This is what it’s really like to zap your hair with lasers

Visit any woman-centric website and you’re likely to discover at least one beauty editor professing her aversion to fussy beauty regimens, reluctance to layer her makeup, and devout avoidance of nail polish.

I am not one of those people.

Anyone who knows me will attest to this statement – my beauty routine is anything BUT fuss-free. I’m the girl who has at least six beauty products in her gym bag at all times, countless others in her makeup bag, and three drawers at home chock-full of all matter of creams, balms, and shadows (just ask my partner – poor thing). 

And while I don’t mind my 10-step makeup routine in the morning, there’s one thing I do mind in the name of beauty, and that’s shaving.

I’ve been caught out numerous times sans razor, leaving my awkwardly working out with my arms down, being reluctant to chuck on my bikini bottoms, or opting for jeans instead of a skirt to hide my hairy legs.

These hair horror stories made me the perfect candidate for a few rounds of laser hair removal at The Cosmetic Clinic in Auckland’s Sylvia Park.

While laser isn’t exactly a friendly word when it comes to skincare (read: zapping), my nerves were instantly eased upon meeting Jamie, one of The Cosmetic Clinic’s expert laser technicians.

I’d been booked in for three areas to be treated – underarms, full legs, and my nether region. Before my course of treatments began, I was walked through a 15-minute consultation with Jamie to assess my complexion, hair type, heritage, and how to prep my skin to get the best possible results.  

Autumn proved to be exactly the perfect time to kick start my laser treatment, as Jamie explained they cannot treat patients if they’ve had sun exposure two weeks prior to their appointment, or used any fake tan on their skin. The experts recommend avoiding a wax or depilatory creams for two weeks prior to treatment, as well as any sun-tanning Vitamin A injections in the last six months.

While it sounds as though laser hair removal is quite a new concept, the procedure has actually been around for a long time – about two decades in fact. The tech has come a long way since its inception in the mid-90s.

Unlike IPL hair removal, laser is fast, effective and (surprisingly) affordable. Many clinics don’t have a laser machine, as the best in the industry are incredibly expensive. Thankfully, The Cosmetic Clinic only use the best-in-class equipment (Candela GentleLASE and Candela GentleYAG) and product, so I knew I was in safe hands!

A long-term solution to an age-old problem, laser hair removal works by generating a single wavelength of light that specifically targets the melanin in the hair follicle to ultimately kill it and prevent any future hair growth. Laser machines create more heat directed at the hair follicle than IPL systems, hence achieving better results. Because the heat is absorbed by the follicle, and not the skin, there is a decreased risk of burning when using laser machines. This also makes laser a safer option for darker skinned individuals.

The Cosmetic Clinic offers laser hair removal from bikini, underarms, legs, face, chest, back, next and stomach, and can treat all skin types including dark brown, although a different machine may be used.

The night before my first appointment, I did a full body shave to ensure my skin was prepped and ready for the laser to work its magic on my unwanted body hair.

Jamie mentioned my treatment could take anywhere between five minutes to an hour, depending on the area. During my initial consultation, I was told that because of my hair type, I’d need at least six treatments every four to six weeks, to achieve the best results.

I have the same pain threshold as a four-year-old, so needless to say I was a little anxious as Jamie fired up the laser. I popped on some super chic (not) safety goggles to protect my eyes during the bright flash of light that zaps the hair follicle, and waited while she marked my skin with a white pencil in a grid-like format to ensure every inch of me was meticulously covered.

So, what did it feel like? The best way of describing it would be a rubber band pinging my skin. Some areas definitely felt a bit more sensitive than others (read: bikini line), my underarms were slightly ticklish, but my legs didn’t hurt one bit. Which I found surprising as my Brazilian only took 15 minutes, and my legs double that time.  If you are worried about the pain, I would totally recommend booking in with Jamie who has a great trick to distract you from each little zap!

Following my treatment, I was provided with an after-care pack including Institut’s Laser Aid, a miracle on post-lasered skin. I was advised to use cold compresses to ease any discomfort or swelling, and to avoid applying makeup, deodorant, or excess sun exposure in the treated areas for the next five days.

Over the next few weeks, my hair fell out gradually, and I found I didn’t need to shave nearly as much as I usually would. I’m a convert. It didn’t hurt half as much as I thought it would, I didn’t suffer from any major pain or discomfort following my treatment, and the results totally speak for themselves.

Bring on the next five treatments!

Keen to discover how to be hair-free the pain-free, affordable way? Head here for more.

The Cosmetic Clinic is also located in Westfield Manukau, Auckland and Riccarton Mall, Christchurch.