Nobody has to convince me that my daughters are the most beautiful kids in the world – I am well aware. But when their thick eyebrows and long eyelashes receive compliments, I know from experience that there can be a downside to these features. While it will be many years before they have to think about how to get rid of the unwanted hair that is likely to come, for me, there is no hiding from the Arizona sun in the summertime.
Traditionally, I have turned to shaving and waxing to get rid of unwanted hair, but shaving has to be done frequently and waxing requires hair to grow out before it can be waxed again. More and more, I’ve been thinking of trying laser hair reduction – but I also have some reservations.
I reached out to Rachel Brecht, a licensed aesthetician and certified laser technician at the Banner Health Center – Mohs Dermatology in Sun City West, to learn about the pros and cons.
My light skin and dark hair makes me the perfect candidate for laser hair removal, Brecht said.
“Anyone with dark hair can get laser hair removal, but if you have a darker skin type, there is a special laser that works for that that doesn’t hurt the pigment in the skin,” Brecht said. (Electrolysis would be the alternative to laser treatment for those looking to get rid of white, gray or blonde hair.)
Laser treatments, on average, are done once a month for six sessions, but it varies per individual, Brecht said. Treatments are fairly quick – an underarm session, for example, would last about 10-15 minutes. Typically, there is an 80 to 90 percent reduction in hair growth.
The main risks with laser treatment are sun exposure and tanning, both before and after.
“Say someone gets a laser treatment and then goes and gets a tan,” Brecht said. “You just had a light therapy and are now activating pigment molecules, so this increases the risk of sunburn and hyperpigmentation.”
It’s also not a good idea to tan before a treatment, she said, because the laser could then seek out the wrong pigment.
In Arizona, state law requires a doctor be present in the clinic during any laser treatments, Brecht said. She also noted that lasers today have many safety features in place to minimize risk, such as a chill tip that keeps the skin cool during treatment. She recommends anyone considering laser hair reduction does their research and looks into the reputations of the clinic.
Also read: Close shave: Tips for a stubble-free summer