Professional hair removal guide

Permanent hair removal sounds appealing — but the results aren’t guaranteed.
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  • Updated:27 Feb 2007

02.Laser hair removal

What is it?

  • laser hair removal equipmentLaser hair removal uses a single wavelength of light (laser) to target, heat and damage hair follicles. It’s been shown to successfully reduce hair growth but, unlike electrolysis, it can’t claim to permanently remove hair.
  • The laser can treat large areas (such as the back or legs) at once, so it’s much faster than electrolysis.
  • However, you’ll still need to have multiple treatment sessions as the laser is most effective when hair is in the anagen or ‘growing’ phase and only a certain proportion of hairs are in this phase at any one time.
  • Most people need between three and six treatments. 

Who is it for?

  • Laser treatment works best on people with dark hairs and light skin, as the melanin in dark hair absorbs more of the laser energy. Ginger, blonde and white hairs don’t respond well to this treatment.
  • Darker skin types also have to be treated carefully as the pigment in the skin may absorb too much of the laser energy and cause skin damage. However the Nd:YAG type of laser can be safely used on a larger variety of skin types.
  • For the treatment to be effective with some kinds of laser, the hair must be darker than the surrounding skin. So if you’ve got a tan you should let it fade before you have the treatment.

Possible risks and side effects

  • Laser light can damage the eyes so you need to wear protective goggles.
  • It can cause some redness around the treated area, but this should only last for a few hours.
  • If not applied properly, a laser can burn the skin. There’s a risk of blistering after treatment, especially for people with darker skin.
  • There’s a risk of skin discolouration (either lightening or darkening of the skin). 

Where to get it done

The Advanced Association of Beauty Therapists (Australia) and the Cosmetic Physicians Society of Australasia advise people only to go to an experienced laser operator working under medical supervision for treatment. See Laser and IPL danger.

Does it hurt?

The sensation has been likened to the feeling of an elastic band snapping hard against the skin, but some people find it much more painful than that. Operators may provide a numbing cream to be applied 30 minutes before treatment.


Prices vary significantly between operators. They range from around $50 to $130 per session for the top lip and from $120 to $250 for the bikini line. Some operators offer a discount if you have more than one area treated


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