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Laser Hair Removal: I Tried It, But Did It Work?

Part 1 of Diary of a Laser Hair Removal Guinea Pig

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Laser epilation of leg
PartidaCorona/Flickr

A little over a month ago, I did it. I made the leap and tried laser hair removal. Before I tell you exactly what happened (trust me, I'd wished someone had told me before I did it), let me first tell you the top 3 reasons I hated every other form of hair removal I'd tried before. Let's start with...

The Top 3 Reasons I Despise Shaving

Reason #1: The smooth results last only an hour. I have sandpaper leg hair, which means within a few hours of shaving, my legs turn into a fine grain. A couple days later and the fine grain has grown coarse.

Reason #2: Wintertime shaving. There's nothing worse than when goosebumps develop in mid-stroke. (I have sworn for years that you can FEEL the hair grow when you get goosebumps).

Reason #3: The rashes and the nicks. It's a rare occasion that I have a rash-free and nickless shaving experience. In fact, I'm certain it's never happened.

After years of shaving I discovered waxing. There were many things about waxing I loved. The results leave you smooth as a baby's butt and last a long time. But here I offer...

Three Reasons I Will Never Wax Again

Reason #1: The pain. Want to know what waxing feels like? Take a 6-inch length of packing tape and apply it to your forearm. Pat it down so every hair is firmly attached. Hold on to one end, take a deep breath and RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!

Reason #2: The growing out period between waxes. For waxing to work, you need longish hair for strips to adhere to. This means if you want to wear skirts outside the house in summer and you're at the point where you're Just About Ready for Wax, you have to endure sandpaper legs.

Reason #3: It's not cheap (about $60 a pop for bikini and legs, at least in NYC).

I should mention there were other reasons I hate waxing including wicked in-grown hairs, an accidental burning that turned into what seems to be a permanent dark spot and having to lay down half-naked several times a year and make small talk with a complete stranger while she rips the hair from my body.

Part II of Diary of a Laser Hair Removal Guinea Pig

And This is What Led Me To Become a Laser Hair Removal Guinea Pig

It for all the reasons listed above that I decided to research what I felt was my very last option for hair removal: laser hair removal. I wanted to know how much it hurt: my body AND my pocketbook. What were the chances the hair would grow back. Would it scar me or cause in-grown hairs and did it matter where I got it done (some places seemed much cheaper than others).

Here are 5 questions I asked and the answers.

How does high-tech hair removal work? There are a couple options, both of which rely on heated lights: Laser beam or intense pulsed light (IPL). Lasers are focused beams, whereas IPL uses interspersed flashes. While one visit will result in a lot of hair removal, it takes about 5 visits each one month apart to kill as much as 70% of the hair. Hair grows in cycles so you want to make sure you get as much of it as possible.

Is everyone a good candidate? Lasers work best on people with pale skin and dark hair (like me!), but these days there are even options for women with dark skin and light hair. Keep in mind dark skin may require 2-3 more sessions.

Are the results guaranteed? It's impossible to predict how successful lasers will work on everyone. Results depend on the quality of the laser, the type of hair you have and the number of procedures you have done. Never trust a company that guarantees hair removal. I suggest you try to a consultation in person before you sign up.

How much does it cost? Depends. Laser hair removal isn't cheap (about $200-$500 a session depending on where you live and the areas being treated. Again, it takes about 6 sessions to get rid of 70% of hair permanently. Touch-ups are always an option at about $100-$150 a session.

What about scarring? When I looked into getting this done for this article, the ex-editor of Glamour told me a 'funny story' about a writer (I think she referred to her as the magazine's 'guinea pig') who got her entire body treated carpe diem. She ended up scarred for life. For this very reason, you want to skip the discount places and get treated by a trained technician at an established medical facility. These places do NOT offer discounts.

What about in-grown hairs? Because lasers kill the follicle, hair won't grow back causing in-grown hairs you get with waxing (waxing damages the follicle, it doesn't always kill it and hair can grow in on itself).

Now that I had all the information I needed, I decided to research facilities. The first place I found (which will remain nameless)offered discounts and when they found out I was a writer, they were eager to help me get rid of hair everywhere for free. Further investigation showed they had unsatisfied customers.

I realized this was a medical procedure, therefore, I needed the very best, so I found out rather quickly that the very best high-tech hair removal place in Manhattan is Completely Bare (212-366-6060). I booked a consultation. Find out what happened in Part II of Diary of a Laser Hair Removal Guinea Pig.

For the complete series, see Diary of a Laser Hair Removal Guinea Pig.

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