I have struggled with body hair for years. If I shaved my legs in the morning, they would feel like sandpaper by noon.
Honestly, I just thought that this was a situation I was doomed to suffer my whole life. While 'excessive' body hair is only 'too much' (or indeed, too little) in the eye of each individual, I myself choose to get rid of it. It's just my personal preference. I've been a waxer and a shaver but never a laser woman, mostly because I had a lot of misconceptions about laser hair removal that weren't necessarily true.
Because my dark body hair is an issue for me, and I'm already embarking on all sorts of treatments in the run up to my wedding in September, I decided to take the plunge and go for the laser. But not without finding out all the facts beforehand, of course.
Before we go on, let me admit that I'm a laser convert now. Even though I was wary about trying it, I am so pleased with the results, and I have recommended it to friends who have since done it themselves. It is important, however, to be clued in before you give it a go, that's why I'm clearing up a few things that might have been a bit vague.
You only need six sessions
We'll get this out of the way immediately; laser is unfortunately not a miracle six-session 'cure'. In the majority of cases, most people will need 6 - 10 sessions to achieve around an 80 - 85% reduction in hair growth (but the 15 - 20% of hairs that are left are very light and fine, and growth is very sparse.) The number of sessions a person will need depends on factors like the type of laser used for treatments, intervals in between each session, skin colour, hormones, genetics, medical issues and hereditary factors.
In Urbana, the clinic I attend for my sessions, treatments are performed approx every 4 - 6 weeks depending on the area on the body being treated. After the bulk number of sessions are performed, clients then move onto top-up treatments. The majority of people need approximately one or two top-ups a year depending on the area being treated.
All of your hair comes back after pregnancy
If you have completed a full course of laser before pregnancy, it is not uncommon to see a few hairs grow back after baby is born. Because it is physically impossible to target 100% of your hair follicles during your treatment course, dormant follicles may start producing hair due to fluctuation in hormone levels in your body after you have given birth.
Women who have had a baby should not start top-up treatments until hormones levels are back to normal. It is also important to note that the type of laser used for the bulk amount of your initial sessions can have an impact on the amount of regrowth after pregnancy. Medical-grade lasers are much more efficient at delivering energy deep into the hair follicle where it is needed; lower grade hair removal devices like IPL's do not have the same impact on hair follicles.
Laser hair removal is really painful
Laser has been around for about the past 20 years, and in the early days when machines were in the early stages of development, yes, treatments were pretty painful. Over the last decade, lasers have (thankfully) evolved, and things have dramatically improved.
However, laser can be slightly uncomfortable at the beginning of your course of treatment, especially if your hair is thick and coarse (like mine, ouch), but as you progress through your treatments your hair will become much finer and lighter, and this impacts on the way your treatment will feel - in a good way!
Results from laser hair removal last forever
You will need top-ups in order to maintain your reduction. The number of top-ups you will need will depend on a number of factors. Women who have hormonal issues like PCOS or medical issues like thyroid problems can develop excessive hair growth as it is impossible to stop the body producing these hormones. Laser can dramatically reduce hair for long periods but removing 100% of hair from each treatment area forever is impossible.
Men would also need top-ups as testosterone causes hair to grow and top-ups will be required to keep fine regrowth at bay. The reduction you achieve from laser, however, is pretty much permanent. The amount of regrowth will be minimal, and hairs will be light and fine, almost like a baby hair, although this again depends on the laser used and the number of sessions that you have had. While most people need one or two sessions a year, some people can go two years without needing a top-up.
It's very expensive
Initially, there is a cost. But, if you calculate the time and money you will save in the long run, it makes sense for some people to laser. With laser, you will need about 12 - 18 months of treatments and then when you go onto top ups you will only need to have 1-2 sessions a year instead of waxing every 4 - 6 weeks forever.
If you have dark skin, you can't have laser
You can safely have laser hair removal regardless of your skin type, and lasers have been specifically designed for clients with darker skin. Not all hair removal devices can be used on clients with dark skin, however, so it is important to be mindful of what laser to look out for; otherwise, pigmentation can occur.