Are you ready to uncover your legs and go sleeveless? Or maybe you’re tired of shaving every day. You have options.

Let’s start with some tech-talk: “The ‘gold standard’ for laser hair removal in types I-IV skin is the 810 nanometer (‘nm’ or one-billionth of a meter) diode laser. Individuals with darker ethnic skin are most safely treated with either the 1,064 nm YAG laser or the 810 nm diode laser with radio frequency. The peak absorption of energy by melanin (the pigment in follicles) is 810 nm,” explains Dr. Richard Moore, medical director of The Lifestyle Center.

Moore is describing the powerful laser he uses to permanently stop hair growth. Targeting hair follicles with the most effective energy wavelength destroys follicles’ ability to create new hair. “Historically, because of the high-energy absorption, this laser has been a bit more uncomfortable; but with the super-cooling capabilities of the newer lasers, treatments can be performed quite comfortably today,” he adds.

The number of treatments varies individually. People who have darker skin typically need more treatments than those with fair complexions, and those with very light-colored hair also may need more treatments than those with darker hair. Five to 10 treatments are typical.

“Generally, about 60 to 80 percent of hair follicles can be destroyed, with the remaining hair being finer and less pigmented,” Moore says. “A very small percentage of people will not respond to laser hair removal, and a fraction of a percent will actually have a paradoxical reaction and grow more hair.”

Starting treatments now could prepare you for summer as long as you refrain from any tanning and protect all treated skin for at least a month. For individuals who want to get sun exposure sooner rather than later, treatments may be started now and completed after swimsuit season ends.

To be a smart consumer, Moore suggests avoiding pricey treatment packages due to the risk of the provider going out of business before treatment is completed. “I recommend purchasing a small number of treatments—one to three—to see if they’re a good candidate for laser hair removal,” he says. “Avoid high-pressure sales techniques and make sure you’re fully informed regarding the risks and the benefits before proceeding.”

However, lasers aren’t the only effective hair removal option. Maya Prizzi is a licensed esthetician who specializes in the the Alexandria Professional Body Sugaring Technique at So Natural Institute of Permanent Cosmetics. “The area to be sugared is cleansed, toned and powdered with a drying powder,” she says. “A sugar paste is applied by the certified practitioner with a gloved hand. The sugar paste wraps around the hair shaft, making it pliable, while seeping below the mouth of the follicle, and lubricating the hair to make the extraction more complete and gentle. The hair is eased out of the follicle only in the natural direction of hair growth, which helps to extract the hair intact. Because of the direction of the extraction, the client feels little discomfort.”

Prizzi notes the benefits include the use of natural, not chemical, ingredients, no risk of laser burns, and hypoallergenic properties of the sugar paste. “It’s safe to use on dry, itchy eczema and psoriasis, it won’t dry on the skin so you can work an entire area in less time, and it won’t break as many hairs as waxing,” she adds.

After a number of treatments, the hair follicle begins to deplete and ‘hair grows in more refined each time. Because sugar can extract the shortest hair, it’s possible to extract in the early anagen phase, which can lead to permanency,’ Prizzi says.

The sugaring procedure is performed at various intervals, depending on which area is being treated. Lower legs can be treated every three to six weeks, the upper lip every three to four weeks, and the bikini area every three to five weeks.

Whether you opt for lasers, sugaring, waxing or shaving, here’s to a smooth summer!

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