Many of those considering laser hair removal treatments know they would not want to grow their hair out at any point during the process, and stay as smooth as possible. Growing the hair out would be a big inconvenience to many and completely not an option to others. This is why many prospective clients wonder whether they can shave or wax prior to and between laser removal sessions.
Every practitioner might have their own opinion regarding various customer inquiries; however, the answer to the question on whether to shave or wax prior to treatment is consistent. And that answer is to always shave and never wax, and there is a very good explanation why.
During a typical session, the laser energy will be attracted to the melanin (color) in the hair follicle, and send heat to destroy it. Waxing removes the follicle from the root, and with no follicle to absorb the laser energy, the entire process becomes inefficient. The laser needs to have a “target,” in this case being the hair. The laser differentiates the darker hair from the surrounding skin and targets it. If the hair is removed from the root, there is nothing for the laser to “target.”
Waxing immediately prior to a laser session completely goes against the science of laser hair removal. But those who insist on only waxing must do so about four weeks prior to the first session in order to allow the hair to grow back. In between sessions it is possible to wax as long as the hair has time to grow out, but just to be on the safe side and not disturb the treatment schedule, it is safest just to shave.
While it is technically possible to wax, shaving is the preferred method prior to a laser sessions. Shaving cuts the hair at the surface, leaving the hair follicle beneath the skin. So while the hair may not be visible after shaving, it is still there and can be treated by the laser. Some practitioners even believe that shaving is beneficial to laser hair removal, because it allows the laser to focus its energy on the hair follicle rather than the hair shaft.
Every clinic has their own specific guidelines on exactly when to shave, although it is often recommended to do it a couple of days prior to laser treatment. This is because many laser practitioners prefer to see nothing more than short stubble, though there might be some practitioners who would like to see more hair. Some practitioners prefer to shave the hairs off themselves just before the laser session. Someone considering laser removal would simply need to find out exactly what the laser hair removal practitioner in their case recommends.