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Should I Exfoliate Before Laser Hair Removal? 

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Dr. Hardik Soni

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Preparing Your Skin for Effective Laser Treatments

Looking into laser hair removal but not sure how to prep your skin beforehand? Exfoliation is a key part of the pre-treatment process for optimal results. Keep reading to learn why exfoliating is so important prior to laser hair removal, the best exfoliation methods to use, what to avoid, and how to care for your skin afterwards.

At Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness, our expert providers customize the latest advances in aesthetic treatments to meet your unique needs and goals. Within our peaceful, luxurious environment, you can choose from a wide array of services to enhance the beauty of your skin. 

Why Exfoliate Before Laser Hair Removal Treatments?

Laser Hair Removal Treatment

It’s best to exfoliate the treatment area about 1-2 days prior to your scheduled laser hair removal session.

Exfoliating right before the appointment may irritate the skin and cause sensitivity. Doing it too far in advance can allow dead skin to build up again. 24-48 hours beforehand is ideal.

Plan to exfoliate regularly 1-2 times per week for a few weeks after each treatment as well. This helps remove treated hairs shedding from follicles and prevents blockages. 

Exfoliating is highly recommended before laser hair removal for a few important reasons:

Removes Dead Skin Cells and Debris

Exfoliation sloughs off the top layer of dead skin cells and trapped oils and dirt. This debris can prevent the laser light from penetrating deeply into the hair follicle during treatment. Thoroughly exfoliating ensures the laser can reach its target.

Uncovers Hair Follicles

In addition to clearing off dead skin, exfoliating removes short, shaved hairs that may be lodged under the skin’s surface. Uncovering buried hairs allows the laser to disable more follicles for better results.

Minimizes Risk of Ingrown Hairs

Regular exfoliation before and after laser hair removal helps prevent ingrown hairs. By sloughing off dead cells, exfoliation helps new hairs grow out normally rather than growing inward.

Improves Treatment Efficacy

Overall, exfoliating improves the effectiveness of each laser hair removal session. Prepping the skin properly allows the laser device to penetrate optimally and disable more hair follicles.

Experience the Ultimate Laser Hair Removal Results – Book Your Session at Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness Today!

Which Exfoliation Method Works Best?

There are two main approaches – mechanical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation. Here’s an overview of both to help determine the best method for your skin:

  1. Mechanical Exfoliation

This technique uses physical abrasion to slough off dead skin cells. Popular mechanical exfoliants include:

Exfoliant TypesDescription
Loofahs or washclothsGentle circular rubbing with a loofah or soft washcloth is an easy way to mechanically exfoliate. Use mild pressure and avoid scrubbing too harshly.
Body brushesSpecial brushes with soft, short natural bristles are designed for full-body exfoliation before showering. Use light, sweeping motions to brush the skin.
Exfoliating gloves/scrubsTextured gloves or scrubs with soft jojoba beads gently buff away dead skin when lathered with cleanser and massaged over the skin.
Sonic cleansing brushesFacial cleansing devices like the Clarisonic use gentle sonic vibrations to clear away debris. Avoid using these directly on the treatment area, but they’re great for the face.
Sugar/salt scrubsDIY body scrubs blend sugar or sea salt with oils like almond, coconut, or jojoba. Gently massage over damp skin and rinse.
  1. Chemical Exfoliation

Chemical exfoliants use acids to dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells, causing them to naturally shed off. Examples include:

Exfoliant TypesDescription
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)Glycolic acid and lactic acid are types of AHAs that loosen dead cells. Higher concentrations can be irritating.
Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs)Salicylic acid is the most common BHA. It penetrates pores deeply to remove debris. Can be drying for some skin types.
Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs)Gluconolactone and lactobionic acid are gentler alternatives to AHAs and BHAs. Provide light exfoliation without as much irritation.
Enzymatic exfoliantsFruit enzymes like papaya, pineapple, and pomegranate help digest dead skin cells. Often added to masks and cleansers.

Tips for Exfoliating Sensitive Skin Before Laser Hair Removal

Those with sensitive skin need to take extra care when exfoliating prior to laser hair removal. Here are some tips:

  • Spot test any new mechanical or chemical exfoliant on a small area first to check for irritation before wider use.
  • Opt for a gentle enzymatic, PHA, or AHA exfoliant rather than stronger BHAs or scrubs which may be too harsh.
  • Only exfoliate once 24-48 hours before each session, and use very light pressure.
  • Wash with lukewarm water and pat dry gently without rubbing to avoid disrupting sensitive skin.
  • Wait 5-7 days after treatment before exfoliating again to give sensitive skin time to recover.

Safeguard Your Sensitive Skin – Get Personalized Exfoliation Guidance from Our Dermatologists at Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness!

Products To Avoid Using Before Laser Hair Removal

Some skin care products can irritate or photosensitize the skin, making it more vulnerable to laser damage. Avoid these products on treatment areas at least 1 week prior:

  • Retinoids (tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene)
  • Glycolic acid or salicylic acid
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Hydroxy acids
  • Any exfoliating scrubs with beads
  • Essential oils like lemon, lime, bergamot, ginger
  • Citrus-based ingredients
  • Antibiotics like doxycycline
  • Photosensitizing herbs like St. John’s wort

Exfoliation for Different Skin Types Before Laser Hair Removal

Laser Hair Removal Treatment

Those with darker skin tones need to take special care when exfoliating before laser hair removal. Here’s how to exfoliate properly based on your skin type:

For Fair or Light Skin

  • Use gentle scrubs or AHAs/BHAs to remove dead cells 1-2 days pre-treatment.
  • Enzymatic exfoliants are ideal and help even skin tone.
  • Salicylic acid products are tolerable a few times per week.

For Medium or Olive Skin

  • Very gentle AHAs like lactic acid are safe 1-2 times weekly.
  • Avoid any scrubs, brushes, or tools that may irritate.
  • Wash with a soft cloth and avoid rubbing too harshly over treatment areas.

For Darker Brown or Black Skin

  • Use only the gentlest enzymatic or polyhydroxy acid (PHA) exfoliants.
  • Exfoliate no more than once 24-48 hours prior to laser session.
  • Massage skin with soft, circular motions using just your clean hands or a super-soft cloth.
  • Rinse away exfoliant thoroughly and avoid letting any residue remain on the skin.

Getting exfoliation guidance tailored to your exact Fitzpatrick skin type is essential prior to laser hair removal. Always check with a dermatologist or laser technician first.

Caring for Skin After Exfoliating

Be very gentle with skin care after exfoliating to help the treatment area recover optimally:

  • Apply a soothing moisturizer like aloe vera gel to hydrate.
  • Avoid additional exfoliation for 3-5 days to prevent over-irritation.
  • Prevent sun exposure which can damage sensitive post-exfoliated skin.
  • Wear SPF 30+ daily if spending time outdoors.
  • Use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser until skin adjusts.
  • Watch for signs of irritation like excessive redness, stinging, or peeling.

Nurture Your Skin Post-Exfoliation – Explore Our Skin Care Products and Advice at Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness!

What To Expect During the Laser Hair Removal Procedure

  1. The technician will have you lie down on a treatment bed and expose the area being treated, such as your legs, face, or underarms.
  2. The area will be cleansed and shaved to prepare the skin.
  3. We will adjust the laser device settings based on your skin tone, hair color, and thickness of hair being removed. Our specialist will start on the lowest setting and adjust as needed.
  4. A cold gel will be placed on the treatment area to help conduct the laser energy and cool your skin.
  5. We will then place the handheld laser device directly on your skin and pulse the laser over the treatment area.
  6. Each laser pulse will target an individual hair follicle. You will feel a quick snapping or pricking sensation as the laser targets each hair.
  7. We will methodically move the laser head over the entire treatment area, pulse by pulse, until finished.
  8. You may experience mild discomfort or a rubber band snapping sensation during the treatment. Inform the technician if you need breaks or adjustment of the settings.
  9. After the full treatment is complete, our technician will wipe off the gel and apply a soothing cream or ice pack to the treated skin which may be slightly swollen and red.
  10. Over the next few weeks, the treated hairs will shed as the follicles are damaged and push them out. You can expect up to 25% less regrowth after the first session.
  11. Multiple treatments are usually needed for best results, with sessions spaced 4-6 weeks apart. Hair reduction improves with each successive treatment.

Achieve Smooth, Healthy Skin with Laser Hair Removal

Laser Hair Removal Treatment at Ethos Spa

Now that you know how to properly prep and care for your skin before and after laser hair removal, you can feel confident starting treatments. Exfoliation is vital for optimal results.

The expert providers at Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness offer customized laser hair removal using advanced technology to achieve smooth skin. Contact us today to schedule your consultation! Our relaxing spa environment provides the perfect escape while you work towards your aesthetic goals.

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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