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November 12, 2010

Three Beauty Treatments to Get This Winter

naked woman with nice skin

Photo Credit: Jonathan Storey

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THE TREATMENT: A pigment-specific laser zones in on its bull's-eye (in this case, dark hair inside the follicle) and destroys it with heat. Take note: White, blonde, and gray hair don't provide the necessary dark targets for the laser to hone in on.


DOWNTIME: Due to the hair's growth cycle, you can bank on a series of at least three consecutive monthly treatments. "Two-thirds of the follicles are in a resting phase, while one-third is growing," explains Marmur. "Only hair in the growing phase makes a good visible target, so a laser can wipe out just one-third of the population at one time."

SIDE EFFECTS: After treatment, the area becomes itchy, red, and bumpy (similar to a heat rash), and—get ready—tiny black hairs begin to emerge almost immediately. "These are the roots of the hairs just beneath the skin that are burning and lifting out of the follicles," explains Marmur. "It looks like stubble, and often people freak out because it seems that they've got more hair growing after treatment than they had before. The hairs will shed in a day or two, but for one to three days, the area can look worse than before."

SUN-RELATED COMPLICATIONS: For a few days after treatment, the inflamed skin is prone to hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation (white spots). In fact, UV exposure before or after laser hair removal can be a recipe for a polka-dotted bikini line. Lasers that target pigment aren't selective, so they can burn darker skin along with the hair. "I won't treat a patient if he or she is tan," says Alster. "Tanned skin is inflamed from the sun and at greater risk for blistering and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation."

Before getting lasered, lose the tan and avoid the sun two weeks before and up to four weeks after your treatment. lasers zero in on pigment and can burn and blister tanned skin.

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