Although rare, some women grow hair in men-like patterns. This means they grow hair on their face, chest, legs, and even hands. While it may appear very little in some women, hair growth can be very prominent in other women. This is usually caused by high levels of androgen hormones, especially testosterone.
This is a big issue for some women, as such, they result in different methods to remove hair and even prevent it from growing again. Also, some women just want a long-lasting solution to hair growth on their bodies. Sadly, waxing, shaving and the likes only provide a short-term solution. Hence, a need for a permanent solution.
One of the many methods used is the laser hair removal technique1. This technique has gained quite a massive traction in the world today, and it is preferred for its effectiveness in removing, as it has been shown that it can achieve up to 95% hair growth reduction. This simply means you may not need to shave or wax again2.
Although laser hair removal is a very popular technique, lots of women still have questions about how it works and its benefits. One of the most common questions is, “Can I get laser hair removal on my period?” Like every other hair removal technique, laser hair removal comes with its pros and cons, as well as some important things to know.
Hence, in this article, we will discuss extensively laser hair removal, its benefits, how to prepare for it, side effects, aftercare, and provides answers to some frequently asked questions. Let’s get right to it.
What is Laser Hair Removal?
In simple terms, laser hair removal involves targeting light wavelength towards the hair pigment called melanin3. It’s a very efficient method of removing hair from the body and face. The whole point of using light wavelength is to damage hair follicles through the absorption of energy by the pigment. The results in permanent prevention of hair growth.
Having said that, let’s examine what actually happens during laser hair removal.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Laser hair removal works through a phenomenon called selective photothermolysis4. In basic terms, the laser selects what to target based on the specific settings. The laser gun produces sufficient wavelength and pulse for a duration long enough to achieve the desired results. The target is the hair pigment.
Once the wavelength is produced, the light energy travels through the hair down to the follicle, where it will turn to thermal energy and damage the follicles4. The heat will cut off the vessels supplying blood to the follicles. Let’s bring it home, you know if a machine does not get fuel, it cannot function and If a plant is not watered, it dies out. That’s exactly what’s happening. Once the wavelength is supplied, it prevents the follicles from producing new strands of hair. Do you get the gist now?
That said, let’s consider some of the benefits.
Benefits and Things to Know About Laser Hair Removal
The most obvious benefit of laser hair removal is it provides a long-lasting solution to unwanted hair growth. This means after a laser session, you don’t have to worry about waxing, or shaving again. At least, not in a long while. Hence, if you’re the busy type and looking to get a long-lasting solution to unwanted hair growth, this is your best option5.
However, the laser hair removal technique works better on individuals with lighter skin tones and darker hair. In fact, in patients with blonde hair, the laser technique may not be very effective, because there’s minimal pigment present in the hair follicles for the wavelength to target6. And as we have already established, the pigment is the main target of the laser wavelength.
There are devices specially designed for individuals with light hair or dark skin, some examples include Diode, Nd-Yag7. Care must be taken before jumping on a laser hair removal session, as using the wrong type of machine can cause discoloration of the skin.
For instance, if you have dark skin, avoid Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment. This is because those with darker skin have more pigment around their follicles, which can be destroyed by the laser. Hence, these individuals are more vulnerable to hyper or hypopigmentation8.
We are not saying people with darker skin cannot get laser hair removal. Instead, precautions must be taken very seriously, and in fact, visiting any board-certified dermatologist is your best option. They will examine your skin type and choose the most suitable laser for your skin.
How to Prepare For Laser Hair Removal
So, you have consulted with an expert and an appointment has been fixed, how do you prepare?
- Shave: You need to shave the area to be lasered the night or the morning of the session. Also, taking a pain reliever tablet some 30 minutes before the session may be needed.
- Avoid Tanners:Also, you may want to avoid self-tanners before and after your session. In fact, you will have to stop some medications to prevent adverse effects. Hence, ensure you tell your healthcare providers the medications you’re currently on.
- Avoid skin care products:On the day of your appointment, avoid applying any products to your skin. Products such as lotions, oils, deodorant, etc, should be completely avoided. Also, ask your experts about other things to avoid.
Furthermore, brace yourself for a little pain. The IPL hitting your skin may be a little painful. Although some machines do a better job, the possibility of that happening cannot be ruled out.
Ensure you check in with your physician regularly for other things to do and know before going for your appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s answer some of the frequently asked questions about laser hair removal.
Can I Go For a Session While on My Period?
Yes, you can. Laser hair removal does not affect your period, especially if you’re not removing hair in your bikini area. The only thing you may worry about is if you’re removing hair from your genital region. The session may be more painful than it should be, and some patients may even develop sensitivity to the laser machine.
Some common reactions to laser hair removal during this period include redness, swelling, pain, etc, all of which may take time to relieve you. However, pain is subjective to different patients. While the pain may be much in some individuals, it may be minimal in others. It all depends on your thresholds for pain9. So, if you have a very short pain threshold, you may want to reschedule your appointment until after your period, especially if you’re removing hair from your genital region.
Apart from these reactions, laser hair removal does not impact your menstrual cycle negatively, as against the popular opinion that your hormone levels will increase and your period become irregular.
Being on your period will not affect the effectiveness of the process, nor will it leave you with any severe complications.
Can Anyone Undergo a Laser?
To begin with, anyone can go for laser hair removal, regardless of the color of skin, hair, gender, age, etc. Like every other technique, there are contraindications, precautions that must be avoided, as we have already discussed briefly above.
The most common precautions are related to exposure to the sun, etc. For instance, as said earlier, patients should avoid tanning before going for a session. This does not mean you can go during the summer, just avoid tanning10.
Moreso, although patients with light skin are ideal candidates for laser hair removal, anyone can undergo the process. Light skin individuals are preferred because it’s easier for the laser to distinguish between the hair and the skin; the sharper the contrast the easier it is for the machine to target the hair pigment.
Thanks to advancements in technology, this method is now available to all individuals with different skin tones. Just ensure you consult with a professional for proper and effective hair removal.
The energy intensity of the technique is strong enough to drive through the dermis to the hair follicle without melanin. Hence, your hair and skin color is no barrier.
However, due to the lack of pigments, people with white hair or gray hair cannot undergo laser hair removal11. Moreso, pregnant women are not candidates for laser hair removal. Finally, you should not for any session on the face immediately after the glycolic acid peel.
Aside from the stated facts, the laser hair removal procedure is safe and effective for everyone, even when you’re on your period.
When Is The Best Time To Go For Laser Hair Removal?
Although laser hair removal techniques can be done at any time, the ideal time would be in the winter, when there’s little chance of exposure to sunlight. Starting the treatment session during the winter means you will be hair-free by summer.
Hence, the best time to go for this procedure is in the winter months, when the weather is cool and favorable.
The side effects are minimal provided you take necessary precautions and avoid contraindications. The first one is avoiding exposure to the sun before a session. Undergoing laser hair removal over a body recently exposed to the sun could result in hyperpigmentation, burning and even scarring. That explains the reason why it is recommended you start the treatment in the fall or winter.
So, if you have an appointment already fixed, you should start avoiding tanning at least a week before and after your session to ensure the integrity of your skin.
Laser hair removal is not a one-time thing. It occurs over a period of six months, with regular appointments (usually every four to six weeks) to achieve effective treatment. You may start seeing results after the first session, as after it takes a week for hairs to start falling out.
Avoiding sun exposure, and exfoliating with sugar scrub in the shower may help speed up the process and provide better results.
The laser technique is an effective way of removing hair. It offers a long-lasting solution with minimal side effects. And, of course, it does not affect your menstrual cycle. You can undergo the process when you’re on your period, although it may be a little painful.
- Gan, S. D., & Graber, E. M. (2013). Laser hair removal: a review. Dermatologic surgery: official publication for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery [et al.], 39(6), 823–838.https://doi.org/10.1111/dsu.12116
- Hendricks, K., Nxumalo, C. T., Makgobole, M. U., Ghuman, S., Jacobs, D., & Mpofana, N. (2023). Evaluating the effectiveness of laser hair reduction using a home use laser in comparison to a Diode laser. PloS one, 18(5), e0286162.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0286162
- Bhat, Y. J., Bashir, S., Nabi, N., & Hassan, I. (2020). Laser Treatment in Hirsutism: An Update. Dermatology practical & conceptual, 10(2), e2020048.https://doi.org/10.5826/dpc.1002a48
- Patil, U. A., & Dhami, L. D. (2008). Overview of lasers. Indian journal of plastic surgery: official publication of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India, 41(Suppl), S101–S113.
- Vaidya T, Hohman MH, Kumar D D. Laser Hair Removal. [Updated 2023 Mar 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507861/
- Goldberg D. J. (2012). Current trends in intense pulsed light. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 5(6), 45–53.
- Mustafa, F. H., Jaafar, M. S., Ismail, A. H., & Mutter, K. N. (2014). Comparison of Alexandrite and Diode Lasers for Hair Removal in Dark and Medium Skin: Which is Better?. Journal of lasers in medical sciences, 5(4), 188–193.
- Gade A, Vasile GF, Rubenstein R. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy. [Updated 2023 Apr 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK580525/
- Atta-Motte, M., & Załęska, I. (2020). Diode Laser 805 Hair Removal Side Effects in Groups of Various Ethnicities – Cohort Study Results. Journal of lasers in medical sciences, 11(2), 132–137.https://doi.org/10.34172/jlms.2020.23
- Goel, A., & Rai, K. (2022). Methods to Overcome Poor Response and Challenges of Facial Laser Hair Reduction. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 15(6), 38–41.
- Gupta, J., Chouhan, K., Kumar, A., & Ariganesh, C. (2016). White Hair Removal with Follicular Unit Extraction. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 9(3), 209–210.https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-2077.191642
Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts
Laser hair removal is a popular method used to remove unwanted hair from the body and face. It works by targeting the hair pigment called melanin using a specific wavelength of light. The light energy is absorbed by the pigment, which then damages the hair follicles, preventing further hair growth. Laser hair removal is known for its effectiveness and can achieve up to 95% hair growth reduction [].
Some key points to know about laser hair removal include:
1. Long-lasting solution: Laser hair removal provides a long-lasting solution to unwanted hair growth. After a few sessions, you may not need to worry about waxing or shaving for a long time [].
2. Suitable candidates: Laser hair removal works best on individuals with lighter skin tones and darker hair. The laser targets the contrast between the hair and the skin, so the sharper the contrast, the easier it is for the machine to target the hair pigment. However, advancements in technology have made laser hair removal available to individuals with different skin tones [].
3. Precautions for darker skin: Individuals with darker skin should avoid Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment as it can destroy the pigment around the follicles, leading to hyper or hypopigmentation. It is important to consult with a board-certified dermatologist to determine the most suitable laser for your skin type [].
4. Preparation: Before a laser hair removal session, it is recommended to shave the area to be treated the night or morning of the session. Avoid applying any products to the skin on the day of the appointment, such as lotions, oils, or deodorant. It is also important to inform your healthcare provider about any medications you are currently taking [].
5. Pain and discomfort: Laser hair removal can be a little painful, with some individuals experiencing more pain than others. Taking a pain reliever tablet 30 minutes before the session may help. The sensation of the laser hitting the skin can vary depending on the machine used [].
6. Menstrual cycle: Laser hair removal does not affect the menstrual cycle. However, if you are removing hair from your genital region, being on your period may make the session more painful. Some common reactions during this period include redness, swelling, and pain, which may take time to relieve. It is advisable to reschedule the appointment if you have a low pain threshold and are removing hair from the genital region [].
7. Timing: Laser hair removal can be done at any time, but the ideal time is during the winter months when there is less chance of sun exposure. Starting the treatment in winter means you will be hair-free by summer [].
8. Side effects: The side effects of laser hair removal are minimal if necessary precautions are taken. Avoiding sun exposure before and after a session is important to prevent hyperpigmentation, burning, and scarring. It is recommended to avoid tanning at least a week before and after the session [].
9. Aftercare: Laser hair removal is not a one-time procedure. It usually requires multiple sessions over a period of six months, with appointments every four to six weeks. Results may start to be visible after the first session, and avoiding sun exposure and exfoliating with a sugar scrub in the shower can help speed up the process and provide better results [].
In conclusion, laser hair removal is an effective method for long-lasting hair removal. It is important to consider factors such as skin tone, hair color, and precautions for darker skin before undergoing the procedure. Laser hair removal does not affect the menstrual cycle, but it may be more painful during the period if hair is being removed from the genital region. Taking necessary precautions and following aftercare instructions can help minimize side effects and achieve optimal results [].