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What They Don’t Tell You About Laser Hair Removal

What They Don’t Tell You About Laser Hair Removal

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

 

skin color matters when doing laser hair removal - kaia naturals

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!

 

laser hair removal - kaia naturals

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.

Why Sunscreen is The Best… Yet Caution is Required

Why Sunscreen is The Best… Yet Caution is Required

If someone asks what my desert island product is? It would definitely be SUNSCREEN. Ask any dermatologist and they’d tell you to ALWAYS wear sunscreen 365 days a year if you want healthy, young looking skin. More importantly, wearing sunscreen will help protect us from skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. and approximately 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day.

Up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds, which is why you should wear sunscreen even when it’s cloudy and raining outside. Sunscreen is a must-have for both beauty and health…but is it actually healthy for us? Like some deodorants, some sunscreens are actually toxic. Today, I’m decoding the difference between natural (mineral-based sunscreens) and chemical-based sunscreens.

 

why you need sunscreen - kaia naturals

Photo by lack of color.

 

CHEMICAL VS MINERAL SUNSCREENS: WHICH ONE SHOULD I CHOOSE?

There are two types of sunscreens: chemical and mineral. If you’re short on time and can’t be bothered with reading the details, just remember chemical = problem and mineral = better choice.  Here’s why: Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the UV rays from the sun, converting them into heat, and then releasing the heat from our bodies. They usually contain a combination of these chemicals: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.

Although there are many other suspicious ingredients found in sunscreens, the one I’d like to focus on is OXYBENZONE.

 

WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID OXYBENZONE

Our skin absorbs oxybenzone like a SPONGE. A study from the EWG illustrated how sensitive our skin is to oxybenzone. Participants in the study who used chemical sunscreen had higher levels of oxybenzone in their bodies than those who did not. An even more interesting study showed correlations between eliminating usage of products containing oxybenzone and significantly lower oxybenzone levels in the body.

 

IT’S A KNOWN HORMONE DISRUPTOR

Oxybenzone is classified as an ENDOCRINE (hormone) DISRUPTOR. Endocrine disruptors alter the hormone levels in your body and are thought to lead to adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects. Hormones are the chemical messengers that travel in your body and are responsible  for coordinating complex processes like growth, metabolism, and fertility. They can influence the function of the immune system, and even alter behavior. More importantly, endocrine disruptors  have been linked to lowered fertility and an increased incidence of endometriosis and some cancers.  For reference, parabens, phthalates and synthetic fragrances are also all known endocrine disruptors.

 

sunscreen - kaia naturals

Photo by the Linda Edit.

 

WHY PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD BE CONCERNED

Oxybenzone doesn’t just affect you because if you’re pregnant it can impact the health of your baby too. Studies have shown significant relations between oxybenzone exposure in pregnant women, shorter pregnancy terms and lower birth weights in newborn males. A study conducted by American Academy of Pediatrics in 2006 found that infants with moderately low birth weights were significantly more likely to have a special health care need, chronic condition (diabetes, heart disease, etc), learning disability, and/or attention-deficit disorder (ADD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder(ADHD).

Oxybenzone not only affects your baby during pregnancy but can continue to affect them after they are born through breast milk. Margaret Schlumpf of the University of Zurich detected oxybenzone in Swiss women’s breast milk, which suggests that newborns may be exposed to these substances (Schlumpf 2008, Schlumpf 2010).

 

WHY MEN SHOULD BE CONCERNED

In a study conducted on American children, researchers found that adolescent boys with higher oxybenzone measurements had significantly lower testosterone levels (Scinicariello 2016). Lower levels of testosterone has been linked to low energy levels, hair loss/male pattern balding, increased body fat, and lowered sex drive.

 

oxybenzone and coral reefs sunscreen - kaia naturals

Photo by Catrin Johnson.

 

OXYBENZONE & CORAL REEFS

When we swim in the ocean with chemical sunscreen on, oxybenzone enters into the water and gets ingested by corals. Oxybenzone has been found to decrease the coral’s defenses against bleaching and disrupts it’s reproduction and growth cycles.

In 2018, Hawaii passed a bill banning sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate in efforts to help protect their marine life and coral reefs.

 

CHOOSE NATURAL SUNSCREENS

The FDA says the only sunscreen ingredients that they know for certain are safe are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, also known as the two main active ingredients found in mineral sunscreens. They work by sitting on top of the skin and reflecting the sun’s rays. Mineral sunscreens that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are also coral-reef safe, as their particle sizes are much bigger than oxybenzone and cannot be ingested by corals.

Because mineral sunscreen doesn’t penetrate the skin, its only real downside is the trademark white cast sunscreen is famous for. But hey, I’d rather look like a ghost on the beach knowing my skin is protected.

 

TIP 1

Look for tinted mineral sunscreens or apply sunscreen underneath your makeup.

TIP 2

A lot of natural sunscreens use coconut oil which can leave your skin looking and feeling greasy. It’s also not ideal to use coconut oil on acne-prone skin as it can clog your pores, so look for coconut oil-free natural sunscreens.

 

Do you have a favourite mineral sunscreen? Share your recommendations below!