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Laser Hair Removal Aftercare: Post-Treatment Skin Care Do’s and Don’ts

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Dr. Hardik Soni

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Have you ever wondered what the secret is to keeping your skin looking fabulous after laser hair removal? 

You’re not the only one who’s wondering about this. Many people are curious about what to do and what not to do after their laser hair removal treatment.

What many people don’t realize is that the aftercare is just as essential as the procedure itself. 

Like any medical or cosmetic treatment, your skin needs to recover and heal. The right aftercare can make all the difference between a smooth, successful result and potential discomfort or skin irritation.

What Should I Expect After My Laser Hair Removal Treatment?

Laser hair removal works by targeting the pigment in hair follicles with pulses of highly concentrated light. The laser energy gets absorbed by the pigment, which disables the follicle’s ability to regrow hair.

So what can you expect once the treatment is over? Here are the common effects and timeline for laser hair removal aftercare:

Common Side Effects

Redness and Swelling: The treated area will likely be red and swollen right after your appointment. This inflammatory response is temporary and should subside within 12-24 hours.

Sensitivity: Your skin may feel sensitive or even mildly sunburned for the first day or two. Cool compresses can provide relief.

Darkened Hairs: The laser causes the hair color to temporarily darken. Hairs will look darker at the root as they shed over the next week or two.

Crusting: Small scabs or crusting can form in the following days as the treated hairs exfoliate. This is normal. Do not pick or scratch them.

Itching: Temporary itching is common and a sign of healing. Avoid scratching.

Dryness/Flaking: Your skin may dry out and flake off over the next week. Moisturize regularly.

Timeline of What to Expect

Here is a general timeline of what you can expect in the days and weeks after laser hair removal:

TimelineWhat to Expect
Immediately AfterRedness, swelling, sensitivity, and inflammation. Possible perifollicular edema (swelling around follicle).
Within 24 HoursRedness and sensitivity start improving. Possible minor crusting/scabbing and darkened hairs.
1-3 Days AfterMaximum crusting/scabbing and darkened hairs. Mild itching may start.
1 Week AfterTreated hairs begin shedding. Itching peaks. Redness fades.
2-3 Weeks AfterMost shedding complete. Skin returns to normal but may be temporarily lighter or darker.
4-6 Weeks AfterMajority of hair shedding done. Any regrowth is finer and lighter.
8-12 Weeks AfterCycle ends and you can assess hair reduction results before next session.

Other Things to Know After Laser Hair Removal 

Visible Results: Results will become noticeable around 4-6 weeks after treatment when most hairs have shed. But maximum hair loss occurs around 3 months once the growth cycle ends.

Multiple Sessions: Most people require 4-6 laser hair removal sessions spaced 4-8 weeks apart for optimal long-term reduction. Catching stray hairs requires multiple treatments.

Regrowth: Some hair regrowth between sessions is normal. Results accumulate with each successive laser treatment.

Permanency: Permanent hair reduction is possible after several treatments but depends on your hair color and skin type. Maintenance may be needed.

Laser Hair Removal Aftercare Timeline

Laser aftercare instructions will vary based on your provider, treatment areas, skin type, and other factors. But in general, you can expect to follow these tips for:

Immediately After Treatment

Cleanse Gently: As soon as you get home, wash treated areas with lukewarm water and a mild cleanser like Cetaphil. Avoid very hot water which can irritate skin. Also avoid exfoliating cleansers, scrub brushes, washcloths, etc which can damage the treated skin.

Moisturize: Applying aloe vera gel immediately helps soothe and hydrate treated areas. Continue using your normal moisturizer if your technician approves it. Drink plenty of water to keep skin hydrated.

Cool Down: Use an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or cool compress on treated areas to help minimize swelling and discomfort. Continue for 15 minutes at a time as needed.

Use Antibiotic Cream: Your laser technician may provide a topical antibiotic or hydrocortisone cream. Apply this to treated areas daily as directed. This prevents infection as the skin heals.

Take Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen help relieve swelling, redness and discomfort after treatment. Follow dosage instructions.

Avoid Sun: Don’t expose treated skin to sunlight for at least 24 hours. Apply broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen before going outside.

Wear Loose Clothes: Tight clothes can irritate and rub against treated skin. Opt for loose, soft cotton clothing or wraps.

Rest Up: Get plenty of rest after your laser session and avoid strenuous exercise for at least 48 hours. Heavy sweating and gym clothes can irritate skin.

The First Week:

Keep Washing Gently: Continue using lukewarm water and a mild cleanser twice a day. Gently pat dry with a soft towel. Avoid scrubbing or using exfoliants.

Moisturize & Soothe: Use aloe vera gel, hydrocortisone cream, and a gentle moisturizer as directed by your provider. This helps the treated area heal.

Avoid Sun Exposure: Don’t go sunbathing for one week after laser hair removal. Wear SPF 30+ sunscreen on any exposed skin when going outside. Even incidental sun exposure can irritate healing skin.

No Hot Tubs or Saunas: Avoid excess heat like hot tubs, steam rooms or saunas for at least one week. The heat can be damaging to treated skin and sweat can cause irritation.

Skip Hair Removal: Don’t shave, wax, tweeze or use chemical depilatories on the treated area. Let the hair fall out on its own.

Avoid Swimming: Don’t go swimming for one week after treatment. Public pools or salt water can irritate and infect the hair follicles.

No Scrubs or Exfoliants: Avoid products with beads, particles or granules. Don’t use a loofah, brush or washcloth on the treated area which can cause irritation.

Be Gentle: Don’t pick at any scabs or crusting skin which can increase risk of infection and scarring. Let them naturally slough off.

One Month and Beyond:

Use SPF: Continue applying broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen every day, even if you don’t plan to spend much time outside. Sun protection is crucial for avoiding hyperpigmentation.

Moisturize: Keep skin hydrated with aloe, soothing lotions and gentle moisturizers as it continues to heal. Drink plenty of water.

Exfoliate Carefully: Your technician will advise when it’s safe to exfoliate again to avoid ingrown hairs. Use a very gentle scrub or chemical exfoliant and avoid treated areas if they remain sensitive.

Watch for Infection: Look for signs of infection like pus, worsening redness, heat and swelling. Call your provider if concerned.

Schedule Follow-Ups: Most patients need multiple laser hair removal treatments spaced 4-6 weeks apart for the best results. Make your next appointments as directed.

Consider Touch-Ups: Maintenance sessions may be needed in the future as hormones fluctuate or new hair growth occurs. Many patients schedule annual touch-up treatments.

When to Call Your Dermatologist

In rare cases, laser hair removal can lead to complications like infection, burns or scarring. Contact your dermatologist right away if you notice any of the following:

  • Pus, increasing pain, swelling, redness or warmth in treated areas
  • Fever over 100 F
  • Blisters, burns, bleeding or other wounds
  • Skin discoloration that persists more than 2 weeks
  • Scabs lasting more than 2 weeks
  • Swelling that gets worse or spreads
  • Any symptoms that concern you

While most side effects are mild and temporary, it’s always best to contact the professional who performed the laser treatment for proper diagnosis and care.

Smooth, Silky Skin with Laser Hair Removal at Ethos Spa

laser hair removal treatment on legs

Laser hair removal doesn’t stop at the treatment table. Proper aftercare is crucial for healing, preventing side effects like infection and scarring, and maintaining your beautiful results.

At Ethos Spa, our experienced technicians customize your laser hair removal plan for your unique skin and hair type.

We also advise on how to gradually resume normal activities like exercise, swimming, and sun exposure. This ensures your skin recovers properly. Our priority is keeping your skin healthy, comfortable, and hair-free.

Ready to say goodbye to unwanted body hair for good? Contact Ethos Spa today to schedule your laser hair removal consultatio

Dr. Hardik Soni

MD, Founder/Lead Physician

About Dr. Hardik Soni

Dr. Hardik Soni is the founder and Medical Director of Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness. His primary focus is on minimally invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures including botulinum injection (Botox and Dysport), dermal fillers (Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse), laser hair removal, chemical peels, and laser skin rejuvenation. Dr. Soni believes in a more conservative approach and his first goal is education. Clients are able to determine the ideal treatments after discussion with Dr. Soni regarding the expected outcomes, cost, as well as risks.

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