I've always been envious of women who can go a week or two without shaving. I've also always been jealous of ladies who can get a super close shave every single time. And I salute those who prefer to go au naturel.
But my reality is a little different. My coarse, dark hair requires that I tend to it multiple times a week and somehow, no matter what I do, my skin is never completely smooth afterward. Though shaving my legs is a real nuisance, shaving my armpits really plagues me.
I've tried Nair (too messy) and waxing (holy hell that hurts). But a few months ago my shaving routine started leaving me with bumps and ingrown hairs and I just about lost it. It was time to try laser.
I had contemplated using the method in the past but was deterred by the treatment's steep prices and the potential for scarring. But since I started the process nearly two months ago, I've been surprised by just how well it works for my skin. After my first treatment, I could go one week without shaving (as opposed to two days) and after my second treatment, I could make it two weeks razor-free. TWO. WEEKS.
Let me break down the process. Each treatment needs to to occur between four to six weeks apart, and six to eight sessions are typically required to rid about 80 percent or more of hair. The results depend on a variety of factors: age, skin color, hair color and even genetics. While some may be hair-free forever following eight laser treatments, others may need to visit the salon every few years for touch-ups to ensure that those pesky hairs are kept at bay.
But let me tell you about my experience. The first time I arrived at Lasertouch in New York City, I filled out an extremely detailed questionnaire about my medical history to ensure I was a good candidate. It's interesting to note that when laser hair removal first came on the scene, candidates needed to have very light skin -- so my dark hair and olive skin would have most likely disqualified me. But today, thanks to the evolution of technology, all skin tones can be treated with terrific results.
My first treatment was relatively painless. The laser felt like someone was snapping an elastic band against my skin, and I was told that the sensation I felt was the laser shooting beams of highly concentrated light into my hair follicles. The beams kill the follicles, thus destroying the hair. After my short 10-minute treatment, I left with armpits full of aloe vera and a slight burning in my armpit region. But I had no scarring, no redness and no bumps. I was given strict instructions to avoid exercise for 24 hours afterward (perspiration from exertion may increase irritation caused by the laser), and I was also told to avoid sun exposure. Given that it was still cold outside and I hate the gym, this wasn't an issue.
Most laser treatment locations will offer a free consultation and give prospective customers a complimentary test patch to make sure their skin does not react to the laser. But the cost is steep at roughly $145 per session. It's important to weigh many factors when deciding to get laser hair removal, including the amount spent on a lifetime supply of razors, blades and waxing. But for many, the short-term cost outweighs the benefits of finding a long-term solution.
And come on -- the prospect of never, ever shaving your armpits again? Tell me you're not smiling.
*LaserTouch Aesthetics in New York City provided these services for review purposes.