Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt? My Honest Answer
I hate being human. It's so . . . soft. Ew. I also love lasers. Lasers are awesome. They zap things.
You will therefore not be surprised to learn that I was immediately enthralled by the idea of laser hair removal. Something that reduces human hairiness WITH LASERS? How can one lose?!
Perhaps you, too, are intrigued by the idea of laser hair removal. But perhaps you (much like Yours, Truly) are averse to pain and want to know just how much this shindig might smart.
Wonder no more, Gentle Reader! With the furrowed brow of a legitimate intrepid journalist, I sacrificed my own personal comfort and dignity to research this issue*. And now I have answers. Lots of them. They're honest. They're blunt. They're exactly what you need to know.
*Let us please pretend that I had hair zapped from my shoulder blades and nowhere else.
Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt?
Answer Provided by the Place I Visited (Accurate, IMHO):
It hurts just about as much as a rubber band snap.
It hurts slightly less than having each hair tweezed.
More Specific Answer:
It hurts just as much as it would hurt when a laser singes a hair follicle (which is exactly what is happening).
Physically, it doesn't hurt much. What does hurt is your dignity as you drop trow (maybe) in front of a complete stranger who then zaps potentially intimate (remember, I had my shoulder blades done, so far as you're concerned) parts of your body. So yeah, laser hair removal hurts . . . your dignity.
If You've Had Laser Hair Removal, Do You Think It Hurt?
Does Numbing Cream Make a Difference?
Most places that offer laser hair removal also offer numbing cream (typically for a small additional charge—say $15). To be like a true fake investigative journalist, I used this stuff once, then went again without the numbing cream to see just how effective it is.
So, does the numbing cream actually work?
Oh HECKS yeah! You will hardly feel a thing! And you will CONTINUE to hardly feel a thing for quite a while! It's very interesting.
While using the numbing cream nearly eliminates the physical pain, it quadruples the embarrassment, and it won't spare you the awkward encounter between your exposed self and a complete stranger.
Detailed Honest Answer:
Right. So, if you take the numbing cream route, this is what happens:
- You take off your clothes
- You put on gloves and open the container of numbing cream they give you, and spend a couple of minutes contemplating the indignity of what you are about to do.
- You thickly spread the cream onto the area to be treated. Have fun with that.
- You begin to wonder if there are cameras in the room recording your private humiliation.
- You remove the gloves, then wrap the cream-covered area in plastic wrap. Like a sandwich.
- You get a bit over-zealous about plastic-wrapping yourself. This is actually really fun.
- You sit (or stand) wrapped in plastic wrap for upwards of an hour (so that the numbness can properly set in).
- You wonder why you don't wear plastic wrap every day.
- You waddle/trudge/gallop over to the treatment room.
- Your nurse cuts you out of the plastic wrap and wipes away the cream
- THEN your nurse does the whole hair zapping procedure
As you can see, there's a complete loss of self-composure involved in this cowardly circumvention of pain, not to mention a loss of time.
My Verdict: Skip the Numbing Cream
In short, I recommend skipping the numbing cream part. Yeah, the first time you get the treatment with no pain blocker, you find yourself thinking, "I don't think I'll mind this being over kind of soon," but you're not screaming. This is not a tattoo, for the love of blog. Save your time, money, and dignity, and leave the numbing cream for sissies.
What About You?
If you got laser hair removal, would you use numbing cream?
A Bit More About Laser Hair Removal
I suppose there's a bit more to laser hair removal than just pain and awkward awesomeness, so let's just review the major points:
- Laser hair removal is technically more of a "permanent reduction" of hair than a permanent removal—the hair grows back, in most cases, but much finer and less densely. If you're young, new hairs (that never received treatment) may grow in over time, so it's difficult to say if you'll see totally permanent removal, but hairs that have been destroyed by the lasers will remain destroyed. That, much, will not change.
- Laser hair removal is most effective on dark hair and fair skin. Generally, the more contrast, the better.
- You won't really see significant (e.g. 50–90% clearance of hair) results until an area has been treated 4–6 times, since you can't cover all hair growth cycles in one sitting. In the materials my place-of-hair-zapping provided, it is even mentioned that some areas of aggressive hair growth, such as the face, may need as many as 10–15 treatments before success is achieved.
- Redness and swelling immediately after treatment
- Slight sunburned sensation after treatment
- Slightly sensitive skin for a couple of days following treatment
- Shedding treated hair 5–14 days out of treatment
- Make a point of doing this during the winter: You're supposed to avoid exposing treated skin to the sun 4–6 weeks before and after treatment, so it's best if you aren't trotting around in a bikini right after getting a treatment. You'll also want to avoid waxing, bleaching, or tweezing hairs to be treated for around 6 weeks before treatment—so really, winter is ONLY time to properly do this.
- You'll need to get subsequent treatments within a 6–8 week window to properly make target different hair growth cycles. Note: For areas above the neckline, the time window shortens to four weeks.
The gist: if you're paying regular waxing, and if you have dark hair, it might make sense to give laser hair removal a try. It won't hurt any more than normal, and who doesn't like stuff with lasers?!
Would you consider laser hair removal?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.