Are you sick of managing your body hair and would rather remove it permanently? Then you really only have one option: laser hair removal. Luckily, a very effective process.

How does it work? It’s not quite the white-knuckled, James Bond awaiting his doom experience you might imagine. Essentially, the laser filters energy into the skin, the target of which is the melanin (gives your skin and hair its colour). When the laser hits the melanin, it explodes the papilla and it is destroyed. The darker the hair, the more the laser has to aim for.

If you’re contemplating the laser hair removal route, here’s what you need to know:

It’s a multi-session operation

Unfortunately, you won’t be eliminating all your hairs at once. There are a couple of reasons why you need to visit the clinic more than once. Your skin type determines the duration of treatments. This is calculated on a Fitzpatrick scale. Before you do laser ANYWHERE, this should be part of the paperwork process. Skin types 1-3 will require 6-8 treatments whereas darker skin types like 4-6 will require at least 10-12 treatments. These treatments are done every 4 weeks for the neck and face, and every 6-8 weeks (with 7 weeks being the best for catching the anagen stage of growth) for the rest of the body.

At any given time, some hair follicles are active, whereas others are in a ‘resting’ phase. Body hair grows, falls out, and regrows, and the laser only works on actively growing hairs. Once you catch the hair follicle in the right stage of growth, then it’s kaput.

And if you’re curious about preparation and recovery: I tell clients to avoid alpha and beta hydroxy acid skin products, as well as retinoids for 4-5 days before treatment. After the treatment, avoidance of sun and SPF 30+ is a must to prevent dark spots, known as hyperpigmentation. Some other contraindications for laser hair removal are keloid scarring, herpes, cold sores, and accutane within the last 6 months.

Some hair is easier to laser than other

You may not be aware, but the colour of your skin and hair affects the ease with which the laser can be administered safely. High contrast is key: Dark hair on light skin is the easiest, whereas light hair on light skin is challenging. Darker skin types can be challenging but for lasers such as Cutera, it is very easy to safely do it.

Laser hair removal is easier and quite less painful with new technology. The Cutera, an nd:YAG laser feels more like a warm pinprick than anything else. The key is to find the right laser for your skin type and then settings and possible topical numbing agents can be added in for discomfort is any.

You may have to do touchups to keep your new smooth body free of new hair. The treatments are referred to as hair reduction, and therefore some hairs can grow back over time or you may get a couple of new ones. This is easily managed with an annual or every other year touchup, but it is common for that to not be necessary.