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How Long does Laser Hair Removal Last?

There is no simple, straightforward answer to this question as it largely depends on the skin and hair type of the individual, how well the treated area responds at each session and the type of laser used. It is true to say though, that laser hair removal is not, in any case, a one-off treatment.

Conditions for Effective Laser Hair Removal

Who does Laser Work Best for?

Laser treatments tend to work best for those with light skin and darker hair. This is because the light beam of the laser targets melanin, a dark pigment found in higher concentration near the base of the hair follicle. The lower levels of melanin found in light hair contrasts less with the skin, making it more difficult for the laser to detect.

Laser for Darker Skin

​Similarly, as dark skin contains more melanin, it consequently has reduced contrast with the melanin found at around the hair follicle. There are now some newer lasers specifically developed for those with darker skin i.e. Nd:Yag and Diode lasers, which have had some success.

What Permanent Hair Reduction Actually Means

The definition of permanent hair reduction is considered to be the long term stable reduction in the regrowth of hairs after completion of a treatment programme. This is not to be confused with permanent hair removal.​  More information about permanent hair reduction.

How many treatments are needed for permanent hair reduction?

Man having laser hair removal on back

According to the laser hair removal factsheet published by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery it is “truly impossible to determine in advance who will require how many treatments and how long the hair will remain gone”.

Generally, most individuals will need 6 – 8 treatments to produce “permanent hair reduction” as defined by the FDA (US Food and Drugs Administration) and sometimes more. 

Factors affecting results

  • Area of body
  • Normal hair growth pattern
  • Skin colour
  • Hair colour and courseness
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Genetics and health conditions

Why a Single Treatment is Not Enough

The reason for so many treatments is that there are several stages of growth in hair and all hair follicles are not at the same stage at the same time.

Laser beams target hairs at the actively growing stage, and so not all hairs in the treatment area will be affected by a single session.  Read more about the lifecycle of a hair.

How Often Can You Repeat the Treatment

The length of time between sessions will vary between 3 – 8 weeks according to a number of factors. Shedding takes 2 – 3 weeks and works best if it is allowed to occur naturally and fall out on its own.

Pulling treated hairs can be much more painful, may lead to infection, as well as possibly counteracting the effects of the treatment.

In general though, the best way to estimate time between treatments is to use the regrowth of hair as a guide e.g. facial hair grows faster than lower body hair and therefore laser removal treatments should be carried out more often on the face (every 4 – 6 weeks) than on the legs (approximately every 8 – 10 weeks).​

Hair Regrowth rates by Body Part

Following the initial treatment regime, it will usually be necessary to have follow up sessions at least annually, and in some cases 6 monthly.

Although the FDA recognises laser hair removal as producing permanent hair reduction, some individuals have experienced complete regrowth in the years following final treatment and a majority have at least experienced partial regrowth.

Sue
 

For the past 12 months, I have been testing and playing with all sorts of hair removal products for Hair Free Life. My goal is to provide the most accurate and up-to-date hair removal consumer information on the internet. When I'm not photographing, reviewing and researching hair removal products I play the drums in a samba band and am a volunteer for the Swindon Lions! Got any questions? Write to us below:

  • Avatar Negar says:

    Hi I am Negar. I am 29 years old and recently getting IPL treatment since last year (I have been through 6 treatment sessions so far). I do have fairly bright skin and dark hair color. I have to admit so far the amount of my hair has reduced but it is not that much. I have been reading and investigating also a lot on the internet and now I am worried that I chose the wrong treatment (IPL instead of laser). I chose this because I am a student and there was an offer for Christmas from the IPL studio and I could afford it. Now I am wondering whether I should stop the treatment and do not invest anymore money in it and do not also risk the side effects. I read your article and thought may be you could also recommend me something to make my decision easier.

    I thank you so much for any sort of tip or piece of advise you will provide,

    Thank you so much

    Regards

    Negar

    • Avatar Paul says:

      Hello Negar,

      There have been a bunch of studies comparing IPL vs Laser and the jury is still out on which type of machine is the most effective (http://hairfreelife.com/diode-laser-hair-removal-vs-ipl-hair-removal-best/) so it’s hard to say whether switching to a laser would make any difference for you. Lots of sites online talk about lasers being better than IPL, but you always have to be careful to make sure that the source is impartial and credible. Lots of clinics will simply support the machine that they have in order to get clients.

      What part of the body are you treating? If it’s a smaller area of the body, electrolysis might be worth considering.

      For more cost effective solutions you might want to experiment with a home laser (here is a price comparison article:- http://hairfreelife.com/home-laser-hair-removal-cost-comparison-analysis/). It’s a heavier up front cost but long term works out cheaper. Results aren’t guaranteed, though, and the fluence of home laser kits is much less than that used in professional salons, so if anything, the results are likely to be not as good.

      Whether you should continue or not is really a question of personal finance and how important the removal of hair is to you so it’s very difficult for me to advise you. If you haven’t completed the course, I would recommend seeing it through (6 sessions isn’t much for laser hair removal).

      Over what time period have you had your 6 sessions? How often do you get the treatment done?

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