Laser hair removal is an extremely safe and effective way to remove unwanted body hair. But if you are planning a beach holiday, it’s essential to avoid having laser hair treatment for at least two weeks beforehand. Even if you’re staying in the UK, you should still avoid sun exposure for two weeks after a laser hair removal session, especially with recent higher UK UV levels.
Your treated skin needs time to heal, and although it may look fine within 48 hours of laser hair removal, it’s still vulnerable. Tanning is the skin’s reaction to ultraviolet (UV) light. When your skin absorbs UV rays, it triggers the production of melanin. The melanin is what makes your skin appear darker.
Sun exposure after laser hair removal treatment will increase the risk of hyperpigmentation (patches of darker skin). Hyperpigmentation will most likely fade and disappear over time; however, there is a chance that it can be permanent.
Don’t think that you are safer after having laser hair removal treatments several times, even if your skin doesn’t seem to react. For the two weeks after laser hair removal, you need to limit sun exposure just as if it were the first time. That doesn’t mean you have to stay inside, but if you go out in the sun, cover your skin with clothing and apply sun protection.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
Laser hair removal is a method of removing unwanted hair by using light to destroy hair follicles. The pigment absorbs the light in the follicle, which then breaks down the follicle and prevents it from regrowing as quickly. This process can remove hair from any part of the body except the eyelashes.
Laser hair removal treatment methods were approved as safe in the late 1990s, and the technology has evolved over the last 25 years. Earlier hair removal technology used Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) to remove hair. While effective, it could leave the skin feeling sensitive and damaged.
Reputable hair removal clinics now use advanced laser hair removal technology. Clinicians use a handheld device that delivers a cooled laser in a continuous, focused beam that causes minimal or no damage to the surrounding skin. Despite the technological improvements, avoiding or limiting direct sun exposure is still advisable.
If you’re considering laser hair removal treatments, it’s important to consult with a qualified specialist to make sure it’s right for you. The specialist will assess your skin type to ensure that laser hair removal is a good option for you. They’ll also take the time to explain any possible side effects and answer any questions you may have.
How to Choose the Best Sun Protection
Sunscreen comes in various formulations; which one you like best is a personal preference. There are only two factors that really matter when buying sun protection.
- Broad protection sunscreen — Always check that your sunscreen or protection specifies a broad spectrum on the packaging. Only broad-spectrum sun protection protects from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
- Sun protection factor (SPF) — This is the only measure of how much your skin is protected against UVB rays.
You should also choose a sunscreen that will work best with your skin type. Acne-prone or oily skin will benefit from “non-comedogenic” sun protection and body care, as this will not block pores. If you have sensitive skin, mineral sunscreen is your best bet. Sunscreen should also be kept out of the sun and thrown away if it changes colour or consistency.
How to Use Sunscreen
Sun protection should be applied 30 minutes before you plan to go out. Don’t be stingy and reapply every two hours. Regardless of if you buy water-resistant products, you should still apply immediately after swimming.
The NHS recommends that sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin. It also suggests wearing a wide-brimmed hat — especially between 11 am and 3 pm when the sun is strongest.
Can You Use Out-Of-Date Sun Screen?
Ingredients in sun protection oxidise, which is why there is an expiration date because once the active ingredients oxidise, the product will no longer work effectively. If possible, it’s a good idea to buy new sunscreen every year. However, if your sunscreen has expired and you have no alternative, it will still provide some protection.
What Is Direct Sun Exposure?
When the sun has an uninterrupted path, this is classed as direct sunlight. Basically, bare skin not protected by clothing or shade will have direct sun exposure. Even if it is cloudy, the sun’s rays will still be able to penetrate your skin, meaning following laser hair removal, any time spent outside puts you at risk, even if it’s not that sunny!
The Dangers of Direct Sun Exposure
While sun exposure after hair removal treatment can cause hyperpigmentation, direct exposure to the sun’s UV rays can also cause other health and skin problems, including:
- Early ageing — Spending time in the sun can make your skin age faster than normal. This usually results in leathery, tight or wrinkled skin and dark patches (hyperpigmentation).
- Weaker immune system — White blood cells are a crucial part of your immune system. If you burn your skin, your white blood cells work to create new cells, which can leave your immune system vulnerable.
- Eye injuries — UV rays can cause significant damage to your eyes. Over time, they can burn the outer layer of your eye, the cornea. If not treated, this can lead to cataracts and even blindness.
- Skin cancer — Spending time in the sun is one of the leading causes of skin cancer. People working outside or with fair skin or moles are particularly susceptible to skin cancer. Fortunately, most skin cancer is not melanoma and is easily treatable. Melanoma is more severe. It’s essential to be aware of the signs of skin cancer as it can spread if left untreated.
Can You Get Sun Exposure through a Window?
Glass blocks most UVB, but UVA can penetrate glass; this is why sun exposure through glass is just as dangerous after laser hair removal. Even if you are a few feet away from the window, you are too close if you can see the sun shining on your skin.
Can You Use Tanning Beds after Laser Treatments?
As tempting as it may be to chase that perfect tan for your newly smooth skin, it’s best to avoid tanning beds after laser hair removal. Just as the sun can cause skin damage after treatment, the UV rays from a tanning bed can also cause hyperpigmentation and irritation.
When Can I Go in the Sun after Laser Hair Removal?
It’s important to avoid intense sunlight exposure for at least two weeks after laser hair treatment. If you do go out in the sunshine, you must wear sunscreen and limit your exposure. After two weeks, you can gradually increase your time in the sun but always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Can I Get Laser Treatment If I Have Tanned or Sunburnt Skin?
If you have recently burnt or tanned skin, laser hair removal can cause further skin damage, so it’s best to wait before undergoing treatment. If you’re unsure when your skin will be ready for the treatment, speak to a specialist. A specialist will be able to advise you and perform a skin test patch on the treatment area to ensure that it’s a suitable time to complete the hair removal.
Caring for Your Skin after Laser Hair Removal
Staying out of the sun is critical following laser hair removal, but there are a few other things you should do to protect your skin.
- Avoid hot baths or showers for 48 hours.
- Use a mild soap-free cleanser in cool water to keep your skin clean.
- Do not use skin care, body care products, or perfume on the area where you’ve had laser hair removal for 48 hours.
- If you’ve had your underarms treated, then don’t use deodorant for three days.
- Avoid makeup or use mineral makeup for 48 hours after treatment on your face.
- Skip body scrubs or exfoliators for at least three days.
- Stay out of the gym and avoid strenuous activity for 48 hours.
If you’d like to know more about caring for and keeping your skin healthy after laser treatment, read our guide on how to properly care for your skin after laser hair removal.
Ready to Book Your Laser Hair Removal Sessions?
At Body Lipo Lincoln, we specialise in safe laser hair removal and want to ensure that everyone can show off their smooth skin safely. Our team is always on-hand to answer any questions, so if you’d like to know more about laser hair removal treatments, contact us today.
To book your consultation and patch test, call us on 01522 523777 during office hours or click the link below: