Since it’s been several months since I first started laser hair removal here in San Jose, California, I figured now would be a good time to update.
I’ve had 7 treatments on my legs and stomach, and I added in underarms and my bikini area a couple months ago for good measure. I’ve so far spent about $1500 for my legs and stomach, plus another few hundred dollars for the first few treatments of my bikini and underarms.
First, I want to answer the question everyone has been asking me: Is laser hair removal worth doing? My answer: Yes, absolutely! I did the math in my previous post, but to quickly re-summarize: I was having my legs waxed about every 6 weeks for a cost of $50 per waxing treatment. Waxing is painful, plus you have to let the hair fully grow out, which means I was walking around with a small forest on my legs the week or two before the waxing treatment. Plus, it took time out of my busy day. I wanted a “no fuss” solution. My goals:
1) To be able to go on vacation for more than a week without taking a razor with me.
2) To be able to not have to shave for several weeks if need be, since shaving gives me ingrown hairs, etc.
3) To not have a forest on my legs just because I didn’t want to shave all the time.
After 6 treatments on my legs, I’m down to shaving my legs once a week at most. If I’m wearing pants or don’t otherwise want to show off my legs, though, I don’t have to shave for 2 or 3 weeks. The best part is that, if I don’t shave for 3 weeks, you probably wouldn’t even be able to tell that I haven’t shaved without being a couple inches from my legs (and at that point, honey, you probably don’t care about whether I’ve shaved recently or not. 😉 ) The hair that grows back in after a week or so is more like a fine peach fuzz, not that dark wiry stuff that comes back in after shaving, so it’s not very noticeable.
A couple more treatments and I will likely be down to shaving my legs once a month or so. I shaved them last week, and I noticed that the hair that came off in the razor was fuzzy, and I only had a few long dark hairs left. I consider this a success! I’m leaving on vacation in a couple weeks for 2+ weeks. I have a hair removal treatment the day before and I won’t be bringing a razor with me on vacation. That is super-cool and worth every penny.
Since my legs and stomach were going so well, I added in underarms and bikini area. My underarms are similar to the leg treatments, but you can do them every 3 weeks instead of every 6 weeks like the legs. It hurts a bit more, but is still quite bearable. (Believe me, you’ll injure yourself more stubbing a toe.) I’ve had about 5 treatments on my underarms, and I’m down to shaving once a week instead of every other day. Also, about 40% of the hair on my underarms is gone. The hair that grows in now is still dark, but much softer than it was previously. Once it’s more peach fuzzy, I’ll stop those treatments.
Bikini is the only area that’s -whew!- painful. A couple good zaps made me involuntarily say “Ow!” It’s sure not as painful as getting that area waxed, which I was never brave enough to try, but you’ll definitely notice the “zing-burn” feeling. I’ve had 2 treatments there. The good news is that on every area of your body, the treatments get progressively easier as you go through them, since you’re zapping less hair each time. I can see a couple “holes” down there where there is no hair, but what is growing is still dark and thick. This is fairly typical after 2 treatments.
Kathy (the laser hair removal specialist I go to…more on her in a minute) says that you should expect to do 6-10 treatments before you’re totally satisfied. I think I’ll probably end up doing 10 treatments everywhere, and at that point I’ll likely only have to shave once a month or so. “Never shave again!” is probably not realistic; there is a law of diminishing returns at work, and while you may need 8 or 9 treatments to get rid of 80% of your hair, you might need 12 or 13 to get rid of 90% of it (everyone’s different, so take that as a thought, not a law.) But going from shaving every other day to shaving once a month is definitely worth it.
My favorite things about laser hair removal — things that you may not know:
1) The hair comes in fuzzy and soft when it grows back, and once you’ve done a lot of treatments, it will grow in lighter, as well (at least it did on me.)
2) With each treatment, your hair grows more slowly, so even if it doesn’t look like you lost a lot of hair on your first treatment or two, you’ll still only have to shave about half as much as you would normally. That’s why I’d recommend that most people who don’t like shaving at least do a couple treatments.
3) To add to #2, you can stop treatments any time. You will see the benefit with only 1 or 2 treatments of your hair growing in more slowly.
4) Kathy and most decent laser hair removal places will let you pay for each treatment on the day you do it, so it’s not like you’re going to write this huge $2000 check. It’s a couple hundred bucks every 6 weeks. That won’t break the bank for most people.
My least favorite things about laser hair removal treatment:
1) Zap! Ow! It hurts a bit. Take Advil about 30 minutes before your treatment, and ask your specialist if you can bring a portable MP3 player. Put on some soothing music and space out. It won’t hurt that much if you do. Also, make sure your specialist has a cooling device. This cooling device, placed on your skin right before the “zap!”, makes the treatment hurt a lot less, thus allowing the specialist to turn up the zapping power and nab those really deep hairs.
2) It is expensive. You will come out ahead over waxing, but if you’re shaving, it will take a lot longer to pay back. If you change your razor twice a month, and use a $2 cartridge every time, you’ll spend about $4 a month, or $48 a year, on shaving. $2000 for legs + underarm laser hair removal is an almost 42-year payback. But this isn’t considering the time you spend shaving, the fact that cartridge prices will rise, or the annoyance of having to take razors on a vacation or making sure to Nair yourself before you put on that cute swimsuit. Those “soft” factors were what I took into account when deciding to undertake this, and I would definitely make the same choice if I needed to do it all over again.
3) They can’t do eyebrows since the laser piece isn’t small enough. Waahhh! I still get my eyebrows waxed, which is painful and annoying. Hopefully this will change with better technology in the future.
4) It is addictive. They warn you about this. If you’re a woman, you’ll probably want to get your underarms done once you’ve started with your legs, so I recommend starting, at a minimum, with both of those.
By the way, guys can get laser hair removal done, too! My boyfriend is currently getting the sides of his face and chin done. He wears a mustache and a bit of a beard, but hated shaving, which bothered his sensitive skin. He’s now down to shaving once a week instead of every other day, and is very happy with the treatments, too.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area (especially if you’re in San Jose, California), I strongly recommend that you check out Kathy’s laser hair removal. She’ll give you a free evaluation and match any lower price you find (I checked around and didn’t find any.) Plus, she’s straightforward, honest, and super-nice about everything, taking time to answer your questions. She also gives a 5% cash discount for those of you who like to do things in cash. Even if you live in San Francisco or Oakland, price her out — it will likely be cheaper to drive to San Jose (it’s only every 6 weeks!) and get laser hair removal done with Kathy instead of paying the exorbitant boutique prices you find in San Francisco laser hair removal places.
Here is Kathy’s phone number:
Kathy Bragg, (408) 977-0975
100 O’Connor Drive, San Jose, CA (just off Stevens Creek & 880 — Yahoo Map)
Kathy’s husband, Todd Bragg, is also a wonderful and inexpensive chiropractor, in case you’re in need of chiropractic…I highly recommend him, especially if you sit in front of a computer all day like I do!
And no, I am not getting paid to post this, or anything like that, but I would appreciate it if you told Kathy you found out about her from me (I’m Erica.) Good luck, and please feel free to share your experiences here in the comments!