Ladies, we all know to some extent the oppressive regimen that is shaving. Whether you deem all body hair unsightly or just leg hair, bottom-half leg hair, underarm hair, you-know-where hair, or maybe just your upper lip, we have all succumbed to an external pressure to remove it. Shaving, threading, waxing and tweezing our way to a more “acceptable” level of body hair-related hygiene.
Believe me, I’ve fought it: in my early twenties I spent a summer frolicking around South American beaches and found myself mesmerized by the legs of the women I saw there. Against enviably bronzed skin was a sprinkling of untouched, fine blonde hair. In the sunlight it looked like glitter. Built-in, beautiful glitter. An unfamiliar sight, yet so human. After that summer, I quit shaving my legs altogether. For seven years.
The day I decided to bust out the old razor and reintroduce my legs to the outside world had nothing to do with the way it looked or someone else’s influence. I missed the way clean sheets felt on freshly-shaved skin. Really, that was it. But had I missed the act of shaving? Absolutely not.
Enter probably the greatest invention of our time (after Ziploc baggies, of course): laser hair removal.
Leslie Brown, owner of Denver’s Renew Skin and Laser and certified laser specialist, sat down with 303 to help us better understand the whats and hows of this increasingly popular method of hair removal.
303 Magazine: How does IPL (Intense Pulse Light) laser hair removal work?
Leslie Brown: A hand piece is applied to the skin’s surface and an intense, broad-spectrum light is emitted through the skin where melanin within the hair follicles is targeted. As the light is converted into heat energy, the follicle is damaged and hair growth is impaired. Several treatments are generally necessary for the desired result.
Is it painful?
Laser hair removal is very tolerable. The Palomar Starlux hand piece is cool and soothes as it is pressed against the skin. Most clients experience a warm, mild pinching similar to that of a rubber band snapping, but do not report this sensation as painful.
How many treatments does it take for best results?
The hair follicle needs to be in “growth phase” for the procedure to be effective, so six to ten sessions are normally needed to provide a permanent reduction of hair growth.
Are the results permanent?
Laser and IPL treatments are only approved by the FDA for “permanent hair reduction”, not permanent hair removal. This simply means that some regrowth can be experienced. Permanent results depend on the hair and skin color of each client. Factors like heredity, hormone imbalances and medication can also affect the results.
Who is an ideal candidate for successful laser hair removal?
The ideal candidate has fair skin and dark colored hair, however with the current technology and a skilled technician, just about anyone is a good candidate. Unfortunately, laser isn’t very effective on gray or white hair.
Why would laser hair removal benefit fitness-minded people?
Competitive athletes often look to laser hair reduction for help with performance in swimming, running, football, biking and working out. Hair also tends to retain sweat, odor and bacteria. Reducing the hair can also reduce these factors.
Speaking from my own experience with Leslie and the past year’s worth of laser hair removal sessions, I have to say: it’s one of the very best things I’ve ever committed to doing for myself. Being in the fitness industry, I’ve always kept an “emergency razor” in my bag in case of a last-minute yoga class or a mid-winter tank top faux pas. Thanks to IPL and Renew Skin and Laser, I’ve thrown that razor out and don’t even think twice when raising my arms at the gym. Showers take much less time, and razor burn is a thing of the past.
You can find your own body hair freedom here.
Bonus: 303 Magazine readers can receive an exclusive 20% discount. Just mention this article when you book your first appointment.
Jodilyn Stuart is the Health & Sports Senior Staff Writer for 303 Magazine, owner of ModaBody Fitness, and has been a professional fitness geek since 1997. If you have questions, feel free to email at: [email protected]