Are laser treatments a good way to get rid of facial hair?
December 18, 2009 3:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for information regarding laser treatments to remove facial hair.

I'd like to do something about the hair on my face (I'm female). Until now I've been using depilatory creams, but I'd like a permanent solution. Are laser treatments the way to go? I understand that it's easier than electrolysis, and that I'm an ideal candidate for laser treatments since I'm very fair-skinned with dark hair.

How many treatments are generally needed?

Do I need to let my facial hair grow (i.e. not remove it) to a certain length before starting? (I'd feel very awkward going out and about like that)

Are there any after-effects like pain, burning or redness?

Any personal anecdotes for or against would be much appreciated.
posted by shelayna to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am also considered a "good candidate", with dark hair in pale skin. I had laser hair removal started on my face in the early 90's. The company went away before I finished my sessions.

I was told THEN to shave the hairs, which was to get them all on the "same growth cycle", and then let them grow to about 1/4".

I had about 3 or 4 treatments. I STILL have black hair growing in, and the hairs that were "treated" are now white, but still growing in! My hairs are very coarse and very deep set, so there is a difficulty in getting a treatment when the hairs are still under the skin (and over 1/8"!) I'm also quite prone to ingrown hairs. Perhaps I'm not as good a candidate as we thought!

Better lasers and techniques may mean better success. I haven't had the disposable income to try another place.

It didn't really hurt, they had the laser set low to start. Mostly it's a bit noisy. If it's painful, they have anesthetic gels now, and seem to use it more often that when I went. The worst pain I felt was from thicker hairs being "zapped". It wasn't unbearable.

The redness I had faded in a few hours.

Number of treatments you need would depend on a lot of factors such as coarseness of hair, amount of hair, size of area, growth cycles, pain tolerance, etc. Some places will treat you for a set number of times, others over a set amount of time. I would go for that myself, where I could go in for treatment over 6 months as often as I felt I needed to. That might work better for ME.

Some people absolutely loved their results. I wasn't quite thrilled, as it really didn't solve anything. But again, I had it done many years ago, and there have been advancements that might encourage me to try again.

After that, there's always napalm.... Sigh.
posted by Jinx of the 2nd Law at 4:30 AM on December 18, 2009

I've had laser treatments for hair removal all over my body, including my face. I have had the least success with the facial treatment, probably because the hair there is lighter than, say, my leg hair, and it is sensitive to hormonal fluctuations.

In my experience, for any laser hair removal treatments with real lasers (not pulsed light), you will need at least 8 sessions, 6-8 weeks apart. You shave the hair. Once you start lasering, you can't pluck. The hair has to be there to conduct the laser energy to the follicle to destroy it.

I have very fair skin which is sort of sensitive. I experienced redness and some swelling after treatments, but it subsided after 12 hours.

For me, the face wasn't a painful site. Most people have a layer of fat over the face which will diminish the pain. (Lasers on bone, like on your knee or elbow where there's not a lot of fat, generally hurt more.) I did take ibuprofen before hand, and I was fine.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with my laser treatments and highly recommend them to everyone. Make sure you see two or three clinicians before you buy--interview them, find out who gives the treatments, is there a medical director, etc. I went to a practice that is focused on cosmetic treatments--that's all they do. I felt like they knew what they were talking about and kept up-to-date on the latest techniques and practices in cosmetic laser hair removal.
posted by FergieBelle at 6:17 AM on December 18, 2009

I've had laser hair removal on other parts of my body and been happy with the results. I haven't done the sessions as recommended (6-8 weeks apart consistently) so it's hard to say what the long term results are at this point.

The feeling itself is uncomfortable, kind of like being snapped with a rubberband but totally something I can handle. I was told to shave a day or so before the appointment, and once they shaved it down almost to the skin (my hair is very dark and my skin is very light so even a tiny bit of stubble is visible and enough to hit with the laser). The redness went away within a few hours; I don't recall experiencing any swelling. It's infinitely preferable to waxing to me.

I recommend, as FergieBell said, going to a couple places for a consultation to see what you think of their offices. A number of places will also do a "test patch" for you, so you can see what it feels like and what the effects are. I'm not sure how that will work since the area you want done sounds quite small anyway, but it would be worth looking into.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:24 AM on December 18, 2009

FergieBelle, when you say you shaved, do you mean every day instead of plucking, or that you grew out the hair in-between appointments and then shaved before you went?
posted by JoanArkham at 6:38 AM on December 18, 2009

@JoanArkham: I shaved every day, or every other day--just as I would have otherwise tweezed. The main point is: you can't tweeze hair when you are undergoing laser treatments. And, when you do have the treatment, you shouldn't have hair longer than your skin because it will burn and smell bad--plus, it hurts a little more when the laser zaps it.
posted by FergieBelle at 6:53 AM on December 18, 2009

I had, I think, two treatments some years ago before running out of money. I have very dark hair on light-ish skin, and was very pleased with the results. I still shave every day, but felt that the two treatments reduced the hair enough that I feel much less self-conscious about it, even if I miss a shave. I plan to go back when money permits.
posted by not that girl at 7:26 AM on December 18, 2009

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