If you happen to be one of the people who spends what feels like hours a week shaving in the shower, you’ve probably often yearned for an easier — more permanent — solution to handling unwanted hair. Sure, there’s waxing, but that process is not totally a walk in the park either. Then, there’s laser. Zapping away hair, for good, is appealing, but the thought of light beams hitting your body can be daunting. Plus, it requires some serious time and money investing. To get to the bottom of what goes down during a laser hair removal appointment, and if you’re the right candidate, we went straight to the source. Christian Karavolas, owner of Romeo & Juliette Laser Hair Removal, breaks down exactly what you need to know.
You can shave before your treatment.
Unlike waxing (where your hair has to be as long as a grain of rice), it’s totally cool to shave pre-laser hair removal appointments. On the flip side, you can’t wax the area for 10 days prior to your treatment. Since lasers work by targeting the pigment inside your hair follicle, the follicle has to be intact (which is not the case after a wax).
It’s pretty quick.
Smaller areas can take as little as 5 minutes. Larger sections (like your legs) can take up to 40 — which is still quicker than an episode of The Get Down. Just keep in mid that you’ll need to complete a whole cycle (six appointments spaced six to eight weeks apart) to really nix that unwanted fuzz.
It doesn’t hurt…that much.
“Most of our clients experience no more than a slight stinging sensation as the laser pulses are applied,” Christian explains. “It’s a little like feeling a rubber band snap. Some parts of the body tend to be more sensitive than others. You also have the option of using a topical numbing cream if you like.”
You may still see some stubble.
Sad but true: There is a chance that some hair will still grow back. THE STRUGGLE! “Hair can grow back but with successive, repetitive treatments, the hair follicle will be damaged resulting in minimal to no growth,” Christian explains.
Lasers work on pretty much any skin type… In the past, it was risky to use laser hair removal on deeper skin tones since the laser works by targeting the pigment in your hair follicle and older versions might have aimed for the skin instead of the hair for some complexions. But today that’s not the case. ”With the advancement of lasers, they now have technology that bypasses the epidermis so anyone can be treated safely and effectively,” Christian explains. “Just make sure to check with the center you’re getting treated at to make sure they have the right equipment for your skin type.”
…but they won’t work on blondes or redheads. Unfortunately, anyone with very fair hair (like platinum or gray) or most shades of red hair are not good candidates because the laser won’t be able to locate and target your follicle. Set up a consultation first to see if your stubble is in the right range.
It’s some pretty high-tech stuff!
“Laser hair removal zaps your hair with a monochromatic beam of light. That light travels through the hair shaft and creates a tiny explosion in the follicle, disabling the reproductive cycle of the hair to discourage it from growing back,” says Christian. “During the zap, a burst of cold water or air is applied to the skin to cool it off.”
For Teen Vogue, by Loni Venti.