Normally, when it comes to beauty treatments, I’m definitely in the camp of PSE (pay someone else) rather than DIY. But when, a year ago, I decided to embark on a laser quest to rid my legs of Hair once and for all, the thought of schlepping to a salon once a month for a pleasure-free treatment when I could do the whole thing myself while watching a box set convinced me.
Carrying out laser hair removal at home might seem risky and off-putting to some, but I always take comfort in the fact that no company in its right mind would unleash a gadget on the public which was powerful enough to burn, injure or disfigure a person, even if used with the most reckless abandon. It simply wouldn’t want the lawsuit.
My chosen implement was the Philips Lumea Prestige. At £525, it’s cheaper than many high-street salons’ hair-removal packages, and I was sold on the convenience factor. I’m an ideal candidate for the treatments, having dark hair and fair skin (the greater the contrast between the two, the better) but, says the company’s website, it “does not work on red, light blonde and white/grey hair, or on very dark skin.” The main thing you have to remember is not to have any kind of tan – even a fake tan – or you risk burning. The rule of thumb is to be six weeks pre or post sunny holiday before you start, which makes this time of year ideal for most.
Human nature being what it is, I whacked it up to maximum
The devices themselves are all pretty similar and they look and weigh about the same as a hairdryer. (Some come with a smaller attachment for facial hair, too.) There are several intensity settings which you increase gradually. Human nature being what it is, I whacked everything up to maximum right from the get-go and found it fine. You press the nozzle of the device on to the area you’d like to “zap”, then move on to the next. It’s that simple. Except it’s not, because it’s quite tricky ensuring you don’t miss anything, or accidentally go over the same area twice. The instructions recommend using a white kohl pencil to draw a “grid” on the area, which made things much easier.
Doing both lower legs took me between 45 minutes and an hour. But I was fairly religious about doing it once a fortnight throughout the winter, before dropping down to once a month. Six months in, the hairs were a lot finer. Then, having done what I felt was most of the hard work, I inevitably lost interest and kept forgetting to do it. The summer came and went, so
I couldn’t actually use it, then in autumn I managed one session before forgetting again. Infuriating, as I’d say I was 80 per cent of the way there, and thrilled with the results.
So now I’m changing tack. In order to get the thing done once and for all, I’ve booked in at a salon. My therapist reckons it will take two or three more sessions, a month apart. We had a lot of time to discuss it at my first appointment, because I’d forgotten about a spray tan I’d had the week before, so she couldn’t actually zap me. Lasered I may be, but enlightened I clearly still am not.
Philips Lumea Prestige, £525
Cordless. Lasts for 250,000 lamp flashes, with more than a 75 per cent reduction in four to five uses.
Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X, £390
Better suited to small areas. Projected reduction of up to 70 per cent after two treatments. Has a lifespan of 90,000 flashes.
Iluminage Touch Elos, £375
Covers the largest surface area. Promises up to 94 per cent hair reduction in six weeks. Lasts for 300,000 flashes.