Ever since my pre-teenage years, I have always been one of the hairiest within my group of friends. At first, I was the cool one to start removing the hair that grew on my legs. I thought about waxing, but as it was known to be painful, I was never brave enough to give it a go. Instead, shaving was my go-to option, but after a few months, I started to dread the fact that I had to do it constantly.
As a consequence of removing my hair with this method so often, my skin started to develop some breakouts in sensitive areas such as the bikini line. During the summer, shaving down there and my armpits would make my skin become irritated. The hairs were gradually growing thicker to the point where when shaved, there was still a dark mark where the hair grew. Along with this, red rashes also started to appear.
As the state of my skin got worse and worse, I started looking for more permanent options. However, I did not want to lose my hair completely. Looking like a little girl wasn’t my intention either. Some members of my family started to talk about their experiences with diode laser. It seemed like they were satisfied with the results, so I decided to get further informed in a centre specialised on the segment.
As I did my research, I found Centros Único: a popular company for being the most common choice for hair laser removal procedures, along with other aesthetic treatments. Carmen Pérez*, employee of the corporation, talked me through the process.
“In Centros Único we use diode laser. This type of hair laser removal is suitable for all skin tones and types, along with all hair types and colours as well,” said the employee. As Carmen kept explaining, the more I understood that the procedure would suit my needs and wants: “Although it caters to everyone, it is more effective on those who have fair skin and black, thick hair. The more contrast between the skin and hair colour, the better.” Great. That sounded pretty much like me.
As the little coward that I am towards this ‘medical’ stuff, I was still hesitant. Are there any risks involved in this treatment? Because this definitely sounds like the kind of procedure that you could see in an article about How Hair Laser Removal Burnt my Skin for Two Months and Ruined my Summer. “Diode laser is almost 100% safe. The only thing it does to eliminate the hair is transport heat into the skin, which later on passes to the follicle, destroying the root of it. The continuous elimination of this, is what causes the hair to gradually grow slower and weaker.”
But what about the heat? “Diode laser has an adjustable power. Depending on the client’s skin and pain thresholds, this will be regulated. There have been cases where the patient has been slightly burnt or the skin has not responded well,” explained Carmen. “For these cases, there is a doctor in every Centros Único clinic. He or she will examine the reaction and give it a treatment if necessary. We have not yet ever had a case of long-term skin reactions, as the machine does not burn at those levels. Even having a light burn is odd, so it is nothing our customers should worry about.”
Plus, not only Centros Único, but all beauty centre and dermatologists where hair laser removal treatment is held, there are many legal requirements that they to adapt for. “All workers in the clinic must have training in the machine used and also own a registration on healthcare certificate,” said Carmen. As for the patients, clinics are obliged to record all of their sessions with dates and areas of the bodies treated. They also have to do a patch test before the procedure is started to discover if the skin is suitable for the treatment.
Phew. Okay, now another concern of mine is that the process might be very slow. Slow enough to make me feel demotivated about the procedure and ultimately stopping only after a few sessions have been done. Will it be worth my money?
“The sessions do have an immediate effect. However, the hair will grow as months pass. Therefore, the procedure has to be done every three months,” said Carmen. “The hair goes through a cycle of a total of three stages. Diode laser only works when the hair is in the first stage of growth, hence why we ask patients to shave before they have their session.
“It is true that the process might be tiring, but our customers notice the difference in their hair since the very first day. Even though it might not remove all of your hair permanently in that first appointment, you will still notice a difference. That is why our clients keep coming, because they see that it does work,” assures Carmen.
Going back to my other problem with hair laser removal is that, really, I’m not sure if I want my hair to be gone forever. “Actually, a very common misconception about hair laser removal is that people believe that it is permanent, and it really isn’t,” said the Centros Único employee. Not that I like having to shave. But still, I don’t want to look like a little girl. I just want my hair to take longer to grow and be thinner. “It is more of a semi-permanent option for hair removal. There is no method that can be 100% permanent. Or at least not today, because our body keeps creating new hair that doesn’t even exist right now.”
Apparently, the treatment is becoming more and more popular, especially among young women. “We have noticed in these recent years how an increasing number of customers have decided to trust Centros Único and our diode laser treatment.” Carmen believes that this could be due word of mouth, but especially due to their more affordable prices compared to other centres: “We know that this is a treatment wanted by lots of people. Therefore, we want to satisfy as many as we can. Centros Único has introduced the service at an economically friendly price from which a wide range of clients can benefit.”
The prices of Centros Único depend on the body area. For example, a small area such as the armpits will have a cost of £50 flat rate per area per session. A larger area such as half legs, full face or whole bikini will have a price of £100, and whole legs have a price of is £200 per session.
“To start with, the patient will have to buy a six pack sessions for every area. The price of the pack we cannot specify, as every month we have different offers for this,” explains Carmen. “However, if two large areas are appointed, you will get a free six pack sessions for a small area.”
Katy*, an eighteen year old who has gone through diode laser hair removal treatment, says: “I decided to go through the treatment because it was very uncomfortable for me to shave the whole bikini area. I would often cut, my hair tended to encyst… It was a hot mess in general. I would describe my hair as thin and with a grey-ish undertone. My skin is naturally tan.” After many weeks thinking about it, Katy finally decided to go through the treatment, as many of her friends had done it previously and were satisfied with the results.
“At first I was glad that I booked an appointment, because right after it, the hair was eventually falling. It was awkwardly satisfying to see how my pubic hair would fall in patches,” said Katy. “It wasn’t pretty. But it was working.”
After a year and a half using diode laser, Katy started to notice that the effects were the same every time she got a sessions done: “After nine sessions on my whole bikini area, my hair remained just like in the first one. Yes, I was glad at the beginning, but after the ninth session, I kind of expected to be pretty much done by then.”
However, Carmen thinks that this could be because Katy is still young, and as mentioned before, the effectiveness of the treatment highly relies on the patient’s hormones. So young adults out there: don’t dive into it if you are not willing to waste a lot of time and money.
“Overall, I am not satisfied with my experience. I would not recommend it, unless you really have very thick black hair,” was Katy’s conclusion on diode laser hair removal.
Clara* however, a nineteen-year-old girl who has struggled with self-consciousness about her hair, thought that hair laser removal was also the best option for her: “As a very, very hairy person, my skin went horrible after removing my hair.” Shaving wasn’t even an option for Clara. This meant that she would have to carefully schedule when booking an appointment for waxing in a beauty salon, in case she had an important event or just wanted to go to the beach. And of course, apart from the obvious: it is very painful indeed!
“After I knew that this would suit my hair type, I was immediately convinced about my decision. After six sessions on whole bikini and armpits, and four on legs and arms, I can say that I am super glad that I did it,” said Clara. Her hair removing routine has now changed completely: “I no longer have to wax anymore; I just quickly shave the areas that I want whenever plans come up.”
Carmen says that the majority of the patients in Centros Único are young female adults. “But we do still have older patients coming. In fact, they are the people who turn out happiest with the results, as hormones do not affect their hair as much as younger patients.”
Credit: Ben Hopper/TheGloss.com
Amelia*, aged 52, was convinced by her sister-in-law to start the treatment. “I have definitely noticed the difference in effectiveness between me and my daughter, who has gone through the same number of sessions that I have.” Although Amelia and her daughter have lasered the same body areas, the older patient has just finished the treatment and now only has to go to the reminder sessions once a year. The younger one however, is still going through the procedure every three months.
“From my experience, I would recommend diode laser hair removal if you are around my age. It has definitely worked to my satisfaction. But if you are a young adult thinking about it, I would give it a second thought, because for my daughter at least, it is a never ending process,” explains Amelia.
As for me, if you are wondering, I decided to go through the treatment. My hair is still there, but it is weak and very thin. Am I glad that I did? Yes, my aim was to stop having my horrible ingrowns and irritated skin after shaving any area of my body. I can do that now freely, and so can Clara, for example.
I am not callow either, which also makes me very glad. Although my hair would piss me off most of the time, I feel like hair gives me a sense of femininity as well. As for Amelia’s daughter and Katy, it might not be worth it. Having another aim difficult to achieve with diode laser, they will have to invest more time and money in the treatment.
This doesn’t mean that the procedure is rubbish, it just means that it is more suitable for some individuals than others. It all depends on your skin, hair and objective towards a semi-permanent option.
Words, Luciá Francés, @luciaffrances
Feature image, The Health Site
* names have been changed