Khloé Karadshian caused a bit of an uproar recently when she shared the bikini-line preferences of herself and her sisters in a segment on her eponymous app. And it turns out that the women's approaches to nether grooming are as different as the sisters themselves. While Khloé prefers a manicured landing strip (“I don't like looking at an adult woman and seeing nothing down there” she said) and Kourtney Kardashian leans more toward the au naturel, it was what Khloé revealed about Kim Kardashian that really got us pondering hair removal options. “I know Kim is completely bare and now she says she wishes she still had a lil' somethin' going on but she lasered it all off,” said Khloé. “I'll laser other places that the sun doesn't shine. But I like that if I ever want to go bare, I can just shave it and change my mind later.”
Khloé's thoughts on shaving versus laser resonate with many women who are ambivalent about never having hair grow again—or who just wonder what the process is all about. With this in mind, we reached out to Lisa Guidi, owner of N.Y.C. laser hair removal treatment facility Erase Spa to give us the lowdown on everything you need to know before getting laser hair removal.
How Does It Work?
The technology targets follicles with a focused laser beam that heats the pigment at the root of the hair and damages the bulb in the process, inhibiting its ability to grow hair. Your first step with each session will be to carefully shave the hair you want lasered. A technician will then run a hand-held device over your skin, zapping intense light energy into the shaved follicles with each pass.
Is It Actually Permanent?
“Once the follicle is dead, the hair doesn’t come back,” says Guidi. But keep in mind that laser hair removal is no quick fix. Guidi typically recommends between 8 and 14 sessions, which many practitioners space 4 to 8 weeks apart. “Each laser session affects the average amount of hair that’s in an active stage of human hair growth, which is 10- to 15-percent” she explains. And even after your full package of sessions, you might need to invest in a once-yearly touch up “just to get any little scraggly regrowth,” recommends Guidi.
Does It Hurt?
While laser hair removal isn’t pain free, many newer lasers are far less painful than devices of the past. The sensation can feel a bit like a rubber band snapping against the skin, and the discomfort is typically momentary, only hurting while the laser is actually zapping the hairs.
Who’s a Good Candidate?
Everything from hair color to skin color can affect how successful your laser hair removal will be. Many lasers don’t work on darker skin tones or on blonde or gray hair; people with light skin and dark hair typically have the best results. Be sure to ask your dermatologist whether the laser she uses is appropriate for your skin type and hair color before committing to the process.
Any Chance of Scars?
While scarring is very rare with laser hair removal, Guidi has one important caution: "We recommend that if you’re prone to keloiding to [ask] your dermatologist if laser hair removal is a good idea."
Skip the Bikini-Line Trends
Because laser hair removal is permanent, think very hard about how you’re shaping the hair you leave behind and how much you're eliminating, to avoid future regrets à la Kim K. Just like fashion and hairstyles, ideas about bikini lines shift with the times, so take a less-is-more approach unless you’re very confident that you want to be totally bare for the rest of your life.