So I’ve started laser hair removal as a way to deal with my pesky body hair. As an Indian girl, I’m more than familiar with the usual brown girl struggles – one of which is hair. I’m not talking head hair here, which is actually one of the benefits of being Indian! My head hair is long, thick, dark and wavy. But if this triggers any hair envy, beware, for being Indian also means dealing with dark hair every where else!
Up until now I’ve been shaving. I’ve occasionally dipped into waxing, but I find shaving much easier and quicker. But laser hair removal appeals to the lazy girl in me. I don’t want to spend time dealing with being fluffy on a daily basis, so I’ve started laser hair removal which offers permanent reduction of hair. And I’ve decided to go for the whole shebang and opt for full body laser hair removal. If you’d be interested in knowing about my personal experience so far, I’d be happy to write an FAQ in another post, just leave any questions or comments below. But having survived my first two sessions, I wanted to share 6 things you must consider before starting laser hair removal.
1. The cost
OK, so this one is a bit of a no brainer, but as you might of guessed, laser hair removal isn’t cheap. There are deals out there on things like Groupon, but remember you’re zapping your skin with a laser here, so it’s probably best to choose a clinic based on reputation and reviews, as opposed the cheapest prices.
I mentioned above that I opted for full body laser hair removal, which includes hair removal everywhere (excluding the eyebrow area). And this endeavour has set me back £2,225 – which is a hefty sum of money to be fluff free. But I’ve decided to minimise the financial pain by opting for a 0% financing option at my clinic. If you are considering laser hair removal, but are worried about the costs, opting for a 0% finance option is a perfect way to not only pay for your sessions, but build up your credit score by making monthly repayments on time. Of course, if you opt for more specific treatment areas rather than your full body, this will be cheaper.
2. The necessity of good research
This one is also a no brainer, but it is so important to do your research because laser hair removal might not actually be the best option for you. Laser hair removal doesn’t work on fair (blonde, grey or white) hair, because the laser needs to target the pigment in the hair to be effective. Laser hair removal is most effective where there is strong contrast between the hair and skin. So basically, if you’ve got fair skin and dark hair, you’re the ideal candidate!
But if you’re like me, an Indian girl with brown skin and dark hair, you might be thinking, well where does that leave me? And this is where the importance of doing good research comes into play. There is a specific type of laser suited to darker skin, darker hair combinations and that is the long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser. This laser is able to effectively target the pigment in your hair, as opposed to the pigment in your skin.
When you’re looking into clinics, make sure they cater for your skin and hair combination. If you’re darker skinned, I would recommend selecting a clinic that has a good reputation for treating darker skin tones, because let me tell you, this is not something you want to gamble on. Which brings me onto point three.
3. The risks
Unsurprisingly there are risks involved with laser hair removal. Any reputable clinic will require you to have a patch test before booking sessions, where they should also discuss any risks with you in person. There are serious risks, for example burns and changes in skin tone, but if you’ve done your research and opted for the right clinic, you’re minimising the risks associated with technician error.
However, how your body responds is out of your control. But again, good research is handy here, especially if you’re considering laser hair removal on your face. Now there is one major risk with facial laser hair removal, you might actually end up stimulating hair growth! Yup, you go for laser to remove your facial fluff, only to end up more fluffy than before – deep shit right there. Laser works best on dark, coarse hair. If like me, you have a bit of fluff on your face, but it’s basically a darker version of peach fuzz, you might want to think twice about laser here. This is especially true if you suspect your facial hair growth might be related to your hormones, for example if you have PCOS.
After much deliberation and consultation with my technician, I’ve decided to go ahead with lasering my upper lip and the fluff by my ears (but not my cheeks) in my next session. The hair in these areas is a bit darker and thicker than my cheeks (where the hair is very fine), so less likely to be overstimulated. If you want to know how it goes, leave a comment below and I’ll follow up in another post.
Overall, I think the most important thing here is to follow the advice of your laser hair removal technician. They are experienced and know their stuff. For example, when is comes to this type of defluffing, staying out of the sun is crucial. If you don’t follow the advice of your technician, you run risks such as hyper pigmentation and scaring. So if you’re a sun worshipper, you might want to think twice before being zapped.
4. Your expectations
Laser hair removal, funnily enough isn’t technically the right name – it should really be called laser hair reduction. This treatment offers permanent reduction of your hair. My technician advised that if you’re consistent with sessions and follow advice, you’re looking at around 80% reduction in hair. Which I’d happily take over my current fluff situation. If you’re thinking, I’ll go for two sessions and then I’ll be fluff free for life, you’ve got the wrong expectations.
And it’s also important to know what to expect after your session. Post session, you might be disheartened when you see hair growth – don’t be. After each session, the hair which has been successfully treated will look like it’s growing, but really it’s just being pushed out of the skin. So basically, you’ll find little hairs dropping out up to two weeks later. I’d recommend buying an exfoliating mit to encourage the hairs to leave the skin. And let me tell you, I’ve found nothing more satisfying than seeing those little hairs on my exfoliating mits.
5. The commitment
Laser hair removal is a big commitment, if you want the most effective results anyway. Clinics will usually recommend 6 – 8 sessions. But of course, everyone is different so you might require more or less. And you’ll also be advised to get maintenance sessions every so often once you’ve completed your initial set of sessions.
I’ve bought a package of 8 sessions, one every six weeks. You might be thinking, that’s not too bad commitment wise, and in all honesty it isn’t. When I weigh it up long-term, this commitment seems much better than my pre-laser days. But there are a few other things you need to bear in mind. Before each treatment you’ll need to shave the treatment area and you must avoid the sun, which isn’t really too much of a problem in England. And if you’re like me and actually prefer cold weather, you’ll be absolutely fine with this commitment. But missing sessions or not completing the full set of recommended sessions is likely to hamper the success of your hair removal.
6. The pain
OK so nothing can really help you gauge this until you’re actually undergoing your first session. But it’s important to consider, because if you’ve done research, you’ve probably read people say ‘it just feels like an elastic band snapping on your skin’. This wasn’t the case for me – it felt like way more than that! But again, each person is different.
For me, underarms was the most painful area, followed by my bikini. And generally anywhere more boney, so for example near the shin. But this will be unique to each person. In my most recent session I took paracetamol with codeine half an hour beforehand and it made the world of difference! But be prepared, because it might be more (or hopefully less) painful than you think.
If you have any questions about my experience, please feel free to comment below as I’d be happy to do an FAQ or post regular updates on how my sessions are going. I know before I started laser hair removal, I was doing a lot of research so if you think it might be useful, do let me know.