What I Wish I Knew About Laser Hair Removal Before Getting It, from a Black Woman to a Black Woman

I’m not here to advise you on whether you ought to wax or not; you are free to do as you choose. However, laser hair removal is the way to go if you’ve made the decision that you’d want less of it and want a removal solution that would last more than a few days. Yes, it’s expensive (sessions can cost anywhere between $30 and $100 depending on the area), but after getting Brazilian waxes for about ten years, I realized that it would make more sense for me to pay more up front for more permanent hair reduction and spend less time trying to mediate in butterfly position while someone ripped hard wax off of my vagina.

As I started looking into laser hair removal alternatives, I discovered that there isn’t a lot of relevant information available—and that it’s especially harder to find information that applies to people with skin that’s melanin-rich. Therefore, I decided there needs to be a more permanent and noticeable location for people to acquire all the information about Laser hair removal for dark skin after conducting extensive research, starting my own “journey,” and documenting my experiences on Instagram Stories.

With advice from me and, most crucially, board-certified dermatologists who specialize in treating patients with skin that is melanin-rich, this manual offers all the knowledge I wish I had before deciding to undergo laser hair removal.

How the laser removes hair

According to Carlos A. Charles, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Derma di Colore, “Laser hair removal is the method by which we employ a laser light source to essentially nearly kill the hair follicle.” He says that the way laser hair removal works is by concentrating on a certain substance, such melanin, pigment, or a hair follicle. “When doing laser hair removal, particularly the kind that we conduct on people with darker complexion, the laser targets melanin or pigment at the hair bulb.”

“It’s essential to underline that laser hair removal is actually like permanent hair reduction—not it’s going to get rid of everything,” says Dr. Charles, despite the fact that laser hair removal has been shown to significantly reduce hair growth. In other words, it will lessen your hair, but it could not completely get rid of it.

Because early laser models weren’t developed to distinguish between the melanin in the skin and the melanin of the hair follicle, laser hair removal wasn’t previously thought to be safe for persons with melanin-rich skin. As a result, persons with darker skin were more likely to have burns, scarring, hypopigmentation (also known as bright patches on the skin), and other negative effects when receiving laser treatment. However, this is altering as a result of new lasers developed with melanin-rich skin in mind, particularly lasers with longer wavelengths, longer pulse durations, and more effective cooling apparatus.

The advantages of laser hair eradication

Laser hair removal not only gets rid of undesirable body hair, but it also helps with common skin issues including razor bumps, hyperpigmentation (darkened patches of skin), and hypopigmentation. The laser avoids inflaming the hair follicle since it targets it and slows down hair growth. Additionally, when the amount of hair on your body gets less, shaving becomes unnecessary, which is frequently the cause of razor bumps and the dark patches that go along with them. Over time, laser hair removal could also smooth out the texture of your skin if you have lumps or discolouration brought on by hair growth.

The ideal laser for those with dark skin

Early 2000s lasers weren’t designed to be effective on skin types with darker tones, so if you sought to get laser hair removal, you were probably turned away. However, more recent lasers are now able to differentiate between the skin’s pigment and hair follicles, making it feasible to safely and successfully treat skin with a high melanin content.

When conducted using a laser that emits light with a wavelength of 1064 nanometers, Dr. Charles claims that laser hair removal is “extremely successful” for persons with darker complexions. With a 1064 nanometer wavelength, the Nd:YAG laser specifically targets the melanin, or pigment, of the hair follicle and avoids the melanin present in the skin.

According to board-certified cosmetic dermatologist DiAnne Davis, MD, FAAD, of Dallas, Texas, “this particular wavelength is safest for skin of color because the wavelength penetrates the skin deeply enough to destroy the hair follicles without destroying the surrounding melanocytes [which are the cells in your skin that produce pigment].” This is crucial, she continues, because melanocyte loss can result in pigmentary changes like hyper- or hypopigmentation.

Dr. Charles asserts that laser hair removal is extremely risk-free and virtually side effect-free, “provided that the individual performing it is utilizing the proper laser and is aware of the mechanics of treating darker skin.”

According to Dr. Charles, the heat produced by the lasers is the main challenge when doing laser hair removal on dark skin. It is not possible to do laser hair removal after the tattoo removal session Heat that is too intense might damage the skin by heating up melanin and causing pigment alterations like post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. It is crucial to utilize a laser that will only target the pigmentation of the hair follicle and not your skin, and to seek out professionals with experience treating persons with darker complexion.

According to Dr. Davis, the laser’s exact wavelength is more crucial when choosing a provider than its brand. Make sure they have a laser that is safe for your skin before just scheduling a session at the facility your favorite celebrities visit or that your friends recommend.

suitable clients for laser hair removal

It’s crucial to ascertain your candidacy for laser hair removal before making a financial commitment. No matter how much melanin is present in your skin or how light or dark your complexion is, laser hair removal is an option, according to Dr. Charles. The light source in the laser often sees coarse, thick, and darker hair the best, so it takes up the hair and really zaps it, according to him. “But the folks that tend to perform the best have that hair, and that’s why,” he adds.

According to Dr. Davis, those with dark brown or black hair often get the best laser outcomes. Unfortunately, you aren’t a suitable candidate for laser hair removal if you have light brown, grey, or white hair since the laser can’t find the melanin in your hair follicles.

The majority of people will experience success with laser hair removal, but other regions, like the upper lip, are more challenging to treat because of the finer hair there. The majority of professionals will still treat this area, but due to its tendency to be resistant to treatment (and the fact that excessive hair growth in the area occasionally results from hormones), you might not see dramatic results and will probably need to undergo multiple sessions to see any results at all.

Prior to receiving your first laser hair removal treatment, remember the following:

Before scheduling your first session, there are a few things you should know. You should first evaluate your skin-care regimen and speak with a dermatologist or laser specialist. Professionals may advise you to avoid using treatments that include substances like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide completely, or at the very least to put a hold on them for a few days before and after your treatment, if you use them on areas that you intend to have treated. Dr. Davis claims that this is because they don’t enhance skin sensitivity, which might result in irritation or more serious problems like skin peeling and scarring when used with laser hair removal.

Although Dr. Charles doesn’t forbid his patients from using topicals to the regions that need therapy, he doesn’t advise doing so right away. That being said, he advises beginning your skin-care routine a few days following treatment, providing everything went according to plan. Dr. Charles advises against receiving treatment if you’re on Accutane since your skin can react in an unpredictable way.

Additionally, it is suggested that you postpone treatment if you are pregnant because research on the safety of laser hair removal during pregnancy have not been conducted.

Getting ready for a laser hair removal appointment

“You will want to have a consultation with a board-certified dermatologist before your laser hair removal session to review your medical history and discuss goals you want to achieve so you can be completely informed about exactly how the treatments will work,” advises Dr. Davis.

I strongly advise scheduling a spot test visit for the areas you wish to get laser treatment on before investing in any sessions. Laser Hair Removal: Pregnancy, Recommendations, and Tips  First and foremost, you’ll be able to determine whether you enjoy the practice and your provider as well as whether you’ll have any negative side effects from the therapy. In my opinion, it’s worth the extra caution and visit because my biggest worry was getting burned on my vagina and having lifelong scars (and losing my money).

Prior to your appointments, Dr. Charles advises you to “avoid waxing, avoid plucking, and avoid electrolysis to the region [being treated] for at least three or four weeks.” Shaving is the best course of action, he advises, if you’re determined to remove hair in between sessions.

Waxing should be avoided since it destroys the whole hair follicle, and you need a little amount of hair for the laser to identify the hair follicle’s color. For the greatest results, most providers advise shaving a day or two before your session, but this depends on the technician and location, so be sure to ask your provider for their particular advice and instructions.

Shaving two days before your appointment, especially if you frequently miss sections of hair, is preferable in my opinion. In my experience, the first shave removes the majority of the hair, and the second shave lets you go over any areas you may have missed the first time. In the worst situation, before the fun starts, your provider will shave any missing spots.

What to anticipate from your laser hair removal appointment

Those who have started their investigation are likely to have heard laser hair removal service providers or acquaintances who have undergone the procedure claim that it is painless. And I politely call BS on that. Even though everyone of us has a different threshold for pain, it’s probably safe to say that laser removal is painful. I liken the sensation to hot rubber bands snapping on your skin. I’m aware that this description sounds awful, but the good news is that the discomfort only lasts for a brief period of time.

I haven’t had laser treatment all over my body, but I can confirm that certain parts are unquestionably far more sensitive than others. The vulva, for instance. There are no words to adequately express how uncomfortable it is, so I advise finding your happy spot, taking deep breaths, and squeezing the life out of stress balls.

I like to use numbing cream ($17) to lessen the pain associated with obtaining a complete Brazilian. It significantly lessens any soreness when I apply it around an hour before I need to leave my house and keep it on for at least 20 minutes (the longer the better). Having said that, I advise getting in touch with your provider to find out which items they do and don’t suggest.

You will undoubtedly feel some discomfort by the end of the day; but, rather than adopting the “suck it up” approach, let your provider know so that they may give you a break or reduce the laser’s intensity.

What to anticipate following a laser hair removal procedure

Inflammation of the hair follicles may cause temporary pimples on your skin after your session, but according to Dr. But laser hair removal doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal Charles, “they usually go gone within a day or so.” He continues by saying that redness is also typical and that he usually gives patients a modest topical steroid to use for a few days after the session to lessen it. Speaking from personal experience, after treating each location, doctors frequently provide aloe vera gel to calm the skin.

Your skin will be more photosensitive than usual, so you should avoid the sun and apply sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF to prevent burning. This is due to the fact that the laser has destroyed the hair follicle, which might initially produce redness and irritation to the treated region, much as when you have a skin-care treatment on your face, rendering you more vulnerable to UV ray damage.

How long does it take for laser hair removal to produce results?

You might be wondering how long it would take to see effects after feeling like you’ve been hit with hundreds of rubber bands. According to Dr. Charles, you should expect to observe between a 50% and 90% reduction in hair growth after the first treatment. However, it normally takes five sessions to notice a significant improvement.

Until I started witnessing instances where 20 to 30 bits of “dead” hair would fall out into my washcloth as I washed my body and into my hands as I applied lotion, I didn’t believe this to be the case. This could sound strange at first, but it’s a sign that your sessions are effective and aren’t being wasted.

After a few treatments, you should also anticipate decreased hair growth. Your hair grows in phases, and some regions are more resistant than others, so at times it may appear spotty. When beginning laser hair removal, it’s crucial to follow a regular, monthly schedule, advises Dr. Charles. This is so because the growth phase, the resting phase, and the regression phase are the normal three phases of hair growth.

“After the laser hair removal procedure, certain regions of the hair will start a growth phase at various times, while other areas will be in a resting or regression phase. Therefore, it is essential for the treatments to be successful that they are followed up with monthly treatments in order to catch new regions that are growing “Dr. Charles explains. And although this is anecdotal, I have discovered from personal experience that attending your sessions consistently lowers the intensity of your discomfort from treatment to treatment.

It’s important to reiterate that laser hair removal is not considered permanent, despite the fact that it can significantly reduce the amount of hair on your body. Even when you’re “done,” you’ll still need to come in for maintenance sessions since things like hormones can still affect your hair growth.

All things considered, laser hair removal is a time, emotional, and financial commitment. As a result, before scheduling a session, be certain that you trust the practitioner and are prepared to commit to at least six months of continuous treatment.

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