On a quest for the smoothest method for permanent hair removal? So far, laser hair removal is the most effective method out there for gradually turning furry limbs into supple, seal-like ones.
So, if you’re ready to commit to (semi-) hairlessness, here’s what to expect after you go under the lasers.
What do I do after laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal is typically conducted by a dermatologist. The process works via concentrated light beams that target hair follicles and break down their roots.
- Keep it cool. Use an ice pack or cool cloth to combat post-procedure swelling.
- Take meds as directed. Your derm may prescribe a steroid cream or other treatments to soothe the pain and promote healing.
- Shield your skin from the sun. You may want to show off your sleek new skin, but you’ll have to wait about a month. (You should also avoid sun exposure to the afflicted area for 1 month prior.)
To minimize side effects, your dermatologist will consider your unique skin and hair type, lifestyle, and medications in selecting the right laser and conducting the treatment.
After the lasers turn off, your work isn’t done. You still need to give the affected areas careful TLC to reduce the risk of side effects and ensure the best results.
Even if you follow your doc’s orders perfectly, normal side effects after the procedure include:
- mild pain
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), these should fade within 1 to 3 days.
Signs something isn’t right
Though laser hair removal is a noninvasive procedure, taking care will ensure the smoothest (literally) results.
Your derm will give you specific instructions for caring for your skin post-procedure. In general, this is what the pros recommend.
Keep it cool
The lasers heated your skin up — now it’s time to cool it back down. Apply a clean, soft wash cloth with cool water on the area frequently.
You may also use an ice pack wrapped in a paper towel to curb swelling and discomfort.
Take/apply meds as directed
Your doctor may prescribe you a steroid cream to minimize any after-burn. You may also take Tylenol or an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory to soothe effects, but always chat with your derm to be sure.
Shield your skin from the sun
Keeping your newly-smooth legs away from the beach for a month may feel like a major bummer, but it’s what the doctor ordered.
What about at-home lasers?
At-home laser hair removal aftercare is virtually the same. But experts recommend talking with a professional about laser hair removal. When you DIY, you can’t select the best method and laser type for your unique hair and skin type. So, you’re kind of winging it.
You’re also more likely to have serious side effects without guidance from a pro.
Once you’re post-procedure, there’s also a number of things you should avoid while your skin heals.
Here’s what to add to your do *not* do list:
- Don’t schedule another treatment in less than 4 to 6 weeks. It can take multiple treatments to achieve your desired results, but your skin needs time to heal in the interim.
- Don’t wax or tweeze. Tugging and picking at the skin can further irritate things.
- Don’t tan. Sprawling in the sun (or in a tanning bed) can boost your risk of serious burns or permanent hyperpigmentation. Wait 1 month to resume your beach bunny routine.
- Don’t use tanning lotion. Sorry, no fake tans, either — at least for about a week. Tanning lotions typically contain chemicals that can cause rashes, burns, or bumps.
- Don’t apply fragrant, fruity, or perfumed products to the area. It’s best to avoid any fragrances, detergents, or perfumes for a week post-procedure. Since the area will be very sensitive, harsh chemicals may provoke a reaction.
- Don’t use deodorant (if you got laser hair removal in your arm pits). Just pretend it’s the 1800s for about 7 days.
- Don’t use body scrubs. Skip harsh exfoliating scrubs for about a week afterward.
- Don’t take super-hot showers or baths. Wait at least 48 hours before hopping back into a *scalding hot* shower, if that’s your thing. Skip the saunas and steam rooms, too.
- Don’t go to the pool or hot tub. Stay away from chlorine or harsh chemicals for at least a week.
Still experiencing stubble after laser hair removal? That’s normal. According to the AADA, your first laser hair removal procedure will remove about 10 to 25 percent of your hairs in the treatment area.
Never shave skin if it’s:
- red or discolored
- painful or irritated
According to the AADA, on average, most people need six treatments to fully remove hair.
Your skin care arsenal may need a temporary overhaul as you wait for your skin to heal. For at least a week after your procedure, remember to:
- Use lukewarm water. Even if you love showers so hot it makes your partner scream, you’ll need to stick with something more tepid for the time being. Hot water can irritate the area.
- Use fragrance-free everything. Look for hydrating, gentle lotions and cleansers designed for sensitive skin. And remember to skip the harsh scrubs and exfoliants. When in doubt, 100 percent aloe vera should do the trick.
- Skip the shaving cream. Remember: You shouldn’t be shaving for at least a week to avoid probs, anyway. The same goes for hair removal creams.
After laser hair removal, here’s what to do (and what not to do):
- Use cool compresses to ease swelling.
- Take or apply medication as per your doc’s directions.
- Use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser and moisturizer.
- Wait at least 4 to 6 weeks in between treatments.
- Use extreme caution when using at-home kits.
- Call your doc in the case of any blistering or burning, infection, or serious pain.
- Use any products with fragrances, harsh chemicals, or exfoliants.
- Suntan or fake tan for at least a month.
- Take super-hot showers/baths or use a sauna.