Ladies, our days of keeping our legs hidden away under a cosy pair of jeans are numbered. Here in Hong Kong the seemingly endless summers (and, if you’re lucky, a few beach getaways) mean the arms and legs are out and on display more often than not.
If yours are in need of a little spring rejuvenation and you’re tired of the waxing/epilating/shaving/hair removal cream cycle then it’s time to consider laser hair removal.
At Glow Spa our clients LOVE the results they get from this treatment; however, there are some pitfalls to consider before you take the plunge.
It’s essential to be fully informed before you begin laser hair removal treatment, so here’s the full lowdown on laser hair removal in Hong Kong so you can get those pins and pits perfected!
What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is one of the most popular and most frequently performed cosmetic procedures. The treatment area is exposed to highly concentrated light on a specific frequency. The light is absorbed by the pigment in the hair and converted into heat energy that preferentially heats the hair and the root ball and reduces oxygen around the hair follicle. This causes damage to the hair root and reduces the ability for the hair to regrow.
Laser hair removal is often chosen for cosmetic reasons, however, if may also be used to minimize the occurrence of some skin conditions and for the minimization of body odor.
There are a number of salons and clinics in Hong Kong, including Glow Spa, that provide excellent service, that have well maintained equipment and whose staff are knowledgeable and experienced and apply best practice procedures to ensure they deliver the best experience possible.
However, it is important to understand that there is limited regulation of the use of lasers and light therapies here in Hong Kong and it is shocking that numerous salons allow untrained staff to operate their laser equipment (both hair removal and for other therapies).
Due to the lack of regulation, there are various pitfalls. These include untrained staff, old equipment, equipment that is not properly maintained and lack of knowledge of the risks of this treatment.
It is essential to do your research and make sure you ask your provider about the qualifications and experience of their technicians.
I’ve seen first hand that these machines can cause painful injuries, not to mention permanent scarring, in the wrong hands.
At Glow only our CIBTAC Laser and Light Therapy qualified and experienced staff work on IPL, SHR and laser hair removal. This was something I felt passionate about when I took over the salon and not just when it comes to hair removal, but with all our treatments.
Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?
After laser hair removal, many clients do not have any hair regrowth for a number of years, for some clients, they find they may need to have a touch up treatment once every one or two years, a few people may need a touch up more frequently.
It varies from person to person.
Whilst this treatment is often described in Hong Kong as permanent hair removal, the correct description of this type of hair removal is permanent hair reduction.
Is Laser Hair Removal Painful?
Laser hair removal is not pain free. You will be able to feel the treatment; it is likely there will be a slight discomfort or small amount of pain. The feeling is similar to a hairbrush rolling against your skin, or a rubber band snapping on you.
Most modern equipment has some form of built-in cooling mechanism, cooling the skin and tissue surrounding the treatment area to ensure minimal discomfort.
This treatment should not be painful. Occasionally we hear clients say that “if its not painful then its not working” or “I can take a lot of pain so turn the machine to the highest setting”. Or vice versa, if your therapist is telling you to “suck it up” and take the pain – then you are putting yourself at risk of a serious injury.
Some clinics recommend you use painkiller and numbing creams. At Glow we request that you do not apply numbing creams or take painkillers before your treatment. It is essential that you work with your therapist; he/she will work with you to figure out the correct setting for you and your skin type.
Remember, there is not a direct correlation between the pain level and treatment effectiveness. You cannot reduce the number of treatments required and save money or time or get a quicker result, by suffering a beyond tolerable level of pain.
This success of this treatment depends on a combination of the correct light intensity setting, the time between treatments and the number of treatments performed.
The treatment does not need to be very painful to be effective.
Is Laser Hair Removal Suitable For Me?
The best results are seen when you have dark hair in the treatment area and light skin pigmentation; however, laser hair removal technology has come a long way in recent years.
The most commonly used laser is the Diode 808 Laser.
It is generally considered the gold standard in laser hair removal because it is suitable to use on almost all pigmented hair and skin types—including tanned skin. 808 Diode laser may also be used with very dark skin types, however, for African skin types and similar, I would recommend an Nd:YAG laser and then the 808 Diode laser.
What Should Happen in My Consultation?
The purpose of the consultation is to ensure you are suitable candidate for the treatment and to do a patch test if you desire.
It also gives you an opportunity to meet your therapist or clinician. At this first meeting you should ask questions, make sure you are comfortable with the environment and knowledge and professionalism of your therapist.
It would be very likely that you are asked to complete a client consultation form.
This set of forms should include the Fitzpatrick skin type questionnaire and several further questions including questions about your normal sun exposure, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, suffering thyroid problems, hormonal problems or other health issues.
Your therapist should walk you through the treatment procedure, what you should expect and guide you on the anticipated number of sessions required and the expected cost.
Whilst, it is very important to understand the cost of the treatment and any offers that may be available, this consultation time should not be a high pressure selling experience, as so often happens in Hong Kong salons.
Your therapist should be just as happy for you to pay for one session as for six sessions.
If you feel in any way pressured or uncomfortable do not go ahead.
As a guide, at Glow we offer single session treatments for touch ups. For new treatment areas we offer courses of 6 treatments followed by twelve months of free follow up sessions.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
It can vary between 4-8 treatments, depending on the machine, your hair and skin pigmentation and the coarseness of the hair you are treating.
As above, at Glow, we offer ‘six treatment’ packages followed by a full year of free touch up treatment for the 12 months following your sixth treatment.
We usually see 95% hair reduction within 4-5 treatments for most clients.
We are confident in the effectiveness of our machines and our therapists and therefore offer to treat any resistant or stray hairs that may grow back in the twelve months following your last treatment at no charge.
If you are being asked to purchase more than 8-10 laser sessions, then it is likely the clinic is either not using laser or may be using an older machine.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, all salons and clinics structure their treatment courses differently, but should prompt you to ask more questions to understand why they feel this is a requirement.
How Long Do I Leave Between Laser Hair Removal Treatments?
It is recommended that you leave four to six weeks between treatments.
At Glow, we recommended that you book your 1st, 2nd and 3rd appointments four to five weeks apart. As you move onto your 3rd, 4th and 5th treatment you may find that you need to wait five, six or seven weeks between treatments as the hair growth becomes impeded over time.
Is This Treatment Suitable For Men?
Yes – absolutely suitable for men. With male hair removal becoming increasingly popular, laser hair removal is an ideal treatment for those wanting a smooth chest or hair-free back.
The treatment is suitable for almost anywhere on the body including underarms, ears, sideburns and legs.
At Glow we recommend SHR for men, this is a new technology and particularly suited to the large treatment areas typically required for men. SHR uses IN-Motion technology, which is a rolling technique that scans the area, rather than focusing on one hair at a time, the treatment is very suitable and effective for all areas containing dense hair.
There are specialist men’s clinics for the treatment of more intimate areas and most professional salons are able to give you a recommendation if required.
What Is The Difference Between IPL, SHR And Laser?
All three treatments use light to impede the growth of hair, there are differences in the application of the science and the suitability of each depends on the client and their requirements.
Laser hair removal uses a single concentrated beam of light at a specific wavelength, 808nm, that will target melanin in the hair, heat the hair shaft, and is designed to damage the hair follicle and inhibit new hair growth.
IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light uses a high-powered beam of incoherent light. The light pulses produce a wide bandwidth of light that can heat up all of the surrounding tissue. IPL is not laser. Whilst in principle the process of damaging hair follicle to inhibit growth using IPL is similar to laser, it is less targeted so may require more treatments and presents a higher risk for burns especially on darker skin tones.
SHR is a new non-laser technology; SHR stands for Super Hair Removal, and is emerging as one of the more popular treatments for hair removal. SHR works by gradually heating the dermis to a temperature that effectively damages the follicles and inhibits hair regrowth.
With traditional laser or IPL technologies, energy is transported to the hair root through melanin, where heat of 65-72° Celsius is produced. SHR technology, partially utilises the melanin path, using low energy with high frequency delivery. This penetrates down to the follicles which produce hair growth, however unlike Laser or IPL, skin is only heated to 48° Celsius.
SHR is ideal for large treatment areas, and to treat lighter and finer hair. It is a very effective and safe form of hair removal using light therapy.
At Glow, all three forms of hair removal technology are available and we are delighted to discuss the pros and cons of each and help you decide which is the best treatment for your hair and skin type.
Is Laser Hair Removal Safe? What Are The Risks? What Are The Side Effects?
The combination of the right salon, the right therapist or clinician, and the right laser machine, for you and your skin type will significantly reduce your risk of injury when you have a hair removal treatment.
The right salon or clinic for you is the one where they have demonstrated to you that the main priority is your results. Do your research and don’t hesitate to ask questions. There are no silly questions when it comes to your safety and the salon manager or your therapist should be prepared to give you as much information and time as you need without pressuring you into make a decision.
Avoid clinics with high-pressure tactics. Prices are important, but should not be the main topic of discussion. Prices may vary and may be negotiable, but be wary of salons or clinics with very high prices and massive discounts, or a very low first time price as long as you purchase several treatments.
Your therapist should also be able give you an indication of how many sessions you would need. Whilst you may need touch up sessions after your course is complete, you should only ever need to purchase one course – this should not be ambiguous.
Choose the salon or clinic with the laser (or non-laser IPL or SHR) that suits your skin type. If you are concerned, do a patch test.
Laser hair removal is not recommended for the eye area this is due to the possibility of severe eye injury. During your treatment, your therapist should provide you with a pair of goggles; this is a basic standard practice. If you are required to bring your own or purchase your own goggles, or if you are given a choice of wearing or not wearing goggles, this should give you a warning that this clinic or therapist may not be fully trained and/or concerned for your safety.
In addition, all forms of light therapy require the use of a gel, if your salon does not use gel, charges you for gel, asks you to purchase gel separately or offers a discounted price if you do not use gel it is NOT somewhere you should consider doing this treatment. Believe it or not, this happened recently in a Hong Kong salon and resulted in third degree burns to the client.
The therapist doing your treatment should be both qualified and experienced. Often the best technicians are those who have the most hands-on experience, but in Hong Kong, it is also essential to ensure that the person performing your treatment has completed their training and has a recognised qualification.
Side effects include skin irritation, temporary discomfort, redness and swelling, these typically disappear within 12-24 hours of your treatment.
Using an inappropriate laser setting may result in crusting/scab formation, bruising, purpura (purple coloring of the skin), and temporary pigment change (hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation)
In addition, care needs to be taken when using a laser (or any light treatment) in a tattooed area, as the light may affect the colour of the tattoo.
Occasionally, laser hair removal can cause blistering, crusting, scarring or other changes in skin texture that are not fault of the technician. In some other rare cases, graying of treated hair may occur and paradoxically the laser treatment may actually stimulate hair to grow excessively in or around treated areas, this outcome is also not the fault of the laser or the technician.
What Do I Need To Do Or Avoid Before And After My Treatment?
Ideally you should have three to four weeks of hair growth prior to coming in for your first treatment. Try to avoid waxing, epilation, plucking or another root removal hair removal technique for five to six weeks prior to your first treatment. This usually leaves most people with shaving as the only option in the few weeks prior to your first treatment.
There needs to be some growth prior to your consultation and first treatment so if you do shave, try not to shave for 3-4 days prior to your first treatment.
Your therapist or clinician can also help shave the area if needed for your first treatment.
Prior to your treatment and for two to three days after your treatment you should avoid sun exposure to the treatment area. The treatment should never be performed on wind burnt or sunburnt skin.
Advise your therapist if you have recently used a sunbed, treatments should not be done two weeks either side of a sunbed session.
Retinol A makes the skin more photosensitive, it is recommend that you stop using Retinol A creams one week prior to hair reduction treatment.
Exercise is not recommended after your laser treatment. During a laser hair removal treatment heat is applied to the skin resulting in erythema (redness) and follicular oedema (swelling of the follicles) these temporary side effects last for approximately 12-24 hours. It is important to keep the skin cool after your treatment, as the follicles are heat sensitive at this time, it is important to avoid any activity that may bring any further heat to the skin.
In addition, physical exercise will usually cause you to sweat and sweat may contain bacteria which may aggravate the sensitive hair follicles, resulting in a rash or skin infection. This is particularly important in Hong Kong; when you are having treatments over the summer, try to plan so that you are in a cool and air-conditioned environment most of the time after your treatment.
To avoid skin irritation, wear loose cool clothing after your treatment. If you can, avoid skinny jeans and tight leggings. Have a luke warm shower rather than a super hot shower and avoid creams, moisturizers, oils and perfumes on the treatment area for 12-24 hours after your treatment.
How Much Does Laser Hair Removal Cost?
Laser hair removal can vary in price from clinic to clinic, from men to women.
As a guide, you should plan on spending between $4,500 – $6,000 to treat your underarm area and between $25,000 – $30,000 to treat your full legs.
Laser hair removal can be amazing, just imagine, never having to wax or shave again!
Just make sure you ask the right questions and pick a reputable salon. This is not a treatment to book based on price alone – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Here at Glow Spa we have a friendly and knowledgeable team, and our qualified therapists are experienced in every aspect of keeping you looking and feeling your very best.
Please come along for a no-pressure laser hair removal consultation and see what you think, or just call us on 2525 5198 to chat through the options.
We’re offering 5% discount on our already very competitive pricing for single session laser hair removal treatments and laser hair removal courses when you mention reading this article on the HK HUB.
Glow Spa & Hollywood Hair’s expert hair and beauty team at their Central salon have a wealth of experience and know how to make you look your most youthful and radiant best. Get in touch for a friendly consultation.
Glow Spa Hong Kong & Hollywood Hair @ Glow, 9F Parker House, 72 Queens Rd Central
Phone: 2525 5198
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