This could save you over £9k...
What you do with the fluff on your pits and bits is your prerogative. If you prefer to let it sprout with free abandon, that's great. If you like to feel smooth and blitz some or all of it away, that's great too.
But, for the latter camp, getting rid of body hair on a monthly, weekly and sometimes daily basis can feel like a chore. Anyone who's had a shaving rash will know, it's not pretty and regular waxing can be painful – not to mention the expensive. All this in the name of smooth-ish skin for a week at best.
These are the facts: if you pay the average price for a bikini wax every month from the ages of 18 to 50, you’ll spend around £10,000 on your bikini area alone. That figure doesn't include the amount you’ll spend on razors and other hair removal methods over the years.
It's why, if, like me, you prefer hair-free skin, laser hair removal might be worth considering. The treatment has come a long way in the last few years (there are even at-home devices you can try yourself from your bedroom). So, if you're feeling tempted by the promise of silky-smooth skin for eternity, it’s worth reading up on the facts and finding the method that will work best for you.
We tested out the treatment at Young LDN in Notting Hill, London, and this is what you need to know beforehand…
What is laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal works by sending a laser directly to the root of your hair. The laser light is attracted to the pigment (colour) in your hair. When targeted at the correct stage of growth, the light converts to heat, destroying the active hair follicles and preventing further growth. There are five different types of laser; IPL, Alexandrite, Nd; Yag, Diode and Ruby. Young LDN uses one of the most powerful and most effective, pain-free laser hair removal machines on the market, combining the Nd; Yag and Alexandrite lasers enabling treatment to all possible hair types.
How long is the treatment?
It’s important to catch the hair at the correct stage of growth, so that the laser has the best chance of zapping the follicle. Depending on how stubborn your hair is, Young LDN recommends 6-8 week intervals for your body and 4-6 week intervals for your face. For long-term hair reduction, a course of six treatments is the usual amount. So, from start to finish, it will take at least eight months. We started to see a real difference after the second treatment, during the third and fourth it was a little patchy and stubbly, but by the fifth it was smooth as a dolphin. The treatment time itself is actually super-quick, for a bikini and underarm treatment in one sitting, we were in and out in about 25 minutes.
Is it painful?
This question is always a tricky one, as pain is very much subjective. The aesthetic therapists at Young LDN are very helpful and always ask about your pain on a scale of 1-10. They then adjust the intensity of the laser to make it comfortable for the individual. The machine they use has built in cryo-cooling paired with a zimmer cooling device which gives you a much more comfortable experience than with IPL. For me, the pain was tolerable, nothing worse than a normal wax, and definitely less painful than someone plucking your eyebrows.
What aftercare is involved?
Following the treatment, you may feel a mild sunburn sensation, but this is totally normal. Exercise should be avoided up to 48 hours post treatment, as well as any activities that will encourage sweating. Hot showers, swimming pools, saunas and exfoliating lotions are to be avoided immediately before and after sessions. Tanning, both real and false can also affect your treatment. Sunlight exposure can damage your skin during your laser hair removal course, the aesthetic therapist can advise you about SPF and skincare. Fake tan will need to fade or be scrubbed away before your treatment, as the colour can get into the hair follicle affecting the laser catching the natural pigment in the hair. In between treatments you need to become best friends with the plain-old-classic razor, as until the course is complete this is all you should use because most other methods remove the bulb of your hair.
What areas can be treated?
The most common areas for laser hair removal are the legs, underarms and bikini. But, you can have almost any area on your body treated including, lips, chin, neck, arms, stomach, back and shoulders. We recommend getting legs and arms treated in the Winter as they’re less likely to be exposed to the sun and false tan.
Does it work on dark skin?
You may think that if you have dark hair and dark skin that the laser could have difficulty picking up the pigment in the hair, but in fact this isn’t true. As mentioned earlier, there are five types of laser hair removal. IPL is best for pale skin and light hair, alexandrite is best for olive skin, Nd; Yag is best for dark skin, diode is best for most skin tones and ruby is best for fair skin. We asked the head aesthetician at Young LDN and they said that by combining the Nd; Yag and Alexandrite lasers this enables them to treat all skin types and hair types to ensure you never have to shave again.
Is it safe?
If you’re considering getting laser hair removal you should always use a fully-qualified practitioner, any outlandish bargains are probably best avoided. So far, there does not appear to be any long-term health risks associated with the procedure. Temporary side effects may include; mild redness, bobbly skin and itchiness. It’s very important to go in for your patch test and always check that clinics are CQC-approved and that their technology is FDA-approved.
What to do if you can't get to the salon?
If you can't make it to the salon, at-home laser hair removal devices can give equally impressive results when used regularly and can fit conveniently into your routine when you have the time.
Written by Chelsea Hughes.
This article originally appeared on GLAMOUR UK.