For years, laser hair removal has been commonly associated with women (specifically celebs like Kim Kardashian, who is notoriously hairless). But as of late, it seems like the fellas have jumped on the bandwagon too. The paps have even caught a few snaps of Kanye West leaving a laser hair clinic — which makes us wonder if he's sneaking in a few treatments. Come to think of it, Ye has been looking pretty smooth of late.
Just like most women aren't fond of sparse edges, guys aren't keen on patchy beards or painful ingrown hairs that need to be plucked out. Listen, even though I'm on a bi-weekly barber schedule, it's still pretty annoying to have to commit to daily shaving for a crisp, clean look.
Turns out, more men are turning to laser hair removal as a head-to-toe solution ever. Since you might be new to the game, we spoke with four experts all based in the Big Apple to teach you everything you need to know before diving in head first. Scroll down for 12 things we discovered:
“We have twelve different lasers and have lasers that nobody else has," explains Chris Karavolas, certified laser specialist and owner of Romeo and Juliette Laser Hair Removal. "Approximately 60 percent of our clients are of darker skin complexion and 18 percent are African-American. People have been using the wrong lasers, as such they have been saying that laser does not work on African-American Skin — this is incorrect."
"With the advancement of lasers for dark skin, one can give an effective treatment with permanent results. [For example], we have the SynchroREPLA:Y Excellium 3.4, it's the most powerful laser in the market to treat dark skin," Karavolas said, noting that "gray, white, blonde and red hair follicles" can be tricky. If you have any questions or concerns, it's best to talk to your dermatologist or physician first in order to avoid pigment discoloration.
Dr. Bruce Katz, M.D., director of JUVA Skin & Laser Center, states "the laser hair removal process is the best way to reduce the dense appearance of ingrowns and razor bumps."
Despite their popularity, some over-the-counter remedies often irritate the skin (particularly on the neck) and lead to other skin issues.
“I advise all my clients to meet with their physician first," Dr. Katz explains. "Just to make sure their skin can handle the laser and numbing creams." Another pro tip? Share any medications that you may be taking to avoid a potential reaction to your hair removal treatment. It's much better to be safe than sorry!
“As long as the correct laser (think Nd:YAG wavelength 1064 nm) is used, there would be no discoloration," explains Karavolas. "In fact, the ingrown [hair] would disappear and the skin would get back to it's natural condition."
Not sure what that means? Us either. Let's break it down. A Nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet) is a crystal that is used as a laser medium for solid-state lasers. Nd:YAG lasers have a wavelength of 1064 nm, which has the capability to reach deeper layers of skin tissue than other types of lasers.
Seven Brown, owner of Harlem Laser Clinic, described the process for us as a “procedure performed by focusing laser light energy at the surface of the skin and targeting hair follicles. This laser light energy rapidly heats the hair follicle while the skin is cooled and essentially destroys the hair in a process known as photothermolysis.”
Karavolas adds, “the beam bypasses the epidermis, thereby avoiding any damage.” Brown adds, "Hair grows in three stages. Depending on the stage the hair growth is in, you will see hairs grow and quicky fall off, a decline in growth or no growth for weeks."
Compared to other methods of removing ingrown hairs, such as plucking, the pain is tolerable, according to our experts. “It feels like rubber band snaps of the skin," Dr. Katz explains.
“Well it is a laser!” Karavolas joked. “You will feel the zapping of the laser, but it’s not unbearable. We have several options to cool the skin plus the numbing cream. It’s more of just a little discomfort for the client," he quickly added.
Brown shares that at Harlem Laser Clinic they utilize a cryogenic cooling process. "It's very cold [at first] and then followed by a zap with the laser. The cooling subdues the pain, making the pain manageable."
“Electrolysis is an older method of removing hair through the use of electricity, very different than laser removal," explains Dr. Katz. "Electrolysis is rather painful and a tedious process." Side effects can range anywhere from scaring to burning, ultimately resulting in discoloration.
Nyeemah Solomon of Erase Spa stresses that "clients are not to be in the sun" during and after the laser hair removal process. Contrary to what you might think, fall and winter are actually the best times to undergo the treatment. And, yes, using sunscreen will be a new normal since the the laser hair removal process makes your skin much more sun sensitive.
Why? Sun exposure increases the melanin in the skin and if the skin has increased melanin, it’s difficult for the laser to distinguish between hair and skin. Overexposure to the sun can put you at risk for other complications such as burning, hyperpigment or permanent discoloration of the skin.
To see real results, all three experts recommend at least six to eight consistent sessions, spaced five weeks apart. Yes, it truly is a commitment to be a smooth operator. The good news is each visit roughly takes only 15 to 20 minutes, meaning you can get it in even on your lunch break.
Karavolas emphasized that this treatment is a "reduction" in body hair at first, but after the full cycle is complete, you will only need to return once a year for maintenance.
Laser hair removal is a process that is FDA-approved and as long as you go to an experienced professional, you shouldn't have any issues. Being honest will also help avoid any additional snafus.
"It's important that all clients complete their data [intake] sheets. I do not just go off what a person physically looks like — you can appear white, but you could be something else. Same with people of color. To avoid any burning or discoloration, a specialist should be provided all the facts relating to the person's ethnicity," Brown reveals.
Your face isn't the only area that can benefit from laser hair removal. It can totally cut down on the amount of time you spend "manscaping" in your bathroom. Plus, no-one likes to see random chest and pube hairs scattered everywhere. Gross, we know.
Seriously, anywhere there is hair, it can be eliminated. So consider this procedure for your chest, back, legs and anywhere follicles pop up! Yep, some people even request their hairline, according to Brown.
Get ready to start a secondary savings account! For the neck and beard area, it can range $250-$375 for a single session and $1,250-$2,000 for six to eight treatments.
Beauty may be skin deep, but it’s not always cheap. But each expert admits you can go as you please if you decide to just try single sessions.
(Photo: Marc Piasecki/GC Images)