I HATE shaving my armpits. Can I scream that a little louder? I HATE SHAVING MY ARMPITS!! I’ve been doing it for probably 25 years, but I can’t do it every day because I get underarm cuts and razor burn which leads to itchiness. And since I refuse to shave every day, summertime brings shirt anxiety. Self-proclaimed definition of shirt anxiety = choosing shirts with certain armholes and sleeves based on what may or may not reveal my stubbly underarms. Additionally, we bought a house with a pool three years ago which means constantly being aware of how jungly my bikini line is. Previously, I only needed to think about this on vacations or the 1-2 days per year we’d trek to the community pool, but now that we could potentially be in bathing suit attire all summer long I don’t feel like thinking about my fuzz factory on an every morning basis. I have much bigger things to stress over than coarse coiled hairs.
Laser hair removal had been on my wish list for about ten years, but I always felt guilty when I thought of putting money towards something so frivolous. I’m a very non-high maintenance person. Mix that with also being financially conservative, and you get a woman who feels guilty about doing something that makes life easier. My husband finally remedied this by gifting me my laser hair removal. Not like a gift card or gift certificate, but just by saying, “GO DO IT. THIS IS YOUR BIRTHDAY GIFT. GO GET IT DONE.”
Laser hair removal isn’t a one and done sort of thing. It is a multi-visit process and people choose to schedule it differently. Some go every six weeks until they no longer see hair growing. I chose to go once, wait until I saw hair growing months later, go again, wait until I saw hair growing months later, go again, and so on. Some may disagree with this method, but my nurse assured me this way still works. Once the hair follicle is killed off, it doesn’t grow back, so either way works as long as you’re using a laser that goes deep and kills the root on first impact. (Note: This drawn out method will not work if using a crappy laser). I figured if I spread out the appointments I could also spread out the money spent. It can take anywhere from 6-12 visits.
Before you pick a place, make sure you do your research. Here are some things to think about:
*What type of facility do you want to use? A dermatology office? A skin care center? A medical spa? A laser-only facility? A wax salon that also happens to have lasers? You can find laser services in many places, but some people feel more comfortable in certain settings. Just make sure your technician or nurse is trained and accredited because if done incorrectly, they could leave burns and scars on your skin.
*What type of laser? There are many ways to zap hairs: electrolysis, hair laser, IPL, at home devices, etc. Once you pick a type, you may want to also research the brand. Some are hot, some are cold, some claim to not hurt at all; I’ve even see ads for at-home kits. I reached out to my dermatologist cousin who owns his own practice in another state and he recommended the specific type of laser in his office which he thinks works best. Out of pure luck, the only place in the surrounding Knoxville area that had this exact laser was the office two minutes from my house. Score!
*How much are you willing to spend to curb all future shaving/waxing costs? Obviously different companies, different laser types and different areas of the body cost different amounts. Decide on a budget. Or do it like me and make the process last 2-3 years so you don’t feel like you’re spending that much all at once.
*Are you a good candidate for hair laser? Different skin colors and hair types react differently to hair laser. Previously, I always heard light skin with dark hair is the best combination, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for everyone else. Research what types work best for your skin/hair combination. Over time hair lasers have evolved and I’ve read there are now lasers made specifically to work better on darker skin or lighter hair.
*What areas do you want smooth and hairless 100% of the time? I’d love to never shave my legs again, but the process is long and I don’t get embarrassed over some leg stubble, not to mention the larger the area, the more expensive. I focused on the two areas I loathe shaving the most.
Over the past two years of seeing my awesome “laser lady,” as I call her, I have documented my hair laser trips to give you a sense of what to expect should you choose to say good-bye forever to your unwanted hairs! Remember, this is based solely on the type of laser and the body areas I chose.
Visits 1 & 2:
I was so excited to go to war with these hairs. I was looking forward to a lifetime of putting on a tank top or bathing suit without having to think about grooming. I had been told that this laser basically feels like someone snapping a rubber band against your skin. I thought, ‘That doesn’t sound too bad, I can handle that.’ I was pleasantly surprised to find out it hurt even less than that! It barely stung and only every once in a while did it actually feel like a bad rubber band snap, which is no different than my kids stabbing me with a random fork or toothpick. Totally manageable — I hoped this was how it would feel every visit! Yay! By the time I stood up, nothing hurt and I went about four weeks before seeing a single hair reappear after the first visit.
Visits 3 & 4:
On my third visit, I found out my “laser lady” was going to increase the “joules.” I didn’t know if that meant more pain or if it was just a verbal number thing. I quickly learned it meant more pain. It brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “fire crotch.” I needed to take a couple of 5-second breaks to breathe. And at one point, I told her I needed something to squeeze. She was readily prepared with a stress ball within arm’s reach. I just kept chanting in my head, “I pushed out two kids and had one cut out of me. I can do this.” On my fourth visit I was worried because of the third visit, but it wasn’t as bad. I think my third visit was closer to my period starting which I learned makes the procedure more painful. Note to self and to others: Don’t make an appointment near menstruation. I didn’t need a stress ball to squeeze the fourth time.
Visits 5 & 6:
Usually, when I leave my appointments, I don’t have any hair growth for several weeks, sometimes months. When dormant hair follicles awaken and I start seeing hair again, I make my next appointment. But this time was different. Hair started growing almost immediately — the day after my fifth visit. After several weeks of dealing with it and shaving, I went back and explained what happened. They were super cool about it, chalked it up to the laser machine having been worked on around that time and didn’t charge me to redo my two areas. I had to endure an additional visit, but I was there to be zapped anyways. They believed me and took care of me. Also, joules were increased again. Ouch! Just kept my eye on the prize.
Joules were increased again and oh sweet heavens! A few visits ago she started to do this thing where she rubs it out after every few pulses. I realize how completely inappropriate that sounds, but what I mean is after every few laser zaps she presses her fingers against the zapped area and rubs back and forth real fast a couple times, kind of like when you squeeze a scraped knee; it just makes it feel better. She also applied some hydrocortisone cream on each area which really helps with any burning as well. A day after this session, I noticed little circles all around my bikini line as though the laser left little stains at each pulse placement. It’s been about two months and they are still there. I reached out to my laser lady, and as always, she was informative, honest and reassuring that they’ll fade away.
I’m not done yet, but I only see a couple more sessions being needed. I can go months and only a few stragglers show up. Plus she said she’ll never go to the top joule number on me, so I can count my blessings on that. This is my only birthday gift that has taken me over two years to purchase and the only one that will last a lifetime! Unless I need a touchup, of course. Cheers to a no-shave summer!