Laser hair removal is one of the newest technologies available for those with unwanted hair, but it doesn’t work for everything. Here are the benefits and drawbacks of laser hair removal. Is it right for your situation?
- It’s relatively painless
Those who’ve been through laser hair removal say that although it’s not completely painless, it can be significantly less painful than other hair removal methods, like electrolysis. It’s been compared to having a rubber band snapped against your skin during the treatment. Technicians can use skin numbing gel to minimize the pain, as well.
- It’s quick
Laser hair removal techniques are relatively quick; you can cover a large area of hair growth in a significantly shorter period of time than other more time-consuming methods (again, such as electrolysis). A single session can take about 45 minutes to complete for large areas like the back, stomach or chest; by comparison, an electrolysis section will also take about 45 minutes but for a much smaller area, such as the eyebrow area.
- It can be less expensive than other hair removal methods for large areas of hair growth
Although a laser treatment session isn’t going to come cheap, in that you’ll pay roughly $600-$1000 for a single session, it can be a less expensive option when you have a lot of hair to remove over a large area. That’s because a single laser treatment session can cover a large area, like the entire expanse of the back, and again, it can do so relatively quickly.
- It is most effective on light-skinned, dark-haired people
Because the laser targets the melanin in the hair to destroy the hair follicle, laser hair removal treatments are really only suitable for light-skinned, dark-haired people. People with darker skin, for example, can be seriously burned by the laser because, of course, the laser targets the melanin; with darker skinned people, high levels of melanin exist not just in the hair, but in the skin as well, making it unsafe and unsuitable for anybody but light-skinned, dark-haired people. New technologies are being developed so that at some point, this will be available for dark-haired and dark skinned people; however, it remains unclear whether or not people with light hair will ever be able to use laser technology in its current incarnation, since light hair contains very little melanin.
- It’s not actually a hair removal but a hair reduction technique
The FDA calls laser hair removal an approved “hair reduction technique,” not an actual hair removal technique. That’s because the laser does not permanently kill all hair follicles so that they can’t regrow hair. Instead, what happens is that hair comes back sparser and thinner, but does not actually disappear altogether. That requires subsequent laser treatments and sometimes other hair removal techniques (like electrolysis) used in conjunction with laser treatments. That said, with each repeated laser treatment, hair grows back continually sparser and thinner, such that eventually, it may disappear altogether. One treatment, however, is usually not enough to suffice for permanent hair removal.