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Laser Hair Removal Aftercare Guide

by Dr Wan Chee Kwang
April 17, 2019

So, you have just had your first laser hair removal session. You are excited to wave goodbye to that annoying body hair but do you know how to look after your skin afterwards? There are certain things you could do to make that process as smooth as possible and get optimum results. Let’s go over the most important ones.

What to Expect 24-48 Hours After Treatment

Right after your first session, you will likely experience some itching, pain or discomfort, which will resolve fairly quickly. It is a wise idea to apply ice on the affected area to minimise swelling and address the other reactions.

The way that laser hair removal works, is by sending continuous blasts of light into the skin’s pigment which converts to heat as it comes into contact with the follicle and bulb, destroying them completely. The fact that something creates small burns in the dermis means that you should be careful with how you care for it immediately after the intervention.

Laser Hair Removal Aftercare Tips

To prevent irritation and complications, there are different dos and don’ts to stick with after your procedure.

Shower with lukewarm water

Avoid using hot water on the treated area for 48 hours after each session at the very least. Warm treatments are generally a good thing because they help the pores to loosen and clear out, yet that can also make your skin vulnerable and is likely to spark irritation.

Stay away from sweating and excess heat

Avoid saunas, swimming pools, Jacuzzis, and steam rooms for the same reasons explained above. If you are a regular at the spa, cancel all your appointments pertaining to the next two weeks.

Do not spend too much time in the sun

The first seven days after the procedure you should do your best to avoid the sun. It is understandable that you can’t stick to this rule 100 percent, but you should at least try your hardest. If you need to go out, cover all sections that were exposed to the laser with clothing or protective accessories. Apply an SPF50+ to protect against UV exposure. Sunglasses and hats will come in handy too.

Do not pluck, wax or tweeze any hairs (you can shave though)

You want to avoid removing your hair by force or else it will compromise the results. If you still have more laser sessions to go, you don’t want to do anything that will rip out the follicle from its root because the light will not be able to pick it up on your next treatment. You should have learned by now that hair has its growth cycle and each strand can be at a different stage at any given moment. During your first laser hair removal, some will be in the resting phase. To get to them eventually, you will need multiple procedures.

Woman getting legs waxed at a spa

Avoid makeup, topical creams, perfume, deodorants, and the like

Right now, your skin is sensitive and skin treatment that you would normally do without thinking could actually be too much. Any products, especially perfume-infused ones, may cause an undesired reaction in the treated area. This includes glycolic acid, scrubs, and retinol creams, to name a few. Wait for your skin to heal fully before you dive into further procedures.

Skip the gym and avoid physical exercise for a couple of days

If you like to work out week in and week out, good for you but as far as hair removal aftercare is concerned, you should think twice before hitting the gym. Right now heavy physical exercise is not a great idea not only because you will be sweating profusely, but also because your increased body temperature will be a perfect environment for bacteria. Also, if you received a laser hair removal covering your bikini line, you definitely want to avoid getting in a situation where your clothes rub aggressively against the skin (it could cause itching and irritation leading to complications).

People exercising at fitness gym

Refrain from other skin treatments for a minimum of 14 days after your laser session

Postpone more aggressive procedures like thread lifts, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, fillers, etc. There is hardly any need to explain how this will affect the largest organ in your body. If a simple hot water bath can create discomfort in the treated section, imagine what an abrasive product can do.

Do not pop blisters or puncture your skin in any other way

Again, breaking your skin may cause an infection, which could easily spread to other areas. Just keep your hands off the treatment area for your own good.

How to Prepare for Your Next Session

  • A week before your appointment, stop using any fake tans.
  • Avoid sunbeds all the while you are doing laser treatments.
  • You are not advised to remove by force any hair that grows back. The only things you can stick with are hair removal creams and good old shaving.
  • Refrain from taking medications. If you are having a medical treatment parallel to your laser sessions, don’t forget to inform your doctor about it.
  • Protect yourself from the sun with an appropriate sunscreen product.
  • Return to your next appointment within the recommended timing.
  • Exfoliate your skin five days after each procedure.
  • If you already have a tan, your dermatologist will suggest you wait until it fades in order to have the treatment.

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31018716/
    Thomas, M. M., & Houreld, N. N. (2019). The “in’s and outs” of laser hair removal: a mini review. Journal of cosmetic and laser therapy : official publication of the European Society for Laser Dermatology21(6), 316–322. https://doi.org/10.1080/14764172.2019.1605449
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23332016/
    Gan, S. D., & Graber, E. M. (2013). Laser hair removal: a review. Dermatologic surgery : official publication for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery [et al.]39(6), 823–838. https://doi.org/10.1111/dsu.12116

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