Simple enough and so mainstream that you may not be aware that when a laser beam fires intense heat deep into your skin there is some risk!
Here are some tips to help you avoid getting burned during laser hair removal.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
The short version is that some form of energy, such as intense pulsed light, photon energy, or crystals to send a laser beam of intense heat through your skin to the individual hair follicle.
This intense heat damages the hair follicle, inhibiting future hair growth in the area being treated.
Since these lasers focus on the melanin in the hair follicle (the enzyme that adds pigment to our skin and hair) they can get a little confused if the skin around the follicle is dark or has a large amount of melanin (spray tans count).
It will remove the melanin and burn and scar you. So, based on my past experience, let me share some LHR safety tips so you don’t get burned!
Laser Hair Removal Safety
These are tips derived from the firsthand experience of one beauty expert (that would be me).
I learned after many, many positive laser hair removal experiences, that there is nothing routine about intense heat penetrating your skin, so take it seriously!
It’s all good and well if a laser office has the latest and greatest gold standard laser machines but if your laser tech isn’t familiar and confident with them they either won’t turn it on high enough and you’ll have to go back 32 times before it works OR they won’t know what they’re doing and burn the hell out of you.
Do your due diligence. Ask how many times your laser tech has used this laser hair removal laser. If she hasn’t done it at least 100 times you may want to consider checking elsewhere. (arbitrary number but you get what I mean, right?)
Or maybe not. This training facility boasts 8 whole days of hands-on experience! 😮
DO NOT be a practice dummy no matter how standard the procedure seems.
In Arizona, you can access a Special License Portal where you can look up a technicians license to make sure they are qualified and if there are any complaints.
To find the special license portal for your area simply go to your state’s Department of Health website.
Does knowing your laser seem like a bit too much information? Especially for a procedure as routine as laser hair removal?
Au contraire mon frère! ASK and research the laser unit your laser center or doctors’ office is using. Here’s why I tell you this:
When I got LHR I relied solely on the judgment of the doctor running the laser facility, which bode well in the beginning. I have no hair growing in my armpits or, erm, my Brazilian area and scarcely on my legs.
So, I was back to finish treatments on my legs.
My previous LHR treatments at this facility were with the latest (at the time) Syneron-Candela unit and all went swell. No major pain or any downtime really. Just, after a few treatments, my hair stopped growing. Boom! Easy peasy.
But on my last appointment, unbeknownst to me, my doc had “upgraded” to another machine altogether the Lumenis LightSheer, and new fresh-faced laser tech.
WELL, mama got BURNED. The girl actually said “Oops, I think I burned you”. Quick break to show you what I mean by “burned”.
Burns After Laser Hair Removal
Two hours after Laser Hair Removal
3 Days After Laser Hair Removal
5 Days After Laser Hair Removal
Had I done my research on the laser tech (see Tip#1), I would have known about previous sanctions against her competency. Had I known more about the different types of laser units (Tip#2) I probably wouldn’t have asked to ramp it up. (oopsy)
Find out which unit your laser hair removal office uses then do a quick search reviews search to see what other people think about it.
If you have darker skin tones then you may be interested to read Motus AX – Laser Hair Removal for All Skin Types
There Should Be NO Smell
Sounds obvious I know but if during your treatment you smell any type of burning STOP the treatment. You may think that perhaps you are smelling the hair burning but unless you’re an ape (or Tom Selleck), chances are you are not.
If you smell burning it may actually be your skin so stop and look at the area of treatment. If it looks like below, or like anything really, just stop, leave, and wait a few days to analyze your skin.
Pain in the ass I know, going there only to leave. But your skin may be a teeny bit pink for about 20 or 30 minutes but nothing like you see above.
If during your laser hair removal treatment you notice anything resembling the shape of the laser head on your skin, STOP THE TREATMENT.
This is NOT normal.
NUMB, NUMB, NUMB!
If you’re lasering your lady junk, make sure to GET NUMBED. If your practitioner tells you that it’s only a small sting or that the machine they offer is new and it doesn’t hurt DO NOT BELIEVE THEM.
And if it doesn’t feel like anything, that means that they aren’t turning the machine on strong enough and you will be going back 22 times to see results.
That being said – a good laser tech will know the ideal strength to set the laser so don’t be too pushy and tell them to turn it higher than their comfort level (see Tip#2).
Don’t Have a TAN!
I don’t care WHAT the laser tech says! The laser my tech was using was supposed to work on dark skin but then I got burned and the doc blamed it on a trip I took to Mexico a month before so…
It’s safest not to have any color on your skin before a laser hair removal treatment. Meaning no remnants of tan or even a spray tan. Even when your practitioner, hell, even if the manufacturer of the unit says it’s cool – it still may NOT be COOL.
That being said, there is one exception: the Motus AX. When set to the right settings, the Motus AX can successfully remove hair on darker skin tones.
Regardless, I would caution you to make triple sure that they have the settings adjusted to the right duration and wavelength for darker skin. xo
KNOW your Cost
Make sure to find a reputable laser treatment center that offers an unlimited package that will treat you until all the hairs are gone. The typical laser hair removal treatment takes several visits to achieve results positive enough to make the whole ordeal worthwhile.
Each of my areas took about 7 – 9 visits.
Because of this, it’s important that the office you use charges per area and not per visit. It typically runs about $400 per area divided up by body parts: underarms, lower leg, upper leg, bikini, and face.
Here are some resources that may be helpful when embarking on your laser hair removal journey:
Summing it up
Laser hair removal, as a whole, was a positive experience for me with results that I will enjoy for the rest of my life (mama hasn’t shaved for 5 years!), but follow my advice and tick off those tips before you get the treatment and you can have a pleasant experience from beginning to end!
I still have faded scars (5 yrs later!) that show up more as I tan but they no longer bother me. I’ve got jowls to think about!