Every winter I get this email from my fabulous waxer Carmie:
“If you start laser now, you’ll have a perfect bikini line for the summer!”
The owner of Santa Fey Bodyworks and Spa, she has the kind of personality that just wants the best for her clients. And knowing how much I hate body hair, she would regularly tell me that I’d benefit greatly from laser hair removal. For years, Carmie has been trying to convince me to go under the laser wand and zap those hair follicles to death. And, for years, I’ve been claiming high prices, low pain tolerance and general no time nonsense as to why I haven’t taken up her offer.
Until three months ago when I finally broke and made an appointment for my first laser treatment. As brave and badass and it made me feel, there was no way I was zapping my va-jay-jay right off the bat. Instead, I told Carmie that we’d be starting slowly with my underarms.
Using a specific wavelength of heat and pulsing light, the handheld wand targets the tissue it’s getting rid of without damaging the surrounding tissue. The lasers localize the heat by targeting ‘dark matter’ (aka the hair follicle) while leaving the surrounding skin alone. It burns the hair at its root leaving it dead and unable to produce growth for the forseeable future. It’s quick, painless (cough, cough) and lasts you a lifetime.
Let’s break it down together.
First of all, laser hair removal is an investment. I’ve met women who have spent close to ten thousand dollars to rid themselves of every errant hair on their body. Prices can range from $30-$150 per treatment and depending on which body part you’ve chosen to do. Treatments take place once a month for three to eight months, coinciding with your hair growth cycle and usually last under 30 minutes.
It’s important to note that not everyone qualifies for laser hair removal. In fact, this is one time when it really pays off to be a brunette and not a blonde. Since the light is attracted to and absorbed by dark matter, we gals with dark hair reap the greatest benefits from the process. The treatment won’t work as well for naturally light haired individuals and will leave them with the peach fuzz they walked in with.
The thing everyone asks me the moment I tell them I’ve been allowing a woman to shoot my armpits with lasers is “How painful is it?” And the truthful answer is: not unbearably so. Is it painful? Yes. Has it caused me to reach out and smack away the cause of my pain? Well…almost. But I wasn’t prepared that time.
The pain you feel from the laser, I think, is best described as feeling like you’ve been snapped with a heated elastic band (and lucky for you boys out there, they offer laser for the scrotum too). It’s quick, it’s hot and it stings like a bitch. I’m told the wand shoots out heat and cool air simultaneously to ease the pain but the heat is always felt first and foremost. In addition to the pain, the burning follicles emit a smell that kind of reminded me of burning glue. Not pleasant. The first visit ends with the area you lasered being covered in burnt dots of hair that will fall off in a matter of days.
Once the process is over the area is covered in a God-sent cooling cream and will be red and look like a sunburn for a few hours. The area is at its most sensitive at this point and it’s best not to subject it to direct sunlight or it could suffer a serious burn.
Let’s recap: costly, time consuming and slightly painful. But the benefits? I haven’t shaved since May 4th. Smooth as a baby.
Need I say more?
Bianca Teixeira writes about style for Toronto Standard. Follow her on Twitter at @BeeLauraTee.