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Is Laser Hair Removal Painful?

laser hair removal on a woman's underarm
laser hair removal on a woman's underarm
Is laser hair removal painful?

Laser hair removal has been massively popular in recent years owing to more and more people realising what an effective, affordable and successful treatment it actually is. Laser hair removal is a popular choice for both the face and body, with many men and women seeking treatment for conditions too, such as PCOS

However, with such popularity, the questions, Is laser hair removal painful or does it hurt, are two of the most often asked questions in our London clinics. 

There’s no clear answer as it depends on the areas treated, laser technology users and your personal pain threshold. We explore these areas in our guide below!

laser hair removal treatment on woman'e leg

Not Pain Free but Pretty Close

In most cases, more pain is usually experienced from tweezing, shaving and most of all waxing. Having laser hair removal has been described as having an elastic band flicked against your skin. Something most people can tolerate. Different areas of the body will be more painful than others. Underarms can be more painful than legs, for example. Pain levels also depend on the thickness of the skin in the area being treated. 

Laser can also be more painful during periods, when women’s skin may be more sensitive.

Process of Laser Hair Removal 

There’s nothing to be afraid of when it comes to having laser hair removal, here’s an overview of the process: 

The process of this treatment is as follows;

  • Areas where there is unwanted hair will be shaved and cleaned and an anaesthetic will be applied to the area, making this procedure as comfortable as possible.
  •  After this, beams of highly concentrated light will be activated, absorbing pigments located in the hair follicles. This then damages the surrounding follicles. When the laser has been activated you will feel an initial tingling sensation which indicates that the process is about to begin, through this procedure a variety of tingling sensations will be felt at each of the stages.
  • With this, the technician doing the procedure will also apply another topical anaesthetic to the area being treated, which will minimize these sensations. However, most people do not even need this anaesthetic; this is purely to make this session as comfortable for you as possible.
  • This procedure can last a few minutes to up to an hour, all dependent on the area that is being treated and will usually need to be repeated for 4-6 sessions, taking place every month.
  • Reactions may include redness and swelling around the area being treated, which usually disappears in a short time and people can return to everyday life activities almost instantly.

Does the area treated affects pain levels?

The laser can cause slightly more discomfort on areas with thinner skin, such as the upper lip and temples.  To put it into perspective, in terms of pain laser hair removal is a lot less painful than waxing and less painful than tattooing or the dentists, so there is really nothing to worry about.


Area Pain 1-10
(10 most – 1 least)
Score Tips
Face Thin skin areas – lips – Thicker skin areas – chin / side burns 8


Upper lip is the most painful as the skin is thinner. Small price to pay for losing the moustache!
Underarm The most painful area 9 Results are amazing. No more shaving!. Hang in there!
Bikini Line 8 Not as painful as waxing!
Arms Thicker skin on forearms 3 Arms tolerate pain well.
Legs  Upper & lower legs 6 Occasional tweak of pain, otherwise not too painful.
Stomach Thicker skin 4 Has been described as tickling more than painful
Back  Large area / Many hairs 8 Numbing cream* can reduce the pain levels to a 2-3

*Topical numbing cream when applied can reduce the pain levels for any area down to 1/10 to 3/10. Although this will add time to your visit to your clinic as the numbing cream can take up to 30 minutes to be effective.

Your pain threshold

Everyone is different and can tolerate pain differently. Women are known to tolerate pain better than men.

With laser hair removal, some people do not notice a thing while others will have their fists tightly clenched with every zap of the laser.

Can anything be done to reduce the pain of the laser to stop it hurting?

Modern lasers have cooling devices attached, blowing ice cool air on the skin.

Other laser brands like Soprano ice use a cooling gel over the skin.

This can get messy though and most prefer the cooling air. Also, numbing cream can be applied 30 minutes before your session by your practitioner to reduce the pain.

man rubbing cream on beard

Does technology make a difference to the pain levels?

With the latest Candela medical grade equipment we use here at Premier Laser, your treatments will be more effective and less painful. Medical grade equipment is more powerful, and they have a built-in cooling system which cools the skin as the laser works away.

Older technology = more pain

Other older machines use a messy cooling gel on your skin which then has to be washed off and is not as effective as the air cooled machines.

As mentioned, clinic machines are also a lot more powerful than machines that are sold on the high street. So fewer sessions are necessary, and you will get quicker, longer lasting results than other clinics which are not using the latest medical grade technology.

Is there pain-less Laser hair removal ?

In a word no. Try and find a clinic using top of the range laser technology as this can make a difference. If you are thinking about laser hair removal for the first time ask the clinic what machines they use.  The top of the range machines costing over £100,000 are made by a US firm called Candela.

This cost can be a barrier for many smaller or independent clinics, so they opt for cheaper versions.  Cheaper versions can be bought on the internet for £3,000 and are not reliable, potentially dangerous and can damage your skin if you are not careful with painful burns and blisters.

At Premier Laser our clinics use the latest Candela technology.

Is Laser Hair Removal Painful?

Will experienced practitioners lead to less painful laser?

It takes skilled technicians with many hours of training to use lasers effectively. Clinics using inferior machines doing laser hair as an add-on staff may have received minimal training and lack experience or not busy enough to build up their skills. So there is a risk going to a smaller non-specialist clinic.

It is why some clinics which have lower prices that seem too good to be true, now you know why! It is a risk many won’t take once they realise they are being lasered with cheaper machines and inexperienced, untrained staff.

woman with laser goggles on

Does laser hair removal get less painful with every treatment?

It is worth knowing that the results of laser hair removal do take a few weeks to become apparent. After your first treatment, you will be looking at two to three weeks to see a notable difference, whilst it will take around 8–12 sessions to ensure you see the very best results. The pain will not reduce greatly, but you may be better able to tolerate it so will feel less painful.

No more shaving and painful waxing!

Most of our customers would never go back to shaving or waxing once they have discovered the benefits of Laser Hair Removal.  After your course has completed, most people then return every now and again for a top-up session.

beautiful diverse women stood together

After the treatment & how to deal with any pain

The laser emissions used during the treatment stay within your skin for a full 24 hours.

This is perfectly normal and safe. If you feel uncomfortable, you can place ice packs against your skin for the redness and soreness.

In order to avoid bacteria multiplying, you will need to avoid anything that would increase your core body temperature, such as going to the gym, saunas or hot baths or bikram yoga.

So you have the perfect excuse to take it easy for a day or two and in most cases it is well deserved downtime, just go easy on the ice cream!

Avoiding sunlight

Whilst having the treatment, the dermatologist will advise about how best to protect your sensitive skin.

However, you may want to avoid exposure to the sun and sunbathing in general, which is not too difficult when living in the UK but can be a bit trickier during the summer months.

Just cover up the areas being treated, so a hat or long sleeves or trousers or long skirt depending on which areas have been treated.

If you have recently been on holiday or developed a tan, you will need to wait for this to fade before beginning treatment we usually recommend around four weeks, you are able to come in for a patch test though if you are thinking about laser hair removal for the first time.

woman sat on beach looking at the waves

You may need to alter your beauty regime plus avoid fake tan & sunbeds

Certain beauty products have chemicals that could cause painful complications during the treatment process and therefore scrubs, retinol creams and glycolic acid should be avoided for two days before and after treatment. Also, all traces of fake tan should be removed and sunbeds avoided up to 2 weeks before.

A simple change in your routine in preparation for your laser hair removal sessions will guarantee you get the best results possible for your treatments.

Also, you should refrain from any chemical peels for around two weeks before and after the laser process and wait 1–2 weeks after until you apply a fake tan.

The same advice goes for tattoos if you are thinking about having any, speak to your consultant if you have any questions as they will be able to advise you.

Don’t wax or dye your hair

During the process, you may feel more comfortable being hairless, so we would recommend shaving rather than plucking, waxing or bleaching any hair. Plucking and waxing can damage the skin and cause complications with the potential success of laser hair removal treatment.

woman having laser hair removal on leg at a clinic

Does laser hair removal treatment work on darker skin and is it more painful ?

Treatments only requires the hair to be dark enough to draw the laser. So if your hair is very fair, then laser hair removal may not be for you. Also is you have red hair, then laser hair removal will not work for you.

There is a different type of laser used for people with darker skin. It is called a Nd:YAG laser and is as effective and safe for people with darker skin. The pain reported by clients using Nd:YAG laser has been reported as being like a pinprick.

Patch test lets you experience how painful laser is first hand

Before you purchase a laser hair removal package you will need to have a consultation. During the consultation, your practitioner will do a patch test on your skin. This is to test the laser on your skin to see how it reacts. So you get to feel the laser sensation and if it is something you are able to tolerate.

Book Laser Hair Removal in London & Surrey

If you live in London and are looking for laser hair removal then contact us for a free consultation. Talk over your concerns and goals with us and get expert advice. We have 9 clinics across London and have performed over 500,000 treatments on Londoners of all colours since 2008.

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