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L.A.S.E.R. (Hair Removal)

15 Sep

Light Amplification (by the) Stimulated Emission (of) Radiation

Whenever someone says “laser” it makes me think of that scene from Austin Powers when Dr. Evil wants “sharks with frickin laser beams attached to their heads.” Ha.

Mr. Bigglesworth. HAAAAA. I digress. Anyways, this post isn’t about sharks… it’s about laser. Specifically, about Laser Hair Removal.

I was lucky enough to sit in on a class at Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics in Woburn, MA. It was a very informative and interesting class. The teacher was very knowledgeable and interesting. So I’m going to pass on that knowledge to you! Yeah!

First and Foremost…

The most important thing I can tell you about laser hair removal is BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU GO. Laser’s are a class 4 medical device, that, unfortunately, can be used by anyone under current state law (Massachusetts). If you go to a laser factory (i.e. Sleek Medspa, or American Laser Co.) the odds are you are being lasered by someone who has no idea what they are doing. Getting burned is not worth saving $50. I assure you. It’s painful and can leave scarring, and you especially don’t want this on your face.

Next. The second most important thing to ask is “do you have a laser or an IPL?” Many people are offering laser hair removal and it’s actually an IPL (Intense Pulse Light).

What is the difference between IPL and Laser?
A lot.

A Laser is Monochromatic.

Monochromatic: One color, red.

An IPL is Polychromatic.

Polychromatic: Every color in the rainbow. And then some!

A Laser is Collimated.

Collimated: Laser light energy will form a bond and stick together.

Think of a laser pointer.

An IPL is non-Collimated.

The bonds don’t stick together. They kind of spray all over the place. There is no focus to the energy. Think of a flashlight.

A Laser is coherent.

Coherent: The bonds of the laser light all travel together on the same wavelength.

An IPL is non-coherent.

The wavelength of energy is all different and erratic. Some are short and some are long. Some are straight and some are squiggly. It’s chaos I tell you. Chaos.  Yes, I spelled Chaos wrong below.  Shhhh.

What does this mean?!?!?!

A laser is focused energy that is attracted to dark color (hair follicle) and burns and kills the follicle.

An IPL tricks the hair into shock to release the hair follicle, but does not kill it. It will come back! (IPL’s do have a purpose, however, they are great for pigmented lesions! Like hyperpigmentation from the sun).


  • Do not wear creams or lotions to your appointment.
  • Do not wear deodorant if you’re getting your underarms treated.

Before Your Laser Hair Removal Starts

Before any treatment is started you should fill out a health history. You are NOT a candidate for laser IF:

  • If you have been in the sun in the last two weeks (this INCLUDES a tanning bed). You will get burned by the laser. And don’t even think about lying to the laser tech. You get burned and it’s YOUR fault.
  • You are on photosensitive medications.
  • You have EVER had gold therapy.
  • You have used retinol the night before (on your face, and you’re getting your face lasered).
  • You have Lupus.
  • You are on immunosuppressive drugs.
  • You can’t stay out of the sun. This is IMPERITIVE.
  • Taken Accutane within the last six months.
  • Have an open wound.
  • Are pregnant.

After it has been confirmed that you are a candidate for laser, the tech will choose which laser is the best for your skin. This is based off your skin type.

Alexandrite vs. ND Yag

Laser’s are named after the gemstone that is used to produce the beam. The two most popular laser’s on the market right now are the Alex and the Yag. What’s the difference?






NeoDymium Yttrium Aluminum Garnet

Alex and ND YAG

Energy Wavelength



Fires both at same time

Skin Types


I, II, III, IV, V, VI (all)


Sun Exposure


(at least 4 weeks)

No recent exposure

(5-7 days)


(at least 4 weeks)

Attracted to

Melanin only

Melanin deeply



Melanin deeply and superficially (best for Asian skin)

How Laser Hair Removal Works
Laser hair removal treatment works through a process called selective photothermolysis. The laser energy works it’s way down the stem of the hair to the bottom of the follicle, destroying the cell. The process is selective in the hair through pigment and not the skin around it. Very light colored blonde or white hair cannot have a laser treatment because there is not enough pigment for the laser to select from.

In the diagram below the picture is of a laser, not an IPL. The pulsed red light is referring to the type of firing of the laser. In aesthetics, it fires in a pulse.

During the laser hair removal treatment a cooling system is used to cool the s is usually applied to the skin, this prevents the area being treated from getting too hot or burning under the heat of the laser. There are three main cooling systems:
Cold air

  • Contact cooling
  • Cryogen spray

How Many Treatments Will You Need?

Hair grows in cycles, which is why you can’t kill all the hair in one treatment (although it will reduce the growth for every treatment you have). The face typically takes more treatments than the body.

Body Part

Avg. Number of Treatments

Treatment Interval








4 weeks





4-6 weeks

Bikini Line




4-6 weeks





4-6 weeks





4-6 weeks





4-8 weeks





6-8 weeks

**Remember, this is an AVERAGE.

What Does It Feel Like?

The laser pulse is often described as a wave of heat with a sensation of a pinprick. Everyone has a different pain tolerance, and some areas hurt more than others. If it is too painful, the laser tech should have numbing cream on hand.

What Should It Look Like Post Treatment?

There are 3 goals in laser hair removal:

  1. Peri follicular edema (swelling around the hair follicle)
  2. The smell of burning hair
  3. Erythema (redness)

ßperifollicular edema

Redness should subside within 24-48 hours. Within 7-10 days the hair follicle which was killed will be expelled through the cell cycle.

Post Treatment Care

  • Apply aloe or lavender cream to the area for rehydration.
  • If blistering, apply an antibiotic cream.
  • Contact the office if you think you have a burn.
  • Normal skin care regiments can be resumed the day after treatment if there are no signs of being burned.

Laser Hair Removal Side Effects

There are usually few side effects with laser hair removal but you should always check with the person who is giving you the treatment to make sure they are qualified. The side effects which can be experienced in some individuals include pigmentary changes in the skin which include darkened or lightened areas, these changes are usually temporary. Rarely some people experience blisters or burns.

What it should not look like:

The evenly spaced circles are from the head of a laser as it pulses along.

If it’s tracked burns, it’s from an IPL.

Does it work?

Yes!!! LASER Hair Removal works when done correctly (with a LASER and by someone who knows how to use it!). The Boston Globe did a great article over the summer. Check it out.


Infrared LK


Safety during Pregnancy: What You Should and Shouldn’t Include In Your Beauty Regiment

6 Sep

It seems like it’s in the water with co-workers and friends (as evidenced by the three pregnant ladies to the left from Sylvestre Franc). I’ve had a lot of questions about what is and isn’t safe to do when you’re pregnant in regards to skin care products, laser, and injectables. It is understandable that women want to look their best during this time and hormonal changes during pregnancy can sometimes result in acne, unwanted hair growth, melasma and other skin problems. So what is safe to use and what isn’t?

Not surprisingly (to me anyways), there really is not a lot of information on product safety during pregnancy. The FDA rates products on their risks during pregnancy as follows:

Rating Definition


Controlled Studies Show No Risk.  Studies in pregnant women show the medication causes no increased risk to the fetus during pregnancy.


No Evidence of Risk In Humans.  Studies in pregnant women have not shown increased risk of fetal abnormalities despite adverse findings in animals or in the absence of adequate human studies, animal studies show no increased fetal risk.


Risk Cannot Be Ruled Out.  Studies are unavailable and animal studies have shown a risk to the fetus or are also lacking. There is a chance of fetal harm if taken during pregnancy but the potential benefits may outweigh the potential harm.


Positive Evidence Of Risk. Studies in pregnant women have demonstrated a risk to the fetus. However, the benefits of therapy may outweigh the potential risk such as in life-threatening situations.


Contraindicated In Pregnancy. Studies in animals or pregnant women have demonstrated positive evidence of fetal abnormalities. The use of the product is contraindicated in women who are or may become pregnant.

Skin Care Products

Most skin care products fall into the Class C category; however, some products are recommended by doctors not to be used during pregnancy (although there is not enough evidence for or against them).

Not Recommended:

  • Retinoids
    • In A Practical Guide to Dermatological Drug Use in Pregnancy (Zip, MD, FRCPC) category B topical such as erythromycin, clindamycin, and benzoyl peroxide were recommended over topical tretinoin. This study states reports of congenital malformations in infants whose mothers used tretinoin during the first trimester.
    • This ingredient is found in anti-aging products such as moisturizers, and acne products.
    • Chemically a form of vitamin A, which in high doses can cause birth defects.
    • Oral retinoids, such as isotretinoin (Accutane, an acne treatment), are known to cause birth defects.

  • Beta Hydroxy acids (Salicylic Acid)
    • Ingredients used for their exfoliating and acne-treating properties. They penetrate deep inside the pores and clean out excess oil and dead skin cells that can clog pores and cause acne, blackheads and dull-looking skin.
    • High doses of the acid in its oral form have been shown in studies to cause complications and birth defects.
    • Small amounts applied topically are considered safe (over the counter face wash for example), but peels containing Salicylic Acid are not considered safe when pregnant.

  • Hydroquinone
    • Clinically used for pigmentation for conditions such as melasma, and it is used cosmetically as a skin-whitening agent. Although a large percentage of this topical agent is systemically absorbed, the use during pregnancy does not appear to be associated with increased risk of congenital defects. This finding, however, is based off one study, with a small sample size (so it is recommended to avoid hydroquinone during pregnancy).


  • Vitamin C, Glycolic acid, and Lactic Acid: derived from fruit and milk sugars, considered nontoxic.

  • Hyaluronic Acid. This is a product your body naturally produces (which means its safe). Because of its molecular size, hyaluronic acid cannot penetrate the skin’s surface, and it is not systemically absorbed.

  • Benzoyl peroxide. Only 5% of topical benzoyl peroxide is absorbed through the skin. It is completely metabolized to benzoic acid within the skin and excreted.


Dihydroxyacetone is a color additive that is found in self-tanning products to produce an artificial tan. Color develops following topical application. These products contain dihydroxyacetone in concentrations ranging from 1% to 15%, and when applied topically, systemic levels are minimal (0.5%), and are considered safe to use.

Hair Removal and Bleaching Agents

  • Sodium, calcium, and potassium hydroxide, which are also found in depilatory creams, disassociate into sodium, calcium, potassium, and hydroxide ions, which are all present in the human body. Topical application of these products would not disrupt serum levels and would not be considered a problem for use during pregnancy.
  • Hydrogen peroxide. Hair-bleaching creams contain low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, making it unlikely to be systemically absorbed. In addition, should it be absorbed, hydrogen peroxide is rapidly metabolized. Therefore, use of these products during pregnancy is not expected to be a concern when done in moderation.
  • Laser has some controversy as to whether or not it’s safe; again, there isn’t a lot of information. Lasers do not penetrate very deep and there is not chemical exchange into the body. One interesting thought from me, (not speaking from personal experience) the body becomes more sensitive during pregnancy, and some laser treatments hurt to begin with. I’m not sure I’d want to get laser under those circumstances!

Botox and Fillers

The safety of Botox injections during pregnancy is unknown (Class C), and while I wouldn’t recommend intentionally getting Botox injections during pregnancy, many women receive injections prior to being pregnant or when they do not know they are pregnant, and have not had any problems. Botox Cosmetic has never traveled systemically, and works only on the muscles into which it has been injected. Therefore, one could presume it is safe to undergo this procedure. But I still don’t recommend it.  Unless you’re planning on having a “Toddler and Tiara” baby.  Then it’s ok.



not pregnant LK

The Q-Switch. A Post In Honor of N.

6 Feb

Making mistakes in life happens.  Luckily, most mistakes don’t result in permanent marks on our bodies.  But what about the ones that do?

Tattoo’s are becoming more and more mainstream.  In my opinion, I think they can be a beautiful artistic expression of who you are.

I have a few tattoos.  Yup, it’s true.  A heart on my back from when I was 18.  A Scarlet Begonia on my foot from my DeadHead days (also true), and “A Beautiful Little Fool” in Russian on my ribs (from The Great Gatsby).  Actually, I think this excerpt might be quite appropriate for this post.

“All right… I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool–that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

My Friend N. – A Beautiful Little Fool

A dear and wonderful model friend of mine, N., has a tattoo that she doesn’t exactly love.  Frankie.  The name of an ex-flame on her thigh.  Fortunately for N., I have access to a q-switch.  (She’s gorgeous huh?)

What’s a Q-Switch?

It’s a laser that uses Alexandrite (the gemstone) to break up pigments in the skin.

Getting Rid of ‘Frankie’ – literally and metaphorically

First, I beg of you.  NEVER NEVER NEVER tattoo a name on your body.  Ever.  Unless it’s your dog or your kid…you willlll regrettttt it.  I promised my dad when I was 17 years 11 months and 30 days old that I would never put a name on myself, and it would never be in a place you couldn’t hide.  I’m all about branding… but in terms of marketing, not in terms of inked ownership.

Getting rid of a tattoo is not as easy and quick as the actual tattoo.  Oh no.  It’s painful, can take 8-20 treatments over several months depending on the colors and the age of your body art (pigment changes and becomes embedded in the skin over time, the older the tattoo the harder to treat) and there’s always a chance you will have a little ink left.

Red, yellow, and orange tones respond the best and quickest with the q-switch.  “Frankie” is done in black ink.

How much will tattoo removal cost?  Depends how big the tattoo is and how many sessions you will need.  But you’re not only looking at pain… but you’re looking at some money.  $300+ per session.

In conclusion:


Pictures of the process will be posted as treatments go on!

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