It only took me 33 years to realize the value of laser hair removal. I’ve spent half a decade waxing my back at the same salon, and the idea of breaking the news to my esthetician was slightly disheartening. But, this past winter, I finally decided it was time for a change. So I did what any smart (and hairy) consumer would do — I read reviews, talked to friends, browsed websites — and finally came upon the chic Skinney® Medspa in New York City.
The treatment I was looking into, dubbed “Quick & Effective Laser Hair Removal,” began with a short, but informative, consultation with co-founder Adriana Martino. She explained that the ideal candidate for certain lasers used for hair removal is anyone who has light skin and dark coarse hair. A typical customer needs anywhere between six to eight sessions to see a permanent reduction in hair growth. My skin has a more olive tone and my hair is a bit more fine than coarse, so we decided on six sessions.
Like I said, I did quite a bit of research before choosing my facility, beginning with the trusted advice of my longtime hairstylist. He warned me to be careful of old and obsolete lasers, as they can be painful and require more sessions than newer more advanced ones. I eventually learned that Skinney Medspa uses Alma® Harmony XL lasers, which are touted as fast, effective, and virtually painless. After years of (mild to moderate) trauma on the waxing table, I was thrilled.
Traumatic was the exact opposite of my experience at Skinney. The flagship location at 125 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is bright, clean, and bustling with a doctor, nurses, and licensed technicians. (Added bonus: They even offer my favorite flavors of Nespresso® coffee, which I sipped on before each session.)
The treatment itself was fairly quick and painless, with the sensation feeling similar to being snapped with rubber bands. The level of discomfort is said to really depend on the area. I’ve heard that other parts of the body — such as the front of your neck and chest — can be more painful, but I found the back and shoulders to be completely tolerable. Plus, the treatment really only took about 10 minutes. I’d say the least enjoyable part of the process was attempting to shave my own back at home prior to each session, but that’s a whole other story. (Shaving will help the laser target and destroy the hair at the root, versus wasting energy on the hair above the skin.)
Despite the painlessness of the procedure, there’s still recovery time, noted Martino. It’s also necessary to space treatments four to six weeks apart. “Each time you come in the hair will become more sporadic, finer, thinner and lighter, and it will take longer to grow back in between sessions,” she explained. Martino advises all her clients to avoid direct sun exposure a few weeks before and after your appointment, as the laser could cause skin sensitivity and increase risk of sunburn.
Of course, the most pressing question of all is the price. Although the cost of laser hair removal has generally come down over time, the initial sticker shock of six or eight sessions may give you pause. According to Martino, treatments on the back depend on coverage area or spot size, and start at $250 per session. For six to eight sessions, you’re looking at anywhere between $1,500 to $2,000.
But, just remember, although the outcome will vary from person to person, laser hair removal should result in permanent hair reduction. So, if each back wax currently costs you about $60 with tip (at a good salon, with good wax), you’ll break even after skipping between 25 to 34 visits. The more often you get your back waxed, the quicker you’ll realize the benefit of laser hair removal. It’s also worth factoring in the time it takes you to get to the salon for each wax — and the pain you’ll be saving yourself long-term!
So far, I’m halfway through my treatment series, and the results from the laser have been wonderful. The hair on my upper back is coming back incredibly sparsely, if at all. Mentally, I’m way happier about my back hair “situation” now than I was in the beginning, and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to say goodbye to back hair forever. For me, laser hair removal has been a major game changer. I’m already starting to think about which area I want Martino to hit next.
Complimentary service was provided to the author for the purpose of writing this article.