This post will focus on my experience with facial laser hair removal as I go through this journey. I am dark skinned with dark hair and I am also a female. So far I’ve only had one treatment done. I will explain the following in order, and each focus area will be in bold font:
- About me
- Treatment 1 (during) + machine used
- Treatment 1 (immediately after)
- Treatment 1 (week 1)
- Treatment 1 (week 2)
- Treatment 1 (week 3)
- Treatment 1 (weeks 4-5)
I’ve had issues with embarrassing facial hair growth since I was about 15. Well, that’s when I actually started noticing it anyway. I’m an Indian girl, and as many know, Indian girls are notoriously known for being hairy. I’m currently 22 years old and I’ve finally decided to take care of this dreaded issue once and for all. This is my first experience with laser hair removal and I’m documenting my experience so others know what it’s like.
I guess the biggest question for everyone would be the cost. I paid $300 for six sessions and a free consultation. I used Groupon to snag this deal. I had been on the hunt for a location with trained estheticians that had the proper machine for my skin tone, as well as a place that wasn’t part of a spa. I refused to go to a place that wasn’t strictly dedicated to laser hair treatments. It took about a year of research before I finally went through with the decision to get the procedure done. I’d recommend everyone to do their homework beforehand.
A little about me:
- I deal with hormonal imbalance. I have too much testosterone in my body and do my best to cut out estrogen. I don’t want estrogen birth control because it caused darkness on my face (a skin condition called melasma). The corners of my mouth have darkened to the point where I’ve been labeled as “clown frown”. I just look like I’m frowning all of the time when I don’t wear makeup. Exfoliating (natural) scrubs, cocoa butter, vitamin e oil, and Bio Oil haven’t been able to help. Melasma is no joke. Thanks to the excess estrogen, the only remedy for my dark skin seems to be chemical peels.
- I’ve been on birth control pills since I was 16. From 16-18 I was on Yaz. I switched to Kariva shortly after and was on that until I was in my mid 20’s. After that, I took a three month break from birth control and switched to Levora for half a year. I’m currently 22 and have been using Nexplanon from late October 2012 to July 2013. Right before I had Nexplanon inserted, I had a shot of Depo Provera as a means of protection and keeping my cycle regular.
- I’m currently at my heaviest weight – size 16 and 5’4 is all I feel comfortable saying. My weight has been fluctuating every year or two. I’ve been from size 8 to size 15, went from size 15 to size 9, then went from size 9 back up to 16. I’ve been around this size for a year and half now. But I’m trying to bring it down. Yes, my weight does make a difference in how my hair grows. The heavier I am, the more facial hair growth I experience. The less I weigh, I experience less facial hair growth. Weight plays a large role in the amount of facial hair I have.
- As of right now, I have to shave twice a day as a means of hair removal. Once in the day and then again 6-8 hours later. I have never tried waxing or using Nair. I can’t hide my face if Nair burns me, and who on earth can I trust to wax my face? I’m a girl. Nobody should know I can grow a beard like a man. Besides, waxing is REALLY expensive.
- My facial hair grows in all different directions. I have to shave each spot at several different angles before an area is cleared.
My consultation didn’t take very long at all. I purchased a six treatment package for Silky Skin Laser Center in Clackamas, Oregon on SE Sunnyside. The woman who helped me is named Oksana. She did a quick explanation of what the procedure was, what I needed to do, what to expect, etc. She was thorough in her explanation but she spoke quickly. I had done my homework in advance regarding the treatment so I was understanding everything she was saying. She didn’t judge me because I was a female coming in to get her facial hair removed. She made me feel very comfortable.
When I called, a woman informed me that I should come without makeup on my face and to shave. That was all of the information I received. She should have also told me not to wear moisturizer and to have something to keep my hair up out of my face.
But because I did my homework ahead of time and walked into her office fully prepared, she went ahead and gave me my first treatment. I had been shaving for over 6 weeks so my hair was perfect for the laser to treat. I didn’t use any lotion or moisturizer on my face prior to the appointment. I didn’t wear makeup. I wear a high spf almost daily and have no additional tan to my skin (I actually avoid the sun like a plague because I don’t want my dark skin to get any darker). Because of all of this, Oksana went ahead and gave me my first treatment right away. The test patch was the small amount of hair between my eyebrows, which was also an area I requested to be done.
Treatment 1 (during):
The machine used on my face was the Nd:YAG. The procedure itself was fairly quick. It took about 5 minutes to get my entire face done. I had my sideburns done, my chin, a little bit of my neck, my lower lip, my upper lip, and in between my eyebrows.
The procedure started off by Oksana telling me to lay down on a bed next to the machine. She covered my eyes with cloth and also put goggles on over the cloth to keep me protected.
The zaps were painful and she warned me that they would be. She said it will be more painful on patients with darker skin and even more painful where the hair is thick and coarse. She did three zaps at a time for the majority of the procedure.
The pain was similar to that of a rubber-band snapping against my face… a very taut rubber-band. Or I guess it would be similar to getting tetanus shots over and over and over at a rapid pace. My chin hurt the worst since that’s where the thickest hair is. It definitely hurt, but it wasn’t unbearable, nor did the procedure take very long. As previously mentioned, the entire procedure only took about 5 minutes. In between my eyebrows didn’t hurt one bit. I didn’t even realize she had done it until the very end. I had to ask her if she did my eyebrows and she said, “yes, that was the very first place I tested this laser on.”
I could smell my hair burning throughout the entire procedure.
Treatment 1 (immediately after the appointment):
Once the treatment was done, I was almost ready to leave. Oksana put a very thick layer of cream all over the areas that had just been treated. I’m pretty sure the cream was sunblock. She told me to leave it on my face for at least 15 minutes before I could rub it in. She told me my skin should soak up most of the product in at that point.
It was an embarrassing walk out of her office with my face covered with a thick white cream.
My face was red but it wasn’t burnt. My skin was hot so the cream did indeed melt and absorb within the 15 minutes she told me to wait. When I started to rub the product into my face where I had just been treated, I could see some hairs falling out into my hands! It was a disgusting yet beautiful sight.
My face was smooth the rest of the day! That was new for me since I was used to shaving by the end of the day.
I was instructed to only shave as a method of hair removal from here on out.
Treatment 1 (week 1):
For three days, shaving wasn’t entirely necessary. After two days, little bumps started to form on my face. It felt like growing hair so I shaved thinking it was hair, but hardly any hair was showing up on the razor. I was just shaving the bumps and irritating them. There are no bumps in between my eyebrows and only one bump on my upper lip where there was just one really thick hair.
The folliculitis only seems to develop where the hair is REALLY coarse.
I researched the bumps and it turns out that the little bumps are a good sign and that I should try to avoid irritating the bumps by shaving too roughly. The bumps should go away on their own after about 10 days and the treated hair should stop shedding around that time as well. On the fourth day, I’ve stopped trying to shave unless absolutely positive it’s hair. The only downside to the bumps is the shedding/growing hair. My hair is black and as the hair is shedding, it looks like my skin is getting darker. The bright side is that my actual skin seems to be the same normal color and the dark appearance should go away once the hair is gone and the bumps are gone.
I’ve been wearing makeup for 3 days to mask the bumps. The makeup doesn’t seem to do any harm. I use Rimmel’s 25 Hour Foundation, e.l.f’s studio tinted moisturizer, or e.l.f’s acne fighting foundation over a layer of 110 spf sunscreen. I’ll powder with some kind of e.l.f powder (clarifying, pressed studio compact, hd powder). I’ve been avoiding MAC, powdered foundations, and mousse foundations because they seem to accentuate the folliculitis.
Once I learned about folliculitis, I started exfoliating thoroughly every night. I use a watermelon seed face scrub (natural) and mix it with a bit of face wash. I currently use The Body Shop’s Seaweed Cleanser. I’ll exfoliate with this mixture for about 3-5 minutes. I’ll moisturize later on with The Body Shop’s Nutriganics Face Lotion. It’s at least 98% natural. I also add a generous drop of pure vitamin e oil with the highest IU sold (70,000).
I’ve been out in the sun almost every single day and haven’t really had any problems. I wear an oil free spf 110 sunscreen all over my face and body and it’s done a great job at protecting my skin.
After the fourth day, I started to notice the bumps starting to go away on their own. My hair started to grow out/shed so I shave that once in the day and that’s it. If I feel like it’s grown out too much and I’m out with someone, I’ll just come home. When I’m home, I’ll wash my makeup off and exfoliate using the mixture I mentioned above. I’ll pat my face dry and then moisturize. My face will feel furry but I leave the hair alone so I won’t irritate the bumps.
Treatment 1 (week two):
The bumps on my face have gone down dramatically by the 8th day. The majority of the bumps are mainly left where my sideburns are. Because of the bumps, it’s hard to tell if the pigmentation of the sides of my face has gotten darker or if it’s my black hair peeking out of the pores creating an illusion of darkening skin.
Something significant happened on the 9th day. As I was shaving, I noticed that there were A LOT of huge hairs coming out. Normally it would just be stubble and tiny pieces of hair that looks like pepper grains, but this time it was similar to a hair being plucked straight out. I think it means the hair is growing out and the entire hair has come out of the pore, and now (hopefully) the pore is free from hair.
I’m honestly in shock at the reduction in facial hair just two weeks after the very first session. I have very high hopes for the laser hair removal to be a success.
I actually did something that I have never done before… I woke up this morning and DIDN’T have to take a shower today and shave my face! I was able to wake up, simply wash my face, brush my teeth, and leave the house! I was a little self conscious at first because I thought I was going to have major “5 o’clock shadow” but by the time I got home at midnight, I shaved my face and barely any hair was coming off; which means that there wasn’t much hair on my face.
Treatment 1 (week 3):
During this week, I’ve been skipping the shaving step almost all together. It’s almost the beginning of the fourth week now and I’ve started to notice some changes regarding my hair growth. I feel like the shedding phase is over now and it’s time for a new cycle of hair to start growing if it’s still capable of growing. For the most part, my skin is fairly smooth. However, by not shaving, I’m able to feel any hairs on my face that are growing back in or places that were missed. I’ve noticed a little bit of hair starting to grow again on my skin and there are a few small patches along my jawline that I believe the laser missed. My upper lip is still growing hair normally, almost as if the laser didn’t affect it at all. The same goes for under my lip. Other than that, I’m still very pleased with the results.
The difference between untreated hair and shedding hair is simple – when you pluck a hair that’s shedding, it’ll come out with zero pain. If you pluck a hair that’s still attached to a follicle, it’ll hurt to pluck. This is how I can tell if hair on my face is shedding or still growing.
Treatment 1 (weeks 4-5):
These two weeks are bunched together because things are basically the same as week 3. The only difference is that the hair growth cycle is more obvious. I’d say at this point, about 70% of the hair on my face that I had treated is no longer growing. The other 30% is growing normally, but since there’s not much, there’s no reason to really shave daily. I’d say I’d feel the need to shave every 3-4 days, and even if I don’t, it’s not a big deal.
I’ve had a boyfriend for 2 years, and I would actually bite him if he tried to cup my chin and pull me closer for a kiss. Since I’ve done this treatment, he’s been able to touch my face as much as he wants at any given time. I can stay out with him all day and all night without needing to excuse myself for 10 minutes to “use the restroom” aka try to shave the growing stubble.
So far everything seems to be going well. My next appointment is July 31st, 2013.