Lasers and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) systems have been around for well over a decade now, as has the promise of ‘permanent hair removal’. But what exactly is meant by ‘permanent hair removal’ and well…. is it really permanent?

Here are the facts:

How much hair does laser hair removal actually remove?

Laser hair removal provides a reduction of up to 90%, providing of course that the hair is suitable to treat in the first place. This means that you should not expect the treatment to permanently remove every single hair from the specified area. You can however expect it to remove nearly all of it, bar a few stragglers. In many cases however, this can be the desired result. Take facial hair removal for instance, particularly the upper lip. Most women who come through my laser clinic Bournemouth say that they don’t want the ‘waxed’ effect on their upper lip. They want the thick dark hairs removed, and the very fine blonde hairs left alone. Laser hair removal will do just that.

Is ‘Permanent hair removal’ and ‘Permanent hair reduction’ the same thing?

In recent years there has been some confusion over the term ‘permanent hair removal’ and ‘permanent hair reduction’. The key word here is ‘permanent’. What exactly is meant by ‘permanent’ hair reduction? The issue over the word hair ‘reduction’ or ‘removal’ is to do with the amount of hair that laser hair removal is able to get rid of.  Because laser hair removal will remove around 90% of the hair, it is referred to as ‘permanent hair reduction’, rather than ‘permanent hair removal’, in order to acknowledge the 10% of hair it may or may not be able to remove.

So how does it work?

Lasers and IPLs target the melanin (or pigment) in the hair. The thicker, the darker the hair, the more energy it absorbs from the laser.  This is crucial as in order to achieve permanent hair reduction, it is necessary to heat the hair bulb to around 70 degrees for a split second. The darker the hair, the easier it is for the heat to transfer. Thin, soft, fine blonde hair will not be able to absorb the required energy from the laser or IPL. Once a hair bulb is heated to approximately 70 degrees, it not only kills that particular hair, but actually destroys the stem cells at the base of the follicle which are responsible for producing a hair. Once those cells are heated and destroyed, that follicle will not produce again. It is for this reason that we can call it ‘permanent hair removal’ or ‘permanent hair reduction’.

Put simply, there is nothing more effective or permanent at this moment in time than laser hair removal.

Why do you need several laser hair removal treatments?

This comes down to hair growth cycles. If you were to shave your legs, in a couple of days it would look like all those hairs are growing back. In fact they are not all growing at once. Every single hair all over your body grows in 3 stages. They actively grow, which we call the ‘anagen’ phase. They then come out of this hair growth stage and go in to a resting or transitional phase called ‘catagen’. The third stage of hair growth is ‘telogen’ where the hair actually sheds. In order for permanent hair reduction to take place a hair must be in the active, ‘anagen’ growth phase. If a hair is lasered whilst in the resting or shedding phase, it will not be permanently destroyed and will therefore grow back again.

It is not possible to know by looking at any given body area, which hairs are growing, resting or shedding so the whole area is treated each time. On the bikini line for instance around 20-30% of the hair will be in the active anagen growth phase. Clients can expect to see a reduction of around 20-30% of hair after each laser hair removal treatment, provided that a medical grade laser or IPL is used. For more information on how to choose a laser clinic in Bournemouth or elsewhere, and to ensure you are getting the best laser treatment possible, check out the article on this blog called ‘What to look for in a laser clinic’.

If you could like more information on laser treatments in Bournemouth or laser hair removal, please book in for a FREE consultation at

Laser Skin Solutions Bournemouth tel. 01202 29 69 69

Or visit