If you added up all the time, energy and money you put into removing unwanted hair, you’d be surprised what it adds up to. It’s a frustrating activity because it’s also futile. Most of the ways we try to remove hair are temporary, and we’re on a hamster wheel. Luckily, there is a permanent solution for removing unwanted hair and getting the smooth complexion you dream of. Call Texas Laser and Aesthetics in Austin, TX and ask about laser hair removal.
What Causes Hair to Grow?
This is a mystery for most of us. It’s just one of those things we take for granted and often we wish it away in some areas and hope it will ramp up in others. The truth is, our hair serves a purpose going as far back as early man. It grows out of every pore on your body except for the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet.
Our hair is our body’s way of protecting our skin. It catches debris that may irritate the surface of our skin or even enter our skin and cause infection. Back in pre-historic days, our hair was very thick everywhere because we also needed it to keep warm. Our hair has evolved with us and now is much thinner but not necessarily less abundant. Let’s get to the bottom of why your typical methods of hair removal are only temporary.
This is where our hair grows, and the follicle, also called the root, is found underneath the skin. At the base of the follicle is the bulb where blood vessels give the root the nourishment it needs to grow. This nutrition allows keratin to be produced. Keratin is the protein that our hair is made of.
The keratin forms bonds to create our hair and keep it growing until it pushes past our skin. The hair we can see is made of dead cells. The “living” part of our hair is underneath the surface of our skin.
The Four Stages of Hair Growth
All of your hair can be in different stages of growth at the same time. This is why you’ll often see “flyaways” on your head. Those hairs are shorter than others because they’re in a different stage of the growth cycle.
Stage One: Anagen
This is the growth phase of the process. This stage can last 2-7 years depending on your genetics. This is also the phase that will determine the length of your hair. There’s only a certain length everyone’s hair will grow, and this is the time frame that determines it.
As we age, this length of this phase decreases and our hair may become thinner and weaker with each cycle.
Stage Two: Catagen
We consider this the transition phase. Over the course of ten days, the follicle detaches from the skin. Your hair has stopped growing and is making room for a new hair to grow.
Stage Three: Telogen
This resting phase can last up to three months. 10-15% of our hair is in this phase at all times. The hair that has stopped growing is resting in place while a new hair begins to grow deep in the new follicle.
Stage Four: Exogen
There’s evidence of this new hair phase all over your house. As the new hair continues to grow, it pushes the old hair out, causing us to “shed”. The average person loses between 50-150 hairs a day.
Other Methods of Unwanted Hair Removal
Now that you know the growing cycle for your hair, you know it will be impossible for you to remove it permanently from home. But there are other reasons besides a permanently smooth complexion for you to consider laser hair removal.
By far the most popular method for men to remove their facial hair and women to shave their underarms and legs, this method, while it seems to be the quickest, can also be the most annoying. Have you ever had a boyfriend stop by for an impromptu beach day and found you need to shave your legs, underarms and bikini area?
This is many people’s go-to solution because it’s relatively inexpensive, but therein lies part of the problem. For the most part, you’re getting sub-par blades that may work fine on flat surfaces like calves but can be dangerous on more curvy areas.
Why We Hate It
Leading dermatologists will tell you that shaving isn’t the best thing for your skin. The constant friction against your skin can cause your skin to dry out, and the angle at which you’re cutting your hair can cause ingrown hairs and bumps. And let’s get serious: all you’re doing is cutting your hair. You’re just cutting it really short.
The number of women showing up in the ER for vaginal related injuries resulting from shaving has jumped more than ten times since 2002. There’s also an STD you’re more at risk for contracting if you shave your pubic area. It’s called MCV and can be introduced through an open pore not protected by hair. It causes lesions and bumps in the pubic area. Other risks from shaving include:
- Nicks and cuts on sensitive areas like ankles and knees
- Scarring from repeated cuts
- Itching and burning
Waxing is part of many women’s routines, especially for areas like the upper lip, chin and bikini area. We make trips to salons, and if you do this regularly, the bill can really add up. But it’s more than just the price tag that should make you think twice before allowing hot wax to be spread on your skin, cool and then rip all your hairs out at the root.
What It Can Do to You
Each time you wax, small wounds are created in your skin. You’re yanking your hair out by pulling the bulb from your skin, and that’s going to sting. If you wax your bikini area, take note that you’re opening yourself up for what is dubbed a “self-transmitted infection”. When those tiny tears are created in the skin after the pull, it can cause surface infection and even cellulitis.
If you use any kind of anti-aging or acne topical medication on your skin, you can burn easily, which could lead to short term marring and even long-term scarring. While a professional should know the right temperature for the wax, they may not get it right for your skin, and you would pay the price both literally and figuratively.
These creams are packed with chemicals designed to break down the protein in hair and turn it to jelly. To make this happen, it uses serious chemicals like sodium thioglycolate, calcium thioglycolate, and strontium sulfide. What this amounts to is a concoction that can destroy the proteins and amino acids in our hair: proteins and amino acids that also happen to be in our skin.
The smell of these lotions is breathtaking, so you have to use them in a well-ventilated room. Anything you put on your skin that needs a lot of ventilation to be around isn’t a good thing.
The very least of your concerns is skin irritation. You have to follow the instructions on the bottle to the letter, and that includes the skin patch test that nobody ever does. If you have sensitive skin, you might be left with a burning sensation for hours or days afterward. Some people may have an allergic reaction, which is why a patch test is so important. These reactions can cause intense pain, swelling, and redness.
Chemical burns are the most serious risk when using these creams, and there has been more than one lawsuit filed against the makers of these creams. If you leave the product on the skin too long, or if it isn’t completely rinsed off, it will break down your skin the way it does your hair and you’ll end up with a nasty chemical burn.
Laser Hair Removal
There is a permanent solution to removing unwanted hair that can leave you with smooth, healthy skin that doesn’t need to be shaved or waxed ever again. That solution is laser hair removal.
What Is Laser Hair Removal?
This treatment is a permanent way to remove hair from specific areas of the body. It is non-surgical and requires zero downtime. Clients are thrilled with the soft and smooth skin that is revealed after this treatment.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
During this process, a laser emits a bright light that is absorbed by the pigment in the hair. That light travels down the hair, and its energy turns to heat once it reaches the follicle. It’s there that this heat disrupts the walls of the follicle and damages it. The damage to the follicle inhibits or drastically delays future hair growth.
Where Can This Treatment Be Done?
This treatment can be done almost anywhere you have unwanted hair. Your skincare specialist will ultimately decide which areas on you are the best for this treatment. In general, this diverse treatment can be used on many treatment areas:
- Bikini area
Who Is a Good Candidate?
Because the laser needs to find the pigment of the follicle, this treatment works best on people with light skin and dark, coarse hair. That doesn’t mean that people with light hair or dark skin are automatically prevented from getting this treatment.
Your skincare specialist will do a hair and skin analysis to determine if this is the right treatment for you and to discuss your options.
What to Expect
During the consultation, you’ll go through a brief health history and the area to be treated may be physically examined to ensure this treatment will be appropriate.
Now that you and your specialist have decided this is the right treatment to remove your unwanted hair, you will have a few pre-treatment instructions you’ll need to follow to ensure you get the best results possible:
- Stay out of the sun for up to six weeks before treatment and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen
- Don’t use self-tanning products
- Don’t wax, pluck or use electrolysis on your hair for at least four weeks before treatment
- Avoid blood-thinning over-the-counter medication or herbal supplement for two weeks before
While they won’t want you to wax or tweeze, they will ask you to shave the day before your treatment. Remember, the laser needs to find the hair follicle, not the hair. Excess surface hair will cause burned hairs, but the follicle could remain intact. Shaving ensures the laser can easily spot the pigment of the follicle.
When you arrive for your appointment, a topical numbing agent will be applied to the treatment area to ensure your comfort. Most clients tolerate this treatment very well, reporting no discomfort.
You will then be asked to wear safety goggle to protect your eyes from the light of the laser. A handheld device will be turned on and pressed over your skin so the laser can find the follicle. Depending on the device being used, a cooling gel may be used or the device itself might have a cooling tip to just further ensure you’re comfortable.
The laser will then go to work sending light down the shaft of the hair where it turns to heat and destroys the follicle.
When your appointment is over, there’s no downtime associated with this treatment, so you can go about your normal routines. You’ll need to keep that area out of the sun and away from tanning beds for up to six weeks or as directed by your specialist.
Your hair won’t fall out immediately, but you will start to shed them over the next few days and up to two weeks. You will need more than one session because all of your hairs are in different growth phases at all times. Some people may need up to six treatments depending on the amount of hair they have and the area to be treated.
Results vary from client to client. Many clients finish their course of treatments and don’t have to have follow-up treatments down the road, while others may find that laser hair removal has significantly delayed the return of their hair but hasn’t permanently removed it. Talk with your specialist about what you can expect. Though no practitioner can absolutely guarantee permanent results, it is likely.
There is a growing trend of home lasers for sale on the market. We highly caution clients against these devices. Because the FDA considers these models to be cosmetic and not medical, they do not review them for safety or efficacy with the same level of scrutiny they do professional models.
There is a much greater risk of injury from these home models because they’re not done in a professional setting and they can be unreliable and unpredictable. Your best bet is to always have your treatment done by a professional.
Enough Is Enough
If you’ve had it with the time, energy and money it takes to permanently remove unwanted hair and you want that super soft complexion you’ve always dreamed of, it’s time to enlist the help of a professional.
Call the experts at Texas Laser and Aesthetics in Austin, TX to schedule your consultation. We are a full-service Med Spa and learning facility, so we have experts on hand that are teaching the future professionals in the cosmetic treatment industry. We’re committed to helping our clients by providing unparalleled knowledge and expertise blended with unrivaled service and results. We look forward to helping you achieve all of your skincare goals.