Is Laser Hair Removal Worth It?

Is laser hair removal worth it? I’ve had laser hair removal on my underarms, bikini line, and most recently lower legs. Here are my experiences and results! Please note Smooth Skin Laser traded me a lower leg package in exchange for this post. 

Is laser hair removal worth it?

Spoiler alert: yes absolutely!! I have had three areas of my body lasered and it is life changing!! I don’t really know a single person who likes shaving. Between razor burn, ingrown hairs, and the cost of razor cartridges, it’s a pain all around. My results have been incredible and if you can handle a little discomfort and afford the cost, you should 100% go for it.

Round one: underarms and bikini

About five years ago, I decided to try laser hair removal on my underarms and bikini line when my gym had a first-timer special. I would not describe the experience as pleasant. While it was absolutely worth it in the long term, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do a larger surface area, like my legs. Neither my underarms or bikini line are “shave free” but the hairs that are left are slower growing and much more sparse, so I can go a lot longer in between shaves.

Five Years Later I tried it again

Fast forward to earlier this year, I struck up a conversation with Carrie, the owner of Smooth Skin Laser here in Charlottesville. I told her how much I loved the results of my first round, but that I was scared to do my legs. She offered that I come in for a test run and it wasn’t too bad! That’s how I decided to dive in and try my legs too.

I actually had my first treatment in February before covid shut everything down (which is why I am not wearing a mask in these photos – ahhhhh pre-quarantine life!) Once business opened back up in June, they implemented new protocols, including masks for all and only one person at a time, so I’ve been able to resume treatments. I’m on treatment #4 of 5 and my results are great! See below for more : )

What can you expect?

A few thing to know about getting laser hair removal:

What kind of hair does it work on?

It works best if you have coloring where there is contrast between the hair and skin color, otherwise the machine can’t “see” the hair. This technology is getting better everyday so if you weren’t a good candidate a few years ago, you might be now. The machines work on all skin type and colorings.

There are four different types of hair removal machines at Smooth Skin

Each machine is a little different and will be personalized to you. Depending on your hair texture, skin color, age, and ethnic background, the technicians will pick which machine would give you the best permanent results. Learn more here.

Because of my skin color and age, I tried two of them. The first was more powerful and “blows the hair follicle out.” This is what I had on my underarms. It’s a bit more painful but you’ll leave with instant results. The remaining treatments are mostly to catch hairs in other stages of growth. The second machine type is a bigger surface area per pulse and a bit less intense. Results are the same at the end of your 5-7 sessions, but you’ll notice a more gradual hair loss. I would recommend the second machine since it’s less painful and just stick with it until you’re happy with your results!

Shave the day before

You’ll want to shave the day before so hairs are short but visible. You won’t want to wax, tweeze or pluck in the weeks prior. I don’t do any tanning, but if you do tanning beds or self tanners, you need to stop those in the weeks prior too.

How does it work? Does it hurt?

The wand sends a pulse of laser light to a group of hair follicles with enough power to disable or destroy the root while not harming the skin. Almost simultaneously, a cooling spray follows so your brain is kind of like: “Was that pain or cold?” It’s a great trick! I would say 75% of the pulses don’t hurt but feel like someone thumping you with their fingernail. Maybe 15% hurt moderately and only a very small percentage of total pulses feel painful – like a needle. If you have ever gotten a tattoo, your bikini line waxed, or had a baby, this is MUCH less painful. Of the 4 treatments I’ve had, 2 of them were totally no big deal and 2 of them (the middle 2) hurt more than the others. It’s anyone’s guess to why, but you can be more sensitive to the laser if you’re hormones are in a certain phase or if your hairs just aren’t feeling it that day (which means that is most likely the treatment that zaps most of them for good!)

How many sessions does it take? Will all the hair be gone?

Most people reach 80-90% permanent hair removal anywhere from 4-10 sessions depending on how you react. That’s about what I experienced. After my first treatments on my underarms and bikini five years ago I would say I had 75% removal. I still had to shave, but the hairs were finer and shaving was no big deal compared to the razor burn I used to get. You have to wait a month between sessions but you’ll start seeing results right away. And unlike waxing, you don’t have to grow the hair out for a while before the appointment, so no need to cover up for 2-3 weeks prior. You can keep shaving as usual.

You can’t sunbathe for a few weeks

Sun exposure can cause your skin pigment to turn white and it’s hard to get rid of. You either have to cover yourself in SPF and stay in the shade or wear pants for two weeks after going. That said, I had my leg treatments in the middle of the summer and just made sure to put sunscreen all over them if I knew I’d be out walking. I also don’t “sunbathe” and you’ll always find me under an umbrella so I didn’t find it to be a problem.

My Results

I noticed my leg hairs immediately seemed to stop growing after my first treatment. The hair continued to grow, but slowly. I had a few month gap during the first part of the pandemic, and then after treatments #2 and #3 (a month apart) I saw incredible results!! If you think a leg feels smooth right after shaving in the shower, you need to feel a leg that doesn’t actually have any hair. I have a good comparison because I am still shaving my thighs, so I can compare my upper and lower legs. The difference is dramatic! I’ve been asking Thomas, Mazen, my mom to feel my leg because it’s so smooth.

I never thought shaving my legs was that big of a concern because I didn’t have trouble with razor burn or ingrown hairs on my legs. But if I wanted smooth legs, I had to shave every single day. And let’s be honest, I probably only shaved twice a week – so my legs were always stubbly! I’m so happy with my lower leg results I think I’m going to go for the upper legs this winter. And I definitely can’t say enough good things about Carrie and the Smooth Skin Laser team. They were all so friendly!

What does laser hair removal cost?

Now that you know I enthusiastically recommend laser hair removal, why wouldn’t everyone get it? Well it’s not cheap, and it doesn’t fit into every budget. The cost of lower legs is $1,500. That might seem like a lot all at once, but if you think of the hours, days, and years you’ll have smooth legs, it doesn’t seem too bad for a lifetime. Look for specials and promos in your area.

Cville locals: get 10% off of any laser treatment at Smooth Skin Laser with the verbal code KATHEATS! 

Have you guys ever had laser hair removal? What was your experience?