Redness, swelling, burning… these are some of the potential side-effects of laser hair removal.
Before going into any type of laser hair removal treatment, you need to consider your skin sensitivity, pain tolerance, and efficiency of your device.
This can help you not only avoid accidents but let you have more effective treatments and impressive results.
Use a numbing cream at least 30 minutes before every session
Numbing creams are topical anesthetics used for various skin procedures from tattoos to lasers. It helps by blocking the nerve signals in your body that is triggered by pain.
This is the perfect solution for those who have low pain tolerance but need a higher, more aggressive dose of laser power for their treatments.
The more common brands used in clinics are EMLA and Lidocaine Topical. These are available over the counter in any local drugstore.
Note: This is a generic hack. Some devices require direct skin contact so you might need to wipe off all the excess before each session. Make sure to read your device manual before trying this.
Start with the lowest setting of your laser device and raise it as you go along
Not all at home laser hair removal devices are built the same. Some have an energy fluence or power that can go as high as 7-22 J/cm2 (e.g. Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X) to as low as 3-5 J/cm2 (e.g. Silk’n Flash & Go Express Hair Removal).
And while the common belief is the higher the better, it still depends on your skin’s sensitivity and pain tolerance. If you use a power setting that’s more than your skin can tolerate, it can result in things like redness or blistering. In the right setting, you should only feel a warm, tingling sensation.
Patch test to determine your skin sensitivity and pain tolerance
Through this process, you can check if you have a sensitivity to the laser. This includes medications that may render you extra sensitive to light, e.g. retinol. You might want to wait a few weeks for it to fade out from your system.
You can also determine your pain threshold and up to what point you can tolerate the power setting on raw skin.
Make sure to wait 24 hours at least to give it time to react if any.
Find a device that has a built-in skin tone and contact sensor
This will help you automatically determine which setting is appropriate for that area of your body. The contact sensor will ensure that it won’t go off unexpectedly and hurt your eyes. This will also save you from wasting IPL flashes. (Remember, those cartridges have limited number of flashes!)
Use UV Resistant glasses to avoid eye damage
You should never look lasers directly because it has the potential to be harmful to your eyes. It actually recommended that you look away during flashes! Of course, that’s just ridiculous and inconvenient so the next best thing is to use a UV resistant glasses during your IPL sessions.
Avoid using on irritated skin, wounded skin, or any skin condition (eczema, psoriasis, infections, etc.)
This includes areas that have been sunburned or is peeling. Acne, cold sores, rashes, and other skin issues should be allowed to heal first before undergoing laser hair removal. The laser will just make your current skin issues worse.
Do not use on sensitive areas on your body like the genitals, nipples, lips, and anus
You’ll be surprised where some people point their devices. Unfortunately, this is discouraged because not only do these areas have darker skin (which renders some at home devices useless) but has a chance of damaging or irritating these areas as well.
Do not use on dark marks on your skin like moles, freckles, birthmarks, etc.
The laser light focuses on the pigment on your skin. There are devices that can’t distinguish a root of hair from a dark mark. This can result in blistering due to the high IPL power focused on the skin instead of your hair.
Do not use while pregnant or breastfeeding
This might increase your skin sensitivity and let you be more prone to skin injury.