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Is Laser Hair Removal as Painful as They Say? 

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Getting to the Bottom of This Popular Cosmetic Treatment

Laser hair removal promises long-term hair reduction and freedom from tedious hair removal methods. But there’s a catch – you’ll have to endure some pain and discomfort to get those coveted results.

Or will you?

While laser hair removal does involve some degree of pain for most people, recent advances in technology and techniques have made the procedures much more tolerable. The level of discomfort can vary based on multiple factors as well. For those considering laser hair removal, it’s important to have realistic expectations about the potential pain and how to minimize it.

How Laser Hair Removal Pain Compares to Other Methods

laser hair removal treatment underarm

How Much Pain to Expect with Laser Hair Removal?

While the pinpricks of pain can be quite uncomfortable, especially on sensitive areas, they are very temporary. The stinging sensations go away as soon as the laser moves to the next pulse spot. For most people, the pain and irritation is moderate but manageable. Still, those with low pain tolerance may find the treatments challenging to endure.

To put the sting of laser hair removal in perspective, how does it stack up against other hair removal techniques? Methods like shaving and epilating provide useful comparisons:

Waxing: Most find waxing, especially Brazilian waxes, more painful than laser overall. With waxing you feel it all at once rather than just pinpricks. The pain can linger for a while after too.

Shaving: Using razors is practically pain-free during the process. But the hair regrows within days leading to constant upkeep. Ingrown hairs and razor burn can cause ongoing irritation with shaving.

Electrolysis: This hair removal method destroys the hair follicle using an electric current. The sensations tend to be more painful than a laser and can cause scarring when not performed properly.

Tweezing/Epilating: Plucking hairs out one by one is time-consuming. Epilators can rip out multiple hairs at once but are painful during and after use. Results are temporary like shaving.

Laser hair removal, when performed correctly, offers a relatively comfortable experience for most patients. The pain does not tend to linger after the session ends. Plus you get smoother, stubble-free skin for weeks rather than days like shaving. For those with coarse dark hair, the long-term permanent reduction is worth the fleeting discomfort.

How to Cope Mentally with Laser Hair Removal

Managing the pain and discomfort of laser treatments involves both physical and mental preparation. Here are some mindset tips to make your sessions more bearable:

Remember It’s Temporary

The pain only lasts a few seconds per pulse. Remind yourself that any discomfort will be brief.

Focus on the End Goal

Picture how happy you’ll be with smooth skin when it’s over. The results are worth it!

Start Small

If super nervous, try a small spot first to realize the pain is manageable.


Speak up if the settings are too hot for your tolerance and need adjusting.

Do Slow Deep Breathing

This helps relax so you don’t tense up and make it worse.

Cry If You Need To

Releasing emotion can distract from physical sensations. There’s no shame in shedding a tear!

Laugh It Off

Humor and laughter releases endorphins that naturally relieve pain.

Stay Hydrated

Being well-hydrated keeps pain receptors calm. Drink extra water before and after.

Reward Yourself

Plan something fun after like drinks with friends to celebrate getting through it.

Focus Elsewhere

Use mindfulness to concentrate on something specific like counting or music.

Embrace the Idea

See the pricks as proof the hair is being targeted and destroyed!

With the right preparation, mindset, and post-care, laser can be tolerable for most people who want permanent hair reduction.

Is Laser Hair Removal Worth the Pain? – should be a table

Now that you know what to expect when it comes to laser hair removal discomfort, let’s weigh the pros and cons.

Long-lasting hair reductionTreat large areas efficientlyLow risk of ingrown hairs or bumpsLess frequent treatments over timePermanent results after 6-12 sessionsCan be painful without numbingRisk of burns if not used properlyNot safe for extremely dark skin tonesMultiple sessions needed for best resultsExpensive compared to shaving or waxing

As you can see, laser offers significant advantages over temporary removal methods like shaving and waxing. No more razor bumps or irritation!

Most agree that the short bouts of pain and heat are worth it for stubble-free smoothness that can last weeks or months between sessions. Waxing and shaving have to be done multiple times per week to maintain results.

If you mentally prepare for treatments, use numbing cream, and employ pain-reducing techniques, laser discomfort is very tolerable for the life-changing confidence that comes with silky, hair-free skin.

Other Hair Removal Alternatives to Consider

If laser sounds too intense, it’s not the only option for dealing with unwanted hair growth. Here are a few other popular hair removal methods and how they compare to laser:


Shaving is fast, easy, and inexpensive. But it only removes hair above the skin’s surface, so stubble reappears quickly. You’ll need to shave the area frequently to maintain smoothness. Irritation and razor bumps are common side effects.


Waxing pulls hairs out from the root for longer lasting results of 3-6 weeks typically. But ingrown hairs and skin irritation can occur. Plus, waxing can be quite painful during the process.


Electrolysis destroys each hair follicle one at a time using an electric current inserted into the skin via a thin needle probe. It provides permanent hair removal like laser but is tedious, expensive and requires many sessions.


Epilators are devices with spinning discs that grasp and pull out multiple hairs at once. Hair regrows within 2-4 weeks. Epilating can cause redness and discomfort.

Depilatory Creams

Chemical hair removal creams dissolve the proteins in hair so it wipes away easily. Results only last a few days and skin reactions are common.

Tweezing & Threading

Plucking hairs out individually with tweezers or thread provides precision but is extremely time consuming for treating large areas. Hair regrows within weeks.

IPL Devices

At-home IPL devices use broad spectrum light at lower intensities than professional lasers. Results vary greatly and multiple treatments are required for minimal hair reduction.

When compared to other options, laser hair removal provides the best combination of long-lasting hair removal with minimal side effects when performed properly by an experienced professional.

What to Expect at Your First Laser Hair Removal Appointment

If you’ve decided laser is right for you, here’s a quick walkthrough of what to expect at your first session:

  • Consultation – The technician will evaluate your skin and hair type to determine appropriate laser settings. Tell them about any concerns or pain points.
  • Possible Patch Test – A test pulse on a small area may be done to assess your tolerance level and adjust the laser intensity as needed.
  • Eye Protection – You’ll be given safety goggles to shield your eyes from the laser light.
  • Treatment – The technician will pulse the laser over each area, customizing settings based on your feedback. Most sessions take 15-30 minutes depending on the body part.
  • Cooling – A cold pack, hydrocortisone cream, or aloe vera gel may be applied to soothe treated skin.
  • Aftercare – Avoid sun, hot baths, picking, and irritants for 1-2 days. Exfoliate gently in between sessions.
  • Future Appointments – Most people require 4-6 sessions spaced 4-6 weeks apart for optimal hair reduction. Maintenance may be needed annually.

Be sure to communicate any pain or discomfort you feel so the technician can adjust settings and make the treatment as comfortable as possible.

Ready for Smooth, Stubble-Free Skin?

a woman getting laser hair removal treatment

Now you have all the details on whether laser hair removal is painful, how to prepare for treatments, and what to expect.While laser can cause some moderate discomfort, the millions of people who enjoy lasting hair removal prove the brief pain is worth it. With numbing creams, proper breathing, mental preparation, and an experienced technician (like our very own experts at Ethos Spa), your comfort will be of the utmost priority.