I took the plunge into Laser Hair Removal four years ago, when a friend that finished her treatments lifted her arm to show me the smooth softness that lay underneath. This was an underarm that had been to Laserland and come back rejuvenated, hairless and content. I needed to go to there.
As a medium-hairy Russian Jewess, body hair and how to remove it has been a preoccupation of mine since high school. I can't even count the numerous nicks and cuts from shaving endured from dull razors, the painful aftermath of ingrown hairs, the red bumps and the overall itchiness. And how do I ever get past the trauma of having a strange woman pour wax onto my nether regions as I lay, vulnerable in a cold room, legs splayed out in the air, completely at the mercy of her yanking skills. There had to be a better way. And with laser, I was hoping to find it.
Like most people thinking about taking the plunge, I asked myself if would it be worth the price (it's not even that expensive anymore), if it would hurt (sometimes, but not in the way you think), or if it would even work! (On specific body parts, it works wonderfully). Sure laser was permanent, more expensive and potentially dangerous (we've all heard the horror stories of scarring), but was my normal hair removal routine any better? If I never had to walk into another nail salon while a judgmental hairless Asian woman surveyed my bikini line with a sigh and shake of the head, it would be worth it.
Now, several years past that first treatment, I may be a few hundred dollars poorer, but oh so much smoother and so much happier about my body hair -- or lack there of. All my friends that have gotten laser are thrilled with the results, including several men that swear by it (not everyone blessed with a full chest of hair wants that full chest of hair). With affordable salons popping up all over the city, this once costly option is now barely more expensive than a high-end waxing salon. So, for those of you thinking of joining me in Laserland, read on for helpful tips for embarking on your own laser journey.
• Laser hair removal works best on light skin and dark hair. I swear by the Candela laser, but there are many other brands, including newer ones for dark skin and dark hair, like the Yag laser.
• Can I get it -- anywhere...? Almost. As far as I know, eyebrows or any other hair near your eyes is a no go, but the rest of your bodacious wonderland is fair game. This includes Brazilian, that pesky nipple hair and even the anus (which surprisingly didn't even hurt) TMI? This is a post about removing body hair, so, yeah.
• How much is this going to cost me? I've found amazing Groupon deals ranging from $99 - $300 for six sessions on a medium to large area. Buying in bulk will serve you best, as a la carte options range from $50 a session (underarms) to $300 (Brazilian) -- Yikes! However, with salons popping up everywhere and a deal to be had on numerous discount sites, I really see no reason to pay full price. Just commit and buy a package already - if you end up backing out, gift it to your best friend -- s/he will thank you.
• You will need to shave the area you want lasered a day or two before your appointment. So if you are going Brazilian down there, get cracking and don't forget your, um -- crack. Some places charge a fee for shaving you -- yes, I did just write those words. Wouldn't you prefer to just shave yourself -- it will be one of the last times you will ever have to again!
• Pain factor I found the first four or five sessions to be quite manageable. However, waiting too long between subsequent sessions increases the pain tenfold, so stick to the schedule discussed with your technician (usually 6 weeks between treatments).
• How does it feel? I can only describe it as a rubber band snapping followed by a cooling sensation. Plus, they give you orange tinted safety goggles to wear while you're being zapped, making it easier to go to your happy place where pain does not exist. More intimate areas hurt more. If you really can't handle the pain, most places offer numbing lotion you can put on beforehand, but it costs a pretty penny.
• Can I go during my lunch break? A laser treatment is surprisingly quick, depending on your technician's style and how many breaks you need due to how painful you find it. I've been in and out in under three minutes, while Brazilian can take about ten - fifteen. Each zap kills a hair in a second and no area is zapped twice, so even if it hurts, the laser quickly moves on to a new place.
• Results Will Vary. I've gotten my bikini line, underarms, arms and legs lasered to varying results. I'm told laser treatment is most effective on very dark, coarse hair. I have had less successful results on my arms (too light and thin) and medium results on my legs (it grows in patches). However, my underarms and bikini results are a godsend and it is amazing to throw on a bathing suit, wear a tank top or change in a public area without having to worry about any hairy surprises.
• Tanning & Laser Don't do it at least four weeks before and two weeks after a treatment. I recommend starting treatments in the fall, as it will take about a year to get the recommended 6-10 sessions in before you want to be on the beach with the new, smoother you.
Make sure you read the reviews of the salon you choose to frequent -- you definitely want a place with licensed technicians that know what they are doing. In New York City, I can personally vouch for Pulse Laser and Satori Laser salon, two clean places with pleasant and qualified technicians that often run great promotions.
I wish you luck on your laser journey -- should you decide to take it (which, if you haven't already garnered from this post, I highly recommend you do). Because unlike that N'SYNC tattoo you got when you were in high school, the permanent results from laser hair removal are something you will never regret.