Are you suffering from stubborn or ingrown hairs, or just want to get rid of having to constantly shave or depilate? If so, laser treatment might be for you. The treatment is becoming increasingly popular, but some also have doubts. So how does laser hair removal work and is it safe? And why does it work better on some people than others? We explain here.
The hair growth cycle, a three-stage cycle
Before we go into more detail about laser hair removal, it is important to know that hairs go through three phases when growing and that not all hairs grow at the same rate. So every hair on your body is at a different 'life stage'.
Since all hairs are at a different stage, it sometimes seems like they grow back just a week after hair removal. However, these are just different hairs. Only they are hairs in a different phase of the hair growth cycle.
In the hair growth cycle, we talk about three phases:
- The anagenic phase, or growing phase is the first part of the cycle. On average, this phase lasts about three to five years. 80% to 90% of hair follicles are in this phase.
- In the catagen or transitional phase, the hair follicle retracts and detaches from the hair root (dermal papilla). On average, this phase lasts 2-3 weeks. About 1% of all our hair is in this phase.
- The telogenic phase or resting phase is the last phase where the hair on our body is. In this phase, which lasts an average of four months, we experience hair loss. Less than 10% of your hair is in the telogen phase.
After the telogen phase, another anagenic phase starts.
What is that, laser hair removal?
'Laser' is the acronym for 'Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation'. This is quite a mouthful, but lasers are strong and highly focused beams of light that can be used in many applications. Ranging from communication to navigation and, yes, even hair removal.
Laser treatment entails the use of medical-grade lasers. Those lasers convert the light from the laser beam, which is attracted and absorbed by the pigment (melanin) in the hair, into heat. This is how the hair follicle and root are affected and destroyed.
In order to destroy a hair follicle, the nutritional supply and stem cells responsible for hair regeneration must also be destroyed. A temperature of about 70 degrees Celsius is needed for this.
Why is my hair still growing back after a laser treatment?
So many of us opt for laser hair removal so we never have to shave or trim again. However, hairs may still grow back over time. There are three reasons for this:
- Only the hair in the anagen or growth phase can be successfully destroyed. Hence, a sequence of treatments is needed to remove all hair.
- Also, only hair with sufficient pigment can be treated. The darker and heavier the hair, the easier it will be to destroy. But the lighter and finer the hair, the more difficult it is to remove.
- Last but not least, skin color also plays a role. Do you have light skin? Then you can be treated with high intensity. Have you got darker skin? Then there is a risk of burns. A laser does not recognize the difference between the pigment in the skin and the pigment in the hair. Therefore, it is up to the specialist to adjust the laser intensity individually.
Is laser hair removal safe?
Generally, laser hair removal is believed to be a safe treatment. A large majority of researchers see no long-term health risks and serious short-term side effects are rare.
Although the right precautions can go a long way in curbing this, using powerful laser beams comes with some risks. Therefore, be sure to protect your eyes, work with quality machines and use the right and, above all, mild products.
In addition, many specialists recommend good air circulation and purification and wearing a laser mask (special glasses) during the treatment. This will protect you from the numerous minute particles released into the air during the treatment.
What are the contraindications of laser hair removal?
Before any treatment, conditions are thoroughly checked and the possible effects of treatment on certain conditions are considered. For example, there are some effects concerning a laser treatment:
- We've mentioned it before, but laser hair removal is not recommended for tanned skin or darker natural skin tones. Therefore, staying out of the sun as much as possible is important before treatment. So, scheduling your laser treatment in less warm and not-so-sunny periods is best.
- Ensure that you are not taking any photosensitising medication (such as roaccutane for acne) at the time of treatment.
- Steer clear of laser treatments if you suffer from a skin condition or injury such as ulcers, herpes and the like;
- The treatment does not work well on tattoos either;
- Pregnancy is a relative contraindication to laser treatment. While laser hair removal is safe for the growing fetus, the mother's skin can react unpredictably to the treatment. Therefore, laser hair removal in pregnant women is not indicated.
Suffering from irritation after laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal involves destroying hair follicles and roots. But considering your hair is also directly connected to your skin, a treatment can also cause mild symptoms such as irritation, itching, or discomfort in the treated areas. It is mainly people with light or fine hair, or dark skin who tend to experience more discomfort.
To avoid and relieve ailments, use Shinn's Intimate Oil Spray. This softens the skin between and after each laser session. Our formula safely nourishes, restores, and protects intimate skin. The Intimate Oil Spray is unique, natural, and vegan.
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