If you've ever considered getting laser hair removal or have already gotten it, you might've heard that it's best to do it when you aren't tanned — or planning to tan. This myth stems from the old notion that lasers don't work on darker skin tones, but thanks to technological advancements you can all get this treatment done year-round.
While it's never a good idea to get any type of laser treatment done on a sunburn while your skin is already very irritated and delicate, you can keep up your hair removal journey after spending a little time in the sun — it's all about knowing what type of laser to use, what your specialist should know about your skin's state, and managing expectations.
Here, we spoke to Christian Karavolas, a laser hair removal expert and founder of Romeo & Juliette Laser Hair Removal in New York City, and Shereene Idrris, MD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Idriss Dermatology in Manhattan, to ask them everything there is to know about this topic.
Can You Get Laser Hair Removal In the Summer?
"Treatments can be done during the summer as long as lasers are used that are appropriate for tanned skin," says Karavolas, who recommends the Nd:YAG laser for someone who has a residual tan. "However, if someone has a fresh tan and are sun baked, they should wait at least two to three weeks prior to treatment."
Dr. Idriss adds that patients on darker on the spectrum should make sure not to use an IPL device, as those aren't as specific as a laser. Then, last but certainly not least, she says that if you're somebody who is going to be prone to potential complications from these areas, to make sure to go go to a board-certified dermatologist for your laser hair removal. "You want to make sure you're also in the right hands if, God forbid, there is a complication, which can always arise," she emphasizes.
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What Should You Look For In a Laser Hair Removal Specialist?
The right equipment is paramount to a safe treatment, but the specialist you work with is equally important. For starters, make sure that they are licensed to perform laser hair removal — and you can tap your dermatologist, too.
If this is the first time working together, make sure they do a patch test to make sure your skin reacts well to the setting they're using and talk to you about a treatment timeline. If they don't, consider it a red flag.
Additionally, Karavolas says they should ask you about all things sun-related before beginning treatment: "A laser specialist should ask whether the person was in the sun recently, whether they use sun protection and at what SPF, and whether or not they use self-tanners — a no-no."
And Dr. Idriss says that, depending on the treatment area, more intimate topics should be discussed. For example, she says that if she were doing someone's bikini area, she'd ask if there was a history of genital warts that are present to make sure the patient doesn't have any sort of virus. She says they should also ask what medications you're on and if you have a history of auto-immune disease, such as PCOS, as that can affect treatment.
A trained laser specialist should be able to work with you during the summer to continue your treatment, Karavolas says they just need to adjust the settings to a safer setting while your skin has more melanin. And yes, you'll get results, he just says it may take a session or two longer than if you were to get laser hair removal in the winter.
Then, last but certainly not least, she says that if you're somebody who is going to be prone to potential complications from these areas, to make sure to go go to a board-certified dermatologist for your laser hair removal. "You want to make sure you're also in the right hands if, God forbid, there is a complication, which can always arise," she emphasizes.
What Hair Removal Alternatives Are There For the Summer?
If you're not currently going through a laser hair removal treatment, you can opt for waxing if you're tan. Just don't do it if you have a sunburn — because ouch and also irritation. And if you are undergoing a laser treatment, don't wax in between as you don't want to rip our the bulb since that would affect the efficacy of your treatment.
If you are getting laser hair removal, get a tan in-between sessions, and if you want to have bare skin, there are several options. For starters, there's shaving. The Schick Intuition Sensitive Care Razor is an excellent option as it's created with sensitivity top of mind. It includes a soap bar that's packed with aloe to create a smooth and soothing shaving experience. If you'd rather not touch the skin at all, the Venus Gentle Trimmer is the way to go. It can be used on wet or dry skin and is designed to work on thick hair — so it's perfect for the pubic area. Lastly, the Nad's Sensitive Skin Removal Cream is formulated with aloe, avocado oil, and honey to soothe skin — and we love that it also has odor-elimination technology that removes the strong hair removal cream smell we're all familiar with. Plus, it'll get rid of your hair without irritating your skin in less than 10 minutes.