I have spent years telling myself I am ready for laser hair reduction. I know, it can be costly and painful, depending on where you are located, and it involves getting up close to your most intimate parts. But as someone who waxes and shaves frequently, it is easy to see how you can get tired enough of the ingrown hairs, wasted time, and general inconvenience to make the jump to trying something that promises months of hairlessness.

Simply put, there is a lot to talk about when it comes to social constructs surrounding our beauty choices. I just want to say one thing: You don’t have to be embarrassed about your body hair. Laser treatments, including permanent beauty procedures, are a personal decision and not for everyone. Laser treatment wasn’t about getting rid of all my hair. It was more about simplifying my beauty routine and making life easier.

I was tired of paying monthly waxes and ready to check off an item on my list. So I made the decision to make the leap. I walked into my first session with Forever Young Spa, a medical spa in Odessa, Texas, not knowing what to expect. Amber Young, the owner, guided me through each step. After that, she helped me put on protective sunglasses before I went to work.

What is Laser Hair Removal?

It might be easier to understand how laser hair removal works. Laser hair removal is a safe and effective method of removing hairs. It does not damage the skin, but it can kill the hair follicles. Lasers use a concentrated beam to heat the hair and delay its growth. The laser specifically targets melanin (pigment in the skin) or hair. If skin color and settings are not accurately accounted for, you can burn the beejezus out of your skin, so stick with someone who knows what they’re doing!

Now that that’s out of the way let’s get to the price. The cost of hair-zapping can be quite expensive (although honestly, it’s way less than the pain of waxing or the time spent shaving every week, if we’re being honest) and will vary depending on where you live and how much fuzz you need. For a small area such as the upper lip, you can expect to pay between $100-150 for a session. However, for larger areas like the legs or arms, you will need to spend a few hundred dollars.

How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal

My consultation was about hair removal around my bikini, but I also thought about lasering my hair. Amber noticed that my facial hair was too light and fine, even though it was a bother. Laser hair removal must have a contrast between the skin and hair colors in order to be effective. She stated that the ideal hair should have pigment. “In addition, coarse hair reacts better than fine or vellus hair.”

Amber offered some tips to make the discomfort less overwhelming – the big one? Taking a pain relief medication at least 30 minutes prior to the treatment and shaving the area that will be treated beforehand.

Side Effects

Sun exposure is also a no-go. “Using a laser over skin that has been exposed to the sun for a long time could result in excessive heat, scarring, and burning. While it might be tempting to get out in the sun, make sure you wait at least two weeks or one week before tanning. This is why I recommend that you start treatments in the fall, winter, or if your area has colder climates, so that when summer comes, it’s not too hot.

Avoid drinking the night before treatment, as hangovers can make it more difficult.

Amber also suggested that I avoid drinking the night before and day of my laser treatment. She said that hangovers can cause shaking, sweating and sensitiveness to light, touch and sound.

Aftercare

Laser hair removal typically takes around six months, with appointments every four to six week. It is not uncommon to see results right away. My hair was much more sparse after my first session. It can take weeks for hairs to fall out. You will need to go back to the salon several times to get your hair completely removed. The process can be accelerated by exfoliating in the bath with a sugar scrub.

The Final Takeaway

Although it may seem obvious, I want to stress the fact that every person will have their own opinion about which procedure is best for them. There are many trends in laser hair removal. However, what is popular right now doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for your skin. Amber said that the most requested areas for treatment are the underarm, bikini and lower legs.