From the age of 13 when I secretly shaved my legs in the bath (my mum had warned me it would grow back thicker but I was willing to risk it all), to my first professional leg wax later in my teen years, having hair-free legs – and, therefore, dolphin-smooth skin – has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember.
As a result, I’ve always had an eye on laser hair removal. A permanent and professional hair reduction method? Sign me up! But as it’s a hefty commitment in both time and money, I did tons of research.
How does laser hair removal work?
During laser hair removal, pulses of laser light are absorbed by the pigment in the hair, thus damaging the hair follicles leading to a delay or reduction in hair growth. Typically, those with lighter skin and darker hair are said to have the best results, given the contrast in colours which makes it easier for the laser to pick up the darker hair pigment. By that theory, the closer your skin and hair tone, the trickier it would be to get amazing results.
Thankfully, lasers have adapted over the years. When I first attempted to book a series of sessions, I was turned away by three clinics who couldn’t promise to deliver the results I wanted since their lasers weren’t up to the job of differentiating between my medium-deep skin tone and dark brown hair.
I began searching for the ‘safest and most efficient laser for brown skin’ and came across Adonia Medical Clinic, a Black-owned skin clinic in West London. I had heard amazing things of its founder, Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, who creates scientifically-led skin treatments that cater for all skin types. At her clinic, the Fortana laser is used for hair removal: its ND:Yag setting is the most appropriate for dark hair and skin types as the way the energy is delivered relies less on the differentiation of pigmentation, and more on the depth to cut the blood supply to the hair follicles, meaning it was ideal for my hair and skin shade combo. In safe hands and having read dozens of excellent reviews for the clinic, I booked in.
The first session
I began my journey in August – I didn’t have any holidays planned and was super-committed to my journey having waited ages to find the perfect clinic and laser combo for the dolphin-smooth results I wanted.
i wasn’t sure what to expect on my first session, but after the ‘before’ images were taken of my legs and the process was explained and my many questions were answered, I was ready to go. I’d been told (through my hours of TikTok research, of course) that the laser felt like being flicked with a warm elastic band, so I was prepared for that sensation. This, however, was much more bearable! The only place I actually felt anything at all was around my ankles and down my shins, and even then it was a 3/10 on the pain scale, so don’t let the elastic band theory put you off as it’s laser, skin and pain threshold-dependant.
My full legs session took about 45 minutes, and I didn’t need to shave my legs for just over a week after just one session. Since, I’ve had four more and I hadn’t needed to shave between the third and fourth, which is unbelievable.
If you’re thinking of having laser hair removal, here are three things you need to know first:
1. You can’t have any kind of tan
Whether you’ve just got back from a sunny break or are a dab hand with a Tan Luxe bottle and a mitt, a tan, whether real or fake will set you back on your laser journey. Following UVA/UVB exposure, your pigment levels increase and thus, will be absorbed by the laser, increasing the risk of burns or pigmentation. Why does a fake tan impact it, I hear you cry? Well, it darkens the skin, so will create a ‘target’ for the laser.
I say all this to say, autumn is the perfect time to start. If you book six sessions with 6-8 weeks between them, you’ll need at least six months with as little exposure to the sun as possible to complete your laser hair removal journey. While you might be most keen for dolphin-smooth skin in the summer, given holidays and intermittent UK heat waves, it’s the trickiest time to start.
2. Think about a pay as you go method…
Otherwise there’s a chance you could waste your money.
I was super-impressed that after just four sessions, my hair had reduced and growth had slowed down so much that my therapist advised I wait 12-16 weeks between my last few sessions to maintain my results.
A good therapist will always keep you in the loop about how quickly (or slowly) your hair is growing and thus, how many sessions would be best based on the progress you’re seeing. If you’re able to pay as you go, that might work out as the cheaper option if you see results quickly.
On the other hand though, if your sessions aren’t catching the hairs in the correct phase to eliminate them, it might work out cheaper to book a package of sessions, so always weigh up your options!
3. Hot showers and baths are out
If you want to avoid a reaction and limit skin irritation, post-laser session, aloe vera gel and cool showers are in and saunas, steam rooms and hot baths are out, for up to a week afterwards. I hadn’t spotted that in any of my research, so I think it’s particularly important to mention, especially if you have sensitive skin as it is and I was pleased my therapist at Adonia explained why.
Now you’re all clued up, don’t forget that right now is the best time to being your laser hair removal journey if you’re keen.