One of the things people ask me about relatively frequently while i’m tattooing their brows is Laser Hair Removal (LHR). Honestly, if you’re thinking about picking my brain about non-brow beauty things, don’t feel bad. you’re not alone.
In 2013, we made the decision to invest in a Lightsheer Duet. It was a huge decision, an even bigger investment, and a bit of a risk for sure. At the time, we were still operating out of the house in a single room, just me solo. Clients were asking me about LHR, if i had any opinions or insight, and it just kept coming up. I was at the Toronto Spa show, and i started talking to different companies about their equipment, and training companies about their programs, and it planted that seed. I ended up taking a week long course on LHR, and spent some time with another beauty boss babe in Hamilton — Bozana Skojo, owner of the Laser Spa Group in Hamilton. I’ll tell ya, she’s probably one of the earlier influences on my path. She suggested that when i grow big enough, i’d start hiring people to expand and grow bigger… I snickered at the thought. Look at me now!
So in 2013 we bought our laser, and we’ve been doing LHR since — 7 years! I can’t answer questions that are too in-depth about any other machines, but i know my machine and i’ve answered a million and one questions at countless consultations. Here are some of the most common questions i get:
I’ve had laser done before elsewhere, and it didn’t work. We hear this one all the time — You had 20 sessions, and it never worked. You had 6 sessions and it worked for a bit but then all of your hair came back. They told you 6 sessions and it only worked for half… Here’s the thing. Your hair is an organic thing and there’s no way to know how well it’ll work. At Bare Essentials, we have a Lightsheer — gold standard in the industry. It’s proven, it works, and it works well. If you went elsewhere and it didn’t work, i’d ask what kind of machine was used? If the machine wasn’t a diode laser, it’s likely it was an IPL — which is NOT a laser. I’ll get a bit science-y here: A laser has 3 characteristics, it’s collumated, coherent, and monochromatic. I stress the monochromatic part, because an IPL is a broad wavelength light source and is all the colours of the spectrum, whereas a diode is just infrared light. It’s designed specifically for hair removal, whereas IPL can do some hair removal, but also treats skin pigmentation, photofacials, etc.
Ok, now that we’ve cleared up that one part… If you’ve had laser done before, and it legit was a laser and it still didnt work, the other factor could be technician error. Not all training is equal, and even if they had great training, a laser is a scary beast of a machine and it’s easy to go too easy on someone for fear of burning them. Go too easy, and you get no results.
So you’ve had legit laser, and your tech knows their stuff, and you still didn’t have the results you wanted? Laser won’t get 100% of your hair. You’ll always have something left behind, and a typical range of success is 65-95% reduction. That being said 10% of clients are non-responders. Meaning, sometimes no matter what we do — some hairs just don’t respond to the laser.
Does it hurt? Yes. It’s bearable mostly, to be honest. The later sessions definitely hurt more than the earlier ones, but keep in mind — we’re using heat to kill your hair follicle. The settings change with every session, usually increasing in heat. Theoretically, the less hair you have left the less it should hurt, but everyone’s pain tolerance is different. I always tell people to do their first session at least without numbing, and if you feel like you can handle it, don’t waste $60 on a tube of numbing cream. If your first session is intense and you don’t know how much more you can handle, yes. Go for the numbing cream. You’ll need to put it on 45 minutes prior, and occlude with saran wrap (cover the numbing cream with saran), but it should take the edge off.
How often do I need to come in? Can I speed up the process by coming in more frequently? We book sessions 8 weeks apart, and here’s why: Laser hair removal will only work on hair that’s in anagen, one of the phases your hair goes through in the growth cycle. Follow me here for a sec.
Anagen as noted in the image above, is when your hair is still actually attached to blood supply. Your hair is actively growing in this phase, and when treated while in anagen — any damage you cause will be permanent. Amazing, right? Right! BUT you can’t tell when your hair is in this phase. You can’t just tug on your hair and think, “oh — it’s not coming out so it’s definitely in anagen!” … LOL. If only. Just factor that 20% of your hair is in anagen at any given time. Now that we have a range, imagine you came in for a session and we’ve zapped all of your hair. What happens next — your hair will all start shedding and falling out. Here’s where most people get super excited about laser, and think they only need one session and they’re golden. Nah, sis. Remember, only 20% of your hair is in anagen, and these are the only hairs that are being affected. 6 weeks after your first session, you’ll start seeing hair grow back. At about 8 weeks is when you’ve had that full growth cycle come thru and you have a new batch of hairs grown in, and you’re back to that 20% range in anagen. We want as much as your hair in anagen as possible, so you need to wait that FULL 8 weeks to make sure you get the best possible results. You also will need at least 5 sessions to get rid of your hair (5 x 20% = 100%, although you’ll always have some hair remaining — but 5-6 sessions gets you a good chunk of the way there).
I have hair on my (insert body part here) — can you help me? Ya, usually i can. Here are the factors that will determine success rate:
• Hair and skin colour: Sorry to all of my gingers and blondies out there, you’re SOL. I know. I KNOW…. *virtual kleenex to wipe your tears away* … moving on. Laser is targeting pigment!! If your hair is too light, the laser can’t find your hair. If your skin is too dark, the laser gets confused on what to treat. This is why the dark hair/light skin combo is ideal. The laser is super clear on what to treat and what to leave alone. Darker skinned clients (latin, east indian, middle eastern, indigenous) can still get LHR, but will be treated with more caution to prevent burning.
• Hormonal issues: If you have hair growth due to a hormonal imbalance, you can treat the hair with laser until the cows come home. The laser will kill those hairs, and your body will say — “HAH. you think you can defeat ME? fool. Here’s a new hair to negate all the money you’ve just spent.” Think I’m kidding? Well, I am funny, but it’s true. Hormonal areas that are commonly a concern are under the chin, areola, inner thighs. Most other areas are pretty safe — your armpits are not a hormonal area so don’t worry. Also on the hormone note, if you’re on the pill, changing it up could also cause regrowth if it’s messing with your hormones.
• Location: Certain areas will definitely be more successful than others. Underarms, bikini line/brazilian… these two are the most successful cause those hairs, don’t we know it, are coarse and easy to target. Leg hairs, arm hairs, upper lip… these areas all will work, but may not be as successful as others. Also mens back/chest hair takes more than the typical 6 sessions — the hair here is much deeper and takes more sessions to target. Sorry dudes.
I honestly could go on and on and on. And on. And since we’re all stuck in quarantine, JOIN ME on Wednesday April 1 at 9pm for an IG live convo. No joke. Hit me up with aaaallllll of the laser questions. Or comment below, and i’ll cover them on IG and you can catch it pon de replay.