Sometimes laser hair removal sounds like a dream, especially when I find myself running out of razors or shoehorning a wax appointment into my already packed schedule. As a beauty writer, I know the basics about laser hair removal, but there’s one thing I’m dying to know—does laser hair removal hurt?
Lucky for me, Groupon beauty blogger Favin has boldly gone where no me has gone before. In fact, despite her self-described “pretty low pain tolerance,” Favin opted for underarm laser hair removal, which sounds like something that might make you wince.
But did it? Here’s Favin’s take on her appointment, which took place at Chicago’s BEaUtify at AMS.
What the pros say about the pain
Favin cops to having had some butterflies beforehand. “When I was gearing myself up to get laser hair removal,” she said, “none of my friends were being very helpful. My boyfriend reminded me that he tried to start a round of treatments on his neck, had one session, and never went back because it hurt so much.”
Her informal polling results only got worse from there. “My coworker said that she did actually complete treatment on her bikini line, but it hurt more than anything ever, and she wouldn’t wish that pain upon her worst enemy.”
But when Favin asked the experts, she got some very different intel. Aesthetician Jeannie Caltagirone, who served as Favin’s laser hair-removal technician, compared it to one of the “old-timey perfumes with the rollerball.”
"At first it feels cool [when you roll it around], and then it gets warmer and warmer, and then all you feel is the heat and the movement."
Spa owner Edith Bayran added, “I always say it feels like the hairs are pulling. A little bit of a pulling sensation, and then heat building up.” Receptionist Audrey likened the sensation to a hot towel, and medical director Dr. Neema Bayran laid out the facts: “[The laser] heats up the hair follicle and the surrounding tissue. The temperature it creates is about 45 degrees Celsius [113 degrees Fahrenheit], so imagine holding something that warm up against your skin.”
The part nobody tells you: it’s cold
Despite the high temperatures, Favin ended up shivering. After Jeannie shaved Favin’s underarms, she applied the ultrasound gel, which is kept in a mini fridge. The laser itself was the Alma Soprano ICE, so named for the cooling mechanism built into the handpiece that prevents the laser from overheating skin.
“Between that, the gel, and the wrap that left my arms and shoulders exposed, I stopped even thinking about potential pain,” said Favin. “I was thinking about cardigans. Sweet, sweet cardigans.”
Real talk: you’ll feel pinpricks
OK, give it to us straight. Does laser hair removal hurt?
“To feel the laser at all, I had to focus,” Favin said, “and even when I did, all I could sense were some faint pinpricks. They were so faint that if the treatment had lasted a bit longer, I could have probably fallen asleep—especially because the laser’s beeps sounded like crickets, and I had to wear completely opaque goggles to protect my eyes from the laser.”
The bottom line
Laser technician Jeannie spent 140 seconds on each underarm. “By the end,” Favin said, “I was amazed at how much it hadn’t hurt. I’m sure the experience varies by person and body part, but personally, I felt the most sensitivity after the treatment.” Because she got underarm laser hair removal, Favin experienced a temporary sensitivity to deodorant, saying, “When I reapplied, my skin felt a bit raw.
“Bottom line, though, it really wasn’t that bad. I’d say Jeannie’s description proved to be the most on point.”
So will Favin be back?
“I’d be down to get the remaining five sessions Jeannie recommended and curious to try out other areas of the body. But for now, I’m just going to brag to my coworker and my boyfriend about how tough I am!”