“Have you had any sun exposure?” A sentence you may have heard once or twice if you have had any laser treatments with a credible laser company.
Ever wondered why your laser therapist is so scrupulous about this topic?
Slip, slop, slap is also a saying we have heard before but as many times as we have heard it, it couldn’t be more important to ensure we all slip, slop, slag during our laser treatments.
When we are exposed to UV rays our skins automatic response is to produce melanin, this melanin is a dark pigment that then sits over the nucleuses of a cell like a little hat to protect our cell from mutating from the UV exposure. So you see a tan is our skin undergoing a level of trauma response to prevent things like skin cancers, a tan means that melanin has been activated in our cells.
Melanin is what gives our hair and skin its colour, basically it is pigment. When we think about laser hair removal, our hair is pigment and the lasers look for pigment to put its light energy into. The light energy is what destroys the hair follicle from producing any more hair, hence why laser is a form of permanent hair reduction.
If we have our melanin (pigment) active in our cells at the time of lasering from sun exposure, the laser can mistake the pigment in the cell for the pigment in our hair and thus put the light energy into the wrong place. The side effects of sun exposed skin include:
- Hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin)
- Hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin)
As you can imagine it is really important to keep our skin away from UV exposure to avoid such side effects during your laser treatments.
However it isn’t only important when you are having laser, you also need to protect your skin for 8 weeks after your last laser treatment. As your skin goes through unavoidable trauma when having laser it is left more vulnerable than usual. If you were to expose your skin to UV rays too early your skin can produce melanin (remember melanin is a natural response to UV exposure) at an excelled rate, leaving the laser treatment area blotchy with what we call post-inflammatory hyper pigmentation or (PIHP).
Three top tips to limit your sun exposure this summer laser season
You can’t go wrong this a good quality 50+ sunscreen. This will prevent that melanin response in your skin and thus decrease your risk factors. It is important to SPF all your laser areas before you leave your house in the morning. Re apply 4 hourly if under direct sun (like a day at the beach)
2- Protective clothing! If it’s not exposed to the sun the better! Cover the areas that you are having laser on and your risk factors will decrease even further. Wear a hat, drape a sarong over your bikini area if laying on the beach. Pop a t-shirt on that covers area as opposed to a singlet.
3- You don’t have to forgo your beautiful sun-kissed appearance, spray tans can be used between laser treatments (two weeks before to scheduled date). These are safe options to not only limit your risk factors to laser but also to sun damage and skin cancers from sun exposure.