August 9th 2014
Not Fair: Laser hair removal
June 14th 2013
Laser hair removal used to be only for those with fair skin and dark hair. We test out the new fuzz-busting treatment by GentleLaser that even works on darker skintones
Could GentleLaser Hair Removal be the solution?
The Muttucumarus are hairy people. Well, all with the exception of my mother that is. Like a lone Chihuahua in a family of Chewbaccas, she had the good fortune of going through life as smooth as a baby’s backside. However, rather than giving herself every chance of passing these enviable genes on to her offspring, she instead decided to hunt down, marry and then procreate with possibly the hairiest man in South East Asia.
The Abominable Snowman (or as I like to call him, Daddy), was clearly in possession of the more dominant gene in the pool which started to make its presence felt when I was around 14. My subsequent teenage and adult years resulted in having to deal with a multitude of excess hair woes from moustache to monobrow, sideburn to stubble (when I once made the ill-fated decision of shaving off my ‘tache for my Year 11 school picture. Horrifying). So when I recently found out about a new laser hair removal campaign called No Shades Barred from GentleLaser Hair Removal, I was curious and off I went to book myself in for a consultation to see if a fuzz-free future could indeed be a possibility for me…
How is GentleLaser Hair Removal different?
Historically, laser hair removal has only really been a viable option for people who have fair skin and dark hair. However advancements in the field have now made the procedure available to a much wider range of skintones and hair colour combinations. This particular treatment was developed by Syneron Candela, one of the first aesthetic laser companies who have over 40 years’ experience in the field. All of their lasers are FDA approved and the SK:N clinic in Harley Street where I had it done is also fully registered with the Care Quality Commission. With three types of lasers to treat most hair and skin colours, the procedure is now suitable for a larger range of ethnicities courtesy of the variety of different wavelengths used to target the root of the hair, while leaving the surrounding skin unchanged.
How does it work?
A concentrated beam of light passes through the skin’s surface and is absorbed by the hair follicle, where it is transformed into heat. The heat disables the follicle by disrupting its growth and has the best results if the follicle is in its Anagen phase of growth (i.e. its ‘active’ growing stage). As hairs are never in the same growing phase at any one time, more than one treatment is needed to target all of the hair follicles. You can’t pluck or wax for 4 weeks before the treatment nor in between appointments either, but don’t fret as shaving is absolutely fine. How many treatments are required depends on your specific hair type, but can range from 6-12 sessions in total - one every 6 weeks, after which time it claims it can significantly reduce hair growth by up to 80%.
What was involved?
Fed up of shaving everyday and with summer and tank top season just around the corner, I opted to try out the procedure on my underarms. After a thorough consultation and patch test which went smoothly (no pun intended), I booked in for my first treatment the following week.
With goggles provided to protect my eyes, a laser was passed over my underarms in a series of short sharp bursts and it was all over in a surprisingly swift 10 minutes. Aloe vera gel and thermal spring water were then applied post-treatment and certainly went some way in helping to soothe and cool the areas and prevent redness. I was also warned to avoid applying deodorant and other creams on the treated areas for 24 hours afterwards and to use sufficient sun protection thereafter as the skin would be particularly sensitive to UV rays.
Did it hurt?
According to the informative pamphlet that I was supplied with at my patch test, the sensation is described as a “mild discomfort” and “likened to an elastic band flicking the skin”. I personally found it quite a bit more painful than this.
Did it work and would I have it done again?
For long-term hair removal, this is certainly an effective procedure to have done. After just one session, I definitely noticed that the hair under my arms had already started to grow back sparser, finer and at a slower rate than before.
Although 6-12 treatments are recommended for optimum results, I personally chose to stop after just the one. This was for two reasons. Firstly, as cumbersome as my mammoth hair removal sessions had become, rather unexpectedly, I started to slightly miss my pit hair (no one was more surprised than me at this discovery!) It wasn’t until I had it done that I realised that the idea of permanently changing something that all women have, well, freaked me out a little. It turns out that I’m actually quite happy with the slight reduction in growth after just the one as it has made maintenance a little more manageable for the future, without getting rid of it completely.
Secondly, I also found the treatment more painful than I could handle. Whether or not you feel that it is worth the pain is completely up to you, it all really depends on your individual pain threshold and specific hair removal needs.
That being said, I certainly think it is worth the time and money if you suffer from excess hair growth and are looking for a long-term way of removing embarrassing hair. As for me though, I’ve realised that I’m actually fonder of my fuzz that I thought. But maybe that’s just my roots talking. I am part Yeti after all.
For your local GentleLaser Hair Removal clinic call 0845 521 0698, www.gentlelaserhairremoval.co.uk. Depending on the area to be treated, prices can range from £40-£150 per session. Prices vary from clinic to clinic.
To book yourself in for a consultation and test patch at SK:N clinic, call 0800 028 7222 or visit sknclinics.co.uk