Smooth Start: Do You Have to Shave Before Laser Hair Removal?

Before getting a laser treatment done, it’s not uncommon for patients to have a lot of questions. One of the most popular questions is – “Do I have to shave before laser hair removal?” While most clinics will require you to shave prior to your laser hair removal treatment, there are a few factors to consider when it comes to achieving the best results.

What is Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a concentrated beam of light (laser) to remove unwanted hair. During the treatment, a laser emits a light that is absorbed by the melanin (the pigment) in the hair. The energy from the light is converted into heat, which damages the hair follicle and prevents future growth. The laser is attracted to the melanin in the hair, which is why laser hair removal typically works best on individuals with dark hair and light skin.

Why Shave Before Laser Hair Removal?

Shaving before a laser hair removal treatment is important as it prepares the skin for the laser to target the hair follicle. If the hair is too long, the laser may not be as effective, causing you to require more treatments in the long run.

Additionally, shaving helps ensure that the laser targets the hair follicle and not the hair on the surface of the skin. By targeting the hair follicle directly, the treatment results will be more effective, meaning less discomfort and better results.

Should I Wax or Pluck Before Laser Hair Removal?

No. Waxing or plucking before a laser hair removal treatment can actually damage the hair follicle, making it much harder for the laser to target the hair. These hair removal methods remove the hair from the root, making it difficult for the laser to find the hair (since the hair is essentially ‘gone’).

It’s also important not to bleach the hair or use hair removal creams prior to your laser hair removal treatment. Bleaching the hair removes the pigment (melanin) from the hair, making the laser less effective, while hair removal creams can cause a chemical reaction with the laser, resulting in burns or other complications.

How to prepare for Laser Hair Removal

Clean Skin is Essential

Make sure you are using a mild cleanser to avoid irritation. Avoid cleansers that have a lot of oils as they make it difficult for the laser to penetrate through the skin.

Avoid Sun Exposure

Exposure to the sun can significantly increase your risk of skin damage or burns during your laser hair removal treatment. Avoid tanning, sunbathing, or using self-tanning products for at least two weeks before your treatment. A good tip is to wear sunblock SPF30 or higher to limit sun exposure during the two weeks leading up to your treatment.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

It’s also essential to avoid harsh chemicals before your laser hair removal treatment, particularly exfoliants, and scrubs. These products can cause skin irritation, making it difficult to perform the treatment.

What to Expect During the Laser Hair Removal Procedure


Before your treatment, your laser hair removal provider will discuss your hair texture and skin type to ensure that you are a good candidate for laser hair removal. A patch test will also be done to ensure that your skin tolerates the treatment well.


After the consultation, the area to be treated will be cleaned and prepped. The hair in the area will be trimmed, and the skin will be marked to guide the laser. You will be provided with protective eyewear to wear during the treatment.


The laser hair removal treatment itself can vary in length depending on the size of the area to be treated. Laser hair removal is generally characterized by a series of pulses that produce a sensation similar to a rubber band snapping against your skin. Most people describe the sensation as mild, but others may find it uncomfortable. Your laser hair removal provider may offer you a topical anesthetic to minimize any discomfort.

Post-treatment Care

After the treatment, you will be advised to avoid sun exposure, swimming, hot tubs, and strenuous exercise for at least 24 hours. A cold compress may also be applied to the treated area to alleviate any discomfort. Moisturizing the treated area is essential to avoid any scabbing and promote healing. Avoid alcohol-based products, and instead, use gentle moisturizers to hydrate the skin further.


Shaving before laser hair removal is vital to achieving the best results possible. It helps ensure that the laser targets the hair follicle directly and doesn’t result in surface hair removal, which can be painful and ineffective. Additionally, by following the tips mentioned in this article, you can make the most of your laser hair removal treatment and achieve long-lasting results.


  • Do I have to shave before every laser hair removal treatment?
  • Yes. Shaving before each treatment is necessary to ensure that the laser targets the hair follicle and not the hair surface, which can be removed through waxing or other methods.

  • What should I expect after the laser hair removal treatment?
  • The treated area may feel warm, and the skin may appear red, and a rash can occur after the treatment. These symptoms usually disappear within a few hours. Over the next couple of weeks, the treated hair will eventually fall out, and you may notice a slight change in texture.

  • How long does each treatment last?
  • The duration of each laser hair removal treatment usually depends on the size of the area being treated. Some may last a few minutes, while others can take up to an hour.

  • How many treatments will I need?
  • The number of treatments required will depend on various factors, including hair type, skin type, age, and gender. Most people require up to six treatments to achieve the best results.

  • Is laser hair removal safe?
  • Laser hair removal is a safe and effective procedure when performed by a licensed and trained professional. It is essential to consult with a reputable clinic and receive treatment from a trained professional.



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