Shaving before Laser Hair Removal - Optional or Mandatory?
In this write-up, we will discuss whether you should shave before laser hair removal. The answer is yes; you should shave before a session with laser hair removal. Shaving is a crucial thing to do before laser hair removal. It is essential to shave and avoid any other kind of hair removal methods for a week before laser hair removal.
What is laser hair removal?Laser hair removal is the process of using a laser to remove hair. It is a medical procedure that targets the hair follicles, essentially damaging them to prevent or delay further hair growth.
With so many options for hair removal – from waxing and threading to shaving and sugaring – it is essential to read up before committing to a hair removal routine. Laser hair removal has an added benefit over these other hair removal methods: it is markedly more permanent than other hair removal methods. Its long-lasting effects, however, come only with repeated sessions.
Often, it can take up to eight to ten laser hair removal appointments with the Bareskin device and a handful of weeks to obtain the final result. However, some noted that you could see visible less hair after just two sessions. Maintenance treatments may be necessary to have consistent results.
Is there an ideal Laser Hair Removal candidate?
Laser hair removal can be used nearly anywhere on the body, except for the area around the eyes. However, as with most medical treatments, its efficacy can change from person to person. In other words, the results of laser hair removal can depend on hair type, colour, and skin type.
Therefore, laser hair removal does not always make sense on other facial areas, aside from those around the eyes, like the upper lip, as the hair can sometimes be too fine or too light. In addition, the laser does not always detect this type of hair colour.
The concentrated beam of light targets the hair. It converts the light into heat, which destroys the hair follicle. As the hair pigment absorbs the laser, the skin beneath and around should remain unaffected. Therefore, the best results tend to occur in those with a more drastic hair to skin colour contrast, like dark hair and light skin, and those with darker hair in general.
Do I have to shave before my laser hair removal session?
As has been previously mentioned, laser hair removal is a bona fide medical treatment, which means you should ensure that the device you are using works well and is also certified and licensed. We also advise that you read the product instructions and reviews on the product itself. This information will give a great idea of if the item would work for you or not.
You should also ensure to prepare appropriately beforehand. For example, one common pre-laser hair removal question is ‘must I shave beforehand?’ The answer from the professional performing your treatment should be a resounding ‘yes’.
When to Shave and Why?
It is advisable to shave the area to be treated the day before using the machine. It would be best to shave using a clean and sharp razor to prevent bacterial residue and possible infections.
Ideally, it would help if you used a brand-new razor with a good lathering and hydrating shaving cream. Afterwards, gently wash/clean the skin to further erase any bacteria, soap, lotion or deodorants from the skin’s surface and the skin shaft. Please shave 24 hours before treatment – enough time for the skin to recover from any immediate post-shave irritation, yet not so much time that the skin has an opportunity to grow back.
The skin should be without stubble, indicating that the hair is not above the follicle. If the hair is too long, your risk of being burned or pigmented is more significant, increasing the pain.
Being clean-shaven will make the entire laser hair removal process easier to perform and less harmful to experience. The laser will be able to locate the pigment in the hair follicle without any issues. However, if you are still worried about possible pain, you could take a pain reliever shortly before your appointment.
Can I wax instead?
No, it would be best if you did not wax before a laser hair removal session. To recap, laser hair removal works by targeting hair at the follicle level to disrupt it and prevent or delay further hair growth. Bareskin Medical Officer - Jennifer Taylor says that when you shave, you trim the hair while leaving the follicle intact under the skin, ready for the laser device to do its hair removal magic. When you wax, you remove the hair from the tip to the root right out of its follicle.
So essentially, waxing leaves the laser without a target; there is no longer any pigment for the laser to hit. Therefore, it is advisable to wait at least a month, ideally six weeks or more, before your last wax before laser hair removal. Still, do make sure to shave within the day before your appointment.
The same principle applies to other hair removal methods. As they work under a similar assumption of yanking the hair from the follicular level, tweezing/plucking and epilating should also avoid in the weeks leading up to your laser hair removal appointment.
What if I forget to shave?
If you forget to shave, you may want to perform the procedure at another time. If the hair is above the skin, there is a risk of burning hair and skin. Your health and safety should be your priority. Also, using the device while you have hair above the skin may make the procedure ineffective. If you do decide to continue with the laser hair removal, it is possible that the hair follicle will not be targeted – or not as well as it could have been.
Also, it needs to note that hair above the skin and using a laser can sometimes give off the smell of burnt hair, which is never pleasant.
It may not be worth it between pain and a possibly pungent smell. So instead, get shaving and then use the device. In the hustle and bustle of life, set a reminder to shave the day before you perform the procedure. Your skin will indeed thank you for it.
So to conclude, with the original question if you need to shave before laser hair removal. We advise that if you plan to use the Bareskin laser hair removal device, we recommend that you shave before your laser hair removal session.
Medically reviewed by: Dr. Robert Walters MD (Dermatologist)