Right, here it is the long waited post on my own personal journey with laser hair removal. No better start than the beginning, so I shall go through all the hair removal method’s I have tried and tested, and explain how I’ve ended up at laser hair removal.
From a young age, I was constantly told to never ever shave. So initially during my early teenage years what I first resorted to was wax – hot wax – that too unaided. It was a very messy experience, with strings of wax everywhere. But it wasn’t the messiness that was the worst part, it was actually mustering the courage to pull the wax off. Subconsciously, if your body knows you’re going to inflict pain onto it, your mind will tell you not to pull that wax off. I think I managed a quarter or half of one leg, and left strings of wax everywhere, it was a fail.
So that was my end of my using hot wax on my own, and I went to using hair removal cream. No denying it did the job, but I hated the smell and the regrowth as well. I did not like stubble. Plus you had to ensure you applied enough of the cream for hair to dissolve, not something I would recommend for those who have sensitive skin. I also found this a messy form of hair removal, a shower afterwards is a must just to make sure all of the cream and residue has completely gone. In fact, I’m sure one brand has designed a cream to use specifically in the shower in order to overcome this.
For larger parts of the body, arms and legs and what not – cold wax strips have been amazing. Wax on. Wax off. Hair off. Cold wax isn’t as effective as warm wax and there are times where you might have to re-go over a patch and the next thing you know, you’ve also waxed off the upper layers of your skin and now you have a wax burn. Not fun. But wax strips themselves aren’t that expensive, and you can reuse a wax strip until it can’t stick onto and remove anymore hair. Again, you have to be prepared to pull that wax strip off, and that does require courage. If you’re someone who needs to talk themselves into pulling that strip – this could end up being very time consuming.
Bleaching is not a form of hair removal in itself, but it can be used to reduce the appearance of hairs. It is something that is do-able yourself and quite quick and fairly cheap, but the downside is that is does smell. Again, if you do have sensitive skin this may not be the best treatment for you. I found bleaching a way of disguising the hair, but not necessarily getting to the root problem. For example the times where I did bleach the hair on my face, when the sunlight hit my face, I looked like a peach; the hair, as light as it was, did become visible.
I have used an epilator once in my life, and that too without water, and I found that quite painful. With waxing one motion and that’s a whole patch of hair that’s gone. With epilating it’s more like a slow shave, so all the tweezers inside can pluck all those unwanted hairs away. I felt that even though the finish was similar to that of waxing, with all the hairs being pulled out by the room. However, I found it more time consuming and painful than waxing, hence why I never went back. Maybe, epilating in the shower is less painful, but I’ve never given it a try so I can’t say for sure.
Shaving has been my worst enemy. Again, I hated the regrowth. It’s quick, easy and can be used on large body parts – so there are plus points. The only downside is the stubble, missing patches, and nicking yourself with the razor. Oh and having to repeat the process in 2 or 3 days because of regrowth. But it’s a cheaper method of hair removal, if you’re looking for something that doesn’t break the bank balance.
Tweezer’s are good for removing, stray localised hairs. It provides a good finish, as the hair is removed from the root. Only downside is you need to make sure you are actually targeting the hair itself, as you don’t want to pinch the skin around it, which can lead to scarring if done repeatedly when trying to get to a rogue hair (yes I have done this).
So that’s the end of my solo journey using hair removal methods. The next ones will be where I’ve gone to a beautician and opted for specific services in order to remove hair. I found this a much better way of dealing with the hair, because it wasn’t me removing it and I was at the mercy of someone else.
Threading has been a go to for my eyebrows, since day one. With eyebrows in particular, the finish I have had is the best by far. I personally feel threading works best on small areas where there is hair e.g. eyebrows and upper lip. If you had to thread larger parts of your body, it would take so long. Giving my eyebrows to someone else, allows me to come out with tamed eyebrows that are groomed and shaped to perfection – something I can’t do by myself.
Out of all the finishes I got, waxing for me was the best by far. So for large body areas – warm wax was the best way forward. It is more expensive than doing it by yourself, but a good speedy and efficient way of hair removal and regrowth takes longer than shaving as hair is being removed from the root. For more intimate areas, I have always used hot wax as the hairs are thicker – I’ve found it less painful than warm wax. It still can be painful, so I’d recommend making sure the person you are using has good reviews and using breathing techniques to distract from the pain. It is more expensive to use hot wax than warm wax, but the finish is much better and less painful too.
After going to a beautician for a number of years, I finally decided to take the plunge and opt for laser hair removal (I qualified as a pharmacist, and I was now financially in a position where I could fund this myself). I went for a patch test, where they used the Nd:YAG laser, as according to shade I am classified as a type V skin type and this would be the best laser to use. The patch test was short and sweet, the laser technician who did my patch test did say that my hair growth wasn’t that bad and that she wouldn’t treat the hair’s I was looking to treat, as she said there wouldn’t be as effective. For someone who found hair problematic in that area, it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I did take up a second consultation and even though she did agree it may not be as effective as the other area’s I was looking to treat, she was willing to try.
I decided to opt to tackle the face first, to see whether it was something that works, then look to invest into more body parts – something I strongly recommend as it is a lot of money. The procedure involved me lying down with a funky pair of glasses whilst my laser technician used the red beam of laser light to zap all those pesky hairs away. The light from the laser gets converted into heat energy, which is what damages the hair follicle from the root. The process itself does generate a lot of heat, but right behind the laser is a cooling mechanism which blasts you with ice cold air. My first session on the face I remember that certain areas did hurt, upper lip right by the nose and thicker hairs in particular. The thing I remember most is the smell, it literally smelt like my face was getting barbecue’d. I came out of it with a very red face, that went away eventually and visibly less hair.
With regards to pain, I found most of it bearable, it’s very temporary like small electric currents almost – it is quite difficult to explain in all honesty. My most painful experience was the underarms, as the hairs are thicker there. No-one had told me thicker hairs really cause you pain, so I just thought it would be a continuation of the pain threshold of the face. I was wrong. It really hurt to the point where I was actually shuffling away from the laser and off the bed. After that, for my second session I took paracetamol and ibuprofen in order to make sure it was less painful than the last time; and it was. Nevertheless, as you go through you sessions it does become less painful as there are less hair follicles to target, so that is also a contributing factor. I’ve never taken any painkillers after my second session. I find a deep breath in and breathing out whilst the laser is being targeted on the more painful areas helps with the pain, almost something to divert my attention.
When it comes to side effects other than the pain, laser can produce redness and small bumps, these are temporary and within half an hour it’s not as visible, and the aloe vera gel that gets applied really helps with that. Part of the aftercare involves using sun protection, and for me as I started during summer I did go a little over the top on the suncream and I wonder if this may have been a contributing factor towards becoming vitamin d deficient a few months later on. Another part of aftercare, involves shaving, and this is something I’ve had to get used to given my hatred on stubble on my own body and years of waxing. However, in comparison to shaving on its own. with laser it is different because you do become patchy as the hair does fall out, so the stubble isn’t as bad.
Overall, out of all the hair removal methods I have tried, laser hair removal has been the most effective (and the most expensive). Other than getting rid of unwanted hairs, I’ve also found it’s helped with my skin complexion as well, making it look more healthy and I definitely have less ingrown hairs as a result of laser. This may not be something that is suitable for everyone, so for anyone who is interested I would highly recommend doing some research in what clinics are in your local area or if you are willing to travel the best rated clinics and see if you can get a consultation (which most places do for free). From that they’ll be able to assess your skin type, talk about whether if laser would work on your hairs and what kind of laser, packages and prices and any other questions you may have. Oh and I forgot a test patch too. So you don’t have to make a decision there and then. Take your time, do your research, make sure you have the funds too. But again, this may not be suitable for people who have a low pain threshold or who can’t afford this treatment. I would then recommend going back to some of the hair removal products I have mentioned previously and try out some of them until you find one that works best for you. Drop a comment if you have any further questions.
Until next time…
The Pintsized Pharmacist