Laser hair removal: all you need to know about the hair-free life

Being European, I constantly hear 3 misconceptions North Americans have about us:
1. we are all obsessed with sex
2. we don’t like to shower/get clean
3. we like to have body hair

I honestly don’t know how people come up with these ideas! Let me try to clear things up:
1. NO we are not all obsessed with sex – I frankly NEVER heard this growing up! It’s only when I got to Canada that people kept asking me if we were all sex addicts (although it is true that women are a lot more “free” with their bodies in Europe).
2. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Why would people even think Europeans don’t like to be clean?! I actually believe I shower more often than many of my friends here in Canada – not that I am going to start a “North Americans don’t like to be clean” rumour or anything.
3. I hear this one ALL. THE. TIME. It might be more of an Eastern European thing a long time ago, and even I’m not sure that it is true. I’ve never (ever ever) met someone – or at least a woman – in my life who enjoyed to have body hair. The idea that Europeans don’t like to shave or wax is so funny to me, because why would we not?! I’ve personally shaved my body since I was in my 10s, which actually brings me to the whole point behind this blog post:

All you need to know about laser hair removal.

Like I said, I have been shaving my body for about 15 years now – and I hate it. Not as much as I hate having body hair obviously, but I hate the actual need to have to shave myself. I get impatient, do things too fast, and often end up cutting myself with my razor. I’ve tried waxing and tend to keep that for special events (aka before a vacation), but I personally can’t afford to go every 4 weeks get all my lady bits waxed – only to have the same amount of hair grow back every time.

So about a year ago, I started laser hair removal on my armpits and bikini area. The reason I chose those two places to start were because they are the ones I hate shaving the most (duh). Also, they are relatively small surfaces and would be done quickly at each appointment. Let me share with you what I learned this past year, and if you are impatient you can scroll to the end for a photo of the final result of my underarm (sorry to disappoint you in case you were hoping for a bikini shot… not happening).

Is it painful?

That was my #1 question when I went in for my consultation. The answer is: not really. The best way I can describe the pain is like if you took an elastic band and snapped it on your wrist. The feeling lasts about 1-2 seconds, and your specialist will do what they can to make you comfortable (for example have cold air blown right over the lasered area). 

Is it expensive?

It of course depends on where you go to get your treatment done, but I believe it costs about the same as getting the body part waxed. Some places will offer you a discount if you buy a package, depending on how many sessions you pay for upfront. 

If you are in the Ottawa/Gatineau region, make sure to follow me on Instagram (@mariesbazaar) because I’ll be giving away 3 underarm sessions!

Is it permanent?

Laser hair removal is a reduction of body hair. Alexis at Skin Revival (who treated me) explained to me that a successful laser hair removal result would be about 80% of all hair gone. She also mentioned that to keep that result going, you would need to come about once to twice a year for a touch-up (depending on your own body). She also suggested to wax the area after your treatment is complete so that what little hair remains is gone for months!

Personally, I would say that my bikini area is 90-95% hair-free (which is AMAZING), and my underarms are about 70-80%. I am really happy with the results, and can’t even tell you how nice it felt to be on vacation by the beach and not have to worry about anything showing. I literally forgot about body hair – so much that I actually didn’t even think to pack my razor!

How long does a session take? How many times do you have to get it done?

Depending on the area you are treating, you could be in there for as little as 10 minutes! I would say each of my armpits took about 5 minutes (even as I type this I feel like 5 minutes is a long time… maybe more like 2-3), and my bikini took 10 minutes or so. Including the time to get into the towel, then dressed again, and book my next appointment, I would say I was in the clinic for about 30 minutes. So really quick – and definitely doable on a lunch break if this is all the time you have!

It takes about 8-12 sessions, done every 4 weeks. So it takes about a year to get from a hair-full to hair-free life. Of course it depends on your body type, how quickly your hair grows, how it reacts to the treatment,… but this is a good estimate.

Is it safe? Can you burn?

Yes it is safe. The laser doesn’t penetrate the skin deep (it is only meant to affect the hair). You are also wearing glasses for your eyes, so there is no need to worry about the bright light affecting your vision. I asked Alexis if it was safe for pregnant/breast-feeding moms, and she told me that there have been no studies done but there is no proof to think it wouldn’t be safe. Of course, it might not be encouraged, but should you find out you are pregnant while you are receiving the treatment there is no reason to worry.

If you go to an experienced specialist, no you shouldn’t burn. You’ll feel the laser being hot, but to actually be burned is so unlikely. I personally never got burn, and even the heat was “mild” in comparison to what I expected. Make sure to go to someone who knows what they are doing, and trust your body: if you feel it is too hot, say something!

What’s the recovery process?

There’s no recovery! All you need to do is maybe avoid putting lotion on for a few hours, and don’t sweat too much until the next day (if you plan on working out, go before or wait until tomorrow). 

How do you prepare for a session?

For my first session, Alexis asked me not to shave for a few weeks so she could examine my hair type. Following that, you’re asked to shave the day before any session, so that the skin is clean and the laser can penetrate the hair follicule. By the end of the treatment (session 7 or so), your hair will barely grow back so I personally didn’t bother shaving and just let it be.

Where can I get it done on my body? Does it work on everyone?

You can get laser hair removal done on any surface of the body (even the face!). Anywhere there is hair, you can get it treated. And anyone can get it done, however it tends to work better on someone with a fair skin tone and dark hair. Someone with blond hair might have to do more sessions, as the laser works best on coarse dark hair (aka hair you’ve shaved for years!).

My personal experience:

I would do it again in a heartbeat. No, it didn’t get rid of 100% of my hair, but I didn’t expect it to. I went into this treatment hoping that it would lessen the amount of hair and shaving time, and it absolutely did. My bikini area reacted extremely well to the treatment, I am convinced I won’t need to touch it for the next few years. My underarms are considerably less hairy, and the hair that does grow back is short and fine (which means practically not visible). The photo below was taken this morning, after my last session (which means about 10% of the remaining hair will soon vanish), and I have not done anything to remove what’s left for a little over 3 weeks. 

If you live in the Ottawa/Gatineau area, I would recommend you to book a consultation with Alexis at the Skin Revival clinic on Merivale. She took care of me, worked her magic on my skin, and answered all my hundreds of questions (and then some).


1 Comment

  • Anic

    I’ve been getting laser for a while for my unwanted hair. I can’t wait to start getting my bikini done. I’ve been looking for a new place to go in Ottawa. Thanks for the recommendation!