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The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Retinol with Laser Hair Removal

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Dr. Hardik Soni

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Balancing Skin Care with Effective Hair Removal

Have you noticed fine lines and wrinkles creeping across your complexion? Are you frustrated by unwanted facial or body hair? 

At Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness led by Dr. Soni, we understand how these common skin concerns can make you feel self-conscious. That’s why we offer cutting-edge solutions like retinol treatments and laser hair removal to help you achieve smooth, hair-free skin with a glowing, youthful complexion.

In this blog, we’ll explore everything you need to know about how retinol and laser therapies can transform your appearance. Read on to learn how these advanced treatments can help you look and feel your absolute best!

What is Retinol and How Does It Affect Skin?

laser hair removal treatment on legs

Retinol has become one of the most popular anti-aging ingredients in skincare. But what exactly is it and how does it work its magic?

Retinol is a form of vitamin A that can be applied topically to the skin. It stimulates collagen production and accelerates cell turnover. This process reveals newer, fresher skin cells and allows retinol to improve skin texture, tone, and radiance.

Regular use of retinol promotes a more even complexion by fading spots and discoloration. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce acne breakouts. Retinol also minimizes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of premature aging.

As a potent antioxidant, retinol protects skin against free radical damage from UV rays, pollution, and other environmental stressors. With consistent use, you’ll notice significant improvements in your skin’s overall health and appearance.

Types of Retinoids

There are several varieties of retinoid ingredients used in anti-aging skincare treatments. Each type determines its strength and effectiveness.

TretinoinAlso known as retinoic acid, tretinoin is the strongest, prescription-only retinoid. It produces the most dramatic results by directly binding to receptors in skin cells.
TazaroteneThis extra-strength retinoid treats acne and skin cancer. It’s more potent than even tretinoin.
AdapaleneAvailable over-the-counter, adapalene is used to treat acne. It’s less potent than tretinoin or tazarotene.
RetinaldehydeA moderate-strength retinoid available without a prescription. It’s stronger than some forms but weaker than tretinoin.
RetinolThe over-the-counter form of retinoid. Retinol is weaker than the prescription varieties but still highly effective at improving skin.
Retinyl EstersThese derivatives, like retinyl palmitate, must convert into retinol before skin can use them. They are the least potent type of retinoid.
Granactive RetinoidA stabilized, water-soluble form of retinoic acid. It’s gentler than tretinoin but provides anti-aging benefits.

In general, tretinoin and tazarotene are strongest, followed by adapalene and retinaldehyde. Retinol, retinyl esters, and granactive retinoid tend to be the mildest.

The Relationship Between Retinoids and Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is an effective way to eliminate unwanted hair. But retinoids present some special considerations when undergoing laser therapy.

Retinoids make skin extra sensitive to light. The laser targets pigment in hair follicles, zapping them with pulses of concentrated light. Using retinoids right before the laser treatment can increase irritation, redness, swelling, and other side effects.

That’s why it’s crucial to avoid applying retinoids to areas being treated by laser. Pause usage for 1-2 weeks before and after each laser session. This allows skin to stabilize and prevents retinoids from interfering with results.

Retinol Before Laser Hair Removal

While retinol offers incredible anti-aging benefits, using it right before laser hair removal is ill-advised. The effects of retinol can set the stage for problems during laser therapy.

As discussed, retinoids increase skin cell turnover. Faster cell regeneration leads to enhanced light sensitivity. Laser treatments target hair pigment with precision beams of concentrated light.

When performed too soon after retinol application, laser removal can spark inflammation, burning, blistering, and other negative reactions. The retinol essentially primes your skin for irritation during the procedure.

Discontinuing retinol products 1-2 weeks prior to laser avoids these risks. It allows enough time for skin to return to its normal state so the laser can work properly. A brief retinol break prevents the two treatments from interacting.

Retinol After Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal can leave skin feeling dry and irritated. But you don’t need to pause your entire skincare routine. However, using retinol after this treatment must be approached with care.

Wait at least 3-4 days after laser removal before applying retinol. This gives skin time to heal completely with no lingering redness or sensitivity. Resume retinol use slowly, just 2-3 nights per week at first. Always apply moisturizer to prevent dryness and peeling.

Once the treated area adjusts to retinol again with no issues, you can begin using it more regularly. Just be sure to monitor skin closely and reduce application if any irritation occurs. 

How Retinol and Laser Can Work Together for You

laser hair removal treatment on legs

While retinoids require special care around laser hair removal, these treatments offer tremendous combined benefits. With expert guidance, you can enjoy clear skin, sparse hair growth, and a radiant complexion.

Retinol smooths texture, evens tone, and reduces signs of aging for flawless skin. Laser hair removal provides permanent reduction of unwanted hair on the face and body. Together, they help you look and feel your absolute best.

At Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness, we specialize in laser hair removal using advanced technology to safely and effectively remove unwanted hair. Our experienced staff will guide you through the process to achieve maximum results.

In addition to laser hair removal, we also offer a wide range of other aesthetic treatments including:

  • Botox, Dysport, and other injectables for wrinkle reduction
  • Dermal fillers like Juvederm and Restylane for lip, cheek, and under eye enhancements
  • Body contouring with CoolSculpting and other procedures
  • Skin rejuvenation treatments like microneedling, peels, and hydrafacials
  • Acne treatments to clear up facial and body acne
  • PRP hair restoration for thinning hair
  • Medical weight loss programs

Schedule a consultation at our office today to discuss your aesthetic goals and customize a treatment plan. Dr. Soni is dedicated to helping you look and feel your best.

Contact Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness today to schedule a consultation.


Can I use tretinoin cream before laser hair removal?

Stop using tretinoin cream 1-4 weeks before laser hair removal treatments. Tretinoin increases photosensitivity and irritation from laser light. Pausing use allows it to fully clear your system so skin can stabilize.

Is adapalene safe with laser hair removal treatments?

Adapalene should be stopped 1-2 weeks before laser hair removal to prevent increased irritation. After treatment, wait 3 days for skin to recover before restarting adapalene. This avoids retinoid-related side effects.

Can I use retinol serums before my laser appointment?

Discontinue retinol serums 1-2 weeks prior to laser hair removal. Retinol makes skin more sensitive to light. Allow time for products to fully clear your system before laser treatment.

When can I restart retinol after laser treatment?

Wait 3-5 days after laser sessions before restarting retinol. This pause allows any laser-related irritation to resolve. Retinol can then be safely reintroduced once skin has stabilized.

Is over-the-counter retinol okay with laser hair removal?

OTC retinol increases photosensitivity so should be stopped 1 week before and restarted 3 days after laser. This provides time for products to clear and skin to recover.

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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