Tired of the constant battle with body hair? Our tester decided to try laser hair removal to find out if it really is a permanent solution to the problem…
Laser Hair Removal - Lower Leg
Laser Hair Removal - Lower LegBy The New York Laser Clinic
Price: From £600
After 20 years of waxing my legs every month, I finally decide enough is enough. Enough quick regrowth. Enough unsightly in-growing hairs. Enough of the endless trips to the beauty salon. Putting all the thoughts of pain and expense to one side, I resolve to bite the bullet and finally book in for the treatment I’ve been flirting with the idea of for the past four years, laser hair removal.
I choose the New York Laser Clinic in London’s Notting Hill as the price is good and I like the way they answer my questions. My first appointment is for a consultation and patch test, which, to my surprise, doesn’t hurt – but then it is over only about one inch of leg. A week later the real thing begins. It starts with my therapist shaving the area she’ll be treating – in this case my legs – and marking square sections with a white pencil to create a grid. This allows her be more accurate over the large area, she says.
The laser fires up. The therapist and I don special safety glasses and she starts moving the head of the laser over each inch of skin, meticulously following the grid so no area is missed. It’s uncomfortable, like lots of elastic bands pinging on to your skin, but not too painful, mainly because each zap is quick and lasts a few seconds and the clinic uses an advanced laser, which blows cool air on to the skin at the same time – instantly soothing.
The whole thing takes about an hour and afterwards my legs are cooled down with an application of aloe vera gel and cold, wet towels. I’m told I am allowed to shave and trim my hair between sessions (another advantage compared to waxing, when tampering with the hair between treatments interferes with the long-term hair-thinning effect and only means you have to wait longer for your next session), but not to over-do it. I decide I’ll just shave for special occasions. What I’m not allowed to do is sunbathe. The laser sensitises the skin and sun exposure could lead to pigmentation. As a result, it’s better to start a course of treatment in the autumn. With six to eight treatments six weeks apart being the norm – the hairs get finer after every treatment, but it takes several sessions to kill all the follicles – they’ll be ready for the following summer.
By the end of the second treatment, my hairs are noticeably finer, and with every treatment the uncomfortable pinging sensation becomes more bearable. The treatment’s not cheap – the full course of sessions set me back £594, but for someone who’s lived her whole life with thick, dark hair, it’s made a huge difference, and in the long run, it does work out cheaper than waxing. I feel like I’m no longer a slave to depilation and can now wear what I like when I like, instead of planning my outfits around the growth cycle on my legs. And that’s worth every penny.
At a glance: ELLE’s dos and don’ts of laser hair removal
Don’t sunbathe for the duration of your treatments or have tanned skin prior to your course – it’ll interfere with the absorption of the laser by the skin. That includes fake tan.
Do wear sunblock on treated areas if you go out in the sun
Don’t expect this to be a quick fix. You need to leave five to six weeks between treatments, and will probably need two courses of six to eight treatments in total before the hair disappears completely.
Do consider starting a course of laser hair removal in autumn when the areas won’t be exposed to the sun, you can wear tights and trousers to cover re-growth in between treatments, and you’re giving yourself plenty of time to complete the course of treatments before summer.
Me My Elos By HoMedics
Winter is the perfect time of year to start an at-home laser hair removal programme (thanks to opaque tights allowing for hair growth and lack of sun which is harmful to lasered skin). ELLE put the HoMedics mē to the test, which harnesses both IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and radio frequency to apparently reduce hair growth by ‘89% after only four treatments’. Here’s our verdict…
Pros: It’s much faster and more efficient than most at-home laser systems. With HoMedics mē you don’t need to section the skin with a white pencil, instead you move the head across your legs, arms and underarms as you would a razor. Using the epilator or razor attachments you can remove hair and laser at the same time (lasers can only be used on freshly shaved skin), which is another great time saver. The epilator attachment is a must for blondes, which are usually too fair to benefit from IPL. It creates miniscule pools of blood within the hair follicle (sounds a bit gross) that the laser ‘sees’, sending the intense pulsed light into the follicles it would normally miss. Hair growth was much more sparse on the legs and underarms within just three treatments.
Cons: The replacement cartridges tend to run out quite quickly and, at £40 a pop, can make it quite expensive. Although, it has to be said, the lighter the hair growth the less you need to use the HoMedics mē, so while the outlay may be pricey it should get cheaper as time goes on. You need to laser the area every fortnight on the dot - miss a treatment and it feels like it sets you back and the reduction in hair growth isn’t so impressive.
Verdict: One of the best at-home hair removal systems on the market. It’s expensive to start with but with an impressive reduction in hair growth it’s definitely worth it in the end.
HoMedics mē is exclusively available Boots and Boots.com, £399 (£449.99 from January). Replacement cartridges, £40. Epilator attachment, £39.99 available from Boots.com. Shaver attachment, £39.99, is only available from homedics.co.uk.