The physical basis for optimization of wavelength, pulse duration, and cooling for laser-induced selective photothermolysis of hair follicles in human skin is discussed. The results indicate that the most important optimization parameter is the cooling efficiency of the technique utilized for epidermal protection. The optical penetration is approximately the same for lasers at 694, 755, and 800 nm. The penetration of radiation from Nd:yttrium–aluminum–garnet lasers at 1064 nm is, however, somewhat larger. Photothermal damage to the follicle is shown to be almost independent of laser pulse duration up to 100 ms. The results reveal that epidermal cooling by a 30–80-ms-long cryogen spurt immediately before laser exposure is the only efficient technique for laser pulse durations less than 10 ms. For longer pulse durations in the 30–100 ms range, protection can be done efficiently by skin cooling during laser exposure. For laser pulses of 100 ms, an extended precooling period, e.g., by bringing a cold object into good thermal contact with the skin for about 1 s, can be of value. Thermal quenching of laser induced epidermal temperature rise after pulsed exposure can most efficiently be done with a 20 ms cryogen spurt applied immediately after irradiation.