Unwanted hair is the bane of many women’s lives, a semi-permanent treatment can help you manage it.
If you’ve been toying with the idea of hair removal using laser therapy, winter is the time to take action. “One of the biggest risks with any type of laser is sun exposure before or after treatment because you risk pigmentation,” According to Sally Cussell of The Facial Rejuvenation Clinic in Sydney, “laser is best done when sun exposure is at a minimum.” That’s why coming to Satori Laser during the winter to start your treatment is a good idea!
How it works
Any body part that has brown hair can be treated with laser. “For women, the underarm, bikini line and legs are popular, and for men, it’s the beard, chest and back area,” Cussell says. The process works by targeting hair follicles, of which we’re born with about five million (with one million of those on our head). The hair cycle involves three phases: growth, transition, and resting. The laser pulses beam of light into hair in the growth phase to destroy the follicle. Cussell says a series of laser sessions at four to eight weeks apart is usually required, depending on the treatment area. “There’s a reduction of hair by about 10-30 per cent each session, and you keep targeting the follicles until there’s no hair left in the area.”
While you can see a clearance of follicles on underarms and legs after six to eight weeks, it generally takes at least a year of regular treatments to get a good result, Cussell explains, and longer for facial hair. The face is harder to treat because the body’s constant production of hormones can stimulate a new growth cycle of facial hair. The laser takes between five and 20 minutes depending on the body part. “Most people say that it’s more comfortable than waxing,” Cussell says. “The upper lip, Brazilian area and chest are the more sensitive areas.”
Who can be treated?
A skin consultation and medical check should be done to assess if it’s suitable for you. The laser needs pigment to work, so it’s less effective on red and blonde hair, and won’t work on white and gray. In those cases, Cussell suggests trying electrolysis, a permanent but more painful multi-needle process. “Laser therapy is a medical procedure so a full medical history should be taken,” dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Dawes-Higgs says. “You shouldn’t have laser therapy during pregnancy, or when you have an active cold sore or conditions such as lupus. Medications like [acne treatment] Roaccutane are also contraindicated, so check with your doctor before treatment.” It’s also important that the area hasn’t been waxed, plucked or tanned for at least three weeks prior. “The laser can’t differentiate between fake and real tan, it just sees pigment,” Cussell explains. “You need to avoid all tanning, so the laser can get into the follicle properly without injuring the skin surface.”
Put skin safety first
Dawes-Higgs says laser therapy also needs to be tailored to your skin. “If an operator doesn’t use the right setting, you can be left with dark marks, white marks, blistering, bruising or scarring.” In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration regulates the importation of lasers and intense pulsed light (IPL) machines (IPL uses broadband light; laser uses a single, targeted wavelength) for use in “therapeutic purposes”, but hair removal isn’t considered “therapeutic”, which means anyone can buy a machine.
“If you don’t have the right training, things can go wrong,” Cussell says, adding that if people are under-treated with a low-power machine, it only lightens hairs instead of getting rid of them. While there’s a code of practice in training, this also isn’t enforced, so do your research, Dawes-Higgs advises: “Check the operator has been trained to use that laser, they have training in skin types, and knowledge of complications, medications and laser safety.”