Zulu Medical Cosmetics
601 67 Ave SW Calgary AB T2V 0M3 (403) 692-9858
laser hair removal-leg-hair Hero

How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

Request Appointment
Close up of legs undergoing hair removal by laser

Intrigued by the idea of laser hair removal but not clear on how it works? Learn about the science behind the popular procedure from the dedicated team at Zulu Medical Cosmetics—convenient, long-term hair removal is within your reach! 

What is Laser Hair Removal?

If you’re looking for a long-term hair removal option, laser hair removal has what you’re after. Laser hair removal is an effective way to remove body hair and reduce its rate of regrowth. 

During laser hair removal, lasers target the root of the unwanted hair. Laser exposure can keep hair from growing for an extended amount of time. When hair grows back later on, it often grows back thinner, finer, and lighter than before.

How Does It Work?

Laser hair removal almost sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. But it’s not fiction at all—just science.

To help illuminate that science, we’ve broken down some of the hair growth basics that come into play during laser hair removal.

Understanding Hair Growth 

Hair grows all over the human body. It begins under the skin, in a hair follicle. The bottom of the hair follicle is called the hair bulb, which is where an individual hair begins its growth cycle.

There are 3 phases in the hair growth cycle:

  • Anagen: the growing phase. This phase makes up the bulk of the hair life cycle. Hair cells are one of the fastest replicating cells we have.
  • Catagen: the regressing phase. Hair growth slows, and the follicle shrinks, causing the hair shaft to become clubbed.
  • Telogen: the resting phase. Hair detaches from the follicle and is pushed out by new hair growth.

Hair on different parts of the body grows at different rates, which may affect your laser hair removal results. Hair in the anagen phase is likely most susceptible to hair removal treatments.

Understanding the Hair Follicle

A hair follicle is a tiny, tunnel-like opening in the skin which the hair grows out of. The shape of the follicle determines the texture of your hair (circular follicles make straight hair, oval follicles make curlier hair.)

Understanding Melanin

Melanin is a natural pigment that gives your hair its distinctive colour. The 2 types of melanin are called eumelanin, which gives dark hair its colour, and pheomelanin, which gives light hair its colour. Differing levels of melanin also give us the gorgeously diverse range of skin colours we humans have.

Understanding Laser Hair Removal

So knowing all that, how does laser hair removal actually work? The laser targets the melanin of the hair. The light from the laser converts to heat, which damages the hair follicle, causing hair growth to stop for a period of time. The heat also vaporizes the existing hair.

Laser hair removal works most efficiently on those with light skin and dark hair. However, those with darker skin or lighter hair can also successfully receive laser hair removal treatments thanks to improved laser technology. 

At Zulu Medical Cosmetics, we use Fotona’s Nd:YAG lasers. These lasers are equipped with FRAC3 technology and are some of the best lasers to use on skin with more pigment. This means we can offer more effective hair removal for more people. The results and time frame of your laser hair removal results will vary depending on your unique skin. 

The Laser Hair Removal Process

Curious about what a laser hair appointment looks like? Let’s walk through the process of hair removal.

Before Your Appointment

Before your laser hair removal appointment, it’s necessary that you stop tanning, naturally or artificially, for 2 weeks. You also need to stop plucking or waxing the area receiving treatment for at least 4 weeks. Shave the day before your appointment.

During Your Appointment

During your appointment, a mild numbing agent may be placed on the area before the lasering begins. There may be a touch of pain associated with lasering, but many people describe it as similar to a rubber band being snapped against the skin, or a mild sunburn.

The length of the procedure depends on the size of the area being treated. Commonly targeted areas for laser hair removal include:

  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Chest
  • Bikini area
  • Legs
  • Neck
  • Upper lip
  • Chin

A small area like the upper lip can take 15-20 minutes, but larger areas may take up to 1 hour.

Young woman holding her arms up and showing underarms after laser hair removal

After Your Appointment

Following your appointment, you need to protect your skin from the sun. Some redness, slight swelling, or discomfort may occur—this is normal. Apply an ice pack, and avoid further irritating the skin.

Repeat That Cycle

Though you may notice an immediate reduction in unwanted hair, the process takes multiple sessions to effectively remove the majority of the hair. Since hair enters different phases of its growth cycle at different times, some hair follicles may not have been affected by the first or even second laser treatment.

We recommend waiting 4–12 weeks between sessions. Your laser practitioner can advise you about your best laser treatment plan, including how many sessions you’ll need for optimum results and how often you’ll need treatment sessions.

Stay Patient & Trust the Process

Don’t be discouraged if, after 1 or 2 appointments, you aren’t seeing the results you’re hoping for. Laser hair removal can take up to 6–10 sessions to get the desired results. Laser hair removal requires a bit more investment upfront—of both time and money—than hair removal avenues like shaving. But the results are long-lasting and can free you from the near-daily task of hair removal.

If you’re ready to remove unwanted hair, request an appointment with our skilled team today.


  • Categories
  • Written by Dr. Jeane Lombard

    Dr. Lombard was born and raised in South Africa. In 1998, she graduated from the University of Pretoria with her medical degree. She worked as a physician in London, England from 1998 to 2002. In 2002, Dr. Lombard made the decision to move to Canada. She became a licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada that same year, allowing her to practice medicine in Saskatoon, Canmore, and Calgary.

    Dr. Lombard has been working as a medical professional for over 21 years, and in that time, she has discovered a deep passion for the cosmetic side of medicine. Today, she specializes in cosmetic procedures, boasting 13 years in the industry.
    With deep compassion for her patients and a professional commitment to exemplary care, Dr. Lombard prioritizes health and safety over all else. When she isn’t hard at work, Dr. Lombard likes to spend time with friends in the mountains, enjoying good food and fine wine.

    More Articles by Dr. Jeane Lombard


    chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down x phone location share chevron-thin-right calendar left-quote right-quote black-star-glasses-png eye book-appointment-maroon-icon-(1) types-of-services-white-icon-(1) location-white-icon next2 previous2 forward3 backward2 facebook twitter zulu-website-tree2 linkedin2 chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax