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Is laser hair removal effective?

Hot or cold wax, razor, cream, epilator … any woman who tracks unwanted hair knows these methods of hair removal. They are practical, easy to make at home but have the disadvantage of having to be renewed regularly if you want to keep skin smooth. Less used but much more effective in the long term, laser hair removal allows you to get rid of hair almost permanently. tells you all about this hair removal technique.

How it works ?

Like many scientific discoveries, the discovery of the effects of lasers on body hair came about by chance: it was found that hairs no longer grow back on areas of skin treated with lasers to remove tattoos. The laser emits a light invisible which passes through the skin and is then absorbed by the pigments. In the case of tattoos, it is the pigments present in the inks that are targeted and destroyed by the laser. But these are not the only pigments found in the skin. Indeed, hairs and hair follicles (see box) contain melanin – the pigment that gives the hairs their color – which can also absorb the energy emitted by the laser. These pigments are burned by the laser light, along with the follicles that contain them. The hairs can no longer be synthesized. At the same time, a cooling technique is used on the treated area. The temperature, from -1 to -3 ° C, makes it possible to limit the burning in the skin and to locally anesthetize the area to be depilated.

What is a hair?

Hair grows all over the skin except the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Their size and length vary according to their location: on the eyelids they are so short that they remain in the skin, while on the head the hair can sometimes reach 8 m long.

All these hairs, as different as they appear, have the same structure. They consist of a keratin rod that anchors approximately 4 mm under the skin at the level of the hair bulb or follicle. We can therefore divide the hair into 2 parts: the root, which is located under the skin, and the stem, which is the visible part. The color is obtained by melanin, a pigment which is present both on the hair itself and in the bulb.

Each hair is connected to a tiny muscle – the arrector muscle – responsible for goosebumps, and sometimes to a sebaceous gland which is the source of perspiration.

The treatment generally requires between 3 and 6 sessions. It depends on the area to be treated and its size. Another important parameter: all the hairs cannot be destroyed at the same time, only those which are in the anagen phase are vulnerable to the laser (see box).

Hair growth cycle

The hair growth cycle includes 3 phases, the length of which varies according to the type of hair:

  • The anagen phase: period during which the hair grows
  • The catagen phase: hair growth stops
  • The telogen phase: the hair will fall out, pushed by the hair that will replace it

It is during the anagen phase that the follicle is in full synthetic activity. This is when it creates melanin. During the following phases the follicle is at rest: the synthesis of melanin ceases and the bulbs can no longer be destroyed by the laser.

For who ?

Initially, only people with white skin and dark hair could successfully use laser hair removal. Why this specificity? People with dark or dark skin owe their color to an increased presence of melanin in the cells of the dermis. However, “classic” lasers, such as Alexandrite, do not differentiate between the melanin of the hairs and that of the skin: they destroy both! People with dark skin were therefore at risk of inheriting numerous scars and burns after a hair removal session. But this problem was solved by the appearance in the early 2000s of a new type of laser: the Yag.

Yag lasers seek their target more deeply and only act at the level of the hair bulb. As a result, they do not destroy the melanin of the skin and do not damage the latter. These lasers are almost as efficient as Alexandrite. They easily eradicate hard hair from the face, legs, bikini line, etc. , but do not affect fine hair and still leave a light down.

But people with fair and white hair cannot benefit from hair removal with Alexandrite or Yag. Indeed, blond or white hairs contain little or no melanin. They therefore do not absorb the light from these lasers. You can do as many sessions as you want, the hair will never be destroyed. To remedy this problem, a new technique has just appeared: radiofrequency (see interview). But it remains marginal because the progression of hair removal is very slow.

In conclusion: almost anyone can have laser hair removal. However, people with fair hair are, unless they are very motivated and very patient, still forced to stick to the good old methods of hair removal

To know

No need to ask your beautician how to remove hair permanently from private parts, the answer will be no. Only doctors are authorized to practice this technique. However, although it is a medical act, it is only aesthetic. Therefore, the cost of hair removal is not reimbursed by social security. The price per session varies from 100 to 700 € depending on the areas to be treated. This price is generally the same regardless of the type of laser used.

Once the appointment is made, avoid exposing yourself to the sun: adding melanin to your skin is the best way to come out with small scars. And, 3 days before the operation, shave the area to be treated so that the laser only burns the hair inside the skin. With long hairs, the laser would also destroy them on the outside which would lead to skin burns and scars.

The treatment is not completely painless: it is accompanied by a tingling sensation. This sensation is increased in the case of Yag laser hair removal which acts more in depth. New types of lasers such as the PPX (see interview) make it possible to avoid these pain sensations. However, this laser cannot be used on too dark skin.

There may be side effects, such as more or less dark marks. But these effects are temporary when the lasers are properly adjusted.


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