After a 7 month hiatus from laser hair removal, which had nothing to do with my feelings regarding hair removal, and everything to do with My Innate Laziness, I got myself back to Completely Bare for my fourth bout of bikini removal and my second try at the legs.
Why I Opted for Laser Hair RemovalAs I reported in parts 1-3 of my on-going Diary of a Laser Hair Removal Guinea Pig, I opted to try laser hair removal after 20-plus years of suffering from Sandpaper Legs, an inherited trait (thanks Mom!). The hair on my legs grew in so fast and so coarse that a couple hours after shaving, my legs were a fine sandpaper grade. Twenty-four hours later, they were of medium grade. Three days after shaving (and no moisturizer as again, I suffer from Innate Laziness), my legs alone could refinish an 80-year-old piesafe.
Luckily I am the perfect candidate for laser hair removal because I have dark hair and light skin. So far into my experiment I've been very happy with the results. I have to shave my legs about once a week, this after only one session on my legs. With five more to go, I'm confident that I'll be practically hairless by summer. My bikini area is in great shape. Two more sessions and I'll be done just in time for a spa vacation in Mexico. Yes!
What I Learned on My Next Visit to Completely BareOn my fourth visit to Completely Bare, I forgot to take Advil. After my session I joked with the receptionist that the little bowl of purple M&Ms in the Completely Bare waiting area should be filled instead with ibuprofen tablets. I will never again forget to take Advil.
Because Michelle has to do both my legs and my bikini, the process is time-consuming and stretches over two hours. I start on my back, shift to my side and then flop on my belly which is The Position I Loathe Most because I'm made to feel like a beached whale in the little paper thong they give you.
It's because of this that I highly recommend sticking with the same aesthetician for your course of treatments, unless you are a supermodel or suspect you should be. (I am 99 percent certain I passed a supermodel on the stairs up to Completely Bare which is known for its fabulous clientele). For those of use not in Thong Shape, most salons provide towels that can be used to cover your bum when lying on your stomach.
Back to the pain. Michelle uses a wand that reminds me of a printer attachment, the half-inch by three-inch number that you attach to your computer. This wand zaps the hair and while every zap feels like a rubber band pop, every third or so pop feels as if Michelle really stretched the rubber band back before letting go. The nerve under my skin twitches with pain. But it subsides right away and I brace myself for the next zap which usually isn't painful. I also find different parts of my body hurt more than others. Most painful: lower legs. Least painful: thighs. Again, I strongly advise taking a couple ibuprofen an hour before your session. Others recommend numbing skin twenty minutes before your session with a spray or cream that contains four percent lidocaine. InStyle magazine recommends Gigi's Anesthetic Numbing Spray.
It takes ten to fourteen days for the hair to fall out. This is the part of the process I find most satisfying. On day ten, you can actually pull on your leg hairs and watch as they come out with hardly any effort. I find exfoliating in the shower with a sugar scrub helps speed along the process.
An Update One Month After My VisitOne month later and I shave my legs once every couple weeks at the most. Michelle must have missed an-inch wide by six inches long part of my right lower leg because that is virtually the only spot where hair never fell out. This proves to me the process is working because that is the only part of my body where I still have any significant hair growth. My bikini area only needs a couple more sessions and I'm done. Readers write in asking if I would do it again. Yes, I answer. Absolutely.
Is it for you? It depends if you're a good candidate. If you have blonde hair or dark skin, I would suggest trying waxing first. A new device, Aurora by Syneron, uses both intense pulsed light and radio frequency to treat women with blonde or gray hair. However, I've read this new machine is only about fifty percent as effective as other lasers. If you have dark or very tan skin, you should ask for the ND Yag laser, according to Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, in the July, 2004, issue of InStyle magazine. (Woolery-Lloyd is the director of ethnic skin at the University of Miami).
Keep in mind that laser hair removal is very expensive and results are not guaranteed. The six-course procedure for my legs was about $5,000 not including tax and tip. Ouch. Best results are an eighty percent decrease in hair growth. Waxing is much cheaper and you'll likely notice a fifty percent decrease in the amount of hair over time.
Read the complete series of diary entries Diary of a Laser Hair Removal Guinea Pig.
Editor's note: The bikini procedure underwent at Completely Bare was done free of charge. The writer paid for her leg treatments.
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