We’ve been bombarded by images of women who are completely hairless through waxing and photoshop, which in turn has influenced other women to ensure that they do not emerge in public with any visible hair on their skin. Therefore, both genders’ eyes have become accustomed to seeing hairless women, and we’ve somewhat forgotten that, as mammals, we’re meant to have some form of thermal covering on our bodies.
Every woman is different. Some have little to no production of hair, others have a darker but manageable amount with a relatively slow growth rate, while others are actually prone to having a beard and chest hair due to polycystic ovarian syndrome or hirsutism. Irrelevant of all this, what we must remember is that all of this is natural, and nobody should be ashamed of how their body’s made. It doesn’t make you any more or any less of a woman or indeed a human being.
Nonetheless, scientific advancements have allowed us the option to maintain, decrease or permanently eliminate our body hair. One such effective method is laser hair removal, a treatment that’s been on the market and blossoming as it goes along since the mid-90s.
There’s a lot to be said about laser hair removal, and most of it is positive. It’s changed the lives of so many people, both men and women, and as more time passes, the more advanced laser technology is becoming, offering far less discomfort, and quicker and long-lasting results for its patients.
What’s the science behind laser hair removal?
The treatment is based on the principle of dark surfaces absorbing energy. When the laser is administered onto the area, the darkness of the hair follicle underneath the skin will absorb most of that energy, while skin won’t as much, since it’s lighter. This is why the treatment is most effective on people who have pale skin and dark hair – the stronger and darker the hair follicle is, the more energy it will absorb, and the more it can be destroyed. These are often referred to as perfect candidates, but this is not to say that the treatment can’t work on people with darker shades of skin or blonder hair. Your doctor will be able to determine what treatment or machine is best for you.
How much does it cost?
This is probably the question on everybody’s lips. If you want genuine, medically approved and effective laser treatment, you’ll have to fork out. However, do see it as an investment, especially if your hair growth rate is a little out of hand. Clinics often have open days where package deals are offered, so you’ll have the chance of striking a good deal. Do your research well and ask what machines are being used, as some on the market may not be as strong as those found in cosmetic hospitals. You’ll normally pay per session, and the price will depend on the area being treated.
How does it work?
Your doctor will first give you a test patch as a consultation, in order to see how your skin and hair will react to the laser energy. The patch is first shaved, as the area has to be clean so that the energy won’t be absorbed by the hairs outside of the skin. If the treated area comes out in red hives, then that means it’s working. Don’t worry, these die down after 15 minutes or so.
Your doctor will also ask you a few medical questions to determine the root of your body hair, and may even recommend that you go on the pill or get tested for polycystic ovarian syndrome to keep it in check and to lessen the growth rate.
You’ll be asked to shave just before your first session, and it’s important that you don’t wax or pluck, as the laser needs for there to be the pigment of the hair to be underneath the skin. If you can’t reach certain areas with your razor, doctors will do it themselves for you just before they begin.
Your frequency will be determined during the session, depending on your pain threshold and skin sensitivity to the heat. Some areas are more sensitive than others, and your doctor will ensure that the frequency of energy applied is safe for you. However, the higher the frequency, the more effective the destruction of the melanin will be.
What goes on in that surgery room?
Nowadays, machines have been upgraded in such a way that the treatment has become virtually painless, save for a few tender areas such as the bikini line and the intergluteal cleft. You’re given a pair of goggles to shelter your eyes from the laser, and you can just lie back and put your headphones on or read a book as your doctor blasts away. They will first draw on you with a make up pencil a grid to keep track of the areas they’ve covered, and the laser is designed in such a way that it first shoots a cooling agent onto the skin before then shooting the laser. This will help your body cope considerably.
Once an area’s been finished, aloe vera is applied to your skin to calm it down. You’ll then be sent home and heavily advised to apply sunblock, cover up and avoid sunlight at all costs. This is why most sessions are booked during the autumn and winter seasons, so that candidates have less chance of getting sunburnt and don’t have to miss days at the beach in summer.
You’re advised to leave about four weeks between each session, in order to examine the results of the previous one. During the first few sessions, you’ll start to see hair ‘growing’ back. It’s not – it’s just the dead hair being pushed out of the skin, and you can prove this by exfoliating with a skin scrub and happily watch that hair coming off. Try to exfoliate on a daily basis to help the dead hair come out.