Should I Wax Before Laser Hair Removal Treatments?

Have you ever heard of, or have any feedback on laser clinics, waxing a patient immediately before they use the laser? I went to a clinic where they say they do this as the hair follicle is open and more receptive to the laser. Their reasoning for this was because when shaving the area to be lasered, 'baby' hairs that are also shaved now in-turn come back stubbly and thicker. I have done a lot of research and it all says that waxing should be stopped months or so before getting laser treatments. I've had a patch test done (waxing first and the laser IPL) and it's been 2 months and it seems it has worked.

Doctor Answers 18

Laser Hair Removal

Waxing should not be done prior to laser hair removal period. You should not wax for at least 4 weeks prior to your treatment.

Waxing shouldn't be done before laser hair removal sessions

I generally advise that patients don’t wax, pluck or sugar before their treatment. Your hair follicle should be healthy, and these hair removal alternatives can cause damage which will make your unwanted hair less responsive to treatment.

Waxing NOT Recommended before Laser Hair Removal

Lasers for hair removal target the pigment in the hair follicle.  Since waxing and plucking remove the follicle, these procedures should NOT be performed before laser hair removal.  Skin that has been waxed or plucked will be less receptive to the laser treatment.  It is fine, and often recommended, to shave prior to your laser procedure.  Your laser hair provider should provide detailed pre and post procedure instructions.

Kent V. Hasen, MD
Naples Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Laser Hair Removal and waxing

Never wax. Never ever wax. Waxing can cause many problems to skin. There have been issues with cleanliness with waxing.
IPL is NOT a laser. It will not be effective for laser hair removal and it may burn the skin. 
Prior to laser hair removal, the root of the hair must be in tact.  The laser energy is looking for a chromophore or a target. The root of the hair is the target. if the hair is not shaved, some of the hair on the surface of the skin will absorb laser energy. 

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

No Waxing Before Laser Hair Removal

In all the years that my office has practiced laser hair removal, we have always recommended all depilatory’s, waxing and tweezing stop before laser treatments start. You want the bulb of the hair follicle to be present when you are delivering the energy of the laser so that the hair doesn't return.  It will give you more effective, longer lasting results.

Jeffrey W. Hall, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Do not Wax Prior to Laser Hair Removal

The laser works best when it can identify the pigment in the follicle. Waxing pulls the hairs by the root from the skin which takes the pigment away from the follicle in turn leaves nothing for the laser to treat. For best results do not wax and/or stop waxing at least 2 weeks before laser treatment.Only shave either the night before or the morning of treatment.



Edward E. Dickerson, IV, MD
Fayetteville Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 83 reviews

Waxing before Laser Hair Removal

No, you should not wax for several weeks before laser hair removal.  The reason is that the laser is attracted to the dark pigment in the hair.  So, if the hair has already been removed through waxing, the laser will not have a "target" and will not be effective.  


Good Luck.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Waxing hair can interfere with laser hair removal

I have never heard of waxing being recommended prior to laser hair removal.  As others here have pointed out, it may removed the pigmented target of the laser.  Also, it can burn and irritate the skin, which the laser treatment can worsen.  I suggest doing what the majority recommends and shaving, not waxing, prior to treatment.

Daryl K. Hoffman, MD
Los Gatos Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Waxing Immediately Prior to Laser Hair Removal Not Recommended

Thank you for your question.

In short, waxing immediately prior to laser hair removal will likely decrease the effectiveness of the laser providing short term, rather than long term, reduction in hair.

More specifically, lasers target the pigment of hairs at the base of the follicle (in the growth phase), which allows the follicle to be destroyed and inhibits new hair growth. Waxing removes hair from the follicle (including hairs at the base)

Without the hair, and thus pigment, at the base of the follicle the laser does not have it target and is therefore not as effective at destroying the follicle and decreasing future hair growth.

I hope this helps.

No waxing before laser hair removal

When you wax, you remove or disturb the target that the laser needs in order to decrease hair growth. 

There is a small area of the hair follicle, called the bulge, where the follicular stem cells, cells that generate the new hair, reside.  The laser heats the hair shaft, which is the visible,pigmented target, and that heat spreads to affect the nearby bulge to decrease new hair growth or stop it all together. When you remove the hair by waxing, there is no target in the follicle to absorb the heat from the laser and to distribute it to the bulge.

Shaving within 1-3 days of the laser hair removal, and leaving only short stubble, is the best way to treat the hair-bearing area before the procedure.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.