Laser hair removal likely wasn’t something you randomly decided to do yesterday. It takes some mental and physical prep to get your head and body prepped for the permanent hair removal you’re looking for.
We’re here with the deets on how to prepare for laser hair removal and at-home IPL treatments, a method available to anyone who doesn’t want to leave their house to get hair-free.
How do I prepare my body for laser hair removal? To prepare your body for laser hair removal, exfoliate and shave the targeted area beforehand. But there’s more!
Keep reading to discover what to expect before, during, and after your treatment. Your skin will thank you.
Prepping Your Skin
Here’s how to prepare your skin for laser hair removal:
- Shave or dermaplane your skin. You should always shave 12-24 hours before laser hair removal. This allows the light to target your hair follicles rather than the hair growing out. If you’re targeting your upper lip or other areas on the face, dermaplaning is a good shaving alternative.
- Exfoliate. A gentle scrub with an exfoliant like The Revealer preps your skin for treatment and sloughs away any dead hairs afterward. Oh, you didn’t know you’d be shedding? It’s completely normal and means your treatment is working.
- Don’t use lotion. Skip thick moisturizers or lotions on the day of your treatment, even if they’re a part of your regular skincare routine. If you’re targeting your underarms, skip the deodorant, too.
- Wear SPF. Sun exposure isn’t a big deal with IPL, but you shouldn’t plan tanning sessions around your hair removal treatments. That includes sunless tanning beds and self-tanners. Quick reminder: Treatments work best with fair skin tones and dark hair.
- If you’re sunburnt, reschedule laser hair removal. A sunburn will make your skin more sensitive no matter the skin type. Slather on the aloe vera until your skin has healed. Next time you’re out there, follow your mom’s advice and wear broad-spectrum sunscreen.
- Stop using retinoids. Use gentle skin cleansers for 5 days before your treatment. Products with hyaluronic acid and acne treatments with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can all increase photosensitivity and make skin irritation more likely.
- Don’t bleach hair you’re trying to remove. Avoid bleaching any hair you’re targeting with laser hair removal. Remember, you’re trying to get rid of your body hair, not hide it.
- Cancel Botox. Focus on one area of improvement at a time. You’ll want to avoid cosmetic dermatology treatments for a few weeks before your laser hair removal appointment. That includes fillers, injectables, and chemical peels.
Can I shave right before laser hair removal? You shouldn’t shave right before laser hair removal. You’re setting yourself up for ingrown hairs and ineffective treatment.
What should you not do before laser hair removal? You should not be waxing, tweezing, or plucking before laser hair removal. The laser targets hair follicles during your treatment, and pulling those hairs at the root will make it much harder.
Setting Your Expectations
Preparing your mind and skin are equally essential when aiming for success in laser hair removal treatment.
Let’s start with the bad news. Traditional laser hair removal performed in office can hurt. It’s a medical procedure, and we can’t think of anyone who gets a thrill from doctor’s visits.
The great news is — at-home IPL treatments do not hurt. Generally all you would expect is some surface warmth.
If you are still considering in office laser hair removal, some would compare it to a rubber band snapping against your skin. Others could nap through it if they tried hard enough. We can’t say for sure what it’ll feel like because everyone’s pain threshold is different.
If you’re super sensitive and even the idea of a laser near your nethers makes you cringe, you can always pre-medicate with over-the-counter pain medication.
A topical numbing cream is another option. Some people are allergic to numbing creams like lidocaine, so if you develop a skin rash or itching after it’s applied to the treatment area, you’ll need to pass on it next time.
Still freaking out? Here are a few additional methods to manage the prospect of pain during your sessions:
- Relax. We hate when people tell us to relax. It’s an important point here, though.
- Rest up. Fine, most of you won’t be napping during laser hair removal. Getting enough rest before treatment is a great way to beat fatigue-related pain.
- Find your bliss. Adopt a hair removal mantra like, “Nothing feels as good as smooth skin.” Meditate. Pick up yoga. Whatever gets you through that perceived discomfort.
Now, let’s dig into some good news.
At-home IPL treatment is just as effective as professional laser hair removal and not nearly as uncomfortable. In fact, you could probably keep binging whatever hot Netflix drama you got into last night while you’re removing unwanted hair on your bikini line.
IPL uses light energy instead of lasers to target your hair follicles, so it’s less intense on your skin. You can also control the intensity. You can tone things down to your liking if you're targeting those more sensitive areas.
What to Expect Afterwards
For most laser hair removal enthusiasts, the hard part is over once the session is over. IPL fans can brag even more. There’s no downtime after an IPL treatment.
How long does it take to recover after laser hair removal? How long it takes to recover after laser hair removal depends on your body. For most, there is little to no recovery time at all.
How long after laser hair removal should I wait to shave? You should wait as long as it takes for skin irritation to subside before you shave after laser hair removal.
Otherwise, much of your post-treatment will look a lot like your skin prep. Be gentle. Avoid picking at your skin and tweezing errant hairs not picked up by your device. Skip your regular gym workouts and anything else that’ll cause you to sweat profusely for a few days after.
Since we’ve been talking about the mind-body connection, knowing what to expect for results is essential. You must be in it for the long haul when you start treatments.
Here’s how long it takes for ideal results:
- Laser hair removal: 4-6 initial sessions with maintenance touch-ups for a few months.
- IPL treatments: twice per week for the first two months to see permanent results, then once every 3-6 months as needed for touchup.
Laser hair removal works by targeting the melanin or pigment in your hair follicles during an active hair growth cycle. You can’t guarantee that every hair in the treated area is on the same growth cycle at any given time.
Your body hair is on its own schedule and doesn't really care what you think about it. Be patient, and it’ll all work out.
The Best At-Home Laser Hair Removal (Seriously)
Your budget doesn’t need as much prep, either. IPL devices are less of a financial burden compared to in-salon treatments since you pay just once for the cost of your device.
Try The Flasher 2.0 from Nood for permanent hair removal and reduction within 8 weeks or your money back.