaging the skin or causing undue discomfort during the process.
Before you decide to opt for this treatment, do not be afraid to ask your dermatologist some questions, such as how long they have been operating the equipment, what qualifications they have and whether they’re a certified operator. You can also ask to see ‘before and after’ pictures of treatments they have carried out.
This process is an excellent solution to permanent facial hair removal, as well as removing hair from other parts of the body. It is more expensive in the short term compared to shaving and waxing, but when you take into account how much you’ll spend on hair removal products in the long term, laser hair removal is not only a permanent solution, but also a cost-effective one as well.