The pursuit of a hair-free body is believed to date back to our earliest ancestors. Archaeologists have found evidence that shows cavemen shaved their facial hair using sharpened rocks and shells. Ancient Egyptians removed unwanted hair using bronze razors or beeswax.
Fast-forward to the 21st century and laser hair removal has become a popular and long-lasting alternative to traditional methods of hair reduction – indeed, laser hair removal has become one of the fastest-growing nonsurgical cosmetic procedures.
Laser hair removal removes unwanted hair using intense beams of light energy of a specific wavelength. This targets different structures of the skin and hair follicle pigments to destroy each hair individually, without damaging the surrounding area.
Hair grows back less quickly and less thickly than shaving, waxing or creams, and tendency towards ingrown hairs is reduced.
The principle behind lasers is light absorption by targets that selectively absorb pulses of energy. Selective absorption means hair follicles are destroyed but the skin is left undamaged. The same as a black car will be hotter than a white car because it absorbs more wavelengths of light, certain target tissues will absorb certain wavelengths of light more effectively.
In the case of hair removal, the target is the pigment, or melanin, in the hair follicle that colours the hair. Effectiveness is limited if there is little or no pigment – for example light blonde, white or grey hair.
With laser hair removal, the energy of the laser light is used to specifically hinder hair growth. The laser penetrates the upper layers of the skin and is absorbed by the pigment melanin in the hair, damaging the follicle to retard future growth.
The number of treatments varies, depending on skin type and colour and thickness of the hair, but multiple treatments will yield best results, spaced several weeks apart.
There is minimal discomfort associated with laser hair removal and most people find it quite tolerable, like a warm, pin-prickling sensation over the skin, although individual sensitivities vary.
Laser hair reduction is long-term for most people, requiring no further treatment; for others, an occasional maintenance treatment will be required.
With the warmer months upon us, having smooth, hair-free skin seems increasingly appealing. Laser hair removal offers men and women of almost any skin type an effective and long-lasting option to eliminate unwanted face and body hair.