Contrary to popular belief, laser tag and laser hair removal are not the same thing. While one is a painless shot with a laser, the other makes you feel like you’re actually dying. But in the end, you will have those smooth underarms you only see in the movies (unless you’re Julia Roberts of course). Personally, I am all for women who choose not to shave. It’s body hair and it’s natural, I totally get it. However, I have always been self-conscious of the unforgiving 5 o’clock shadow my armpits seem to have. After years of hiding my armpits, I decided to get laser hair removal and I am more than happy with my decision. Here are six things you need to know before getting laser hair removal.
1. Research the different types of laser hair removal treatments available.
I have zero pain tolerance, which is why I avoided the treatment for years. When I heard of SopranoXL, which is a painless laser hair removal treatment available at Naturopathic clinics, I purchased immediately. I wouldn’t say the procedure is painless, but it hurt significantly less than what my peers were warning me about. I would give it a 2.5 out of 10 on the pain scale and takes less than five minutes per session.
There are four types of laser machines: Ruby Laser (RubyStar), Alexandrite Laser (Candela GentleLase), Diode Laser (SopranoXL) and YAG Laser (Cutera CoolGlide). Ruby Laser is the oldest type of hair-removal laser, is super effective even on very fine hair, and is recommended for those with light skin. Alexandrite Laser burns on all but light skin, it treats large areas of skin the fastest, and gives the quickest hair removal available. Diode Laser is the newest laser and has a low risk of skin damage. However, because it is so new, there is not a lot of data on the after-results of the treatment. YAG laser is best for people with dark skin and is more painful than the other lasers.
2. You won’t lose all your hair after one session.
You need to go multiple times (about six treatments) before you see a drastic change. EVEN THEN, you have to go for touch-up sessions, because while laser treatments reduce the number of body hairs, it does not result in a permanent removal of all hair.
3. It works best on light skin with dark hair.
My body hair is weird. I’m a natural blonde with blonde hair on my arms and legs, but the rest of my body, including my armpits is dark hair, so I was a great candidate. If you don’t have light skin or dark hair, it doesn’t mean the procedure won’t work for you, it just means laser hair removal might not work as well on you.
4. You must shave the area being lasered.
Yes, this is totally annoying and kind of seems counterintuitive. BUT, this will minimize the pain and allow the laser to treat the pigment of your hair follicle. As they say, no pain, no gain.
5. Don’t wax or tan before your treatment.
You may shave, but don’t wax or tan before your treatment. Waxing affects hair growth patterns which means there is a chance that your results may be altered. Tanning stimulates the melanin in your skin cells and will damage your skin if mixed with laser hair removal treatment.
6. Sweating, deodorant and perfume are no-nos for 24-48 hours.
As stated before, do not tan or wax after your treatment. Although sweating may seem unavoidable, excess sweating may cause rashes. This was a huge bummer for me since I wanted to attend a Beyoncé party that night and there is no way you can go dance to Single Ladies without breaking a sweat. Also, no deodorant or perfume, these may also cause infection. You want to let your skin heal and breathe before putting anything that might irritate the area.
Remember, laser hair removal isn’t for everyone. This is for women and men who prefer to be hairless in certain areas and want to decrease the time spent on shaving and waxing. Laser treatment can be a painful, long process, but as long as you prepare for it, you’ll have that soft skin you always wanted. And if you’re like me, put your hands in the air because now you don’t care.