Why Laser Hair Removal Is The Key To De-Fuzzing For Good

Tired of the constant battle with body hair? This is why laser hair removal might be the best option for you.

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We've all nicked ourselves shaving or had a bad waxing experience and vowed to look into permanent hair reduction, right?

But it wasn't until I was diagnosed with poly-cystic ovaries - a condition that affects one in ten women in the UK - that my hair growth got out of control.

After years of bulk buying razors, making friends with my threading lady and utilising just about every other means of hair removal, I ended up with unsightly stubbly shadows and having to dig out bumpy ingrown hairs was just a part of my every day beauty routine.

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Holidays abroad started to become more trouble than they were worth, and after seeing my friends having the time of their life in Cyprus without me, I finally bit the bullet and booked in for laser hair removal that month.

I'd heard good things about IPL (Intense Pulsed Light laser) from a friend who was already six sessions into her hair removal treatment at the Tessa Stevens Health and Beauty Clinic in North London.

Admittedly, I was a little worried of swerving clinics with the prestigious W1 postcode, but their packed appointment book spoke for itself and I liked the way the therapists answered my questions - even the stupid ones, like, 'Can I wear my usual heavy make-up after treatments?'

Answer: No - but more on that later.

My thick hair was assessed and I was told I would need at least 6-8 sessions to see an impressive result.

NOTE: Hair is only ever reduced, not permanently removed.

I had a quick patch test that same day and monitored the area for any changes, like severe redness or any pain and after giving myself the all clear, I booked in for my very first fully fledged treatment.

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As someone with a pretty low pain threshold, I was a little anxious, but as the laser was fired up and both my therapist and I had donned a pair of safety goggles each (the laser gives off a bright flash of light when it zaps the hair follicle), I couldn't back out.

Next, she marked my skin with a white pencil to make sure that she covered every inch of me meticulously and a cold gel was applied to the areas to make it easier for the head of the laser to glide along.

Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt?

The sensation I felt was a cross between a plastic band pinging against my skin and the mild electric shock you often get from touching the hand rail on escalators.

It's slightly more uncomfortable in certain areas where the skin tends to be more sensitive such as along your top lip and bikini line but as the sessions go on and the hair decreases, the feeling diminishes, too.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Laser Hair Removal?

After each session I noticed a touch of redness and sometimes the odd whitehead but there was no burning or rash-like symptoms - this shouldn't happen if your technician gets the intensity of the setting right depending on your hair and skin type.

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Aloe vera gel was always applied to the area to soothe and calm the skin and a few days after my first few treatments I noticed the hairs starting to fall out - result!

Fast forward to today, I'm seven sessions in to my treatment (one session is recommended every four weeks to catch the hair in its correct stage of growth) and I can't quite believe the difference.

In some places, my hair is non-existent and in others it's so fine it's barely even noticeable.

How Much Does Laser Hair Removal Cost?

Starting at £70 a time for a small area, the treatment isn't cheap, but it really is worth every penny.

I now have the confidence to catch the tube completely make-up free and want to whip my legs out when I spot even a single ray of sunshine.

Honestly, I don't know why I hadn't plucked up (sorry) the courage sooner.

The Dos And Don'ts Of Laser Hair Removal

- DO shave in between treatments. This is the best way to quickly remove hair without damaging the root. Your beauty therapist will shave the area before applying the laser to your skin, anyway, as any visible hair will only get singed otherwise!

- DON'T apply heavy make-up for 24 hours after your laser treatment to avoid clogging the skin and causing breakouts. If you really have to, opt for mineral types, such as Jane Iredale, Inika and bareMinerals which let the skin 'breathe.'

- DO avoid sun exposure - and lay off the fake tan, too. Lasers are more compatible with paler skin-types, so, even though a tan looks great, it'll minimise the efficiency of the laser, preventing the energy from making its way to the root of the hair.

- DON'T wax, epilate or pluck your hair in between treatments as it removes the hair from the root. Lasers work because they are attracted to the hair's pigment underneath the skin and if it is completely gone, there won't be anything there for the laser to zap. If this is the case, you might have to wait up to another four weeks for the root to re-form until you can be treated again.

- DO wear a high factor SPF. After treatments, skin becomes more sensitive to UV rays, so always slather it in a high factor sunscreen to protect it from things like hyperpigmentation and sensitivity.

- DO exfoliate the area gently as it encourages the dead roots to fall out after every treatment and will make your skin look less bumpy and shadowy.

And if you prefer to DIY, here are the very best at-home laser hair removal systems on the market, approved by ELLE of course.

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- Philips Lumea Prestige IPL, £575

At £575 this is one of the most expensive at-home devices on the market, but trust us when we say that it is worth it's weight in gold.

Just like a professional salon laser, this harnesses IPL to kill those pesky hairs at the root. There are five different settings (1 is mild, 5 is the most intense) and four separate attachments to make it easier for you to treat certain areas such as your face, bikini line, underarms and legs.

The device isn't heavy so it's simple to locate the button and to trigger the laser - but the best part is that it is more or less pain free.

Unlike some other devices, this one adapts itself to your skin colour to deliver the perfect intensity and I noticed a difference on my arms after just two sessions. Savvy, right?

- Iluminage Precise Touch Permanent Hair Reduction System, £240

This is beauty editor-approved - and for good reason. The curved design makes it easy to reach all kinds of areas (especially the under arms) and promises a huge 94% hair reduction after just seven weeks, so if you're off somewhere hot this summer, snap it up stat.

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The snazzy-looking device uses IPL as well as Radio Frequency to distribute the laser efficiently and painlessly and it isn't heavy or clunky.

- Braun Silk-expert 5 IPL Permanent Visible Hair Removal at Home for Body & Face, £399.99

This is as fantastic as any professional laser which is why it has such a huge cult following. Using IPL, it glides on to skin without snagging or pinching and is so quick and easy to master, making the zapping process less of a chore.

The added exfoliating facial brush feature is brilliant at encouraging the shedding of hairs from their dead roots.

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