Whether it be stubbly legs, bushy bikini lines or hairs on your chinny, chin, chin! Let’s face it, hair can be pretty annoying. Unfortunately, it’s now commonly thought that the way to get rid of unwanted hair for good is with laser treatments…well that’s not actually fact. This week’s blog aims to cut the crap and give you the facts about what your hair removal options are!
A bit about hair…
We have hair all over our bodies in different forms. There is vellus hair, which is the soft downy hair that can be found on the arms and face and terminal hair which is stronger like that on the head and underarms. Each hair is going through a life cycle as illustrated below.
Anagen stage – Where the hair is active and attached to the root
Catagen stage – This is where the hair is transitioning and detaches from its blood supply
Telogen – The resting phase, the detached hair rests in the follicle while the new hair starts to grow
Exogen – Shedding stage, this is where the new hair that’s grown in the follicle pushes the old hair out
Treatments such as laser only work on hairs in the anagen stage as the laser uses the hair as a pathway to the blood supply. The laser light is highly absorbed by dark hair pigment, so it travels down the hair and ends up weakening the blood supply. If the hair isn’t attached to a blood supply, then it will not have an impact on the hair! This is why you need to have multiple treatments with gaps between them as not every hair is treated in every session.
Laser…permanent hair removal?
If you see a clinic offering you complete hair free skin with laser then get ready to be disappointed. Laser treatments can claim permanent hair reduction. What you’re generally left with following a course of treatment is very patchy, very fine hair which is far more manageable.
Don’t get me wrong, I love laser, it’s a brilliant treatment. I used to have a real problem with shaving rash, especially around my bikini line on holidays, laser really helped me with this and now when I do need to shave there is none of that annoying rash or discomfort! I just want to make sure that people’s expectations are realistic so that their expectations are realistic.
How many treatments? – 6-8 sessions are normally required for the initial course with a top up every 6 months to keep hair at bay
What sort of reduction is seen after a course? – 60% to 80% reduction is the average reduction seen
How often do you need to have treatments? – Once every 6-8 weeks depending on the treatment area
What does it feel like? – A hot flick, it’s not exactly relaxing but most people can tolerate it
What needs to be avoided? – You can’t have any sun exposure in the area during the course as this could change your skin colour and lead to the laser not being set correctly for your skin type. If you regularly wax or epilate you will need to switch to shaving as the hair needs to be present in the follicle for the treatment to work
Are there any associated risks? – There is a risk of burning, scarring and hyperpigmentation. This would only take place if the area had too much sun exposure or if the laser is not set correctly
(click here to read more about pigmentation and laser treatments)
What should I look for? – When going for a consultation make sure that you have a patch test prior to starting any treatment and that you are given a thorough consultation! Avoid groupon deals as these tend to be done with very low-level equipment (IPL) which is not as effective at hair removal. The best choice would always be an alexandrite laser for light skin types and a diode or ND:YAG laser for darker skin types
What colour hair does laser treat? – Dark! The pigment in the hair is what’s targeted, this is why the best results are seen in dark hair against light skin. Darker skin types can still get amazing results but are more suited to ND:YAG lasers or diode lasers (Soprano is a brilliant choice for these skin types). Unfortunately lasers will not work on light or red hair.
How to get permanent hair removal?
Electrolysis! This is a well-known technology, but it’s often seen as ‘old fashioned’. Well if it isn’t broke then don’t fix it because to date, electrolysis is the only device that can claim permanent hair removal!
Electrolysis works by using a probe that is inserted directly into the hair follicle where a heat (diathermy) and galvanic current are delivered at the same time to create a chemical reaction that damages the blood supply. Once the hair is treated it is then extracted.
How many treatments? – This will depend hugely on how many hairs are present and thickness of the hair but it’s not a quick fix, it’s quite a lengthy process so be prepared for the long haul especially on areas with lots of hair.
What sort of reduction is seen after a course? – Once completed the hairs will be completely gone and skin will be smooth, but as mentioned above this will take some time.
How often do you need to have treatments? – Initially a bi-weekly treatment is need but over time the gaps between treatments will increase.
What does it feel like? – It feels like a hot sting, it’s not a very comfortable treatment and some clients do find it quite painful but sessions generally only last 15-30 minutes and you get used to it after some time.
What needs to be avoided? – Waxing, plucking & epilating, you must let the hair grow to a length that it can be plucked out following insertion of the probe. This can be a downside for clients, especially if it’s facial hair, however it’s a means to an end and depending on your practitioner most areas can be cleared in a session leaving it hair free! You must keep the area out of the sun during the course and use an SPF daily!
Are there any associated risks? – There is a chance of PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation) if the area is subject to sun exposure during the healing phase. There is also a risk of burning and scarring if the treatment is done incorrectly
What should I look for? – Always be sure to have a consultation before starting treatment, don’t be afraid to ask your practitioner about their experience, you have a right to know. If you are nervous about the treatment I would recommend asking for a patch test so that you can see your skin reaction and the comfort level
(click here for a link to the British Institute & Association of Electrologists – BIAE – This has a register of electrologists that have passed a very high standard of exams to show they are the best of the best!)
What colour hair does electrolysis treat? – Any and every kind of hair! This is why it’s so great, you can treat any thickness and colour and it will work just as well on all of them!
Remember that we all have hair and if you want to embrace it then I fully support that but if it’s getting you down then these options may help to combat your concerns.
If you have any questions or would like any suggestions on clinics in your area feel free to contact me.
Thank you for reading