Does laser hair removal hurt?

So many people have unwanted hair that razor makers and the wax/sugaring industries are thriving– no matter how many times you shave or wax, the hair comes back! And waxing can be quite painful as the hairs are ripped out of the follicles. Even shaving can have its injuries. But what about permanent hair removal with a laser? Does laser hair removal hurt?

Does laser hair removal hurt?

In general, laser hair removal with the best lasers causes minimal discomfort. The best lasers hurt less because they are better at targeting the hair (rather than the surrounding skin) and have super effective cooling that keeps the skin comfortable.

They are also much quicker, and can treat a large area in only a few minutes. Be sure to ask what kind of laser is used for laser hair removal before signing up for a package of treatments. A high quality, fast, dual wavelength Alexandrite / Nd-Yag laser with effective cooling is what you’re looking for.

At Glow Medispa, we love the Clarity II, by Lutronic. It is the fastest dual-wavelength laser available. But there are several quality devices out there. In general, we don’t recommend using diode lasers or IPL for laser hair removal– although these work, they tend to be more painful, slower, less effective and most importantly cannot treat darker skin types.

Many articles on this topic you will find on the internet describe the feeling of laser hair removal as a “rubber band snapping the skin.” That is what IPL feels like. That is not what an Alexandrite laser or Nd-Yag laser feels like. As mentioned, we do not recommend IPL, in part because it is more painful. Alex/Yag lasers feel prickly and sometimes hot, but is rarely painful unless the area of skin being treated is particularly sensitive.

Which treatment areas hurt the worst?

Most areas of the body can be treated without much pain at all. Treating the legs for instance feels prickly but not painful. As someone with very sensitive skin in my armpits, I was surprised to find out just how easy laser hair removal was in that area. Even the face doesn’t hurt very much, though people describe having more pain on the upper lip, we have not found that to be the case with our laser.

Pain sensitivity is very variable between people, but we have found that the vast majority of people tolerate laser hair removal without the need for any topical anesthetic.

The most sensitive areas we have found across different people is in the groin area, bikini line and brazilian. This is one of the most sensitive areas in the body for most of us, but even here we are able to do the procedure without any numbing.

What does it feel like after your session?

Immediately after a treatment the skin may be a little bit red and the follicles are sometimes slightly swollen. This can sometimes feel a little warm or itchy, but this feeling fades rapidly. There is no pain after the treatment is done.

The hairs that have been zapped will fall out of the follicles over the next few days. It is important to allow them to do this naturally. We recommend that you stay out of the sun and wear sunblock as your skin heals. It is also important to use mild exfoliation to prevent any possible ingrown hairs.

What other factors affect pain sensitivity?

Your pain sensitivity goes up if you haven’t had enough sleep. Try your best to get adequate rest the night before your session. It is also important to stay hydrated, as pain sensitivity also tends to go up when you’re dehydrated. For women, it can also help to avoid procedure during menstruation, when we tend to be more sensitive.


  • Laser Hair Removal with high quality dual-wavelength Alexandrite/Nd-yag lasers is relatively painless
  • Avoid IPL and Diode lasers which are slower, less effective and more painful
  • Stay Hydrated and get some sleep!

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