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Laser Hair Removal: What Is It And How Does It Work?

Updated on September 7, 2018

With laser hair removal you will get smooth armpits and legs and a hairless bikini line. Lasering is usable for almost every body part, so you won't have to shave, epilate or wax anymore. Laser hair removal is effective for both men and women that have excessive and unwanted hairgrowth. There are different types of lasers, because every hair and skin type - light and dark - requires a different laser. But how is it possible to remove hair from your body with a laser? And doesn't that hurt?

What is laser hair removal?

Laser hair removal is a method to remove unwanted hairs on your body permanently. The method is based on destroying the hair follicles, so it will be impossible for new hairs to start growing in the treated area. After the treatment, your treated body parts will stay hairless for years. After this time, you might have to return for a follow up treatment. The restorative ability of your skin will make sure that after a few years some of the hair follicles start growing back, which gives your body the opportunity to grow new hairs again. This hair growth will be a lot less than it used to, however.

How does laser hair removal work?

A laser is used for the removal of unwanted hair growth. A beautician puts the laser on the skin and shoots a laser beam at it. The melanin (pigment) in the hair roots of your body hair absorbs the heat of the laser. The hair follicle can't stand the heat and destroys itself. The beautician treats the whole area with the laser in this way, so hairs won't grow at this body part anymore.

Cooling the skin

Because of the heat the laser produces while removing the hair follicles, the treatment can hurt. However, most modern lasers have a cooling system. This system cools the skin during the hair removal treatment, so you wo'nt feel any pain.

Hairs without pigment

Dark hairs are the easiest to remove with a laser, because of the high amount of melanin in thes hairs. The lighter the hair, the less effect laser hair removal had in the past. Blonde, red and grey hairs couldn't even be removed at all, because they lack pigment. With the development of Alexandrite and Diode lasers however, it's possible to remove these light and thin hairs as well.

Benefits of permanent hair removal with a laser

Laser hair removal provides several benefits:

  • The treated area will be completely hairless for years
  • You don't have to shave, wax or epilate anymore
  • Suitable for almost every body part
  • Thanks to the cooling system, you won't feel any pain

Disadvantages of a laser treatment

  • The process takes several months to complete
  • You'll have to return to the laser clinic at least five times
  • In the time between the treatments you're not allowed to shave
  • Laser hair removal is more expensive than most other hair removal methods
  • Very rare side effects are the occurrence of scars and burns

Types of lasers

Different types of lasersare used for the removal of body hair: the nd:YAG-laser, the Alexandrite laser and the Diode laser. Some laser devices combine several techniques to reach the best results. An fourth device, the IPL, is not officially a laser, but uses the same principle to remove hair.


The peculiar name of this laser is an abbreviation of neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet. The nd:YAG laser produces a laser beam with a wavelength of 1,064 nm. The long wavelength makes this type of laser perfect for the colored skin.

Alexandrite laser

The short wavelength of the Alexandrite laser makes it a good match for the light skin. With 755 nm this laser doesn't only remove dark hairs, but also lighter hairs that contain less pigment.

Diode laser

The Diode laser has a wavelength that's inbetween the wavelengthts of the nd:YAG and the Alexandrite laser: 810 nm. This means the laser can be used for every hair and skin type, from light to dark.

IPL treatment

IPL is an abbreviation of intense pulsed light. This type of treatment isn't carried out with a laser, but uses a similar technique to stop the hair growth. The IPL treatment method already existed in the nineties. Intense light flashes heat up the hair and destroy the hair follicle - just like a laser beam.

Fit for hair removal at almost all body parts

Almost every area of your body is fit for laser hair removal. Only for the thin skin around your eyes laser treatments are discouraged. The laser can damage the sensitive skin in this area. Especially women have their body hair removed permanently with a laser. Popular zones are the bikini line, face and armpits. But for men it's also possible to have excessive hair removed. Unwanted hair on the back, chest and stomach can be seen as really bothersome, and that's why these areas are populair for hair removal for men.

Upper lip
Bikini line
Lower back
Popular treatment areas for laser hair removal

Hairless in several months

The treatment takes several months, because the hairs can only be destroyed when they are in the growth phase. This is the phase in which the hairs contain the most melanin, which is needed to absorb the heat of the laser. In the transitional and resting phase the hair contains less melanin, which means the treatment has less effect on the hair. The hairs on your body are never all in the growth phase at the same time. That's why you'll need several treatments to get a completely hairless skin. Most laser clinics advise to undergo at least five laser hair removal treatments to reach the desired result.

Don't start with the treatment in the summer or right before the summer. During the laser hair removal treatment, you're not allowed to shave. When you start the treatment in the summer, you'll be walking around with hairy arms, legs or bikini line.

Prices of permanent hair removal

The price you pay for lasering varies, every laser clinic has his own prices. Before you start the treatment, compare the prices of several clinics so you don't pay too much. Keep in mind that laser clinics often tell you the price per treatment, and that you'll need at least five treatments for the desired result.

Preparation for the laser treatment

In the six to eight weeks before you start with the laser treatment, you shouldn't expose your skin to the sun. This might have a negative effect on the treatment. You shouldn't user self tanning lotion in this period either. At the day of the treatment, you're not supposed to use deodorant or skin cream.

After the treatment

Don't expose the treated skin to the sun until eight weaks after the laser hair removal. When you can't avoid the sun, use a sunscreen with SPF 50 to prevent your skin from getting pigment spots.


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