Summer laser hair removal treatment is a popular question in the spring. Often I am asked if it is okay to have laser hair removal treatments throughout the summer months. The answer I always give is, it depends on you. If, you know you will be getting sun exposure on your treatment site I would suggest you take a break from your summer laser hair removal treatment.
If your treatment site will not be exposed to the sun then there is no problem continuing your laser hair removal treatments during the summertime.
Sensitivity to sun light during your summer laser hair removal treatment
Once you begin on your journey of laser hair removal the laser will render the skin on your treatment site “light sensitive”, only for the duration of the laser treatment. It is only the treatment site that will be light sensitive. So for example, if you are doing your underarms, it is only the skin on the underarms that will be sensitive to sunlight. The skin on your arms and legs will react normally to the sun.
Even people who would not typically be sensitive to sunlight can expect to be more sensitive on their treatment site.
What does it mean to be “light sensitive”?
There are many things that can make your skin sensitive to sunlight; some prescription medications, certain ingredients in skin care products, skin peels, laser resurfacing, and laser hair removal, to name a few. When you are “light sensitive” your skin will be vulnerable to a sun burn, blister and hyperpigmentation when exposed to sunlight.
The skin on the site that you are having laser hair removal on, could burn quickly with sun exposure and develop brown spots. Using sun protection is definitely a must if your treatment site is going to be exposed.
What are the risks to the skin on the treatment site, if exposed to the sun?
As mentioned above the skin on the treatment site can burn quickly with sun exposure. The skin is also at risk of developing “hyperpigmentation” (freckles, sun spots) on the site that you are having laser hair removal treatments on.
How does sun exposure effect laser hair removal treatments?
Remember, the laser (for hair removal) targets color. The laser is searching for any color, whether it be color in the hair or color in the skin. Therefore, if you come for your laser hair removal treatment with a deep, golden tan, the laser will target and heat the color in your skin, putting your skin at a higher risk than if you didn’t have any color on the skin.
- The more color on the skin during laser hair removal the greater the risk of a blister or a burn on the skin.
- If you come in for a laser hair removal treatment after sun exposure and with a golden tan, now you run the risk of “hypopigmentation”, the loss of color on the skin, white spots. These “white spots” can be temporary but I find hypopigmentation to be permanent.
- The more color you have on the skin, the more treatments you will need. When the energy level of the laser is lowered to protect a skin with color, this will add to the number of treatments you will require.
- The more color you have on the skin, the more treatments you will require and the more costly your treatment is in the end.
Does taking a break from laser hair removal, during the summer effect my results in the end?
No. Any hair follicles that were disabled (during your laser hair removal treatments before the summer) should be permanently disabled. Any results you achieved prior to taking a summer break, should be permanent. If you are being treated with a laser that is capable of “permanent hair reduction” those results are permanent.
When you resume your treatments in the Fall, we continue to disable the follicles that have yet to be treated.
How long will my skin be sensitive to sunlight?
Theoretically, 4 weeks after your last laser hair removal treatment you are no longer “light sensitive”. But, I tell all my clients to be careful with sun exposure for the duration of their laser treatments.
Is it only my treatment site that will be “light sensitive” while I am doing laser hair removal treatments?
Yes. If you are having your underarms treated, it is only the skin under the arms that will be sensitive to sunlight. The rest of the skin on your body will react to sun exposure as it normally would.
Are some people/skin types more prone to light sensitivity than others?
Yes. The more natural color in the skin, the less sensitive to sunlight the skin will be. Therefore, a client with no color in their skin, is extremely vulnerable to a sun burn whether they are doing laser hair removal or not. But even more prone to a sun burn (on their treatment site) while doing laser treatments.
With that said, even a client with natural color in their skin, can be more sensitive to sunlight, while doing laser hair removal.
I caution everyone doing laser hair removal to be very aware they could be “light sensitive” on their treatment site(s), for the duration of the laser treatments.
Is it recommended to take a break from laser hair removal during the summer?
That depends on whether you plan on exposing your treatment site to the sun. Many people never expose themselves to the sun (whether doing laser treatments or not) and continue to do their laser hair removal treatments throughout the summer without any problems.
I have other clients who know they will definitely be getting sun exposure during the summer months and take a break for the summer. And, many of my clients commit to no sun exposure while doing laser hair removal and are very careful with sun exposure while doing their laser treatments.
Is laser hair removal safe to do on a skin with a suntan?
That depends, on the laser you are being treated with and the just how much color you have on the skin. Some lasers for hair removal are not safe to be treating a skin that has color, whether the color is natural, or a sun tan. Even if the laser you are being treated with can treat a skin with color/suntan, a skin with color is always at higher risk of injury.
Remember, as soon as you have color on the skin (sun tan) you add; to the cost of the treatment, the number of treatments, to the risk of burning/blistering on the skin, and hypopigmentation (white spots) on the skin.
Whether you begin laser hair removal in the winter, spring summer or fall, at some point you will be dealing with sun exposure. Clients who begin laser hair removal treatments in the winter may have a beach vacation planned and inevitable sun exposure. For those clients having laser hair removal treatments throughout the summer months, there is sun exposure.
I just try to impress on everyone that there is a very strong possibility that the treatment site is most likely going to be “more sensitive to sunlight” than it usually is. It does not mean “no sun exposure” it just means, be mindful, use SPF, and be aware that your treatment site could be vulnerable when exposed to the sun.
I hope you found this article on summer laser hair removal valuable. If you have any questions about laser hair removal treatment or if you would like to schedule a skin consultation session, we invite you to contact our Montreal medispa clinic today. It will be our pleasure to answer your questions.