“I really enjoy hair removal,” said no one – ever.
- Maybe some people derive questionable satisfaction from the process of certain hair removal processes (i.e., maybe its fun for some to look at the contents of a spent wax strip like it is a pore strip [which you don’t. freaking. need.]). But if that’s you, it isn’t because removing hair is fun, its because of the fascination.
- Not here telling people they need to remove hair if they don’t want to. What you do isn’t my business. I, however, choose to because I feel more physically comfortable that way, all else be damned.
A few years ago, I purchased a Silkn Flash n Go Freedom home-use IPL hair reduction light. After some consistent use on underarms and bikini for a while, although there was a reduction, I didn’t see the level of results I wanted as fast as I wanted. As a result, my adoption and consistency-of-use plummeted. I still have it, it still works. I’m toying with the idea of using it on my legs; shaving my legs doesn’t annoy me nearly as much as underarms and bikini, so if it doesn’t yield the results I hope for, it won’t be upsetting.
I spent over a year as a client of European Wax Center. I liked it at first, but ultimately broke up with EWC.
What I Got
For my birthday this year, I decided to treat myself to the real deal and get legit laser hair removal. At a med spa. By a professional. With badass professional equipment.
I opted for both underarms and brazilian treatment because I hate dealing with those the most. Legs aren’t as annoying.
I’m comfortable divulging and will if there is interest – but it varies so much depending on:
- The market (area) you live in/COL
- Spa (because overhead varies)
- Market saturation
- Number of Treatments*
- Other Value-Adds
For me, buying a round of six treatments (which is the typically-stated average it takes to do the job) entitles me to endless touchups/revisits for the next two years. Six treatments was not enough to obliterate everything in my treatment areas, so – good thing my med-spa offers that program.
It’s also worth noting that most providers are calling this a laser hair reduction or permanent hair reduction now rather than removal. There is a chance that over time some growth could return, so it’s a legal/CYA thing.
What’s Laser Hair Removal Like?
Let’s break it down.
You need to stop waxing and epilating prior to treatment; your provider will advise how far in advance they recommend. Show up to appointments with the treatment areas shaved; some providers will shave the treatment areas for you – mine will for a fee – but that strikes me as odd and unnecessary so… nope!
Make sure to avoid any product on the treatment areas – no deodorant or antiperspirant, lotions, creams, etc. You should also not be tanning these areas in any way – whether via UV sources (which you shouldn’t, anyway) or sunless tanning – because additional melanin could interfere with treatment.
This process was a little more, “civilized,” than my experience than the get-you-in, get-you-out rush of EWC. Instead of, “expose yourself, get on the table,” my technician brought me to the treatment room and then left so I could appropriately disrobe. I was left with a medical drape to cover the treatment areas for modesty’s sake; only what was immediately being treated was left uncovered at any given time, and was strategically re-covered in part when another part of the treatment area was advanced to. I’ll be frank – it doesn’t bother me. Between an annual and waxing, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable for a medical or quasi-medical entity to see. That said, I get that not everyone is a largely-shameless sociopath where these things are concerned, and I appreciate my provider’s sensitivity to this.
The treatment room is clinically appointed with medical grade equipment including the treatment chair – which, while NOT a dentist’s chair, kind of reminded me of one. Sometimes, the laser unit (a Lumenis LightSheer Diode Laser, if you are also of the nerdy persusasion) needed to be powered on and there was a brief wait before treatment could begin; sometimes it was good to go. I don’t know how common it is, but the tip of the laser (the part that actually contacts your skin) is cooled.
There’s a series of electronic controls on it that the technician uses to configure settings for your treatment. The first time, they typically use a low setting to make sure you don’t have a negative response or reaction to treatment.
I’ve never been there longer than fifteen minutes – and that includes doing both treatment areas. It is ridiculously efficient. It is no longer than a waxing appointment – and in some cases, it was less time if I had to wait for the esthetician to finish up with someone else first. As a professional in a corporate environment, I could easily do this during my lunch break if I wanted.
The first treatment was nothing – I barely felt anything, and frankly it led me to question whether it was working. I don’t subscribe to no pain = no gain where beauty is concerned, but it is reasonable to expect some discomfort when you consider how laser hair removal works.
Over the next couple sessions, they cranked up the settings. By the third one, they got a bit stingy. Previously, I’ve seen the sensation described as the snapping of a rubber band against the area the laser zaps*. This was not my experience. On the highest-potency setting in areas with high follicle density, it felt like a swift – and, sorry, if this jars you – puncture of a needle. Not a big, scary one. I’m talking flu shot, not rabies or even tetanus.
There is no ache; as quickly as it strikes, it fades. I experienced some light redness (erythema) in the treatment areas, but not every time and when I did, it subsided within thirty minutes.
* It does not really zap you. Or even make a zap sound. Just a sedate click.
Laser Hair Removal Effects
Over the next several days after a laser hair removal appointment, you will experience what appears like continued growth from all follicles. Don’t fret – even if you shaved, there is still a hair shaft underneath the surface of your skin which must be expelled. Also, because hair grows in cycles, not every follicle will be addressed in a single go (which is why you need multiple treatments).
If you want to verify that it is working, grab a pair of tweezers and gently grab an expelling strand. Don’t pull as if to pluck; you don’t want to remove a hair that isn’t ready to come out. Some of the hairs will, though – after 4 days or so they will simply slide out with virtually no effort, no tugging, and no discomfort. These ones won’t grow further – which is great! If you try a strand and meet resistance, let it go; it isn’t ready yet and will be addressed with a future treatment.
After my first treatment, although there was some reduction, it was minor – but that can be partially attributed to the low setting. After my second one, though, I started really seeing reduction. By the fifth, both treatment regions are drastically reduced – while I will need more than six, it’s already so much nicer to contend with shaving what little remains.
The Bottom Line
I am really, really pleased with my decision to get professional laser hair removal. I feel more comfortable. I’m experiencing fewer ingrown hairs (thank heavens), I’m spending less time on grooming activities, and I love it. It is not an inexpensive treatment, but considering:
- Waxing costs hundreds of dollars a year plus ongoing, annoying appointments and higher risk of ingrowns
- Razors are expensive – even though I really enjoy Billie as an option, I find I don’t care for it for bikini-area purposes in spite of their marketing promises – and shaving and regrowth sucks
–I imagine I’m probably going to break even in the long run. I also place a certain value on my time, on convenience, and on the absence of uncomfortable regrowth or ingrowns.
If I rewound the clock and had to decide to do it over again, I would.