You know that your hair comes and goes. Sometimes it can be alarming how many hairs seem to be in the brush or on the shower drain on a given day. But, unless you’re balding, this hair loss is nothing to worry about. It’s simply the growth cycle of the hair. Every single hair on the human body — and we each have around five million of them! — Goes through three stages, from growth to rest. What cycle the hair is in affects the effectiveness of laser hair removal. So, let’s have a primer on the growth cycles.
Anagen = Growth
The anagen phase of the hair growth cycle is the beginning phase of hair growth. In the anagen phase, the hair is visible above the skin and is still attached to the papilla in the hair follicle. The papilla is a knoblike indentation at the bottom of the follicle. We love the anagen phase of the hair cycle at Romeo & Juliette because this is when the hair is available to attract and absorb the laser energy, which damages the follicle and prevents the hair from growing. Unfortunately, the anagen phase only last from 2-3 weeks; this is true of facial and body hair.
Catagen = Transition
The catagen phase is a transitional phase between growth and rest. In the catagen phase, the hair begins the process of shedding. Treating hair in the catagen phase has various degrees of success. The problem is that the hair shaft has often exited the papilla, so the energy the shaft absorbs doesn’t travel down into the papilla and the follicle. When this happens, the follicle won’t be damaged enough to prevent future hair growth. This transitional phase lasts around two days.
Telogen = Rest
This is the final stage of the cycle. The hair has been shed or is being shed. It is no longer attached to the papilla and is on its way out (if not already gone). The follicle in telogen phase has entered a resting phase. Laser treatments do not affect follicles in the telogen phase. Unlike the anagen and catagen phases, the telogen phase is fairly unpredictable; it can last from a few days to a few years!
How Does This Affect Our Laser Hair Removal Treatments?
Now you can see why it’s necessary to have a series of laser treatments to remove as many hairs as possible in the treatment area. To be the most effective, the targeted hair needs to be in the anagen phase, which lasts just 2-3 weeks. Other follicles could be resting for months. That’s why people sometimes think a hair follicle damaged by laser energy suddenly starts growing hair again. It probably is simply another hair basically in the same area as the laser-damaged follicle, but this other hair was in telogen phase so that it couldn’t be seen.