It hit me last month that our time in Mexico is quickly coming to a close, causing me to spring into action on a topic that I’d been mulling over for the last year and a half: laser hair removal. (It’s ok, boys, you can stop reading now & I won’t be offended.)
With an eye towards taking advantage of Mexico/US pricing differentials, I figured hitting a spa around here was at least worth a shot. The cost for a package of ten laser treatments here appeared to be in the same ballpark as one laser treatment on the East Coast, which appealed to my midwestern value-oriented mindset. I also assessed the situation based on what is now my most commonly-used phrase in Mexico: What Could Go Wrong? (*see footnote)
The “What Could Go Wrong” analysis led me to select only two areas for laser treatment: underarms (axilas) and bikini line (bikini). You will note that both of these areas (on me at least) are rarely exposed to the public (but when they are, they shouldn’t be furry). This ensured I would not be subject to daily awkward stares at some horrible blotchy laser explosion scar on my calf. I don’t even know if that can happen with lasers, but this scenario was nonetheless factored into my What Could Go Wrong vision. (I get enough daily awkward staring that I don’t need to offer up any more ammo.)
I opted for a spa in Polanco based on the recommendation of an Embassy associate + the fact that it was within walking distance– key for maintaining my motivation to go. My first visit, near the end of March, was fairly uneventful, mainly because I didn’t really know what I was doing. I did discover that my 4th-grader-Spanish left something to be desired when it came to chatting about a high-wattage laser zapping my body. But I suppose that’s to be expected, given the number of 4th graders who have the need to discuss hair removal, period, much less using a laser.
After my two visits, I’ve identified the following questions/observations that are confusing to me as a photoepilation novice. Perhaps there are savvier ladies in my reading audience who can shed some light/comment on any of the following:
- The doors to the spa rooms where the laser treatments are done have big signs indicating “WEAR EYE PROTECTION!” I, the client, was given eye protection in the form of some hippie-colored plastic glasses. However, my practitioner DID NOT WEAR ANY EYE PROTECTION. She instead opted to just CLOSE HER EYES each time she clicked the laser gun. WTF??? I mean, I didn’t take a *lot* of laser-related classes in engineering school, but I am pretty sure that our micro-thin eyelids are not sufficient for blocking out intense bursts of laser light….right?
- When I called, they asked for my name. When I got in the treatment room, they asked for my name. When I was ready to leave, they again asked for my name. Finally it became evident that they had no record of me in their magical computer system, despite my prior lump-sum payment. Tricky data entry! (Though to their credit, they actually let me leave after just writing my name down, promising they would search later for my account details. Recognition: one of the benefits of being a 6′2 guera in DF.)
When I left my first appointment, the lady informed me that I should shave my underarms a few hours after I got home. Looking at multiple websites, I gathered that one should not shave for a few *days* after the treatment. Which is it, and why does it matter?
- Today I tried to explain to her that it didn’t seem like much of the lasered hair had fallen out, as she had told me it would. We had an awkward discussion in Spanish which follows:
- Me: Uh, so it didn’t seem like any of these underarm hairs fell out like you said.
- Her: Let me look.
- – starts lasering away–
- Me: Uh, so do you know why it didn’t work?
- Her: Leriwhelh Hdlisehr weroj joiehQ ELHIoppz. It will take 10 sessions for it to work.
- Me: Huh, you told me 3-4 sessions last time because of my magic skin/hair color combo.
- Her: Well you will see progress in 3-4 sessions.
- Me: okaaayyyy… totally not what you said last time.
- Her: How many times did you shave under your arms since last time?
- Me: How many? Well several, I don’t know exactly…
- Her: Ohhh… see, what you are doing is stimulating the hair to grow. Each time you shave the hair grows more. You won’t see any results if you do that. You cannot shave more than 2 times during the month between appointments.
- Note: I perceive this line of reasoning to be faulty, according to much-respected myth-busting website snopes.com. Review their comments here.
- Me: Uhhh… but isn’t the laser killing the hairs? Why would it matter how many times I shave? If new hairs grow, won’t they just get killed by the laser?
- Her: [indecipherable] You can’t shave more than twice or it won’t work.
- Me: I don’t understand. Isn’t this killing the hairs? After 10 sessions won’t most of the hairs be dead? Why am I here?
- Her: [sighs with frustration]
- Me: [decides to stop asking questions & ask the innerwebs later, and instead lie there wondering how many years it will take for the practioner's retinas to burn to a crisp]
In summary, I am increasingly unclear whether either this woman has no actual training in laser hair removal, or she knows facts about laser hair removal unknown by any other website. Any laser aficionados out there who would like to shed any light on do’s/don’ts of this process, your wisdom is welcomed. In the interim, I will continue slogging through as many of my remaining 8 visits as I can before we depart, each time bringing a new set of sciencey questions to further frustrate her.
* Copyright 2010, Julie’s Measures for Assessing Activities in Mexico. All Rights Reserved.