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Don’t mix sun and laser hair removal

It could cause burning and changes in skin colour


laser hair removal

Laser hair removal should be carried out by a trained operator

Sunbathing before or after having laser hair removal could damage your skin, Which? warns today.

If you undergo the treatment while tanned or just before going out in the sun, you could suffer burning, scarring, blisters or changes in skin colour.

And with around 3,000 unlicensed and unregulated providers of laser hair removal in the UK, we’re concerned that a lot of people could be at risk if they don’t properly research the practitioner they intend to use.

 Licensed clinics

Which? health campaigner Frances Blunden said: ‘Remember to stay out of the sun before and after having laser hair removal treatment as your skin may have a reaction. Plan it for a time when you know you won’t be in the sun.

‘If you are having laser hair removal treatment, make sure the clinic is licensed and the practitioner properly qualified. Otherwise, you could be putting yourself in the hands of untrained staff who don’t explain all the possible risks.’

David Gault, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the Portland Hospital, London explained: ‘When you have laser hair removal the laser itself targets the pigment in your hair in order to destroy it.  Unfortunately, when the skin is tanned, the deeper melanin colour of the skin can also become a target. 

‘Therefore in some unfortunate cases, the patient’s skin can be left patchy and mottled – not the look they were expecting. In some cases the appearance is actually leopard-like, with white spots.’

Stricter regulation

Laser hair removal is the most popular non-surgical cosmetic treatment, with 166,000 treatments carried out in 2005.

Which? is now asking the government to ensure there is stricter regulation in place so that people are better protected.

If you’re considering laser hair removal, you should:

  • remember that treatment should only be carried out by a trained operator who must have at least a BTEC qualification in light based treatments, or the equivalent, or be a qualified health professional
  • ask if they have experience in treating different skin and hair colours 
  • ask to see the clinic’s Healthcare Commission registration number. If they aren’t registered, you should walk away 
  • remember that laser hair removal can be painful and ensure you are given special goggles to protect your eyes
  • understand that your skin will be red and sensitive after treatment.

You can find independent and unbiased information about various cosmetic treatments on the Cosmetic treatments section of our website.

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