A year ago, I purchased the Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X. It is a pricey tool for sure, but the time, pain, and money spent on my own hair removal made me decide to take the plunge.
My backstory: I have super sensitive and very fair skin. When I shave, especially sensitive areas such as my bikini line or armpits, I always end up with irritation and often ingrown hairs. When I wax, the irritation with hair regrowth in is even worse; even if I am dedicated in using my signature after-depilatory cocktail of equal parts antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, and night cream daily after showering. And honestly- the resources wasted by shaving and waxing are astounding!
So, laser seemed like a good option. But professional laser removal is not only VERY expensive, you cannot do it at your leisure from your couch while watching Law & Order reruns. Since I struggle to schedule regular hair appointments for my head, I was even less confident in my determination to do so for my pubes. After some research and an enthusiastic recommendation from a friend’s sister, I purchased one on Amazon Prime Day for $332.*
Who can remove: My first reading of the pamphlet made me scream “Is this thing racist?!” and reader, it kind of is. You must have light colored skin, and the hair being removed cannot be blonde, red, or white/gray. This has to do with the pigments affected by the wavelength of the lasers used. Tria’s website provides the following chart:
Any skin to the right of the selection (or hair color to the left) is marked as not suitable for Tria. For me, this meant that Tria would not work on the blonde hair on my arms, face, and several other parts. Here is some information about the growing options for hair removal with darker skin, and possible upcoming solutions for laser removal of light colored hairs.
The removal: The Tria device looks like the baby of a hair dryer and a dental curing light. You have to unlock it by placing the bottom of the unit on skin that is a shade impacted by the laser’s wavelength. Once unlocked, you select levels 1-5, with 5 being the most intense. And it is intense. Getting zapped in sensitive areas with a laser is not fun, but for some reason the pain level mostly made me burst out in awkward laughter. But it does hurt!
I decided to test the device out on my big toes. I figure- what is the worst that could happen to my toe? To prepare for hair removal, you can’t wax or tweeze (or any method that removes hair from the root) for several weeks, but you do need to be freshly shaven. It is super easy to use: you simply place the circular laser area on your skin and it gives you a happy beep and you continue moving along (overlapping the treatment area), or a sad beep and you try again.
My freshly shaved toes handled the laser like a champ and I decided to try out my bikini line; just the area that would show outside of regular swimwear (not this far). The pamphlet said the higher the level used, the fewer treatments would be needed. I was breezing away on level four when suddenly “!*$%@ oww!!” I will tell you that you skin sensitivities can DRASTICALLY vary within an inch.
The results: My outer bikini line was basically totally compete after four treatments. There were about 15 hairs on either side that didn’t seem to take, so I began marking those with a peach colored Sharpie before shaving, and focusing my removal on just those areas. A few more treatments and then…the dream. I finally can pack whatever swimwear I want for a multi-day swim trip, instead of wondering what will cover my seemingly diseased skin, as it would assuredly become red and irritated 48 hours after hair removal.
You can treat every two weeks but I was busy and/or lazy and it took me way longer than the minimum amount of time. Part of the reason why was that after a few treatments, the hair is much more thin and takes so long to grow back that I didn’t think about it.
Ongoing: I decided to move the laser in and am now doing an even more sensitive area. I COULD NOT handle it on more than level 1, and I was expecting to need something like 15 sessions to get permanent results. Then a Nicole Cliffe tweet clued me in to lidocaine. You can buy 4% over the counter at a pharmacy, but there are creams available up to 20% with a prescription. Rub a bunch of that on your intended area, wait 20 minutes, and you can level up like a champ. It is a little messier, and I recommend having a towel handy to wipe off the laser head if you’re using a cream, but it changes everything.
Overall: If you have unwanted hair and $400 and have an applicable hair/skin combo…go for it. I am so happy and so much less bumpy. If you love your body/facial hair, or are unsure, please embrace it! Hair removal is a very personal choice and you should be sure before going with something as permanent as a laser. I do hear that some people grow hair that has been laser removed back during pregnancy though…
*I am not participating in Prime Day this year due to striking workers and am attempting to purchase less on Amazon in general due to my growing knowledge of their warehouse conditions