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Sunscreen After Laser Hair Removal: Is It Smart?

Not only is it smart, but using sunscreen after getting laser hair removal is a must!

If you are not putting on sunscreen every single day already, what are you waiting for?! It is definitely time to start. Really, like now. 

How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

Laser hair removal and its pal IPL are safe and easy ways to get rid of unwanted hair on your body. Upper lip, bikini line, arm hair, armpit hair – laser hair removal works just about everywhere. 

The technology uses a laser to destroy hair follicles at the root. The laser in laser hair removal has one highly concentrated beam of light, while IPL uses pulsed laser lights to a similar end. The pigments in the hair follicles absorb the light and heat from the laser, which destroys the hairs.

Destroying your hair sounds pretty dramatic, but trust us it is a lot less crazy than it sounds. Laser can be uncomfortable. Many people say it feels like a rubber band is being snapped against your skin. Ouch! 

But have you ever gotten a wax? Or ever had your eyebrows threaded? Hair removal can be painful AF. The good thing about laser is it is quite effective and the results last for a while. Of course, IPL delivers similar long-lasting results without all that pain, and you can do it at home!

Many people see their hair completely gone after just a few laser hair removal or IPL sessions. Plus, your hair will grow back slower and probably thinner as you increase your sessions. 

Less hair growth where we don’t want it? We love the sound of that!

Why Do I Need To Put on SPF Post-Hair Removal?

After laser hair removal or IPL, your skin is sensitive. It makes sense, after all, your skin has just been (safely) zapped by a laser! Give it a little break. 

Whether it is a sunny summer day or a cold, dreary afternoon in February, you should always be wearing SPF. UVA rays can penetrate through clouds and UVB rays can penetrate through glass. This means that we are always at the mercy of the sun’s rays. 

If you are getting laser hair removal on a part of your body that is frequently covered, like your bikini line, you do not need to put SPF down there when it is covered. But, if you are getting laser done on areas that are just open and exposed to the sun, like your upper lip, you want to load up on the SPF. 

Here are the three main reasons why SPF application is so so important post-laser sesh. 

Your Skin Is More Sensitive 

After a laser hair removal session, it is normal for your skin to be a bit irritated. Discomfort, redness, and swelling – oh my!

These negative effects usually only last a few hours, but the last thing you want to do to that already sensitive skin is sensitize it even further, right?!

We will admit it, there is something so soothing about basking in the warmth of the sun’s rays. But, without SPF on you will be toast. Literally! You will be nice, burnt, and very crispy. 

Too much of anything is not good, and sun exposure is no exception. Excessive sun exposure can dry out your skin big time, depleting your epidermis of moisture and essential oils. This leaves your skin looking, and feeling, as dry and flaky as a saltine cracker. 

So, let’s protect the skin you're in and slather on your favorite SPF lotion after your next laser sesh.

Tanning Can Ruin the Results of Laser

Laser hair removal and IPL work by seeking out the pigment(s) in your hair follicles. To work well, you need a decent contrast between the hair pigment and the skin pigment. 

If you have a beach day on the horizon, covering up the areas where you get laser hair removal done is a MUST. Yeah, yeah a tan looks great and all. We admit it. But, if your skin tone changes too much due to hanging in the sun, your laser might not work next time. 

And that would be a major bummer, right!? We sure think so. 

You can preemptively prevent this issue by protecting areas you laser that are commonly exposed to the sun. For example, your face and forearms. 

You should definitely keep a tube of sunscreen on hand so you can reapply frequently, but it is also a good idea to have some sun-protecting accessories that can help you hide your skin from that intense summer sunshine. Hats, cute sunglasses, and umbrellas are just some of the great pieces to stock up on to practice safe sunning. 

It is better to stay safe, protect yourself from the sun, and make sure you don’t waste your next laser appointment. Now that is a win-win.

The Sun Can Cause Irreversible Damage 

We know that everyone loves a good glowy tan, but sun damage is serious. It can cause premature aging, hyperpigmentation, burns, scarring, and even skin cancer.

Because your skin is particularly sensitive after a laser hair removal sesh, you are much more vulnerable to sun damage. Ah! If that spooks you out, you are not alone. Sun damage is scary, especially because a lot of it can be permanent. 

Exposing your skin to UV rays always has its risks, but when your skin is in this sensitive state, sun exposure can be even more damaging and also can halt the healing process. 

And truly, hyperpigmentation is the best-case scenario. Excessive sun exposure may lead to skin cancer, which cannot be reversed. While we’ve been talking a lot about aesthetics, this is a real health issue. 

This is why it is so important that you protect your skin right with some good old SPF. 

How Do I Protect My Skin Properly After Laser?

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. Have we mentioned sunscreen?

That is one of the best things you can do for your skin, whether you have just got laser or not. Of course, there are other things you can incorporate into your routine to protect your skin from the sun:

  • Try to stay out of the sun in the afternoon when the UV is at its peak.
  • If you are outside, wear a hat or sit under an umbrella. 
  • Wear a rashguard while swimming or surfing. 
  • Wear a coverup while on the beach. 

Those are just some ways to keep your skin covered up and protect your skin from those crazy UV rays.

You should always keep these practices in mind. But if you just got laser, consider these rules. And you really need to make sure you are following them. 

If you do not follow these rules, there will be consequences. What, you may ask? Sunburn! Now that is a pretty uncomfortable punishment. 

So, we have made it clear you need sunscreen to protect your sensitive skin after a laser appointment. But, if you think you are just going to apply sunscreen once and be done with it, you are sorely mistaken! 

If you are going to put sunscreen on, you need to make sure you are doing it right! Keep reading for all of our tips and tricks for getting the best SPF experience a gal can ask for. 

What Level of SPF Should I Use? 

Many of us were taught that the higher the SPF, the more protective the sunscreen. 

What if we told you everything you think you know about SPF is wrong. Gasp!

Well, not totally wrong. But, kind of wrong. Confused? We are too. Well, that’s because the question of whether or not high SPF protects skin better than low SPF does not have a simple answer. 

Sun factor protection (SPF) is a measure of how well a particular sunscreen protects you from getting sunburnt. It tells you how long you can stay in the sun without getting burned if you’re wearing that sunscreen exactly as the directions describe. 

You should go for a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 or above every day. Higher SPFs can give a false sense of security, so when it comes to picking the right level of SPF, what is even more important than the SPF is making sure you are reapplying. And reapplying. And reapplying... You get the gist. 

How Often Should I Reapply My Sunscreen?

Generally speaking, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours. Make sure you don’t miss those treatment areas as they need some extra attention. 

If you are sweating excessively, swimming, or doing anything else that might cause your sunscreen to melt right off, make sure to reapply afterward. 

How Do I Choose the Right Sunscreen for Me?

There are so many great sunscreen options on the market today and so many different ingredients used to help prevent sun damage, from chemicals that absorb UV rays to minerals that act as physical UV ray blockers. 

When picking out the right sunscreen for your skin, make sure to choose one with “broad spectrum” protection. This means the product protects against UVB and UVA rays. It’s the best of both worlds!

UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancers, but UVA rays also contribute to those same issues. So, what you need — no, what you deserve — is a product that protects against both! And that is exactly what a “broad spectrum” protection product does. 

Avoid Tanning Beds at All Costs

We’ve been talking about sunscreen a lot. While our focus has been on protecting post-laser skin from the natural UV rays of Mr. Golden Sun himself, don’t think tanning beds are excluded from this conversation. 

If you are thinking about going tanning in a tanning bed, stop right there. Literally, just stop and turn around. It can cause serious long-term damage. All of those negative side effects we talked about from the sun? When it comes to a tanning bed those are just exacerbated. 

If you really want to take a nap and get tan while you’re doing it, lay a towel outside and close your eyes. Just make sure to lather on that SPF first. 

Stay Safe and Smooth This Summer

Yes, you can have it all: Amazingly smooth skin that is also healthy and protected. All you have to do is be mindful of your sun exposure. Keeping this guide on hand isn’t a bad idea either!

Sources: 

Laser hair removal | Mayo Clinic

Skin Cancer From Sun Exposure: Risk Factors, Symptoms & Prevention | Cleveland Clinic

Laser Hair Removal: Benefits, Side Effects, and Cost | WebMD

What Does the SPF Number on Sunscreen Mean? | VeryWell Health

IPL Treatment: Cost, Procedure, and More | Healthline