Laser hair removal: everything that you need to know - according to skin expert Nicola Russell

Craving silky smooth skin before that long-awaited winter getaway?

If a quick blast of winter sun is on the horizon for you, let it be known that we are insanely jealous. Bikini season feels like a lifetime ago, and yet for those whisking themselves somewhere sensational this season, the summer never really went away.

Attitudes towards body hair have changed rapidly over the last few years, and there are more #bodyhairdontcare posts floating round Instagram than ever before. If you're renouncing shaving all power to you. But an equally popular choice for many is that of permanent removal.

What is laser hair removal?

 

The appeal of silky smooth, hairless skin pretty much speaks for itself, and these days it can be achieved via laser hair removal. The beauty treatment involves a powerful laser, or intense pulsed light (IPL), being targeted onto hair follicles to disrupt hair growth.  

Hello! Fashion caught up with celebrity facialist and international skincare trainer Nicola Russell to find out all that you need to know about laser hair removal.

Who is laser hair removal most suitable for?

"Laser hair removal cannot be guaranteed to work the same way on everyone, but as a general rule it works best on lighter skin with dark hair," Nicola explains.

"However certain lasers can treat darker skin types and due to recent advancements in laser hair removal it is looking promising to achieve results on light hair." 

What do you need to know before getting it done?

"Laser hair removal is not 100% permanent like most people might expect as hair growth can be stimulated by hormonal changes, medication and other such external factors. It is always possible for new hair follicles to be stimulated, resulting in new hair growth."

How should you prepare for a session of laser hair removal?

"It's recommended that you stop waxing, threading or plucking for at least six weeks before your first treatment. The hair needs to be in a certain growth stage for effective treatment and so this is very important. If you do remove the hair by force, then the hair is completely removed from the follicle and disrupts the hair growth system we need for effective permanent hair removal. Shaving is perfectly fine between treatments," Nicola explains.

"Be free from fake tan and avoid being in the sun up to 72 hours before a treatment (and having a tan up to four weeks prior) to avoid too much heat in the area as the treatment would not be possible if there was any sunburn present. And if there are any changes to your initial consultation then you need to inform your therapist, things like changes in medication."

Does the treatment hurt?

"It's not exactly 'pain free'.  I prefer to say it causes some discomfort and certain areas are more uncomfortable than others. Pain is subjective and not all people experience pain the same way so it's difficult to predict how some people will experience it."

What happens during the laser hair removal process? 

"Hair growth occurs in four stages: Early Anagen (early hair growth), Anagen (active hair growth), Catagen (regression) and Telogen (resting, not growing). Hair removal only affects the Anagen stage – approximately 20% of hair is removed with each treatment. A few treatments are therefore required for the treatment area to be hair free."

What do you need to do after laser hair removal?

"Avoid sun exposure for a week after the treatment, as well as excessive heat for 24 – 48 hours (such as hot showers, baths and saunas)."

"Do not wax, thread, or pluck the hair but you can continue to shave between sessions. Avoid shaving or exfoliating for 48-72 hours after the session, this will allow the skin to recuperate properly from the treatment."

How long will it take before you see results?

"Hair reduction will begin after your first session; however, it will become noticeable after your third one. Hair follicles that have been destroyed by the machine will not regrow, however a few hairs with growth cycles that did not match your treatment sessions may reappear and these are easily treated in short single sessions if you are lucky enough to catch them at the correct stage," Nicola explains.

"As hair growth can be stimulated by hormonal changes, medication and other external factors, it is always possible for new hair follicles to be stimulated, resulting in new hair growth. The number of sessions required to see a good result will vary from person to person depending on the factors affecting their hair growth, but it's not unusual to expect to need anything from a couple of maintenance sessions per year, to every two years."

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