I have fantasized about laser hair removal for a long time, but it’s been very out of reach for financial reasons. I have very pale skin and very coarse, dark hair in places I don’t want it. So when Groupon offered an amazing deal – $99 for three laser hair removal sessions at Albany Laser Spa (worth almost $900) – I couldn’t pass it up. The Groupon special allowed me to purchase two of the deals – $198 for six sessions! You could choose a handful of smaller areas – not big ones like the legs – so I thought I’d use my two deals for my underarms, since the site stated that most people need 6-8 sessions to finish the job and see permanent results. The underarms were my priority, since my hair is so dark that you can still see it under my skin after I shave.
So I had my 30-minute free consultation on Monday. This did not count against my Groupon deals. I was a little disheartened when I was told that I could not use both of my Groupons for my underarms. The fine print is that you can’t combine the Groupons with any other offer… and using two for one area would be combining the offers. I do wish that had been clearly stated before I bought them, but I listened to what the offer was for Groupon users to finish out their treatments. They were offering a special rate to Groupon clients and honoring their “buy the bikini line package, get the underarm package free” deal.
When all was said and done, I signed the contract and paid in full upfront. For about $1,000 ($198 to Groupon, $800 directly to Albany Laser Spa) I’m getting both my underarms and my bikini line packages that would be $5,250 at full price. Anyone without a Groupon can take advantage of the free underarm package until June 21, 2011, paying $2,800 for both underarms and bikini line. It costs slightly more if you opt to go with their hair-free guarantee, which allows additional treatments at no additional cost if the hair grows back within two years of your seventh treatment. I didn’t go with the guarantee, as Lisa told me that my skin type and hair color made it unlikely that I would need it. I’m pretty much the ideal candidate for laser hair removal.
Since I have chronic hives, Lisa told me that they could crank the laser down a few notches if it hurt too much due to the red pigment in my skin. If that happened, she said to talk to her, and she’d add a few treatment sessions for me for free. If the power didn’t need to be cranked down for anything, additional treatment sessions would be $100 each (as opposed to $350-$400 each) thanks to Groupon and prepayment in full.
My First Laser Hair Removal Treatment Session
I had my first laser hair removal session yesterday. In preparation, I was told to shave within 24 hours of my treatment and not to use deodorant or anything else on the treatment areas. (It was about 95 degrees yesterday, so my apologies to anyone who may have smelled me as a result of not being allowed to use deodorant.) I also have to stay out of the sun – something I do anyways since I burn so easily. Also? My underams and bikini line don’t generally see the sun, even when I am outside. 😉
I wore a tank top to my session, which meant that I didn’t have to take my shirt off or anything while Meghan, my laser technician, did her thing with my underarms. Before she got started, she handed me a pair of disposable safety glasses and let me hear what the laser sounded like. She also let me feel the burst of cool air that would make each pulse of the laser more comfortable.
I was a little nervous about how painful it would be…I’ve heard it’s more “discomfort” than “pain,” but I am a complete and total wuss with overly sensitive skin. Both Lisa and Meghan had described it as “pinching.” I braced myself for the worst…
It wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was totally bearable. It was nothing compared to getting my eyebrows waxed, which literally brings tears to my eyes. I was talking and laughing while this was going on. If I had to describe how it felt, it was almost exactly like when I put my deodorant on too soon after shaving my underarms. (I use a prescription-strength roll-on that can sting a bit after I shave.) And seven sessions worth of temporary stinging – which went away by the time she moved on to the next treatment area – is nothing compared to the sting of deodorant applied after shaving every other night for the rest of my life. Each side took under five minutes to treat.
The bikini line was a bit more uncomfortable. Hair along the bikini line tends to be longer and run deeper under the skin, which results in more discomfort. Areas with more hair hurt more than areas with less hair, since the laser targets the pigment.
I was given what Meghan described as “uber-cute Underoos.” Meghan left the room while I put on my disposable paper bikini, and I joked with her that they could become the next big thing in fashion. She told me that she’d go “two inches in, one inch out” for the bikini line. (Or was it the other way around? Now I can’t remember.)
And the pinching was far more intense than it was with the underarms. Meghan told me I could take a break if I needed it, but I was able to power through. I told her I’d take a break before she moved onto the other side…but by the time she got the chair spun around to start the other side, I was ready to go without an actual break. The stinging had already stopped. And by the time I was dressed? I didn’t feel any discomfort at all. I was able to drive and have a client meeting without any uncomfortable reminders of my treatment.
One day later, my bikini line is a bit irritated, but it’s not the sunburn-like discomfort Meghan warned me happens with a minority of people. Nope, what I’m experiencing is razor burn from having to shave the area for my laser hair removal preparation. (Which is why I normally stick with using just a trimmer when I need to don my swimsuit, since it has a cute little skirt to hide things.)
I’m told it will take up to 2-4 weeks for the dead hair to be rejected by my body. For my underarms, I’ll most likely just notice a 20% reduction in new hair growth, but for my bikini line, I might notice hair actually falling out, since it runs deeper under the skin. Hair follicles aren’t all active at the same time, so when I notice my hair starting to grow back, that’s a good thing, since those follicles will be the ones that the laser will kill at my next session in August. Laser hair removal sessions are scheduled two months apart to allow a different set of follicles to become active. I’ll still be finishing up my treatments this time next year, but I’m looking forward to the gradual results I’ll see until I’m done for good!
Disclosure: I am not receiving any special compensation from Albany Laser Spa for this series of posts. I received the same deal that any of their Groupon customers received. But I am hoping to work with Albany Laser Spa in the future!