Burns – Why They Happen With Laser and How to Avoid Them

When something goes wrong.

Now, if you walk into an OMI clinic and receive laser hair-removal treatment, everything should be fine. All the safety protocols will be followed and a safe treatment regimen will result. So, you might not receive treatment at OMI, and you might suffer a skin reaction or injury as a result of improper laser treatment. Let’s review some of those possibilities presently.

Dark makeup – laser light is attracted to dark colours. So, if there is a failure to thoroughly remove dark makeup before treatment, the laser will target the skin surface instead of the hair follicle, resulting in overtreatment or burning. 

If this occurs, the technologist should take a photo of the area and apply a cold compress immediately for a few minutes off and on, and then apply an antibiotic cream or ointment, to prevent infection. Afterwards, a client should apply 100-percent vitamin E to the affected skin, which should return to normal within a few weeks. If not, then a doctor should be consulted. 

Tattoo – The dark permanent ink of tattoos essentially has the same effect on laser as dark makeup. However, since you can’t remove a tattoo, a hair-removal technician should not go anywhere near one with a laser. Nevertheless, mistakes happen. In the case of accidentally hitting a tattoo with a laser, the client will feel intense pain and a blister can appear almost immediately.


If this happens, the same procedures used with dark makeup should be used: photo, cold compress, antibiotic cream, vitamin E, etc. However, in addition, a laser will actually remove tattoo ink from the skin, so clients are certainly within their rights to expect the clinic to pay for having the tattoo redone once the skin has healed. At OMI, technicians will place white sticky tape around tattoos in order to avoid accidental targeting. 

Pimples and pustules – Just as with dark makeup and tattoos, pimples and pustules (layers of skin filled with pus) must not be treated with laser. As with all hair-removal cases, the skin should be assessed before treatment to avoid targeting these no-go areas, and if mistakes happen, then the same post-burn procedures explained above should be used. The deeper the pimples and pustules are, the more moisture they will contain — therefore causing more severe burns if affected by laser. 

Dark moles and freckles – Moles can be treated with laser, but a client must bring a doctor’s note giving the okay. The technician must adjust the settings to treat the mole as though it was darker skin. Freckles can also be treated for hair removal, but the skin may appear darker afterwards, and some freckles might disappear. The client should be made aware of these possible effects. 

Tanned skin – The trick with treating tanned skin with laser is that the tan fades with time, so the laser setting should be adjusted accordingly. Nevertheless, some clinics might forget to do so, which will result in overtreatment, burning and the need for the after-burning procedures outlined above. However, although tans do require skin-type settings adjustments, the hair-texture settings can remain the same throughout treatment. Only a 1064 yag laser is safe to treat tanned skin.

Sunburns – Sunburns must never be treated with a laser. Talk about adding fuel to the fire, so to speak. 

Perfume, deodorant and hairspray – These types of products contain alcohol, which, if left on the skin, can literally catch fire during laser treatment. So, a technologist must always ask about these types of products before treatment. 

Hair not shaved close to the skin – When dark hair is still present on the skin during treatment it essentially distracts the laser and attracts its focus, which can result in burning or, at the very least, a good degree of sensitivity. That’s why technicians must always have disposable razors on hand to ensure a close shave before treatment. If a client can’t reach an area themselves, then someone else can shave the area the night before a session. 

Razor burn before treatment – Any razor burn as a result of shaving just prior to treatment will leave redness and irritation on the skin that could result in some burning from the laser beam. That’s why it’s advisable to shave the night before, or to shave very carefully if done just before a session.

Failure to change settings for bikini lines – The skin colour of pubic areas for both men and women is often much darker (two to three skin classifications higher) than adjacent areas. As a result, a technician must use lower settings in pubic areas. Otherwise, very uncomfortable skin burning could occur.


First you can tell that true laser was not used and secondly the operator is not trained properly as the pulse spots do not connect both horizontally or vertically.

Treating the same area with laser twice – With some laser equipment, treating the same area twice is fine (i.e. Elos). With other types of laser, not so much, which is why it’s always advisable for technologists to simply avoid this type of double treatment.

Treating the same area twice could lead to a type of burning that resembles sunburn. 

When medication induces photosensitivity – Hair-removal technicians must always ask their clients if they’re taking any medication, and clients should always ask pharmacists if a prescription medication induces photosensitivity. If it does, and laser treatment is performed then the skin could burn. 

Moisturizer, or oily skin – Any excess moisture or oils on the skin, including any present from the use of a moisturizer, will result in the laser producing extra heat on the skin’s surface, which can result in a burning sensation. If this is felt during treatment, the technologist must stop. Always cleanse the area prior to treatment but avoid using alcohol.

These are just a few situations to be aware of. When hesitant, never treat, always search out a second opinion.


SMILE and pass it forward (:


Author, The Life & Death of a Hair A Complete Guide to 100% Permanent Hair Removal

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