A couple of months ago, I posted a question on Instagram about what types of hair removal treatments Indian women found most effective. The response was overwhelming. I received over 50 messages, all sharing the many types of things they had tried, what worked, and what didn’t and 100% of them were interested in joining me on my laser hair removal journey.
My chin hair has been the bane of my existence since I was 13. My hair would grow back every few days with a vengeance. My husband would tease me during car rides. Whenever I met with a brown friend or my mom, they would grab for their tweezers and start plucking them for me.
I just hated the upkeep, management, and the overall annoyance of having mannish chin hair.
I started doing laser hair removal in December 2020 and have been pretty happy with my results. I’ve had two treatments and already noticed my hair growth has declined dramatically, especially in my most problematic area — my chin. And when I tell you I had bad chin hair, it was terrible.
I wanted to outline my personal experience with laser hair removal. I am not a doctor or a beauty blogger and am only presenting my experience.
I also want to say that you should be comfortable in your skin no matter what. Hair is hair is hair. And just like any other annoying thing in your life, it should not define you. I also know that, as a human being with feelings, emotions, and living in the reality of what I want for my personal beauty regime, this was important to me to take care of. I do not condone doing anything that does not feel comfortable or right for you.
My hope is that this can serve as a guide for your own exploration and journey of figuring out what the right hair removal option is for you.
Why I chose laser hair removal
When I lived in New York, I used to have an Indian beautician who ran a little salon a few miles from my place in Prospect Park. My Saturday morning ritual looked like this: go to the grocery store, then and stop by to see my salon aunty and get my facial hair taken care of.
This aunty told me that laser hair removal didn’t work on Indian skin. She told me about a client who had done laser hair removal but noticed that her hair was still growing under her skin. She had recently pulled out a long string of hair from a teeny, tiny little stub that had made its way to the surface on that client’s face.
Her story grossed me out and I didn’t give laser hair removal a second thought after that.
Whether or not this salon aunty was an expert on this topic, I’ll never really know. She just had that aunty-like authority that made me believe she could be right.
I had a lot of misconceptions about laser hair removal that kept me from really inquiring and scheduling that appointment. When I started the journey, I first came to my Instagram community to start debunking some of the things I had heard about it.
What I’ve learned
How it works
Laser hair removal works like this: The laser beams highly concentrated light into the hair follicles. The pigment in the follicles absorbs the light, which destroys the hair. (WebMD). When at your appointment, your technician will use a tiny handheld laser to zap any area where you have hair growth.
It’s a little painful, but not unbearable.
I have a zero tolerance for pain. I’m a big baby; I know it, and I’m not afraid to admit it. The treatments stung, but weren’t significantly painful for me — they provoked about the same degree of pain as threading would.
The laser literally feels like a warm zap. It makes a noise and sends out a very targeted, warm, and almost moist impulse to every hair follicle. Since I do my entire face, it takes about 15–20 minutes per session.
Dark-skinned women take note: different lasers work differently.
Laser hair removal was designed for fair skin and dark hair. That means any ol’ laser will not work for brown skin. The average laser is designed to target the pigment in your hair, which, for a fair-skinned person, is their darker hair.
Obviously, this is not the case for most women of color as we have both pigment in our skin and dark hair. Devices weren’t sophisticated enough to distinguish well between the pigment in brown or black skin and dark hair, meaning that they could potentially cause dark and light spots, blisters, and even scarring in the skin surrounding the follicle (Glamour).
There are two lasers that are designed for and are safe for darker skin — Nd:YAG and diode (Glamour). Thanks to the ladies I talked to, I knew when searching for a laser clinic to ask for that specific laser to prevent skin damage.
There are ways to make the price work with your budget over time
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost for laser hair removal is $285 per session. And typically, you need about 6-10 sessions to see results.
That can add up pretty quickly.
The price also depends on the area that you do the treatment on. Typically, larger areas cost more. I am paying $75 per session for treatments to my face. The price also decreases for maintenance sessions after about 8 sessions.
If you think about it, if you’re like me, you were probably getting treatments at least once or twice a month (at least during the pandemic). At that rate, you spend about $600 on a full face (at a cost of $25/session) per year. If you’re able to find a laser hair option that works for you, you’ll have to make maintenance appointments, but hopefully not at the same rate you are paying with threading or waxing.
From my experience, there are two ways to combat the cost:
- Referral credits: More people than you think have already done laser hair removal. In fact, when I shared my Instagram story, one of my friends here in Austin referred me to a local laser clinic in Austin called Alite Laser. As a result of her referral, we both received some referral bonuses.
- Groupon Deals: There are a ton of great local laser hair removal packages available if you do a little searching on Groupon. Please, please, please, if you choose to do this, call up the location and make sure they have a laser designed for darker skin complexions.
You cannot wax or thread while you’re doing the laser treatments
This piece of information can be painful for someone who likes to keep their facial hair handled, and especially for someone who has to come in contact with a lot of people during the week.
I am at home a lot more because of the pandemic and transitioned to using my facial razor in March 2020. Since you can use a facial razor, I’ve been fairly alright with just letting it grow and then using my razor for upkeep.
You may need to do ongoing maintenance
Experts say it is unlikely that you will be able to remove every single hair follicle permanently, because hair growth occurs in multiple phases and can be influenced by hormones or medications (Huffington Post).
Womanhood. What a fun life we lead. Here are a few things to consider.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, or plan to in the future, you should expect new hair growth and changes to your hair growth cycle during your pregnancy, due to a surge in hormones (Healthline).
You should also expect that this extra hair will (*hopefully*) fall out three to six months after the baby is born. (Mothers please let me know if this is something you’ve experienced!)
There are no safety studies showing that laser hair removal is safe during pregnancy, which means I will probably shy away from it when we start trying to begin a family.
If you’re someone with a lot of hair
I still recommend taking laser hair removal as the first step in your journey. My technician told me that if you have a lot darker, coarse hair, laser is probably the least painful and easiest option to start with. The laser will reduce and minimize hair growth (SELF). If you end up not seeing results that please you, a few women recommended electrolysis as a second option to get rid of your remaining hairs after laser. The hope is that the laser hair removal minimizes a good amount of your current hair growth.
The journey continues
I am someone who invests a ton of energy, time, and resources into feeling good about myself. I believe it is important to feel the best that you can — in whatever way works for you. For me, it has been a lot about investing in things that allow me to live my no-makeup, low maintenance lifestyle with ease.
Don’t let your “hairs” get in the way. If it’s something you’ve been contemplating, you owe it yourself to at least check out a few options in your area. Let me know what you find!