This May will mark seven years since I received my first laser hair removal treatment. The immediate results were great, but years later the hair returned, and I was faced with the same problem again, razor irritation. I've tried countless different products and shave-systems, and while some of them have helped, I'm not fully satisfied with the results. For the last few months, I've been toying around with the idea of getting laser treatment again, but after my previous experience, I was hesitant. Did anything horrible happen? No. But who wants to go through the pain, pay the cost, and have minimal results years later? Not me! Well, after doing extensive research, visiting a few different dermatologist, I decided it was time to start treatment again.
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Over the next few weeks and months, I am going to document the process below and share it with you, but before we get into that, let's explore what razor irritation/bumps are and how laser hair removal can help.
What are razor bumps?
Razor bumps or pseudofolliculitis barbae, are small bumps that develop after shaving. They can sometimes look like pimples and are caused when the hair is cut off below the skin surface; this causes the hair to curl back and grow inwards, under the surface of the skin. These ingrown hair cause irritation to the hair follicle, which causes the appearance of a bump. If left untreated, over time, these minor bumps can develop into permanent scar tissue. I spoke with my doctor; board certified dermatologist, Dr. Dina Strachan MD about who's at risk for razor bumps and skin irritation. She explains; "Men of color or those with curly hair are most at risk for razor bumps because of the tightly curled facial hair they have. Men who shave their head or beard frequently are much more likely to develop razor bumps."
What is laser hair removal and can it prevent razor bumps?
Laser hair removal is widely considered to be the most efficient method of hair removal. During your treatment sessions, the laser's energy is attracted to the pigment of hair; it uses highly concentrated energy that targets the hair follicles to destroy them. After treatment and over the course of one-to-three weeks, the treated hair falls out. The overall process does require a few treatments, but you will see results after the first, and with each passing treatment, you'll progressively see fewer hairs return. The results of treatment can be beneficial, but if you're treated with the wrong laser or by the wrong person, you will not get the maximum reduction and cause extensive damage to your skin.
But does it prevent razor bumps and irritation?
Absolutely! Because the laser safely reduces the growth of hair, it minimizes the risk of razor bumps and irritation leaving your skin visibly smoother. However, men of color and men with red, blonde, or grey hair are at a higher risk of not having quality results; this is because of epidermal melanin in the skin and hair. When patients who have higher amounts of epidermal melanin are treated, the absorption of laser energy by the target hairs can be jeopardized because it's absorbed by the melanin in the skin; this not only means that the hair removal is less effective, but it can also lead to burns, hyperpigmentation, and scarring; this is the same for those with lighter melanin in the skin and hair. Dr. Strachan says; "The ideal candidate for treatment is someone who has fairer skin and darker hair. However, those with more melanin or light colored hair can be treated with the correct laser."
I'm only one treatment in, and I've seen results already. There is less irritation and the hyperpigmentation I had due to shaving is less noticeable. The treatment I'm receiving now is slightly different than my original; this one I'm only targeting specific areas and not my entire face. I'm really excited about getting these treatments and can't wait to see the final results. As I receive each treatment, I will update with images and my results, so be sure to continue to check back.