About six months ago, I took a plunge and handed over a wad of cash for a course of laser hair removal. Fed up of applying creams, razors and wax strips (especially wax strips) to my bikini line, I’d heard just about the right level of endorsement for laser hair removal to give it a go. After the recommended six sessions – has it been worth it?
Laser hair removal is supposed to get rid of unwanted hair, permanently. This is music to the ears of someone, like me, who doesn’t see the pleasure in a high maintenance beauty regime. The intense light from the laser targets the follicle, damaging it enough to prevent future growth. Of course, with any treatment there are lots of variables that will affect its success; for example, your skin tone and hair colour could affect the progress or efficacy, so you’ll find that the official line from most clinics is that laser will ‘significantly reduce the chance of hair regrowth’. Top tip here is never to undergo laser unless you have a skin test with a clinic that leaves you confident you will see the results you want.
I chose The Private Clinic in London, based on a recommendation. It’s a rather serious place with all sorts of cosmetic treatments on offer. Sometimes I wondered whether I shouldn’t be wearing a head-scarf and sunglasses as I walked through the front door, just to fit in with the Harley Street setting of people getting new smiles, nose jobs and butt implants. However that sort of seriousness was always comforting once inside – if someone was going to point a laser gun at me (down there) then I’d prefer it was a bonafide nurse.
I underwent six laser sessions following my skin test. The sensation of the laser is – I think – less painful than waxing. It’s like being pinched by miniature fingers. They do crank up the power as your sessions go along, and the beams get a little hotter each time, but a cooling fan is attached to the machine as it targets your skin, which is mildly soothing. Once it’s over, a slather of aloe vera gel means there’s very little discomfort afterwards (which is more than I can say for waxing having often walked out of a salon a la John Wayne). It’s quick too. I was usually in and out within 15 minutes, but this will be different for larger skin areas, like legs.
Having started my laser hair removal course last year, each treatment was about six weeks apart. And since my last session, I have seen no hair regrowth at all. None. With a week by the beach coming up, you can imagine how utterly chuffed I am with this result.
I was told by the nurse that I might end up needing top up sessions half yearly, or even annually, which I’m ok with. Laser is becoming more and more popular and there are deals to be had if you look around. At The Private Clinic, a standard bikini line treatment course is £500, but I got a 20% discount at the time for block-booking and paying up front. The Private Clinic often has offers so it’s worth checking, or waiting, before you book anything. Ideal times for bargains are before the Christmas party season, January sales and pre-summer.
So would I recommend it?
Yes absolutely. Research by The Private Clinic says ‘on average, women will spend £12,000 in their lifetime on regular shaving and hair removal products’ (£12k?! Gulp.). I did my own sums and figured my salon waxes would be covered in about three/four years if the laser is indeed permanent. And if you hunt for a deal, you will probably find that laser hair removal at a clinic is comparable to IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) at-home gadgets, which go for around £350. It’s worth knowing two things here: 1. IPL kits are made safe for use at home, and are therefore nowhere near as intense as the machines in clinics, making them potentially less effective in the long term, and 2. laser hair removal isn’t regulated so don’t be fooled by salons offering rock bottom prices, because they’re unlikely to have invested in top quality kit. Do some research to find your ideal clinic.
Have you tried laser or IPL? Do you put stock in epilators? Tell us what you’d recommend, or what you would avoid at all costs.