Hair Removal

Laser Hair Removal Aftercare: The First 48 Hours (and Beyond)

7 min read

Laser Hair Removal Aftercare: The First 48 Hours (and Beyond) Laser Hair Removal Aftercare: The First 48 Hours (and Beyond)

Chances are, you’ve done some serious research about what to expect during laser hair removal treatment. And you know exactly what’s supposed to happen WAY after treatment is over (as in, permanently hairless skin you don’t have to worry about anymore!)


But what about right after? How will your skin react to laser treatment? What sort of laser hair removal aftercare should you do immediately following treatment to prevent irritation and promote proper healing?


If you’re concerned about skin irritation or redness following laser hair removal treatments and want to know the best way to care for laser-treated skin, you’re in the right place.


While laser hair removal is safe for healthy skin when performed by a professional, it’s not exactly easy on the skin. Some irritation, discomfort, redness, and itchiness post-treatment is normal, and it’s important to manage those symptoms and promote proper healing by keeping skin moisturized, avoiding sun exposure, staying cool and dry, avoiding certain irritants, and more.


We’ve assembled a skin recovery timeline to let you know the best way to care for your skin and when, along with what sort of minor side effects to expect and signs of potential complications to look out for.


TL;DR – Laser Aftercare Timeline

Day 1:

  • Moisturize
  • Stay cool & dry
  • Take it easy
  • SPF 50+
  • Manage symptoms

Day 2:

  • Moisturize
  • Cool/lukewarm shower
  • No swimming
  • SPF 50+
  • Manage symptoms

Day 3-7

  • Moisturize
  • SPF 50+
  • Resume regular activities
  • Resume hair removal/skin routine

After the First Week

  • Moisturize
  • SPF 50+
  • Follow-up appointments
  • If symptoms persist, consider seeing a doctor

The First 24 Hours

When done by a professional, laser hair removal is safe & side effects are mild. Still, it can be taxing on your skin, even when done right! 

What To Do

Moisture is what your skin needs to heal. Apply a thin layer of Vaseline, Aquaphor, or another ultra-hydrating gentle lotion to the treated area multiple times daily to reduce irritation and promote healing. It might feel like you’re overdoing it, but many laser hair removal clinics recommend moisturizing the treated area at least three times daily – in this case, more is more! And hydration starts from within – be sure to drink plenty of water after treatment.


Also, wear loose clothing to avoid further irritation and let your skin breathe.

What NOT to do

On the day of your laser treatment, take it easy. Avoid strenuous activities (permission to take a nap granted!) and stay cool and dry. Avoid saunas, steams, hot tubbing, swimming and exercising. If you can swing it, don’t shower right after treatment, either.


And here’s the most important rule: avoid direct sun exposure and tanning beds. Apply sunblock to the treated area whenever you’re outside – we’re talking SPF 50+ here. Sunscreen is always a good idea, but after getting laser hair removal, it’s absolutely crucial to prevent laser hair removal scars, burns, and pigment changes. It’s important to stay out of the sun before laser hair removal as well.

Manage Symptoms

After your laser hair removal procedure, your skin may become irritated, red, and/or uncomfortable. These minor symptoms typically don’t last long, but if you’re experiencing discomfort, redness, or swelling, give your skin the attention it needs!


For pain/discomfort:

Consider applying hydrocortisone cream or taking an over-the-counter pain medication. In some cases, your physician might prescribe a steroid cream – if so, use as directed.


For itching:

Take an over-the-counter antihistamine. Wear loose clothing and resist the urge to scratch.


For redness or swelling:

Apply a cool compress or an ice pack to the affected area for 3-5 minutes at a time. 

Basically, listen to your body here. Painkillers aren’t exactly a laser hair removal aftercare requirement, but they can be a total lifesaver if you’re struggling!


To sum up: Take it easy and give your skin a lot of TLC during the first 24 hours. Any minor symptoms you experience should clear up quickly, often within several hours after treatment.

Day 2

Day two might look a lot like day one – your skin will continue to heal and minor side effects may still linger. But today, you can start transitioning back into your regular routine.

What to Do

Continue to apply Vaseline, Aquaphor, or another ultra-hydrating gentle lotion to the treated area multiple times daily, at least 3 times a day or whenever the skin is feeling dry.


You’re good to hit up the sauna, the steam room, or the gym now. (If you want. But if you want/need a bonus rest day, feel free to blame it on the laser!)


Also, you can shower again (!!!) But if you’re the kind of person who likes their showers or baths as hot as Hades, ease off a bit. Keep your shower short and lukewarm. Cleanse the area in the shower using a mild, fragrance-free soap (or, better yet, just water), lightly pat the treated area dry with a towel, then moisturize the area immediately.


If skin redness, swelling, or discomfort still hasn’t gone away, don’t worry – that’s normal. Continue to manage any skin redness, swelling, or discomfort as you did on day one.

What NOT to Do

Avoid swimming for one more day.


Continue to avoid direct sun exposure. Always apply SPF 50+ whenever the treated area will be exposed outdoors.


Don’t perform hair removal or apply anything other than water, hydrocortisone cream, and/or lotion to the affected area.

Days 3 to 7

What to Do

Continue to apply Vaseline, Aquaphor, or another ultra-hydrating gentle lotion to the treated area multiple times daily. Try to keep up that 3x/day cadence until the end of the week.


By now, hopefully, your side effects are a distant unpleasant memory. If not, continue to manage symptoms as you did on day one. If redness, discomfort, and swelling persist by the end of the week, talk to your physician.


Laser hair removal provides a permanent reduction in body hair, but it can take several treatments to see results – if you’re still early in the treatment process, might be curious about how to remove body hair between treatments. As long as your skin is no longer swollen, red, or painful, you should be okay to shave the treated area. Avoid waxing or plucking though.


Basically, you should be able to live your regular life by now! Swimming, exercising, hot-tubbing, showering – almost anything goes.

What NOT to Do

You still gotta avoid direct sun exposure. Apply SPF 50+ whenever the treated area will be exposed outdoors – yes, even if it isn’t sunny outside.

Beyond the First Week

What to Do

Now might be a good time to schedule a follow-up laser hair removal treatment, if you haven’t done so already. Most clinics recommend treatment every 4-6 weeks to allow the skin to heal in between. And now that you’re a pro at this whole laser hair removal aftercare thing, plan accordingly for your next treatment – make sure you’re able to avoid strenuous activities, stay out of the sun, and take it easy immediately following.


Now, you can transition to focusing on general skincare rather than skin healing. Exfoliate your skin once a week to remove dead skin cells, moisturize 1-2x daily, and remove unwanted body hair whenever you feel like it.

What NOT to Do

You still gotta avoid direct sun exposure. Apply SPF 50+ whenever the treated area will be exposed outdoors – yes, even if it isn’t sunny outside. Continue to do so for at least two weeks after treatment.

When to Seek Professional Help

Again, mild discomfort, redness, or irritation after laser hair removal can be annoying, but it is common and usually clears up on its own with proper aftercare.


However, if you notice blistering, crusting, scarring, or other changes in skin texture, or if the discomfort is more than just a little uncomfortable and persists past day 3, call your laser hair removal clinic or a general care physician. 

IPL: A Pain-Free Alternative to Laser Hair Removal

If you’re apprehensive about the cost, discomfort, and aftercare instructions associated with laser hair removal, IPL can be a great alternative. It offers safe, pain-free hair removal you can do at home. 


And the best part? Like laser hair removal, IPL offers a permanent reduction in body hair over time – you can get PERMANENTLY hair-free at home using a safe handheld device like Lumi.


Aftercare for IPL is similar to aftercare for laser hair removal, but less intense. You’ll still need to avoid direct sun exposure and moisturize the area with an aloe-based body lotion, but symptoms are generally milder and there’s no need to avoid exercise or change up your whole shower routine.


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