I basically called my mom for help. Except when I say mom, I mean an esthetician.
For the last 10 years or so I've been incredibly self conscious about my legs. Shaving my pale skin and dark hair leaves me peppered in spots--visible below thin, translucent skin.
Frustrated, I turned to waxing and epilating, which resulted in bumps and ingrown hairs. About those ingrowns: thanks to anxiety-induced bouts of skin-picking, my legs have been riddled with scabs and scars throughout my teens and early twenties.
I always daydreamed that one day my legs would be hair-free and I'd never have to worry about ingrowns again. This seemed unattainable, though: as a post-grad, I don't exactly have the funds for the necessary trips to a laser hair removal spa, or even those affordable (yet sketchy) Groupon-type deals.
So I was thrilled when Tria sent me its at-home laser system, the Hair Removal Laser 4X. The device promises results comparable to those you would get at a clinic, with the convenience of being able to give yourself treatments at home.
Over the next few months I'll be documenting the progress of my treatments as honestly and realistically as possible. To kick things off, I'll give some more information about the device and talk about my first treatment.
First off, the Tria is best suited for those with light skin and dark hair. This is because the laser targets melanin, the pigment in hair and skin. It doesn't treat light hair and it can result in possible scarring on dark skin.
The First Treatment
You start by unlocking the device. There is a small scanner located in the base that you place over a patch of skin; it will check that the skin is light enough and that there is hair present. After a few seconds it will beep and unlock, and away you go!
The device uses diode laser technology to target the follicle at the root and "disable" it, eventually rendering it incapable of producing new hairs. With this in mind, I started at my ankles, where my hair is thickest, aiming the device at the follicles and slowly moving it along a few millimeters at a time. You don't have to press any buttons to trigger the laser--as long as it is pressed flat against the skin it will "zap," aka beep, move, and beep along.
The device has five treatment settings: one is barely noticeable, five stings. I'm pretty comfortable using level four. The pain is a lot more bearable than I'd expected, but I've been waxing and epilating my legs for years so my threshold for pain in that area is pretty high. The level five pain feels like a rubber band being snapped against your skin, combined with a bit of heat.
As for the time it takes to cover the entire leg, patience is required. The treatment head is quite small (to keep pain at a minimum) so covering your entire shins and calves takes precision and a good 20 to 30 minutes of sitting and listening to the beep-beeping. I think it would take less time for smaller areas like the bikini line or underarms.
One of my personal cons is the fact that you cannot wax or epilate between treatments. Instead it is recommended that you shave. The reason this is necessary is that there needs to be hair under the surface of the skin for the laser to target. If there is no hair within the follicle, the laser can't do its job. While I understand why I can't wax, it's still a gripe for me because I hate the look of shaved legs. However, I've read that after as few as two treatments the hair will start to fall out. My second treatment will be this weekend, so I'll be sure to keep you updated.
In the meantime, I am attempting to keep my shaved legs looking presentable by shaving with a fresh Bic razor every two uses. I've also been applying Urban Decay Naked Skin Body Beauty Balm after my bath and then spot concealing particularly dark scars with Hard Candy Glamoflauge Heavy Duty Concealer, a product that's strong enough to hide tattoos. When I'm happy with the concealing, I lightly dust my legs with Mario Badescu Special Healing Powder to promote healing of my scars and set the leg makeup.
I'm excited to continue the treatments and I'm willing to wait it out to see results. I hope you'll stay tuned to follow the progress. If you have any questions about the Tria, feel free to ask in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer.
Fingers crossed that I'll be able to say goodbye to these menacing ingrowns in the next few months!