Fed up of waxing? Epilating? Shaving? Me, the heck, too. I have waxed for years and years, and genuinely like the results, but hate the in-between time and the cost. Like a lot of you, I have spent considerable time debating laser hair removal (LHR) to rid myself of unwanted hair, and to be a smooth hair-free goddess (not that there is anything wrong with body hair, it’s a personal decision). I made a somewhat spur of the moment decision in January to go and get a free consultation – it’s no obligation and you can ask questions. I did some research online and decided on a consultation at Pulse Light Clinic in London (the Bank branch as it was nearest me).
At this stage I hadn’t decided if I actually wanted to go through with the treatment, but I was intrigued and wanted to know more. I called up, and they fit me in a couple of days later for a consultation. The consultation was quick but thorough. The nice lady managed my expectations, told me to expect a 60-80% reduction in growth and gave a few more disclaimers because I am severely hypothyroid and have had PCOS before (medication has put my hormones back in range so I don’t suffer many symptoms). I was initially convinced I wanted my whole body done (being Asian and all, my hair is dark and, in my opinion, visible). However, she was very honest and said there was no point and that most of the hair is too fine to be picked up by the laser. You can get it done, but you’ll need double the sessions (up to 24) for the laser to convert the vellus (thin, baby hair) into terminal hair that’s thick enough to zap. Essentially, it makes you hairier so it would get worse before it gets better. Take this into consideration if you think you’re super hairy! These clinics have seen SUPER hairy and honestly, you’re most likely not fluffy enough for full body laser. All this considered, she said I’d get a good result and was an ideal candidate – I decided on only treating the areas I usually get waxed. I quickly found myself agreeing a package service of 8 sessions and found myself under the knife laser a week later.
Another nice lady who treats me begins by telling me what to expect, and drawing lines on my skin, so she could methodologically track where she needs to laser. I suppose I kind of guessed what to expect in terms of pain, having had all the areas to be treated zapped once during the consultation as part of a patch test, but I was wrong. I expected mild discomfort throughout the procedure but was instead greeted with a complete mix. I’ll summarise; bikini and bony areas such as calves and ankles HURT LIKE HELL. But everything else is completely fine. Boy, oh boy, was I not prepared for how much it would hurt! The pain in those areas is worse than a wax, and it hurts a bit like a strong electric shock or bee sting might. The common “elastic band” comparison is true for some parts, but in others it’s more like a million hot needles poking you. It made me flinch, a lot. There was a little cool air blaster that kiiiind of helped and is supposedly much better than the old school gel they put all over you in older lasers. My technician lady actually started laughing at how much I was wriggling around! FYI – I have a pretty high pain tolerance.
The session is over in an hour, and I’m feeling prettyyyyy red raw. She smooths aloe vera gel over the redness and I proceed to walk 25 minutes to get home. I am told that this is fine, but to avoid exercise, hot showers or saunas etc for the next day or so. Avoiding exercise is my favourite thing to do, so I don’t mind. Over the next few days, my legs calm down in sensitivity and I can’t notice that much of a difference. I suppose it is only session 1/8. A few weeks later, my hair starts shedding – this is genuinely such a weird phenomenon. A lot of it falls out, and then I just shave the rest. I have been pretty much hair-free since it started falling out – not many signs of regrowth yet! My skin is MUCH more sensitive though and gets super itchy at the slightest hint of irritation. This is mainly confined to the lower legs. V uncomfortable but aloe vera helps.
I will update this blog post with my results, which I expect to become really visible after about session 3 or 4. That will be in around 6 months time, as I am being treated every 6 weeks. During, and before your first treatment, you have to abandon all other methods of hair removal and start shaving. Absolutely DO NOT wax/pluck/epilate the areas as this removes the follicle which needs to be targeted by the laser in order for it not to grow back. If you do remove hair this way, you are wasting money and slowing your journey down. ALSO, importantly, you can’t plan any holidays during your treatment time. This can be up to a year so just make sure you’re ready to stay pale.
As it is hair “reduction” not removal, you will still get the odd hairs even after all the treatments are over. So, you shouldn’t really wax or anything ever again in these areas as you may stimulate the follicle to grow back thicker and darker as after laser it will be super fine and supposedly unnoticeable. Have I just committed to a lifetime of sporadic shaving? Only time will tell if it works! I’m hopeful, and so was my technician. Goodbye strip (and hot) wax forever guys.
All the above considered, here’s a few things to bear in mind if you’re considering LHR:
- Don’t let them promise you the world – it’s not going to magically remove every hair on your body.
- Avoid Groupon – DO NOT seek cheap deals for laser. The side effects of poor treatment are NOT worth it – second and third degree burns on your face/body are much harder to treat than excess hair, and will cost you more long-term than you would save short-term.
- Go to a specialist laser clinic, not a medi-spa (such as Sk:n clinic) – have heard multiple bad experiences from people about sk:n clinic – can’t comment on it as I didn’t go there but it factored in to my decision so made sense to include this info here as well.
- If you’re medium-dark skintone, you need the Nd:YAG laser (or Soprano Ice which is a bit harder to find in the UK).
- The candela gentlemax pro (the laser used on me) is a mix of two lasers: Alexandrite (the strongest, works best on pale skin) and Nd:YAG laser (still pretty strong, massively reduces the risk of burns in people of colour by targeting the melanin in the follicle, not surrounding skin). The combination of the two yields an effective laser, that is safe for all skin tones. They will change the settings depending on the area treated.
- Buy a good sun screen – spf 50 is recommended (wear every day on your face if getting it treated).
I’ll let you all know how it goes!