It's pretty clear what happens during laser hair removal. Your dermatologist or salon professional aims a laser at your skin, and the laser kills the hair follicles, leaving your skin smooth and hairless. What's not so clear is what you need to do before and after laser hair removal. Take a look.
Before Laser Hair Removal
It's important to prepare properly for this procedure, as if you don't take these steps, you may end up with more hair than desired afterward. The most important preparation step is to skip shaving for at least a week. If you can go two weeks without shaving, that's even better — and it's preferred on areas like your upper lip and chin where the hair is finer. There needs to be about 1/8 inch of hair growth in order for the laser to work most effectively. (Don't wax or use hair removal products, either.)
Also avoid tanning beds and excessive sun exposure for about a month before laser hair removal treatment. The laser is a bit drying and irritating to the skin, and skin that is sun-damaged will be more sore afterward. Also, the lighter your skin, the easier the time the laser will have finding and focusing on your hair!
The day of your appointment, prepare by wearing loose and comfortable clothing. You can apply a light moisturizer a few hours before treatment, but do not apply any other medicated creams or preparations.
After Laser Hair Removal
Recovering from laser hair removal is pretty simple, but there are a few things you'll want to do. Overall, be kind to your skin. Do not use any harsh or stripping washes for a few days. Stick to gentle, scent-free soap, and apply a moisturizer twice per day. Avoid tanning for at least two weeks, and if you go out in the sun, apply sunscreen beforehand. Wear loose clothing over the treatment area to allow your skin to breathe.
If the treatment area starts to feel warm and uncomfortable, you can hold an ice pack against it for a little while. Most patients do not find this necessary, but it's nice to have the option.
If you take the time to prepare for laser hair removal and then care for your skin properly afterward, you'll have less discomfort and better results. Talk to your esthetician or dermatologist for more information. They may even have a preparatory handout they can provide.
To learn more, contact a salon that offers laser hair removal services.