History of laser hair removal

Before knowing the history of laser hair removal it is better to have a look at how human beings have invented various methods of hair removal. The earliest record of human beings removing unwanted hair has been recorded by archaeologists suggesting the use of sharpened rocks and shells for the purpose. Tweezing, shaving plucking, sugaring, razors, waxing are some of the methods using which humans have epilated the unwanted hair growth. One such method but with almost permanent results is laser treatment as a hair removing option.

Hair was removed using a mixture of a variety of products like powder viper, resin, she-goat’s gall, pitch, resin, white vine or ivy gum extracts, etc. In fact, the earliest depilatory was made up of a paste comprising natural arsenic tri-sulfide, quicklime and starch. Let us know a bit more about the different practices across the world.

Reasons for Removing Hair

Removal of hair is in practice in all societies, either the complete removal or removal in part on the body, and such reasons include

  • Cultural and sexual aspects
  • Religious reasons
  • Medical reasons
  • Transgender reasons
  • Work institutions
  • Sporting reasons
  • Punishment

The Middle East
The Middle Eastern countries like Egypt believed that a clean-shaven face meant a man of status. They used depilatory creams made from the available natural ingredients, pumice stone, sharp razors and the likes for a clean look while the women used beeswax to have their legs hair free. They also used mixture of quicklime, arsenic and starch to remove unwanted hair.

They also removed body hair with techniques such as body sugaring, tweezing, etc. This was established when the explorers found a set of tweezers in a tomb in Ur, capital of the Chaldeans in 3500 BC.

In European countries removing hair was considered as a sign of machismo and whenever a young Roman shaved his hair for the first time, he was said to have reached adulthood and his hair was offered to his favorite god as a gift. Women too carried razors and forceps as part of beauty treatment.

North America
The Americans tweezed their mustaches using halves of a clam shell and the women applied poultices to get rid of the undesired hair.

South America
Women of this country have always waxed away hair using secretions from the Coco de Mono tree.
This is how hair removal has come down the ages, and continues to fascinate us. Laser hair removal is the modern-day answer to hair removal techniques of the past
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is a light based hair removal system that uses a gentle ray of light that aims at the hair follicle. Once the hair absorbs the light, the energy transforms into heat and the hair follicle is destroyed. Removing hair with laser technique was commercialized only in the mid 1970s and now has gained wide popularity for its speed and efficiency.

How Exactly does Laser Hair Removal Work?

We all are aware that dark color attracts and holds light energy, whereas light color reflects light energy. On the same principle the melanin pigment which is present on the skin absorbs the light.

The light skin absorbs little light because of less melanin and when the laser beam is directed towards the hair follicles, it fails to absorb more light energy and finally the roots are damaged. This reduces the hair re-growth and results in smooth skin, well almost.

In case of dark color hair the melanin absorbs more light energy and fights early hair damage. Hence darker hair needs more exposure to light energy, but this also leaves discolored patches on the skin which gets heated sooner than the hair.

Types of Laser

Depending on the wavelength, Lasers are typically classified as

  1. Argon Laser, currently not in use.
  2. Ruby Laser, only found safe in patients with pale skin.
  3. Alexandrite Laser, not safe on dark skin.
  4. Pulse diode Laser, for pale to medium colored skin.
  5. Nd YAG Laser, effective on all skin types, especially, on darker tones.

If interested read more about Home Laser Hair Removal and how effective they are. Also, learn in short about the Researched Benefits of Pulsed Diode Laser Hair Removal Technique.

The Downside of Laser Hair Removal

  • Laser operates with waves of a certain wave length only.
  • Laser on light-colored hair is quite difficult, so as on blonde and red hair as this requires multiple sessions and gives varied results.
  • Individuals on a beta-carotene high diet need to modify their diet for best results, as the yellow-orange color absorbs the laser energy thereby giving a poor result.
  • Due to variable skin and hair color the results cannot be guaranteed as the melanin content differs.
  • As melanin absorbs dark light, there is a risk involved of dark skin getting burnt.

This led to more research and, as a result, without any color-of-the-hair restrictions, based on the same principles as a laser, photo epilation came into light.

What Is Photoepilation?

Photoepilation is a process which uses controlled flash of light to destroy the hair follicle. When the hair follicle is exposed to a high intensity of light, it absorbs the heat, and the intensity of the heat destroys the follicle of the hair. Such treatment might need to be repeated over a period of time since hair grows unevenly. Such effect lasts for a period of 5-6 years. Intense Pulsed Light in photoepilation is approved by FDA for permanent hair removal and treatment in dark-skinned individuals. If you are interested in knowing how to make it your profession read How to become laser hair removal technician.

Tips on Laser

We give you here some easy tricks for better epilation and for that super smooth skin –

  • Skin is more relaxed after a warm bath, so have a shower and proceed with epilation.
  • Using a massage sponge regularly during shower will prevent in growing of small hairs.
  • After epilation, the skin tends to get red and to soothe it, apply a body lotion or cream for a silky look and feel.
  • Carry out the epilation process one day before the D-day, as the skin needs time to recover.

Why is it difficult for African American laser hair removal?
When it comes to laser hair removal, African American skin is quite different. For a laser surgeon, treating a person with dark skin is one of the challenging tasks. The reason is that each hair follicle has to be targeted individually, and if the skin is dark it would be difficult to remove the hair.

To hit the dark hair follicle, the laser beam has to go through the upper layers of epidermis. The wave length is absorbed by the dark follicle and the intense light will destroy the hair follicle, but when it comes to the African American skin the melanin pigment absorbs the laser light even before it reaches the follicle, thus causes damage to the epidermis.

But there is hope. From the past few years there have been major improvements to the laser hair removal technology and thus debunking the idea that it won’t work on African American skin.

While treating patients with dark skin, instead of the conventional short wavelength, longer wavelengths are used. This is done because the melanin is used to absorb short wavelength but not longer wavelengths, and hence decreasing the risk to darker skin. Apart from this, to avoid injury to the skin other methods like cooling the skin can be followed.

Things to Remember

  • Before going for the laser hair removal, make sure you choose a surgeon who is well experienced.
  • Ask your surgeon if he has treated other people with your skin type. If he has, find out the complication rate.
  • Ask how old the laser equipment is because devices designed before the year 2000 emit pulses that are too short to address the dark skin, by using these older machines there could be serious blistering and can lead to permanent discoloration.
  • Do not forget to discuss time and money. To know more about the important points read How to prepare yourself for for laser hair removal.

Top Five Must-Know Facts About Laser Hair Removal Technique:

There are a few things one must know before going for the treatment. Here are a few basic questions.

  1. How It Works?
    It uses powerful and highly oriented Laser light energy. This energy is directed towards the root of hair called follicle. On absorption of this energy, the follicle gets destroyed completely. This is how hair gets removed completely from an area.
  2. How Safe It Is?
    This technique of hair removal is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an almost permanent hair removal technique but should be performed by experts only. Depending upon the hair and skin type, there are different types of laser energies available for recommendation.
  3. Who Removes the Hair?
    Mostly this technique is carried out by trained and licensed practitioners in United States. The laser energy is to be skillfully directed towards the follicle for maximum benefits and ensure minimal side effects. Look for recommendations of the expert and check the license.
  4. What Are Its Advantages?
    It removes hair from a large area in a single session. There is immunity from unwanted hair menace for a long time and the hair re-growth reduces severely.
  5. What Are the Precautions to Take?
    • Avoid the sun from couple of weeks prior to the treatment and after it.
    • People under medication may be asked to stop taking certain drugs. It should be done only after consulting the doctor.
    • If possible avoid using temporary methods to remove hair in between the two laser sessions.
    • Avoid using any other creams and lotions than suggested to prevent any untoward reactions etc.

This is a brief introduction to the history of laser hair removal treatment. Anyone who wants to opt for this method of hair removal should first consult an expert of the field and discuss all the fears, doubts, questions, and queries and should go ahead with the treatment only after getting satisfied with the answers. This method also needs one to have lots of patience because of the many sessions it involves and have enough money to support it.