Why Did I Wait So Long to Laser My Bikini Line?

Illustration by Ana Tellez

Last summer, I shared my budding conspiracy theory that famous people have a top-secret method for eliminating ingrown hairs. How else, I reasoned, could the likes of Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus maintain such flawless bikini lines, which we’ve all seen up close and personal thanks to high-definition concert leotard shots?

Surely they couldn’t be waxing, which I’d been doing for years, only to find myself stuck with an unrelenting barrage of ingrown hairs that made me self-conscious every time I put on a swimsuit. Surely they couldn’t be shaving, which I tried in high school, only to struggle with razor burn and five o’clock shadow of the particularly unpleasant, nether-region variety. Surely they couldn’t be doing laser hair-removal, which I cynically dismissed as ineffective after hearing multiple stories from friends and relatives who claimed their hair grew back post-laser. Nope, I concluded. It was definitely a conspiracy.

Conspiracy jokes aside, though, I was really getting desperate. My ingrowns situation was truly miserable, and given that laser was the only hair-removal method I hadn’t tried from this list of delightful options, I decided to entertain the idea.

I say “entertain” because I was hesitant to plunk down a not-insubstantial chunk of money on a purely cosmetic treatment I didn’t even fully trust to work. I kept going back and forth in my head about it until, very serendipitously, a friend raved me about her recent laser hair-removal experience at Satori Laser (ed note: I recently discovered that Amelia goes to the same place. Despite the fact that this article marks the second time Man Repeller has sung the praises of Satori Laser, neither post is sponsored, which means it’s either a) coincidence, b) the result of spending too much time around each other, thus absorbing laser facility preferences by osmosis or c) Satori is JUST THAT GREAT.)

My friend’s exalting review successfully assuaged all of my biggest initial concerns: 1. Does it hurt? (She barely felt a thing!); 2. Would it drain my wallet? (Not immediately — Satori was running a sale at the time, which brought down the price for my desired treatment from $120 to $109 — affordable enough that I wasn’t shuddering at the thought); 3. Does it eliminate ingrowns? (“My inner thighs are smoother than Miley Cyrus’s,” she said cooly). I purchased a session that evening and booked an appointment for the following week.

It didn’t hurt a bit. Not even a smidge. Every time my technician zapped me, it felt like she was simply poking me with her finger. I almost laughed when I looked down at my hands and remembered that she had given me a foam stress ball to squeeze as a distraction from the “pain.” What a joke! I was giddy. Compared to waxing, this felt like a relaxing spa treatment, and I haven’t even gotten to the best part: my skin was SMOOTH AS HELL after. I noticed a diminishment in ingrown hairs almost immediately in the weeks that followed.

I honestly wish I had taken a “before” photo for my personal files, because my bikini line looked so good so quickly that I kind of forgot how bad it looked before. I mean, I remember it looked bad, but I craved the satisfaction of a true juxtaposition, you know? So that’s a hot tip from me to you: If you have bad ingrown hairs and decide to get your bikini line lasered, take a pic first.

I felt like my life had changed. I know that sounds dramatic, but for the first time in years, I finally didn’t dread putting on a swimsuit, and that’s pretty darn life-changing. I mentally rolled my eyes at myself for waiting so long to laser my bikini line — not to mention wasting gobs of money on excruciating monthly waxes instead. Why on earth had I listened to all those rumors that laser hair-removal wasn’t really that effective?

Well, actually, I don’t think they were rumors. Having just completed my sixth laser hair removal session, I have two hunches about reasons why laser hair-removal is frequently rumored to be ineffective.

Hunch #1: Bad equipment and/or an inexperienced technician. Out of the many, many laser hair-removal facilities in NYC, Satori Laser stood out to me mainly because of its top-of-the-line equipment and highly experienced technicians. During my initial consultation, my technician (Tumomi — she’s the best!) spoke at length about the high caliber of Satori’s machines. She told me they were extraordinarily costly, but they made a huge difference in overall effectiveness due to their patented cooling technology, which numbs the area and makes the treatment safer and more comfortable. After listening to her talk about the equipment and run down a litany of precautions (e.g. no suntanning during the course of treatment), I felt reassured that I was entrusting my hair follicles to someone who really knew her stuff.

Hunch #2: Pain. I know, I know, I said it didn’t hurt. And it didn’t! At first. But somewhere around my third or fourth session, it started to hurt a whole lot. Apparently, in order for laser treatment to be effective, the laser intensity has to increase every time — and the higher the intensity, the more it hurt (that foam squeezy ball wasn’t so useless after all). During my sixth session, I actually had to ask my technician to decrease the intensity because it felt like a cigarette butt burning me over and over and I genuinely didn’t think I could stand it for one more second. So yeah, I could totally understand why people with low pain tolerance might decide to stop the course of treatment after three or four sessions, and since Satori insists that you need to go a minimum of six times for the treatment to be even close to effective, I assume dropping out halfway through would pretty much guarantee hair regrowth.

Even though the pain during my last few sessions was not so fun, I never considered abandoning my mission. The results have been better than my wildest bikini-line dreams, and I have zero regrets — except for neglecting to take that “before” photo.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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