DEC 20, 2017 03:06 PM PST

The Science of Laser Hair Removal

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
3 1 192

In our beauty-centric culture, the only hair we seem to prize is the kind on the heads. Elsewhere on the body, remedies abound for ways to pluck, wax, strip, and otherwise make our bodies smooth as silk. Some people go to even greater lengths to remove unwanted hair on their bodies, enduring laser treatments to permanently stop hair from growing back. But how does laser hair removal work, and is it really worth it?

Laser hair removal is fast becoming one of the most requested cosmetic services. In repeated sessions, hair follicles are exposed to short bursts of laser light, which are intense enough to damage the follicles but not the surrounding skin. This works because pigment molecules within the hair follicles absorb the energy from the laser beam and destroys the follicle tissue. But the procedure isn't 100% guaranteed to make all patients permanently hairless. Those with light skin and dark hair seem to have the best results, whereas it's less effective in dark skin/haired or light skin/haired people.

But here's the thing: body hair is natural and is meant to protect us from the elements. So to singe it off with lasers seems highly extreme. If you're not convinced, watch what happens during laser hair removal in slow motion.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUN 06, 2018
Neuroscience
JUN 06, 2018
Brain Surgery Without A Scalpel
When you think of brain surgery, in addition to being incredibly intricate and delicate, scalpels and clamps and an OR come to mind. As it happens, there i
JUL 01, 2018
Videos
JUL 01, 2018
Can The Northern Lights Lead To A Global Catastrophe?
The aurora of the Northern Lights is created due to two things that begin from the sun: solar wind and the magnetosphere. Around the surface of the sun, li
JUL 02, 2018
Videos
JUL 02, 2018
Watch SpaceX's Dragon Cargo Ship Dock with the International Space Station
Just as expected, SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spaceship docked with the International Space Station on Monday to provide crew members with fresh food, supp
JUL 08, 2018
Videos
JUL 08, 2018
They Say an Elephant Never Forgets...
They say an elephant never forgets, but is this really true? It’s a question that scientists have been trying to answer for ages, and as it turns out
JUL 09, 2018
Videos
JUL 09, 2018
How Spiders Use Electricity To Fly
Spider rains, or ballooning spiders, are a natural phenomenon believed by scientists to be caused by the silken threads of these unique insects that genera
JUL 19, 2018
Videos
JUL 19, 2018
Hazmat Spill at Johns Hopkins
Biohazards are a common problem in any kind of scientific research, and if a spill of dangerous materials occurs, it can be deadly. Luckily, a recent spill
Loading Comments...