I’d been thinking about laser hair removal for quite some time, especially on salon visits, when I was shelling out for waxing and realising that I still have years of ‘ouch’ ahead of me. But despite how much it’s gaining recognition and popularity, I haven’t found an enormous amount of information out there on how this permanent hair zapping works (like, really, how does a laser do this without frying my skin?) and how effective it is.
I did consider the home kit. There’s a range of laser hair removal gadgets out there, but the more I read consumer reviews, the more I saw the words ‘hard to use’. And because I’m zapping my bikini line, I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend over £200 just to balls it up by turning a laser gun this way and that, resulting in a zigzagged hedgerow instead of a neat lady garden.
Having decided against the DIY method, the first step was researching clinics and I settled for The Private Clinic in London (they’ve got clinics in Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds as well). It comes well recommended and has been around for nearly 30 years.
Arranging the free consultation was straightforward, but they’re busy bees – I couldn’t get an appointment after 5pm for about two weeks. When I did arrive, after a lukewarm welcome from the reception staff, I was greeted by one of the nurses (yes, an actual nurse, in an actual blue nurse-like trouser and smock ensemble. This was most definitely a clinic, not a salon) who immediately put me at ease. We went through my skin type and medical history. She explained the science behind the laser, how it would work during the treatments and how effective it would be. She even advocated laser hair removal herself, having banished unwanted hair from her own bikini line, legs and underarms, without any regret whatsoever.
In simple terms, the best and quickest results are seen on fair skin and dark hair, because the machine itself is programmed to detect hair pigment and the contrast helps. That’s not to say it won’t work on darker skin or fairer hair, but it may take a different laser setting or more treatment sessions. A good clinic will tell you straight how effective laser treatment will be for your complexion.
As for the laser itself, The Private Clinic explains it well: “The treatment works by using light energy to heat up the hair follicles in the skin and, once enough heat is produced, the follicle is destroyed which prevents the hair from growing back. The process is safe, effective and permanent.”
The treatment sessions last about half an hour, though it’s dependent on the area you’re treating; an upper lip would be quicker, a half leg would take longer. It’s strongly advised patients take a course of six sessions so that the hair doesn’t grow back. They’re quite adamant about this so you’re not disappointed with the results.
Next they gave me the cost breakdown, which was straightforward and transparent. Prices vary depending on the area being treated and the number of sessions required. A small area such as the upper lip would cost around £70 for a single session.
I was offered a patch test straightaway. It is a heat treatment and the machine looks a little like a futuristic weapon, but the laser has a cooling system so it’s not at all uncomfortable – imagine the shrunken family in Honey I Shrunk the Kids pinching your skin over and over. After five minutes, I was overjoyed that it was virtually pain-free. But I wonder whether a half-hour session might see me eat those words! The skin post-laser was much like it is after waxing, a little red from the heat, they slathered some aloe vera cream on and I was advised not to irritate the area of skin with hot water or sweaty exercise over the next 24 hours.
And that’s it. Next for me is the course of six treatments, for which they advise you leave a minimum of two weeks between each appointment, and not to get a tan (fake or real) because it could affect the laser’s targeting. I’ll be back to update you.
If you’re reading and you’ve been there, done that, got the hair-free results, I’d love to know how it went for you. Leave me a comment below.