Shaving your legs is a ballache, amiright? Whether you’re in the bath and trying to reach down to your ankles, or in the shower and balancing on one leg whilst resting the other on something to stop you falling over, it’s just awkward. Shaving cream everywhere, stray hairs in bath water, shower water washing off shaving foam before you’ve begun.
Underarms are a faff too, although not quite so bad. Unless you’ve forgotten and already have a sleeveless top on. Do you undress and shave, or try to do it whilst still wearing the top?
Electric shavers never get close enough, and epilators and waxing pull out your soul along with the hair.
My waxing experience
I’ve tried underarm waxing a few times – both home and salon. Home waxing, with strips, was an epic fail. The wax pulled off layers of skin and not enough hair. I had to put a cold facecloth under my arms just to stop the stinging.
Salon waxing is better, but the growth period to get enough hair to remove is painful, especially in summer. I have dark hair. Dark hairy underarms and a hot summer day do not mix. I want to be swanning about in summer tops, not wearing sleeves to hide my armpit forest. Also, and don’t get the wrong idea here, I’m not a hirsute woman, but my body hair seems to have a fast growing cycle. Seriously! My underarms would show signs of regrowth within a few days. The effect wasn’t even long enough to last for a week away in the sun. All the hair growing, and armpit hiding, and pain, and expense, for nothing more than a handful of hair free days.
I needed an alternative
Many many years ago I looked into permanent hair removal, and had an electrolysis consultation at a local clinic. I was told that each hair had to be treated individually. A needle passes a current through to kill the hair follicle. It was very time consuming and very expensive.
And then came Groupon.
Remember when Groupon first came on the scene? There were offers of bargain hotel stays, meals, tattoo removal and hair removal. Yes, it was through Groupon that I first became aware of laser hair removal. When I saw a listing for a local salon offering 6 sessions for £69, I decided to give it a try.
What does laser hair removal entail?
Laser hair removal, or IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) to give it it’s proper name, also kills the hair at the follicle. Differently to electrolysis though, it pulses a laser beam at the skin. Because of how it’s carried out (with a zapper machine that’s a bit like a retail scanner – technical term) it can cover a larger area more quickly than electrolysis. A gel like substance is appilied to the skin to conduct the laser and then the machine pulses light at intervals a couple of seconds apart, while the person delivering the treatment moves it over the area.
My underarms took about 10 minutes in total, including applying the gel, so it really is a quick and easy treatment to have done. Afterwards the gel is cleaned off and a non scented moisturiser applied, and you’re told not to use deoderant for 24 hours.
Because hair grows at different rates and in different cycles, not all of your hair will be treated during each session. That’s why you’ll see hair growth between each session, although I did see noticable results (bald patches) within a couple of sessions.
It would be a lie to say it didn’t hurt, because it was quite sharp when the light pulsed on my skin. Also, honestly, the pain intensified as the duration of the treatment went on. But some discomfort for 10 minutes was more than manageable, and the soothing cream applied afterwards takes any residual soreness away.
Results will vary from person to person. As the sessions progress, the intensity of the laser treatment increases (basically turning up the heat!) At the end of the 6 sessions I still had some hair growth, but it was a lot less than it had been (slower and finer) so I was pleased with the results. I had the option to have more, but these were considerably more expensive as they were outside of the Groupon deal, so I decided against it.
Then came the legs
A few months later I saw another offer, for a treatment centre 5 minutes away from my house, and this offer included an underarm, bikini line and leg option. So off I trotted with my hairy pins, less-hairy-than-they-used-to-be underarms, and none-of-your-business-how-hairy-it-is bikini line for 6 sessions.
The procedure was exactly the same as previously. Obviously the treatment took longer, because legs are a bigger area. I found the leg treatment a lot less uncomfortable than underarms, because obviously the skin is more hardy and exposed than your pits. It was absolutely fine.
Bikini line? Another story. It hurt. Really hurt. The first session, on a lower level, was manageable but by about session 4 and a more intense setting I couldn’t handle it. To the point where I actually bailed out of the rest of the bikini line treatments because I’m a wimp!
So, 6 sessions on my legs left me with a lot less hair than previously, and another 6 sessions on my underarms (bringing the total to 12) left me with a few straggly hairs that take about 2-3 weeks to grow to a point where they’re even noticable. By this stage I could go on holiday without the need to shave my underarms for the duration (whereas previously I needed to do it every other day at the very least).
My final treatment – Soprano Ice
I was chuffed with the results from 12 hair removal sessions on my underarms. So I figured that my legs would benefit from another 6 following the success of the first lot. I came across another online deal for a local salon, this time for Soprano Ice, which is next level IPL. The zapping machine is ice cold against your skin. It takes a while for you to feel any heat at all. Buoyed by this, I decided to give my bikini line another go along with my legs.
Even with the “ice” addition I couldn’t handle the bikini line treatment. Maybe
I have I’m a delicate flower but it was burningly painful, so again I gave in at about session 4. The final effect is that my bikini line is less dense than it was (not sure how else to describe it!) but does still require some attention to keep it in check.
Legs wise, to tie this back in to the title of this blog post, the results were great. After 12 sessions my leg hair growth is probably 10% of what it used to be. The few hairs I do have are really fine, really sparse and grow very very slowly. Again it means I can go on holiday and not need to shave for the duration, which is bang on.
Why am I telling you this now?
If you have any sense, you’re about to enter a period of 6 months of not needing to shave. That is unless you’re actively on the pull or in a new relationship where you’re still out to impress. Long sleeves and opaque tights are our friends during the winter months. A bit of hair just keeps us warmer, no?
BUT…autumn and winter is the ideal time to embark on a laser hair removal journey (journey, ha, you can tell I work in marketing!) And the reason for this is that newly treated skin can’t be exposed to sunlight. So it wouldn’t be ideal to have this treatment during the summer months, because you may be going on holiday. And, of course, following the amazing summer of 2018, our UK summers are now banging from this point forward. We’ll all be parading round in our shorts from April onwards. So now is the time to start. Courses tend to be at least 6 sessions long, and appointments should be spaced 4-6 weeks apart.
A couple of things to note
Laser hair removal is most effective on dark hair (convenient, as that’s the colour that’s most noticeable!)
You’ll need a patch test to make sure your skin doesn’t react badly to the laser.
There is a chance that hair may grow back over time (although it’s been at least 4 years since I had any treatment and I haven’t noticed anymore regrowth)
Would you have, or have you had, laser hair removal? Or are you a fan of waxing? Or the natural look?
Let me know in the comments.
Thanks, as always, for reading! x