Laser hair removal is in trend for its safety, precision, and long-lasting results. But this effectiveness and safety come with a set of post-care instructions that one must follow to get the best results. And one such protocol revolves around exfoliation, which is an integral part of the process. But the big question is- can you exfoliate after laser hair removal?
No, you have to hands up on the idea of exfoliating your skin for at least a week post-laser hair removal session. It is because during this time, your outermost skin layer- the epidermis- is in the process of shedding the dead cells and regenerating new ones. So, exfoliation can disturb the replacement cycle and delay healing.
So to make the discussion clear, we will dive into details. But if any of you doesn’t know about exfoliation, I would like to put some light on it before starting with the main topic.
What is Exfoliation?
Did you ever see your skin peel off in the form of flakiness? But it’s a natural process that happens of its own. And what if I say that you can give a little push to this process and make it happen at your will?
Exfoliation is the answer. If I can describe it in layman’s terms, to sand off the dead skin cells with the help of physical or chemical agents. This material or chemical agent can be anything that can create enough force to scrub off the dead skin cells without harming the living ones.
Let me give some examples if you are unaware of those physical or chemical agents.
Some of the physical exfoliation methods are
- Brushing your skin with a friction-creating tool like a loofah.
- Using a device that uses ultrasonic waves to create vibrations and break down the bonds between the dead skin cells and the living ones.
- Dermabrasion means using a rotating brush to scrub off the dead skin cells.
And some of the chemical agents are-
- Hydroxy acids like glycolic acid and lactic acid.
- Fruit enzymes like papaya and pineapple.
- Retinoids like tretinoin and adapalene.
- Alpha-hydroxy acids like citric acid and malic acid.
- Beta-hydroxy acids like salicylic acid.
Can you exfoliate after laser hair removal?
Look at your skin in the mirror; can you see those dead skin cells? Now, wishing to get rid of them is not a bad idea. But you must hold your horses for some time after the laser hair removal session. But still, a billion-dollar question is roaming in your mind- can you exfoliate after laser hair removal? Let’s get some clarity on it.
After laser hair removal, run your hand over the skin. Is it like sandpaper? Well, that’s a sign that your skin is going through the process of shedding dead skin cells and regenerating new ones. So, during this time, you must pause the idea of exfoliation as it can disturb the natural skin cell cycle.
Also another reason to control the urge is the sensitivity of the skin. Let’s have a little walk down memory lane and refresh our minds. Do you remember when the laser technician prepped your skin for the session? They numbed your skin with a numbing cream or local anesthesia. So that your skin doesn’t feel the laser’s heat and you don’t experience any pain.
So, it’s clear that a laser can heat the skin, and this heat can make your skin thin and sensitive.
So, even if you punch yourself accidentally, it can leave a mark or bruise on your skin. So, now you know that your skin is too sensitive to perform any physical activity like scrubbing, brushing, or exfoliating.
But still, there is a ray of hope for you, my dear! You can use some of the chemical agents we discussed earlier for exfoliation, like hydroxy acids, fruit enzymes, etc. The only thing you have to take care of is the concentration and pH level of the product.
When to exfoliate after laser hair removal?
When I was writing the content for this article, one question was constantly popping into my mind: when to exfoliate after laser hair removal? So, to get clarity on it, I took experts’ help, and here is what they have to say.
According to dermatologist Mary L. Stevenson, MD, “Your skin is all set to exfoliate when you don’t feel tight. And you note that the skin has left the red, inflamed look. This period usually starts after 3 to 5 days. But you can’t go for tough and harsh exfoliation. Better you go for the mild one.”
So, it’s clear from the statement of experts that you have to wait for 5-7 days after the session to get rid of those dead skin cells.
How will you know that your skin is no more inflamed and you are good to go for the exfoliation process? Should I share a secret test with you that I follow?
Yes, of course! The test is straightforward. Run some water over the treated and, with fingertips, check whether the skin feels rough or not. If it does, you have to wait for some more time.
Can you exfoliate before laser hair removal?
For now, we have been discussing the post-laser hair removal exfoliation process. But what about the pre-laser hair removal session? Can you go for exfoliation before the session?
Yes, exfoliation can open the hair follicles and help the laser light reach the root of the hair follicle easily. But what about new skin cells?
Those new cells can get damaged by laser light. So, what’s the solution, then?
There are two solutions, do the exfoliation two or three days before the laser or wear sunscreen before laser hair removal. Don’t worry; sunscreen will not make laser hair removal less effective because sunscreen blocks UVB rays, not UVA.
With the ease of laser hair removal, there is a constant fear of damaging our skin in our minds. So, dermatologists have set some protocols for the betterment of our skin. And one of those protocols is to not exfoliate for 5-7 days after the laser hair removal session.
Your skin is not to bear any physical activity in those initial days. Also, the natural exfoliation process is going on. So, there is no need to go for any other exfoliation process.
If you can’t live without exfoliation, then you don’t have any option but to be a gentle person with your skin. And, go for some chemical exfoliation agent with a low concentration and pH level.
In the end, I would like to say that you better follow the protocols the experts set because they know what’s best for your skin and how to make it look flawless.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the risks of exfoliating after laser hair removal?
Disturbance of the healing process, skin inflammation, risk of infection, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) are some risks that come with exfoliating after laser hair removal.
How to remove dead skin cells after laser hair removal?
Removing dead skin cells after laser hair removal is a delicate process. One way you can do it is using a low concentration and pH level chemical exfoliant. Also, you can go for a physical exfoliant but ensure it has soft particles.