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How To Prepare For Laser Hair Removal

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How To Prepare For Laser Hair Removal How To Prepare For Laser Hair Removal

The way some people talk about it, you’d think laser hair removal was magic – just a few quick zaps and boom, no more hair ever again.


But the truth is, laser hair removal takes multiple treatments, a healthy amount of patience, and some thoughtful prep on your end to get the best results (and avoid skin irritation and side effects.)


Whether you’ve already booked an appointment and are wondering what you need to do to prepare, or reading this article is part of doing your research to see if you’ll even be getting laser hair removal in the first place, we’ve got you covered. Learn how to prepare for laser hair removal.


How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal by Method

Laser Hair Removal Steps

In-Salon Laser Hair Removal

At Home IPL Laser Hair Removal

Clean and dry skin before treatment

Shave 24-48 hours before treatment

Avoid waxing/plucking before treatment

Avoid sun exposure before treatment

Strict treatment schedule

May be painful

Total cost




What to Do Before Laser Hair Removal

Before getting laser hair removal, it’s important to choose a reputable clinic and prepare your skin for treatment. Here’s a quick checklist of what needs doing before you go in for your laser hair removal appointment:


  • Choose the right clinic.
    While laser hair removal is a relatively safe procedure, the
    American Academy of Dermatology warns that it can be dangerous in inexperienced hands – burns and scars can occur. Having your treatment performed by a doctor who’s extremely skilled at using lasers can greatly reduce the risk of possible side effects. Read reviews, read up on staff, and ask questions about certifications and licenses that their laser hair removal technicians hold.
  • Schedule a consultation.
    Most credible offices require a virtual or in-person consultation for any potential laser hair removal patient, during which a technician will explain side effects, laser hair removal aftercare procedures, and everything else you’ll need to determine whether you’re a good candidate for laser hair removal. It is also the perfect opportunity to ask questions – about cost, treatment times, what to expect, or anything else you might feel unsure about. 
  • Prep your skin.
    Once you’ve scheduled your first laser hair removal appointment, start prepping your skin for success. 24 hours before your session, exfoliate your skin using a gentle physical exfoliant like the
    Glow Glove. Also, be sure to shave the area being treated 24 to 48 hours before your session. Shaving cuts hair at the surface to prevent burns and irritation during treatment, while still keeping the follicle intact so the laser can target it.



What NOT to Do Before Laser Hair Removal

Here are a few important things to AVOID before going in for that first session to ensure the most effective and comfortable laser hair removal experience:

No Coffee

This isn’t exactly *required* — but skipping your morning coffee on the day of your session can help avoid unnecessary skin sensitivity, especially if you have highly sensitive or reactive skin.

No Moisturizers 

We hate feeling dry or like our skin is crusty-dusty. However, it is best to avoid using creams, oils, lotions, or moisturizers on the areas that will be laser-treated on the day of your session. The skin should be freshly clean, dry, and free of any skincare products before treatment.

No Plucking/Waxing

Starting four weeks before laser treatment, refrain from any hair removal technique that completely removes the hair or damages the follicle. That includes plucking, shaving, waxing, tweezing, and epilating. 

Laser treatments work by targeting pigment in the hair follicle. Therefore, no hair in the follicle = no successful laser treatment. 

No Tanning

Whether natural or artificial, a tan lowers the level of contrast between your skin and the hair color, which could decrease the effectiveness of the laser. What’s more, recent sun exposure can make your skin susceptible to burns and scarring during treatment. 


In the weeks leading up to your laser appointment, stay out of the sun or use a strong SPF on the area you will be treating to see the best results. 


Related: 4 Mistakes to Never Make Before Laser Hair Removal




What to Expect from Laser Hair Removal

It’s just as important to prepare yourself mentally for laser hair removal. Chances are, you have your eye on the prize right now – permanent hair removal! – but before your first session, take a moment to look realistically at how much time, effort, and money it’ll require on your part.


First off, how much does laser hair removal cost? Well, a lot. The latest 2022 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons report that the average cost of laser skin treatments like laser hair removal is $582 – and that’s just for one session. So, one aspect of your laser hair removal prep might be budgeting or saving for a full treatment plan.


You should also know that it typically takes anywhere from 4-12 sessions to see full results, and you’ll have to wait anywhere from 4-6 weeks between each treatment. That means that while you’ll see gradual improvement, it may take up to a year to get the results you were going for. Prepare for a long journey ahead!

Pain-Free, Minimal Prep Laser Hair Removal Alternative

Another important element of preparing to get laser hair removal? Weighing your other options. 


We're guessing you’re already too familiar with short-term, high-maintenance hair removal methods like shaving, waxing, plucking, and tweezing – hey, that’s probably exactly what drove you to consider laser hair removal in the first place. But you should know that other affordable permanent hair removal alternatives do exist.


IPL hair removal allows you to achieve a similar result as laser hair removal from the comfort of your home. IPL permanent hair removal devices like Lumi work similarly to lasers – they use light technology to target the melanin in hair follicles, resulting in a permanent reduction in body hair after multiple sessions.


But IPL uses broader, less targeted light pulses, making treatment shorter, easier, less painful, and safe to do at home. Plus, results are way faster – using Lumi, you’ll see noticeable results in just 3 weeks and full results in 6-12 weeks. You’ll still follow a lot of the same prep best practices as laser requires – stay out of the sun, shave and exfoliate before treatment, etc – but treatment itself is a lot less demanding, painful, and time-consuming.


Lumi costs just $229 and is equipped with enough flashes to last you 30+ years. (That means you can get full-body hair removal for a fraction of the cost of just one laser hair removal session!

Laser Hair Removal Prep FAQs

Does laser hair removal hurt?

The million-dollar question: does laser hair removal hurt? We’re not gonna lie to you – it does. Pain is subjective – some people say it’s unbearable, others say it feels like a bunch of rubber band flicks – but all in all it’s one of the more painful hair removal methods out there.

Is there anything I can do before a laser hair removal session to minimize the potential pain during treatment?

Yes – general prep like staying out the sun and making sure skin is clean and dry before treatment will help minimize potential pain. Also, the area you treat matters – certain spots like armpits and the bikini area are notoriously more painful to treat since the skin is thinner there. Also, if you can help it, don’t schedule a treatment during menstruation as the skin can be significantly more sensitive at that time.

Should I shave before my laser hair removal appointment?

Yes, shave any area you’re planning on treating 24-48 hours before your session, or as directed by your laser hair removal provider. 

How long should I avoid the sun before laser hair removal?

Ideally, you should avoid sun exposure for 3-4 weeks before getting laser hair removal. As soon as you know you’re getting laser done, stay out of the sun or use strong SPF.

What are the possible side effects of laser hair removal?

Common laser hair removal side effects include irritation, redness, and itchiness. More serious side effects may include scarring, hyperpigmentation, eye damage, and infection.

How many sessions are typically needed for the best results?

4-12 sessions may be needed to achieve permanent hair removal, depending on the hair growth cycle, the coarseness of the hair, and the area that is being treated. Most commonly, it takes 6-8 sessions per area.