Laser Hair Removal: Is it Right for You?

Laser hair removal is one of the most popular uses for lasers in the cosmetic/aesthetic realm. The reason for this is because it works so well.

The first thing a prospective client needs to ask before getting laser hair removal is, “Does your laser provide laser hair reduction or does it remove the hair?” This is very important because the laser hair reductions are exactly that – they only reduce your hair but will not remove it. These much less expensive lasers are frequently owned by spas,  and therefore they are able to charge much less. Almost all of the clients who get these treatments don’t understand this limitation.


How does it work?
Essentially the laser light strikes the hair shaft, and travels down the length of the shaft to destroy the hair root. To be effective, the hair must be in the growth phase. Only about 20% of body hair is in the growth phase and about 15% of facial hair. The hair needs to be very short so you need to shave or cut it the day before. You cannot wax, tweeze or pluck the hair for 3 weeks before a session.


Does it work for all hair types?
The hair must have pigment – so it will not work on white, blonde or grey hair. Very light colored hair can be iffy.


Is it safe for all skin types?
There are essentially two laser types, – an Alexandrite which is used on light colored skin and a YAG which is safe for darker skin types. IF you have darker skin (ie not white), you should make sure that it is a YAG laser. The Cynosure Elite laser, which I have in my office, has both an Alexandrite and a YAG laser in the same unit. If you have darker skin, it is important to aim for about an 80-90% hair reduction since it can be hard to get 100% with this skin type.


How often should I have a treatment?
For the body, about every 6 weeks, and for the face, about every 4 weeks. You can do it a bit more frequently but this is optimum. Also, if you wait longer between treatments, that is fine.


How many treatments will I need?
This varies from area to area and person to person. I have seen some women do their axillas (armpits) and only need 3 treatments. I think a good average for the Alexandrite (white skin) is about 5-8 sessions. Some people will need more. Each session, if there is not much or any redness in the previous session, allows the energy to be increased.


What do I need to do before the treatment?
Shave the hair the day before. Most people should put a numbing cream on the area and cover with saran wrap for 45 minutes before their appointment. Please arrive 5 minutes early so you can wash it off before your session. You’ll want to use a sun block between sessions since you should not be tanned for the laser sessions. We use a cooler that blows cold air on the area being treated, making it much more comfortable. You should make sure that the place where you have your hair removal uses a cooler with their laser.


Do men ever do laser hair removal?
Yes, more and more men, are doing their backs, chest, abdomen, neck, legs pubic area etc. Both sexes will find laser hair removal much more comfortable than waxing.

To schedule an appointment for laser hair removal or any of our other services, please call our office at (703)406-2444 or email us at