No longer reserved for just the A-list, laser hair removal has become so mainstream that modern technology now allows you to treat yourself safely and painlessly (almost) in the comfort of your own home.
So, how does it work? There are two types of machines available for home use, laser removal and IPL, or intense pulsed light. Laser removal targets the hair’s pigment (melanin) in your follicles; the laser beam converts to heat as it passes through the skin, which is then absorbed by the melanin present in the hair follicle.
The heat damages the follicle at its root, which prevents regrowth over time. Laser works best on those with dark hair and fair skin (the greater the contrast between the two, the better), so it’s unsuitable for those with pale hair as there's less melanin, as well as those with darker complexions, as there's no contrast between the hair and the skin. When there is little difference between the two, your skin will absorb the light energy which converts to heat and can cause pain, blisters and burns.
Similarly, although not painless, IPL is less painful than other methods, such as epilation. Like laser, it destroys the root of the hair over time, meaning you’ll need less treatment as time passes. However, it’s far less effective than laser as the energy it produces is emitted via a variety of light waves, making it more diffused and less powerful – but this generally makes it cheaper than laser treatments. Due to the way IPL hits the skin, the intensity and speed of results will vary between individuals.
If you’re tempted to give a device a go, it’s worth planning when. Autumn or winter is the best time to start because your skin needs to be tan-free, whether natural or fake. And make sure you have a razor in your house as you’ll need to prep your skin before and in between IPL sessions before you get zapping. The area you’re targeting must be silky smooth for best results.
Aftercare is just as important as pre-care: lather yourself in sunscreen after your treatment (even in the depths of winter) and avoid anything that can trigger sensitivity on your skin, such as perfumes, deodorants and hot showers for the first 24 hours after you’ve zapped.
Before opting for this type of hair removal, check the brand’s skin and hair charts. Many do not work if your skin is dark or hair is light (blonde, grey, white or red). And don’t be tempted to skip on the handbook, as they detail all instructions, including where you can and can’t use the machines.
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