IPL and the importance of the hair growth cycle
IPL Laser hair removal is a speciality here at The Beresford Clinic and we have successfully treated thousands of patients over the last 20 years. This article explains the cycle of hair growth and answers one of the most frequently asked questions about IPL – Why do I need multiple sessions to remove all the unwanted hair?
We all understand the basics of the hair growth cycle – the short, blunt hairs that appear quickly after shaving and the patchy areas that appear after waxing – but what about if you’re considering laser hair removal – do we still need to understand the growth of the hair cycle for this process?
Yes, is the answer, and here we will explain why, but first, we need to explain how laser hair removal works.
Using laser light that is tailored to skin sensitivity or colour, the pigment within the hair follicle is targeted to absorb the laser, which in turn damages the hair follicle so that it does not grow back and effectively ends the cycle of growth. In an ideal world, laser hair removal would be done in one session: however, due to the process of hair growth and the cycle it follows, multiple treatments are required to eliminate all the hairs which are at different stages of their cycle.
Let’s talk about the three stages of hair growth:
Anagen, or the growth phase:
This is the first stage of growth. Hair is actively growing longer in this phase. The length of time hair remains in anagen phase determines how long it can grow. This phase last for 2-3 weeks and is the perfect time for targeting with laser hair removal.
Catagen or transition phase:
Stage two. During this phase the hair stops growing, the follicle shrinks, and the hair is cut off from its blood supply. This is where the hair sheds and for those us with long hair, this is when you see shedding. The catagen phase is not ideal for laser hair removal to work as the laser cannot reach the hair follicle when the hair separates, however this is a short phase.
Telogen or the resting phase:
Stage three. In this phase the follicle is dormant and will renew itself. You shed the old hair and then the anagen phase starts again with the new hair pushing out the old hair from the follicle.
Why is understanding the hair growth cycle important for laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal needs to be booked in sessions to ensure we reach every hair at the correct growth phase for the treatment to be effective. Only hair that is in the anagen phase will be successfully removed permanently with laser hair removal, which is why you will need several treatments to make sure all the hair is removed. Each session will target the hair within the anagen phase until all the hair has been treated – this can be an average of 6 sessions depending upon the area and the individual.
The hair growth cycle means that there is a short amount of time that each hair is at the correct stage for maximum effectiveness. Your laser hair removal sessions will be scheduled at specific intervals to allow the skin to recover and the hair to reach the correct point of its cycle. Once your sessions have completed, all the hair will have been target at the correct phases to ensure permanent removal and stop the regrowth.
We will recommend a number of treatment sessions that will ensure removal of the majority of the hair, however, you may find once your sessions have ended, the odd hair might appear, do not worry about this, as we are happy to schedule you for a free follow up session to catch any hairs that might have been missed during your recommended booked sessions.
Why choose laser hair removal over waxing and shaving?
Aside from the obvious reasons such as never having to shave again, or go through the painful waxing process, laser hair removal has other benefits you may not have thought of such as:
- Laser hair removal can actually be a very quick process and a treatment session can take as little as 20 minutes.
- Many clients have noticed a reduction in body odour, as the part of the hair deep inside the follicle which odour causing bacteria like to hide is effectively removed.
- Laser hair removal will tone and smooth the skin and improve the appearance whilst also improving muscle tone.
- Unlike other methods, this is a permanent solution and will not need to be repeated.
- The process is relatively pain-free – aside from a quick hot snap that can sometimes be felt during the process, there is no painful pulling out of the hairs or the rash and skin damage that can occur with shaving.
- Never having to worry about what to wear – You will be able to wear whatever you want and not have to worry about unsightly hair or that stubbly feeling associated with the regrowth less than 24 hours after shaving.
- Even though this treatment is highly effective when it comes to targeting unwanted hair follicles, it is also non-invasive. It also means a faster recovery time and fewer dangers involved.
Quick tips on preparing for your laser treatment sessions.
Once you have decided to have laser hair removal, you will need to stop all forms of hair removal for 3 weeks prior to starting your sessions, this includes electrolysis, plucking and waxing as this process can remove the root temporarily and will render the treatment ineffective.
It is also important to stay out of the sun for 6 weeks prior to, and after your treatments as this can have detrimental effects on the process and could increase the likelihood of complications.
The area to be treated should be shaved no sooner than 24 hours prior to the treatment.
Do not have filler injections, chemical peels or microdermabrasion in any of the areas to be treated for at least 14 days prior to the treatment.