Light-based (pulse light/IPL) and laser hair removal treatments are one of the most popular aesthetic treatment sort after by men and women today. This is not surprising, considering traditional hair removal methods such as electrolysis and waxing is painful and expensive.

Light-based and laser hair removal permanently reduces unwanted hair on any body areas, in fewer number of treatments and more comfortable than traditional procedures.

Unwanted hair be present on many body area including the upper lip, armpits, chin, sideburns, ears, chest, areola, cleavage, back, legs, fingers, feet, or toes, pubic, intergluteal fold. Most men and women find the unwanted hair growth annoying and embarrasing socially.

Fortunately, with advance in technology, there are plenty of hair removal methods available to help get rid of unwanted hair comfortably and effectively.

But what method is the most effective and can achieve permanent hair removal results?

Understanding Hair Growth Cycle

Hair cycle. diagram of a hair follicle.

Hair cycle. diagram of a hair follicle.

By understanding hair growth cycle, we will then know how to effectively eliminate unwanted hair when receiving light-based and laser hair removal treatment. Every single hair is contained in a pilosebaceous unit, comprises of the followings:

1) a hair shaft

2) hair follicle,

3) hair bulb

4) sebaceous gland

5) erector pili muscle

Hair grows in continuous cycle where hair grow and shedd through 3 phases.

The first phase is call Anagen, is the growth phase where hair is attached to hair root.

The second phase is call Catagen is a transitional phase where hair is detached from hair root.

The third phase is call telogen is the resting phase where hair will be shed away.

How long hair spend on each phase varies from one person to another, and is determined by genetics, hormones, and area of the body.

Hair in the anagen phase is still attached to hair root, while hair in catagen and telogen phase already detached from hair root.

When undergoing light-based or laser hair removal treatment, no plucking, epilating or waxing is allowed as we want the destroy the hair with root, ie, anagen phase. Shaving in-between session is allow.

Hair Removal Methods

Temporaly Hair Removal Methods includes:

1) Shaving

2) Plucking

3) Tweezing

4) Waxing

5) Depilatories (creams)

Permanent Hair Removal Methods includes:

1) Electrolysis (inserting a needle into each hair follicle one at a time followed by an electric spark to burn out the follicle).

2) Light source devices like lasers, infrared light and intense pulse light with wavelengths above 770 nm, is recognized as the most versatile for hair removal and offer the only method for permanent hair reduction.

Types of Light Based and Laser Technologies

The ruby, alexandrite, and diode lasers were the first lasers approved by U.S FDA for permanent hair reduction. The intense pulsed light (IPL), Radio-frequency and near Infra-Red light-based technologies are also available.

However, pulse light system and any lasers that emits wavelength above 770 nm, is recognised as the most effective for hair removal.

These light-based technologies work best on light-skinned, dark-haired individuals because dark pigments in the surrounding skin cannot absorb the light they emit.

Light source devices with longer wavelengths, such as the Nd:YAG lasers, Diode Lasers and Sharplight, Cutera have the ability to treat darker skin types including Indian and African-American skin.

When laser or pulse-light is fired to the skin, a low-energy beam is emitted and absorbed by dark pigment (melanin) present in the shaft of the hair follicles. Since hair grow in 3 cycle of hair growth, repeat treatments are necessary to achieve permanent hair reduction.

Hair Removal Process

• Light is absorbed by melanin in hair

• The hair gets heated up

• Heat damages the bulge & bulb disabling the hair structure

• The epidermis is cooled to prevent epidermal damage

What is the different between permanent hair removal offered by beauty salons, waxing palors and medical aesthetics clinics and medical spa?

Due to strict regulatory criterias imposed by Ministry of Health in Singapore for all clinics in Singapore, hair removal systems used by medical aesthetic clinics are usually either import from America or Europe, obtaining U.S FDA or European CE Mark clearance/approval, ensuring clients safety and efficacy.

Extensive clinical studies are carried out to proof its efficacy and safety before manufacturers attain clearance to market the aesthetics system to clinics. Example of U.S FDA cleared medical grade hair removal brands are Cutera, Cynosure, Sharplight, Ellipse IPL, Palomar, Alma Lasers, Lumenis, Syneron, Sciton etc

If you are considering permanent hair removal treatment, you should do research on the aesthetics equipments the service providers use, the experience and qualification of the service provider before signing up a package.

How effective are they? Will all the hair in treated area permanently removed?

The percentage of hairs removed per session varies in different body location. Generally, areas with thin skin such as bikini and armpits achieve better response than areas with thick skin such as back and chin.

Approximately 10-25 percent reduction in hair growth can be expected with each treatment. Treatments are repeated every four to eight weeks. The hair that re-grow after each treatments tends to be lighter and finer in texture.

What are the possible side effects?

Although most people experience few side effects, those most commonly noticed are slight reddening and local swelling of the skin, similar to a sunburn. These effects typically last for several hours or less.