I have always been curious but nervous about laser hair removal. Does it hurt? Is it really permanent? I finally decided to give it a try at Racine, a lovely spa and salon on the western end of Main Street in Islip.
A tour of the facility showed a busy salon on one side and a separate, relaxing spa on the other. The spa side is minimalist (no “relaxing lounge” or other fancy amenities), but it has a very relaxing and comfortable ambience.
Rosie, the aesthetician (and LPN) with five years of laser removal experience and countless continuing education courses under her belt, led me to a treatment room and asked a lot of questions about my skin and health. She is a warm and bubbly young woman who made me feel very much at ease.
The process is really quite fascinating. The computerized laser “zaps” the melanin, burning it in the follicle where the hair grows. The light is absorbed by dark material, so the laser does not work on light hair. It is also advised that you don’t tan for some time beforehand, since light skin and dark hair is the combination for best results. At this time, laser hair removal is not really an option for those with gray, blonde or red hair.
There are three stages in the hair’s life. During the first, the hair is embedded in the melanin, where blood is flowing. The second is when the hair has detached, but still in the skin. And the third is when the hair is falling out. For laser to work, it must be zapped during the first stage. This is why a minimum of three sessions at least eight weeks apart are recommended to get every follicle in that first stage. Keep in mind that, while it could be considered permanent, circumstances such as hormonal changes can bring on a new growth of hair.
I donned glasses to protect my eyes from the light and, after shaving the area, Rosie began slowly, measuring my tolerance for the stinging. It really wasn’t so bad! Well, let’s put it this way: The initial zap stung worse in certain areas, but was quick and did not linger. The more she did, the faster she was able to go and it became less and less uncomfortable.
When she was finished, she told me there may be some remaining hairs that would fall out within a day or two. My skin was smoother than any shave, wax or depilatory ever managed! I don’t know about you, but I hate shaving and I hate waxing even more—I’m going back to finish treatments.
Rachel founded Racine in 1994 and was soon joined by her sister, Cynthia. They are very community oriented and believe in giving back. The sisters and their employees have been helping cancer patients in a huge way for nine years. Keep an eye out for an HBO documentary about them this spring! For more information, visit http://racinespa.com.