Readers Ask: Dear Lucky About Effective Hair Removal

Q: Does laser hair removal work—and what do you think about at-home removal?

Illustration by Lauren Friedman

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A: I am here to say that laser hair removal works better than it does in your wildest dreams, that it hurts much, much less than waxing, and that if you can afford it you should step right up and make it happen. The caveats: It's expensive and permanent, so only do it if you know you still won't want that hair in 30 years. Also it's not totally permanent, in that you might need a yearly-or-so tune-up to get rid of the odd errant hair here and there.

At-home options have improved drastically so that they, too, now actually work. The pros of at-home are: You never have to make an appointment, it costs less (amortized) and it's totally private. The cons, for me anyway, are that because I never make an appointment with myself, I never do it. Crazy but true. I have an effective, functioning laser hair removal machine in my back drawer, and I've used it precisely twice. Part of the problem is that the people who write the instructions are the same people who write instructions for VCRs and calculators, a.k.a., seemingly non-English-speakers whose sole aim is not being sued, so they are both confusing and terrifying. I'm more scared of an at-home laser than the much more powerful machines wielded by aestheticians in salons because at home, with lots of time on my hands and the not-entirely-clear instruction diagram plus legal disclaimer spread out in front of me, all I can do is focus and unfocus my eyes on the "severe burns." But truly, if you're not as neurotic/lazy as I am, at-home is the way to go, for sure.

 

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