Our clients are used to our warnings: Laser hair removal and tanning simply do not mix! Laser works best when the skin is at its natural skin tone. Both natural and fake tans can cause all kinds of lasering issues, as we’ll explain in detail throughout this post. 

If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t tan with laser hair removal or if you’re not certain about the timelines and safety, we’ll explain it all in this post. 

Tanning Before Laser Hair Removal

We always ask our clients to stop tanning about 2 to 4 weeks before their laser hair removal appointment. However, the reality is that the longer you can go without tanning prior to your appointment, the better. 

This requirement applies to all types of tanning. It doesn’t matter if you prefer sunbathing, going to the tanning salon, or using self-tanner at home – all tans are off-limits. 
There are a few interconnected reasons for this. The first, simplest reason is that a tan makes the skin darker. This reduces the contrast between your skin tone and hair color which makes it harder for the laser to pinpoint the hair follicle. 

This doesn’t make lasering the skin totally impossible. Nowadays, we have advanced Nd:YAG lasers that are able to penetrate deeply and work effectively even on darker skin tones. However, such a laser is less powerful, especially since your technician will have to further reduce the light setting to prevent harming the skin. More importantly, tanning before laser increases your risk of negative side effects from laser hair removal.

Suntans, in particular, are the skin’s reaction to the damage caused by the sun. Freshly tanned skin is quite sensitive, so you can experience more significant irritation after your treatment. There is also a greater risk of hypopigmentation, which is a loss of pigmentation that looks like strange white spots.  
That’s why it’s much better to wait a few weeks and let the tan fade. It’s a safer choice that’ll give you better results. 

Tanning After Laser Hair Removal

After laser hair removal, when your skin is smooth and silky, getting a tan can be very tempting. However, you still need to be cautious since laser makes the skin very sensitive! 
For two weeks after your laser hair removal treatment, it’s important that you avoid sun exposure as much as possible. That means trying to keep the treated skin out of the sun. If that can’t be avoided, make sure to wear sunscreen with at least 30 SPF (although we’d actually urge you to use 50 SPF or higher). 

If you’re in the midst of a series of sessions (after all, it takes at least 6 treatments to achieve optimal results), it’s best to avoid tanning for the entire time during which you’re coming in for appointments. Once your series of sessions is totally done and you’ve waited for 2 to 4 weeks, you can now tan again. 
Just remember that tanning is the leading cause of skin cancer, so please be cautious. We recommend achieving that beautiful bronzed look with tanning spray or self-tanner instead of harmful UV rays. 

Self-Tanning and Laser Hair Removal

We already touched on self-tanning and laser hair removal, but to reiterate: You’ll want to avoid using self-tanner or tanning spray for at least two weeks before your laser hair removal appointment. 
However, self-tanning isn’t as dangerous as sun exposure. You can help your self-tanner fade by exfoliating well, and it doesn’t damage the skin the way the sun can. 

After laser hair removal, we prefer to be cautious, so we recommend you don’t self-tan for at least two weeks after your treatment. Self-tanners can be a little irritating to the skin, so it’s not a good idea to use them while your skin is still healing from the laser treatment. Once the skin has fully healed, self-tanning is usually the safest way to celebrate your newfound smoothness. 
In some cases, it can be possible to use a self-tanner between laser hair removal appointments. Just make sure that the tan fades completely before your next session. 

Key Takeaway

So to summarize: If you’ve recently gotten a deep tan, wait until it fades before booking your laser hair removal appointment. Doing otherwise can be dangerous! We ask that you avoid all kinds of tanning (including using self-tanner) for at least two weeks before and after your appointment. 

At SEV Laser, we never compromise on your safety. Our registered nurses and laser technicians will never put your health at risk by performing a laser hair removal treatment when it isn’t safe. If you haven’t tanned recently and you’re ready to achieve smoother skin, book your appointment at the SEV Laser medspa closest to you. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us first.