When I first heard about laser hair removal for your underarms, I was pretty skeptical. It sounded almost too good to be true! Only a handful of treatments in exchange for a lifetime of smooth underarms? What about those scary stories of laser burns? That’s why I decided to put together a guide on what you need to know before deciding to do laser.
It does not eliminate hair, it REDUCES hair
A common misconception is that laser hair removal is a permanent solution, but the reality is that its a semi-permanent solution. You can expect up to a 90% reduction in hair growth and thickness, to the point where you won’t need to shave as much.
How the laser works
Laser hair removal is a procedure that removes any unwanted hair using pulses of light at a specific wavelength. The pigment in your hair follicles (melanin) absorbs the light and turns it into heat, which traumatizes the hair follicles and prevents further hair growth. This process is called selective photothermolysis.
Photo by Vinicius Costa.
Your skin color matters
The first rule of thumb is the darker your hair and the lighter your skin the better laser hair removal works! This is because the laser beam targets dark pigment, so if the skin around dark hair is pale, the laser will concentrate on the hair follicle solely. This is the same reason many women of color have horror stories of burns and extremely painful laser treatments; the laser is targeting the pigment in their skin and turning it into heat, ouch!
But hold on dark to medium skin girls, it is possible to get great results with laser- it is going to take more of a commitment though. You need to do your research thoroughly before doing the procedure. Choose a clinic that specializes in treating clients with darker skin tones, read all the google and yelp reviews, opt for a free consultation with the clinics to make sure they have the right equipment, training and experience to treat you.
It’s worth putting in the time in finding the right place for laser hair removal and reducing the risk of poor or tragic results.
Ten months of commitment
In order to reap the benefits of a 90% reduction in hair growth, you must be willing to commit your time. You’ll need around 4 to 6 sessions every 6 to 8 weeks to see long-term hair removal, that’s about 10 months in total. It usually takes five sessions to achieve satisfactory hair reduction. If your hair is very thick it could potentially take more but generally five sessions is enough. Intervals between sessions must be consistent, if you leave it too long between sessions you might not get the desired results and it might take you even more sessions to achieve them. Be sure to look at your entire calendar year to ensure you can commit to consistent sessions every 6-8 weeks.
It’s also worth noting that if you are planning on getting laser hair removal done so that you don’t have to worry about managing hair during the summer months, you need to start treatments 10 months before summer!
Photo by Christopher Campbell.
What you can’t do BEFORE
1. No sun
Avoid excessive sun exposure that would cause you to sunburn or tan for at least 2 weeks before your appointment.
2. No sunless tanning
Avoid any tanning lotion,spray or bed for at least 1 week before your appointment.
3. No chemical skin treatments
Avoid chemical peels, AHA/BHA treatments, and retinol products for at least 2 weeks before your appointment.
4. No waxing or tweezing
Avoid waxing or tweezing hair for at least 3 weeks before your appointment.
What you can’t do AFTER
1. No sun
Avoid excessive sun exposure that would cause you to sunburn or tan for at least 1 week after your appointment.
2. No deodorant, perfume, hot showers
Avoid skin irritating products and activities for at least 3 days after your appointment.
3. No exercise
Avoid activities that heat up the body or cause you to sweat for at least 2 days after your appointment.
4. No tight clothing
Avoid wearing tight clothing such as skinny jeans for at least a few days after treatment.