15 Things You Need to Know Before Your Laser Hair Removal Treatment

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beautiful young woman

For many, the thought of no longer needing to shave almost daily is a dream. Laser hair removal isn’t just a matter of cosmetic appeal – it’s a convenient way to shorten daily hygiene practices. No more razor burn, itchy skin, or allergic reactions to new shaving creams.

Turning to permanent hair removal treatments is a big investment, in terms of time and money, but one that pays off for the average recipient. Still – it’s not a decision you should rush into without doing research.

To get the ball rolling, we’ve collected 15 pieces of information to keep in mind as you schedule your first laser hair removal appointment. Take a look to understand more about the practice and whether it’s the right choice for your lifestyle and body.

It Takes Several Treatments to See the Full Results

First things first: let’s’ dispel the common belief that laser hair removal is a one-and-done treatment. It takes at least two to three weeks after your first appointment to see any difference – and up to a dozen appointments to reap the full benefits.


Well, the short answer is that your hair follicles are all at different stages of growth at different times. To zap each one individually, it takes repeated visits to a clinician and a healthy dose of patience.

Laser Hair Removal Takes Less Than an Hour

Although you do need to attend multiple appointments, each treatment doesn’t take long. Small areas, like your upper lip or even your underarm, can take less than 30 minutes. Legs usually require 45 minutes to an hour.

You Should Not Shower or Sweat a Lot After Laser Hair Removal

dont go to the gym or sauna after hair removal

Laser hair removal involves the use of high heat, which your skin can retain for up to 24 hours. That means no trips to the gym, spa, or sauna. You should also avoid hot showers until your skin has recovered. Otherwise, you run the risk of creating a warm environment on your skin, which invites bacteria to take up residence and multiply.

Some Beauty Treatments Aren’t Safe After Removal

Although most of your makeup and skincare products will be fine to use, some should be avoided in the two days before and the initial two days after a laser hair removal treatment. We recommend steering clear of:

  • Any kind of scrub and tough exfoliators
  • Glycolic acid
  • Retinol creams and/or serums

In the two weeks after removal, you should also avoid using chemical peels that could irritate your skin.

Despite Myths, It Actually Does Work on All Skin Tones

Ever heard that laser hair removal only works on pale skin with dark hair? That may have been true many years ago, but it no longer holds stock with any clinicians. The energy for the laser will target the pigment of any hair, although some darker skin tones are at a slightly higher risk of burning.

To be treated with laser removal services, hair just needs to be dark enough to draw the laser. If you’re concerned about this, talk to a clinician beforehand.

You Should Shave (Not Pluck or Wax) Before Permanent Hair Removal

avoid plucking hair and waxing after laser hair removal

Your laser hair removal specialist will likely instruct you to shave within the day prior to treatment. Keep in mind that this does not mean using electric razors that keep the hairs too long. You are also not supposed to wax, pluck, thread, bleach, or tweeze any of the hair. This makes it difficult for the laser to spot the hair follicle, diminishing the value of the treatment.

Laser Hair Removal Doesn’t Work on Tattooed Areas

This one’s a bummer, but there’s not much any hair removal specialist can do about it. They’ll simply cover up the tattooed spot and treat the surrounding area(s).

It’s Safe for Your Skin

laser hair removal safe for your skin

As long as you’re working with a reputable practitioner, laser hair removal procedures are considered quite safe. You will be properly educated on the treatment and its risks, and both you and the specialist will don safety goggles to protect your eyes while the laser is in use.

If you’re worried, consider that laser hair removal is one of the most commonly conducted cosmetic procedures in the entire U.S. Thousands of people have tried it, and it’s been proven very effective and safe.

Fake Tanning Before Laser Hair Removal Is a No-Go

Because the laser must precisely identify hair follicle pigment, using a fake tanner is a bad idea. The color in fake tanners (or even in a natural sunburn or tan) can make the laser’s work less effective and even lead to some skin discoloration.

When you show up to your removal appointment, you want your skin to be as close to your baseline color as possible. This allows the laser to accurately pinpoint and remove as many hair follicles as possible.

You’ll Need to Skip Your Skin Care and Makeup on the Day Of

skip skin care make up for a day

On the day of your appointment, don’t bother putting on makeup, moisturizer, lotions, deodorant, or anything else. Keep your skin clean and free of any products unless otherwise okayed by your practitioner. If you ignore this advice, your skin’s pigment could change or you could increase the risk of burns.

Redness and Swelling Is Normal After Treatments

If you come out of your appointment with redness, irritation, or swelling, don’t fret – it’s all part of the process. Your hair follicles will swell up afterward and you’ll likely experience some minorly uncomfortable symptoms for up to 48 hours after the treatment.

Should the symptoms of irritation last longer than that, your doctor/clinician may give you a topical cream or gel that can alleviate the discomfort.

It’s a Good Idea to Run a Patch Test at a Clinic

Different skin types react to lasers differently. That’s why it’s always a smart idea to conduct a test patch before you begin full-fledged laser hair removal. This will allow you to monitor the skin’s response to the treatment and ensure you want to go ahead with any large-scale procedures.

Certain Medications May Affect Your Skin

Before scheduling your laser hair removal, tell your technician or doctor about all of the medications you are consuming or applying to your skin. Some medications may interfere with the treatment and even increase your risk of burning and blistering.

Even if you don’t think that your supplement or medication will make a difference, bring it up with your practitioner, just to be sure.

Your Hair Follicles Change Over Time

Close up of female armpit

We hate to break it to you, but “permanent hair removal” is not, well, completely permanent. Even after several treatments with a laser, your hair can still come back. Why?

Every person has two types of hair: fine “baby” hairs and coarse “terminal” hairs. Laser hair removal is extremely effective at removing terminal hairs, but as more baby hairs arrive throughout your life due to hormone changes, you may need to look into further removal treatments.

The good news is that once a hair follicle has been exterminated, it’s gone for good. It’s just the new brand new follicles that you need to watch out for.

Permanent Hair Removal Can Hurt – but Just a Little

Lastly, we’ll address a question almost every patient asks: “Does it hurt?”

The honest answer is that it may hurt a little, but not very much at all. Spots such as your underarms and bikini area may feel sharp prickles. The biggest complaint is the slight irritation that occurs after the procedure, which usually begins to subside in a matter of hours.

Are You Ready to Try Laser Hair Removal?

If you’re ready to pull the trigger on laser hair removal, or at least discuss it in-person with a trained clinician, reach out today. Our Bella Vita Med Spa technicians are standing by at (630) 937-3696. You can also send us a message online and schedule a free consultation.

As always, our priority at Bella Vita Med Spa is to serve our clients with the utmost care and safety. We’re here to answer any questions and guide you toward a clean, healthy future.

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Avatar for Cindy Brooks, MD

Cindy Brooks, MD

Cynthia Brooks, MD is the founder and Medical Director of Bella Vita Med Spa. Dr. Brooks has over 17 years of experience in patient care, focusing the last 7 years in the field of cosmetic and laser medicine. Dr. Brooks’ vision is to always provide the safest, state of the art technological advances. Dr. Brooks has received advanced training in cosmetic medicine, obtaining her credentials in Laser and Aesthetic Medicine by the National Council on Laser Certification. She has expertise in all aspects of aesthetic injectables and laser treatments focusing on those that are minimally invasive, have minimal downtime, offering maximal results.