Why Did I Wait So Long to Laser My Bikini Line?
07.12.17
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.

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  • Sha sha Chu

    I just checked their website and can’t wait for their Philadelphia office to open soon! I am tired of getting mine done via waxing and I get lazy sometimes. I spent a good amount of money to get the Brazilian wax.

  • B345

    This is exactly how I feel. I did waxing which was $60 every time. Having to wait for hair to grow out in the meantime meant it wasn’t always even effective and more than anything I got a lot of ingrowns – waxing was impossible, leaving me with a bumpy texture. I am a baby when it comes to pain so I always thought laser was crazy. It was actually my gynecologist and dermatologist who both saw a couple bad ingrowns I had (one that wouldn’t go away for like years) and suggested I do either electrolysis or laser. So doctor’s orders, I did it. Like you, I used a place that had a cooling attachment on the laser. VERY IMPORTANT. It didn’t hurt much to start but now that I am on my 6th session it hurts more. Still worth it – not much pain after it’s done, so it’s just living through those 15 minutes or so. Have done underarms, too! Highly recommend!

    • Harling Ross

      DYING to do underarms!!!!!!!

      • Mandeep

        you should look for a Soprano laser – COMPLETELY pain free! and I’ve tried pretty much every laser out there. I’ve been doing laser since 1996!

  • Jessica White

    Would you say that with better technology now laser hair removal is an option for those with blonde/fair skin? I tried getting laser on my bikini area about 8 years ago but was turned away because my skin was too fair and hair was too blonde for the laser to be able to do anything.

    • Harling Ross

      ah i’m not sure! but i do know that satori uses different machines for different hair colors/skin tones.

    • This is what I’m concerned about too. I’m extremely fair with red hair and I was always worried about the horror stories that it only works on people with a strong color contrast.

      • Hayley

        I’m fair skinned with light brown hair and I don’t have that much contrast…worked fine for me.

        • this is good news…

    • Clea

      I’m fairly fair (hehe) with blonde hair and have had incredible results with laser – this time around. I tried a few years ago and didn’t get the greatest results, but this time around I have been 5 times (brazilian and underarms) monthly, and am now stretching appointments out to every 2 months with minimal grow back – I don’t even shave my underarms now until right before the treatment, and I promise that’s not gross, there’s just no hair!

  • Hayley

    I would highly recommend this too. I did my bikini line in 2015-2016 and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made (for aesthetics). It’s so freeing to put on a bikini and not even think about what the hair situation is like down there.

  • M

    Which Satori location did you visit? There are a bunch in NYC!

    • Harling Ross

      14th st!

  • kim

    erase spa on 7th ave is the TRUTH. and i trust any place that has lasered Serena Williams & Steph Shep 😉

  • Ysabel Goldberg

    Highly recommend. Seriously, people need to know how life-changing this is. I have hypersensitive skin that barely gave me a good day from shaving/waxing. I lived in LA and never even went to the beach because of it! And I was scarring my skin. So in 2012 I bought a Gilt City deal at a laser spa in midtown manhattan for Brazilian laser hair removal. I think it took a year and half. Anyway, five years later, I’m still so happy that I did this for myself.

  • Jeanie

    Can anyone here recommend a good one in LA? I wanna get this done!

  • Bambi loves Rose

    Finally, we talked about it! Thanks!

  • Greenborough

    I have been waiting to do this until after I’m done having kids. I’ve heard that pregnancy hormones make all that hair grow right back after laser treatments.

    • Harling Ross

      ohh interesting did not know that

      • Jessica

        Its not exactly that the hair grows back, it’s just that new follicles that didn’t produce hair before may start doing so over time. This happens naturally with age (i.e. after 30 suddenly chin hairs are a thing.)

        • Basil

          Ah – I’m waiting to do it too (o HATE the hair on my bikini line – in grown and goes 1/4 of the way down my thigh) but I’m currently pregnant and it’s not advised when pregnant or breastfeeding as the effects on the baby aren’t known. I can add “random additional hair growth” to the list of pregnancy and post pregnancy weirdness

  • Laser hair removal has wonderful results but it is SO painful. The technician is everything and if she’s good the pain should be mostly tolerable. My first technician went way too fast and the heat build up was so bad I had to ask her to stop and go slower.

    http://www.shessobright.com

  • Jessica

    I had my arm pits lasered at lesst 15 years ago, and I have never regret it. I still have some hair there but its not very noticeable, so if I skip shaving, its not a big deal. This was not an option post laser. One thing people don’t realize with laser, once you kill a follicle, its done. But other follicle’s that did’t produce hair before may start after time as we age, giving some the impression of the hair “growing back”. And yes, it’s painful, but what’s a few half hours of pain for a lifetime of no shaving??

  • I literally just had my first laser session last week and I am SO. DAMN. EXCITED. to be hairless and smooth for the rest of my life. I’ve always had major issues with ingrowns as well, no matter what method of hair removal I’ve tried. I’m getting pretty much everything done (legs, brazillian, arm pits) because I found a place with an amazing sale with great reviews (Melbourne Laser & Skin Clinic – if anyone else is based here!) I’m just SO EXCITED ahhhhhhh

    • ariana

      OMG ME TOO! I had it last week and I’m literally watching my hair every second, hoping it will fall and disappear. I’ve had 6 sessions of pulsed light hair removal before and it honestly didn’t work, I was super disappointed. For me though, laser hurt like HELL, I was sweating and almost crying! But it’s worth it if I never have to shave again in a few months. Fingers crossed!

  • I’d love to do it but in my country, Italy, laser is still very expensive 🙁

    • Gigi

      try with No mass vello, you have it in Italy… it was ok for me .

      • I did some research online and I found it, they don’t use laser but pulsed light, which some consider less effective. But when summer will be over I think I’ll give it a try, thanks

  • Indre

    Could anyone recommend one in London?

  • lateshift

    another reason people dismiss it, and another reason it can take longer for the laser to get all the hairs, is simply because you’ve been waxing within the past year or two. Because the hairs have gotten pulled out at the roots and so they’re not there for the laser to get (which is why they tell you to shave in between laser sessions.) Depending on how prolific a waxer you’ve been, it will take a longer period of time/more sessions to get all the hairs. But they’ll get got eventually. Because: yes, laser IS life-changing and magic, and I, too, kick myself for not doing it sooner…