I Got Laser Hair Removal — This Is What I Wish I'd Known

Photo: Nabi Tang

Whether waxing or shaving is your regular habit, it's true that each produces waste. Plastic and parrafins used in most waxes are not biodegradable and harmful to the environment, and using single-use or even multi-use disposable razors need to be replaced often. In fact, the EPA estimates that 2 billion razors are thrown away annually—many of which end up in our oceans.

Any article I’d ever read about laser hair removal has ended on a high note, always mentioning how cost-effective it is, and friends who’ve had the procedure said it wasn't perfect but shaved significant amounts of time off their grooming routines, especially in the summer. When I realized I was spending nearly $800 annually on hair removal alone, and regularly contributing to the global plastic waste problem, what did I have to lose? The plastic packaging razors come in is bulky and non recyclable. By choosing laser, you're avoiding a plastic-intense monthly routine.

I’d had enough awful Brazilians to understand that you don’t cut corners when it comes to hair removal and that you get what you pay for, so I went to Spruce & Bond, a salon based in New York that specializes in hair removal, eyelash extensions, and brow maintenance. I do suggest finding a similar salon or service wherever you live if you want to go down this route—this is not a time to cut corners.

What is laser hair removal like?

The experience of getting lasered was not at all what I expected. You head into a small room, and on the table they’ve provided two packs of feminine wipes (one for before, one after), a stress ball, and a pair of goggles. Your specialist dry shaves the area you’d like to laser and, surprisingly, this prep took longer than the treatment itself.

Legs butterflied, goggles on, the lasering begins. The machine beeps every time it fires, and after a while the room smells like burnt hair. "It must be working," I thought. I'm lucky—I have an awesome specialist who likes to chat about body hair, facials, and life, so the time always passes quickly.

The laser itself feels like an icy-hot on the skin—for the easy patches, I wasn't certain whether it was hot or cold. On the denser ones, it’s enough to make you jump but for me was never as painful as a Brazilian. She'd soothe the pain with a rubber square resembling a pot holder that was cool to the touch after the toughies, and the pain went away almost instantly.

A little powder and aloe vera, and I was on my merry way. I'd get up from the table and notice I was swollen after every session, and more so after the final two. It's because the laser power is turned up as your hair follicles thin out, so it can be more effective. My specialist is pleased—she said that swelling is a great indicator that we'd successfully killed the follicles.

My treatments were fantastic, but there are a few things I learned along the way and think would have helped my decision. Here's what I wish I'd known before getting laser hair removal:

1. Treatments make you sun sensitive.

Most laser hair removal specialists will have you come in for at least five treatments, sometimes as many as 10. Typically they are spaced four to six weeks apart—so a full round of sessions can take six months or more. Time them accordingly! I started in August, but I wish I'd waited until the winter. Exposing recently lasered skin to the sun can result in permanent pigmentation and is dangerous for treated skin, so I spent a fair amount of poolside and beachside time in shorts.

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2. About yoga pants…

If you loathe VPL as much as I do, you may not wear underwear under your yoga pants. But after getting laser treatments, that changed. Without hair to buffer friction from the pants, everything feels more sensitive. Apparently it is best practice to wear underwear with yoga pants, but I found it's also most comfortable once you've gotten laser hair removal.

3. Lighter hairs are spared.

Laser works best on dark hair against light skin and doesn’t pick up on light hairs on light skin. So if you have any grays or blondes, those are yours to keep.

All in all, laser hair removal has lived up to the internet's promises—it's more cost-effective, hurts less than a Brazilian, and does indeed make grooming easier. Just remember to consider investing in a new seamless intimates wardrobe and start in the off-season so you're ready to soak up the sun.

4. You're being kind to your body.

Lastly, if you decide that hair removal is your jam like I did, you'll be saving yourself from future waxing pain, itchy ingrowns, and the constant effort upkeep requires. Laser hair removal does string, but it's five to 10 sessions as opposed to a lifelong affair. We endure enough pain and nuisance, why should our beauty routines be one of them?

Want more background info? Here are seven things an M.D. wants you to know about your vagina.

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