Unlike some other hair removal methods, laser hair removal does not just allow you to shave in between treatments—it’s actually a requirement.
It’s perfectly normal for some hair to grow in after each laser session as each hair is in a different stage of the growth cycle. This is why several laser treatments are required at 10 weeks apart to achieve complete hair removal. You’re required to shave right before each laser appointment so the laser has a clear shot at targeting the hair follicle. Here’s a more detailed description of how often you should shave between your laser hair removal treatments.
The Hair Growth Cycle
Before you start shaving between your laser hair removal appointments, it’s important to understand the hair growth cycle and how it impacts the hair removal process. Unlike other mammals, humans don’t shed their hair seasonally. Instead, we shed hairs at random depending on what stage of the hair growth cycle the individual hair is in. Each hair is at a different stage of the cycle, either the anagen, catagen, or telogen stage.
The anagen stage is considered the active phase. It’s when a new hair is beginning to grow. This new hair pushes out the hair that has left the anagen stage and replaces it. You’ll notice your hair is in this stage of the cycle when it’s visible and has grown past the skin’s surface. Body hair will remain in this active phase for anywhere from 30 to 45 days, which is why your laser hair removal appointments are scheduled at least 10 weeks apart. The hair is still attached to the follicle at this point, making it the ideal stage for lasers to target and eliminate the hair.
The next phase of the hair growth cycle is the catagen stage, which occurs when the hair stops growing. In this stage, the hair leaves the follicle and sheds from the body. The hair can’t be targeted when it’s in this phase as the laser can’t enter the follicle. Since the catagen stage only lasts two days, it’s unlikely that your laser appointment will fall on a day that the targeted hair is in this phase.
The final stage of the hair growth cycle is the telogen stage, when the hair follicle is considered dormant. After the hair sheds, it may not grow back for days or years. It’s incredibly unpredictable, and, unfortunately, laser hair removal isn’t possible during this stage. For this reason, people will sometimes experience hair growth years later in an area where they had laser hair removal performed.
Tips for Shaving Before Laser Hair Removal
While you can shave at any time before your laser hair removal appointments, there are a few things you can do to ensure you get the most out of your laser treatments. Follow these tips for shaving before each laser session:
- Don’t wax, pluck, or use depilatory creams on the area being treated. These hair removal methods extract the hair by the root, which must be present for laser hair removal to work. The laser targets the melanin in the hair follicles, so the root must be intact in order for the laser to work.
- Shave a few hours before, or the night before, your laser appointment. You want to eliminate the hair above the skin’s surface, but you also want to allow time for the skin to heal should you experience any irritation from shaving. The risk of razor bumps can sometimes be reduced by using an electric razor.
- Exfoliate the skin in order to remove dead skin before you shave. This will leave you with a closer shave and less risk of irritation.
- Skip the moisturizer. While you should normally use lotion after you shave, it shouldn’t be used before your laser hair removal appointments. This is because the residue it leaves on your skin can affect your results.
Tips for Shaving After Laser Hair Removal
Immediately after your laser hair removal appointment, you might feel a slight burning sensation around the treated area. This sensitivity will likely only last a few hours, but shaving the area right away further increases your irritation. Follow these tips to get the best results after your laser treatments:
- Wait several days before shaving the treated area, until it’s no longer sensitive to the touch.
- Don’t exfoliate the skin for four to five days after each laser treatment. Even if the skin doesn’t feel irritated or sensitive, it’s still healing.
- Allow the hair to shed. After each laser hair removal treatment, the hair will shed from the damaged follicles. This can sometimes appear as if the hair is growing as it will appear longer on the skin’s surface. Exfoliate the area before shaving to allow the hair that was destroyed by the laser to fall out.
- Note how often you need to shave the treated area. As time goes on and you receive more laser treatments, you shouldn’t have to worry about shaving as often.
After you’ve completed all of your laser hair removal treatments, you’ll no longer have to worry about maintaining the area. Permanently removing your unwanted body hair will leave you with smooth, flawless skin finally free of razor bumps and irritation. Shave as often as you’d like in between you laser hair removal treatments, and look forward to never shaving again!
Watch this video and learn how to care for your skin after laser treatments: