By Hannah Colson
A week of freedom and sun and sand and relaxation is great. We get to put on our swimsuits and say goodbye to the dark dungeon of the library and hello to beautiful beaches and exotic locales.
But first, there’s something we need to take care of. Something worse than those midterm exams creeping up or spilling a fresh cup of Starbucks coffee.
Ladies, you know what I’m talking about: hair. And no, not the hair on your head. I’m talking about the hair that grows all over your legs and face and stomach and bikini line and underarms and pretty much everywhere else. How are we expected to show off our spring break body in a bikini with all this hair?
“Looking attractive and feeling attractive is important to our self-confidence and when you have dark unwanted hair, no matter what you do to try to conceal it, for guys or girls, it’s embarrassing,” says Rebecca Lightle, owner of Cosmetic Laser Services and Aesthetics in Port Saint Lucie, Florida.
But don’t stress too much. Thick and unruly body hair can be managed and controlled with many simple solutions. Let’s begin with the basics:
PROS: It’s easy and can be done during your regular shower time. We shave our legs and armpits and if you have dark hair like me, you’re likely to shave these areas everyday. Razors are also relatively cheap, disposable, and readily available from any drugstore.
CONS: It gets annoying, and we get lazy. There are places on our body in which hair grows, like the face and stomach, that aren’t the best places for shaving. So what do we do when those areas start growing hair? (I’m not trying to grow a mustache here.) There is also a common side effect of razor burn, which can be painful and unsightly. Let’s not forgot about all the accidental cutting (ouch) and ingrown hairs.
PROS: Waxing lasts longer than shaving and can be performed on many areas of the body.
CONS: It can be expensive if you have to make regular trips to the salon. Waxing is also a lot more painful than shaving and it does have quite a few side effects, including rashes and redness. When I got my eyebrows waxed, my skin was ripped off, so that pretty much scarred me for life.
Laser hair removal
PROS: Laser is growing in popularity among young adults, and it can be a permanent solution to hair loss. Laser destroys the follicles of hair growing beneath the skin so they just stop producing hair. According to Statista, 81 percent of people who have gotten laser hair removal in 2015 are satisfied with the outcome. You can finally say goodbye forever to that dark, unwanted hair.
Lightle recommends having several treatments so the laser can kill all life cycles of hair growth. She says that the most common area for females is their face: upper lip, chin, neck, and sideburns, as well as underarms and bikini line. For many patients, legs are not as much of a priority because it’s relatively easy to continue shaving them.
People with varying skin types are eligible to get laser. When going in for a first-time laser treatment, the laser technician should know what laser is best for your skin. The majority of hair removal laser technicians use two different types of lasers: Alexandrite lasers for causation skin and the ND:Yag synthetic gardit for dark pigmented skin.
According to Medic8, the Alexandrite lasers have been known to be very effective on fine, thin hairs on white skin, and it is one of the fastest laser hair removal systems. It also says that the ND:Yag laser system can treat larger body areas very quickly on every skin type, in particular on tanned and darker skin.
CONS: Let’s just begin with the fact that laser hurt, a lot. But beauty is pain, right?
Also, laser only works on naturally dark-pigmented hair. This is because removing hair with a laser treatment has everything to do with light absorption. When it comes to hair, the only color hair that laser light will absorb is dark-pigmented hair. So if you are blonde or are fair-skinned with a laser treatment, your hair is likely to grow back, even with all the treatments.
When you have a treatment, the light will penetrate about 4.7 millimeters into the skin, just under half a centimeter, to destroy dark pigment. Any hair within reach of the target zone will be destroyed.
Another major con of laser hair removal, something that could affect all college students, is price. Because multiple treatments (5-6) are needed, laser tends to be on the more expensive side of hair removal treatments. Lightle recommends discussing the idea of laser with your parents and to search some local laser hair removal people to find the best estimate.
A solution to the price dilemma is an at-home laser hair removal machine. Varying from $200 to $500 at Sephora, you can get an FDA-cleared machine that can remove all your unwanted hair.
If you choose this option, be sure to read the instructions and perform them exactly as written. Putting a laser in the hands of someone who is not trained in the specific area can be dangerous and result in horrible side-effects.
Keep in mind that any laser works very differently on everyone, and it may take more than a couple of treatments to see a difference.
But from someone who doesn’t grow hair and shave/wax her bikini line, armpits, or upper lip, it’s 100 percent worth it.
For all the men out there
Laser hair removal is not just a solution used by women. It’s common among men as well.
According to Lightle, it’s very likely for young men to have a have a lot of hair on their back or chest, which may make them self-consciousness, especially as bathing suit season nears.
Men can shave their chests and backs, but shaving can cause razor burn, rashes and ingrown hairs. Laser can be a viable solution for men, and it’s a faster and permanent solution to getting rid of that dark hair.
“When you eliminate the hair, you not only eliminate problems with shaving, ingrown hairs and breakouts, you create a level of increased self-esteem and self-confidence,” Lightle says. “When you have good skin, you will feel better about your body image.”