Remember the Epilady? One of my friends actually (and very recently) purchased this torture device from the 80s and reported that the pain from its use was comparable to her recent childbirth experience.
For many women, hair removal is, well, a hairy situation. Ask almost any woman who has ever worn a skirt or a bathing suit and she’ll most likely recite a litany of woes: The bloody knicks and stubbles from razors, the rotten-egg stench of depilatory creams, the blinding sting of waxing, or the slow and steady agony of tweezing.
As a dark-haired, fair-skinned maid, I could go on and on. But usually I don’t. I just take a break when winter arrives, embrace my inner gorilla, and then pray that some day I’ll get a book advance large enough to allow the luxury of regular laser treatments.
Recently, during a routine visit to the dermatologist, my skin guru, Terri Raymond, took out a gizmo that looked something like an antiquated vibrator attached to an iPod dock. She was sick of seeing my ugly razor burns and tired of my bitching, so she offered me a practical solution: A home laser gadget known as the Silk’n SensEpil, which promises hair reduction – and eventually permanent removal – with frequent use.
And what woman doesn’t have a thing for Darth Vader?
Light-based hair removal is a technique that’s been used in the beauty industry for more than 15 years. It’s based on a lot of scientific jargon, specifically the theory of selective photothermolysis, in which optical energy is used to disable hair growth. The melanin pigment in the hair shaft absorbs the light and transforms it into heat. This eventually disables growth.
Up until recently, you’d have to go to a doctor to get this done – and see the doctor again and again for as long as your checkbook would permit.
But now you can actually make this skin magic happen at home. When you turn on this FDA-approved gadget, it pulsates and finds the hair; press the button and the laser light goes off. It’s somehow reminiscent of one of those nighttime electric bug-zappers.
Apparently, this gizmo is so safe that Terri actually let her young niece try it out. I also heard a story about one mother who enriched her relationship with her two teenage daughters by purchasing the gadget for the three of them to use – though not at the same time.
A few things to keep in mind: Because melanin plays an active role in the mechanism, Silk’n SensEpil isn’t the best choice for dark-skinned women or those with a new tan. It’s also not recommended for women with blond, grey, or red hair. That leaves out a lot of potential customers. Apparently a 2.0 version of Silk’n SensEpil is in the works, and the new model plans to deliver on multicultural appeal – and safety issues.
Like pretty much everything else in life, hair removal is a process. According to the company’s website, most women see noticeable results after about four uses. It works best on large surfaces, like legs, bikini lines (but not Brazilians – ow!), and armpits. Oh, and don’t use it on your face.
And of course, there’s also the price, $600 (and around $50 for each replacement cartridge) seems like a hefty investment for the pursuit of smooth skin. But consider this: I’d need four to six visits with my skin guru to achieve about a 90% reduction in hair growth, and each visit would cost about the same as a one-time purchase of this gadget. And though Terri is pretty awesome, I also need to pay my rent.
So, it may finally be time to put down my hot-pink $2 Gillette Daisy razor and pick up this iPod-dock-vibrator-Darth-Vader thing. As they say, hirsute today, gone tomorrow.