14 Things To Know About Laser Hair Removal

With so many women wanting to find a hair removal procedure that is fuss-free, some might turn to laser hair removal. But what are the risks, what are the side effects, the cost, and so on? Here’s everything you need to know before booking an appointment.

  1. It’s permanent. Yes, laser hair removal can remove the need for you to ever have to shave your legs again. Hooray! After one round of laser hair removal treatments, which is about six sessions, you’re likely to be left hairless, though this varies depending on the person.
  2. Sessions aren’t that long. Don’t worry, you won’t be sitting there for ages while your follicles get attacked. A laser hair removal session lasts about one minute if you’re removing hair on your upper lip, about five minutes for your underarms, and half an hour for your legs. Basically, you could squeeze it into your lunch break.
  3. It’s less painful than waxing. You know how much waxing can hurt, but laser hair removal isn’t that bad. What definitely helps is that it’s much quicker, so any stinging sensation won’t last. However, t might hurt more in sensitive areas like your bikini line.
  4. There are side effects. This is normal for any skincare procedure. These range from some redness and swelling to blistering and hyperpigmentation. Some women feel like they’ve been baking in the sun after a treatment and their skin is tender to the touch. Yikes!
  5. What you do after a session can minimize side effects. Looking after your skin following the procedure by avoiding exfoliation, being in the sun, or sweating a lot during a gym session can go a long way to giving you relief and minimizing side effects after your treatment.
  6. You should get it every four weeks. You can’t book in lots of hair removal sessions too often. You need to get your hair removal sessions done every four weeks. If you wait too much, this will get in the way of your permanent results. It makes sense—if you give any hair that’s still there the chance to grow, it becomes more difficult to get rid of it for good.
  7. You shouldn’t get it if you’re blonde. No, seriously. While laser hair removal is safe for all skin types, you shouldn’t get it if your hair’s blonde or grey. A lot of research has been done about this and it’s been determined that no treatments have been successful on blonde, white, or grey hair.
  8. You have to prepare your skin. Before going to your laser hair removal treatment, make sure that you’re prepared. This entails avoiding waxing, of course, but you should shave your hair the night before your appointment too. Why? This will ensure that the laser grabs the root of your hair without getting lost in its length, making the process much more successful.
  9. You have to stop using photosensitive meds and skin products. Before your treatment, you should stop using photosensitive products and meds. “Photosensitive” means that they can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so stop using skincare products containing retinoids and alfa hydroxyl acids. Antibiotics and acne treatments are also photosensitive, so if you’re on them, try to book your hair removal treatment for a few weeks after stopping the meds. Speak to your dermatologist about any meds you’re on.
  10. The cost varies. You’re looking at between $50 and $300 per session depending on where you’re getting it done. It’s not exactly cheap but it could be worthwhile.
  11. You might need maintenance sessions. Although hair often doesn’t grow back, hormonal changes can mess with that. Bummer. Still, a few maintenance sessions are all you need to send that hair packing again. However, it’s good to know that areas like your legs, bikini line, and underarms are more prone to losing hair as we age, so those hairs are probably not coming back.
  12. You have to make SPF your BFF. You need to look after your skin when it comes to the sun both before and after laser hair removal. Before your appointments, you want to avoid the sun because it can redden and irritate your skin which will make the treatments sting more. As for after the sessions, you should always smear on lots of SPF because your skin will be more sensitive to the harsh UV rays.
  13. Get it done at your dermatologist. This really is the safest bet instead of going to the spa. There, you might encounter people who haven’t been trained to remove hair via laser treatment, so that’s a no-no. Stick to a dermatologist who’ll give you the safest treatment. After all, this is your skin on the line!
  14. Speak up about cold sores. Always tell the dermatologist if you’re susceptible to cold sores or you have herpes. This is because the laser’s light can cause a breakout to happen. Uh-oh. It’s NBD, but you want to be sure that you’re on your meds to prevent that from happening.


Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.