Thousands upon thousands of dollars. Per session. For many, many sessions. That is just not the kind of money I think I would be able 1) not only have but 2) have the willingness to spend on something as arbitrary as my excess hair. When the tria and other similar products first started to get really popular amongst bloggers and YouTubers a few years back, I was also very much intrigued. At-home laser hair removal would be perfect if it worked. The main reason I held back was the price tag. A few hundred dollars is pretty hefty for something that may or may not work.
I am not sure when it happened. At some point in the past year, after an armpit hair tweezing and mustache shaving session, I just felt like
Ultimately I bought this for $376.71. ($499 - 20% VIB discount + $31.88 NYC tax - $14.37 eBates Cash Back.)
Right now, 12.01.2016, Sephora is selling this same set for $399 and tria's own website has it for $387.
So viola! My Sephora VIB 2016 Holiday Haul in all it's glory. My one, very big, item purchase. Even the box it came in felt luxurious and secure. I can't say I have been this excited for an electronic in a while. The days I had to wait for this felt especially agonizing because I hyped myself so much and anticipations were very high.
I chose to get the duo set because from experience I tend to have a very low pain tolerance. Any hair removal method that requires the plucking of the follicles is usually too much for me to bear. The only exception I have grown immune to is in the armpit area. I thought the tria SmoothStart Calming Gel would come in handy in that respect. Plus, the price at the time for the duo and for the laser by itself were the same for this particular Turquoise color.
tria claims that the gel has anti-inflammatory and cooling properties to help make it more comfortable with the hairs are being zapped. It is a bit opaque and cloudy in color straight out of the tube. Once it is spread out, the gel is translucent. I chose not to use the Calming Gel the first time I tested the machine. However, from the little amount I placed and rubbed onto my hand for the photo, I can tell that it did give a cooling sensation to wherever I applied it.
The at-home laser is simple enough to use. The pamphlet recommends charging it for at least 2 hours after it is taken out of the box and before it can be used. After it is fully charged and the gray button on the top is pressed, I believe the screen will say something along the lines of "the device needs to be registered". If it doesn't it, it still most definitely needs to be done anyways before the laser can be used. Each tria Hair Removal Laser 4X has it's own Serial # that has to be registered with the company. It is a simple procedure that just requires setting up an account on tria.com.
The next time the On/Off button is pressed, the Locked screen will pop up to prevent any accidental zaps. Pressing the bottom of the laser device to the skin will promptly Unlock the machine. Well, this step should unlock it if the skin that was sensored is in the correct color range, a.k.a. light to tan but not pale or dark. Each press of the gray On/Off button whilst on the Unlocked screen thereafter would be to select 1 of the 5 energy levels. The screen itself shows the energy levels, battery life, and number of zaps it has made.
Tria recommends using the maximum level 5 in order to see the best results. Each body area also has a corresponding recommended number of pulses. Every following zapping should overlap the last by at least half a circle. Which to be completely honest is very difficult to keep track of. The company also states that results do not usually show for at least 3 months with bi-weekly treatment.
- Upper lip: 25 pulses, 2-3 minutes
- Underarms: 100 pulses per side, 4-5 minutes per side
- Bikini: 200 pulses per side, 8-10 minutes per side
- Upper leg: 600 pulses per side, 25-30 minutes per side
- Lower leg: 600 pulses per side, 25-30 minutes per side
Like mentioned before, I chose to go gel-free in order to see how painful the laser would be and to know what level of laser I could handle on my own. It was a very strange experience. I stuck to Level 3 throughout my entire first round of treatment. The overall feeling was just warmth. No matter if you hit a hair follicle or not, the laser will leave the spot a little warm. When a follicle is hit by the laser though, it can range from a tiny pricking feeling to something akin to having a rubber band hit that direct spot very suddenly. It definitely caught me by surprise every time the latter happened because I felt the lighter sensations more. There was an urge to immediately pull the laser away but I had to stop myself since tria mentions it is most successful to keep the laser on there until the end of the zap.
**WARNING: Photos below might make some people uneasy.**
Since I knew the Sephora VIB sale would happen sometime in November, I stopped plucking any of the hairs I wanted to treat for one month. It isn't a long enough time to have all the hairs grow back but at least there was enough for me to be able to properly test out the device. Before I got too pulse happy, I had to make sure I shaved off the surface hairs first to make it easier for the laser to reach the roots.
Facial hair and body hair has always been an issue for me. Once puberty hit me, I noticed how my body changed. Not just that I was starting to go through monthly menstrual cycles but also that my underarms began to smell funny whenever it got warm outside. I also saw how little tiny hairs, thick and thin, would sprout from my pits and legs and many other places throughout my body. While most follicles could be hidden with clothes almost everywhere else, my face was the one place I could not hide and was the most self-conscious about.
What is it exactly is the person focusing on when they look at me right in the face? My pimples? My big mole? Or all those mustache-esque wisps sticking out near my lips? Maybe all these insecurities added to the reason I tend to be so introverted.
I remember distinctly how my teenage self would always try to rip out those pesky hairs with my bare fingertips whenever I caught myself thinking about them. I remember how I would blame my bad genetics because once I noticed it on my own face, I started to notice it on my mom's as well. Then fast forward a bunch of years and two medical conditions later, I might have found a partial answer to why I had seemingly so much hair: PCOS. I thought, and my parents probably thought, I was a freak when we first found out. All that the doctors told us then was just "your testosterone levels are high". As a teenage girl, who wouldn't freak out about that? Forget about having fewer periods and having too many cysts in my ovaries...what do you mean my male hormone level was abnormal?! Am I going to grow more facial hair? Could I get an Adam's apple? Would my voice deepen?
Okay, maybe I was over-exaggerating to myself. Most of my worries didn't happen, no Adam's apple or "manlier voice". Hairiness is still a situation for me but not nearly as extreme as I have heard it can be for other people with PCOS. I still suffer from other symptoms. But of course, my hairy insecurities still remain.
Nowadays I just try my hardest not to think about it, the hair. When I do, I tend to immediately try to get rid of it. This usually means I reach for my eyebrow razors a lot to do the quick job of shaving the 'stache hairs off. Who knew I was doing microblading before it was this trending beauty thing? I have tried a couple other ways to remove my facial hairs too. Tweezing never sat well because my lip area is so sensitive and the same reasonings goes for self-threading. But as the photos show, there is evidence of plucked upper lip hairs from the random hairless spots near the corners of my mouth. Treating this area was one of the main reasons I decided to take the plunge with the tria laser.
My underarms was the other big reason why I considered going the laser route. I began my hair removal journey with shaving. But I found that I was still left with a dark shadow from all the stubbles and it would not last very long. Shaved pit hairs would usually start to grow back the very next day. The absolute worst part of regrowth was the dreaded itchiness.
Somehow a friend brought up the topic of underarm hair removal a few years back and the idea of tweezing was thrown around. Since I was bored and procrastinating from typical college stuff then, I spend a good 30+ minutes going to town pull each hair out of my armpits. It was definitely uncomfortable at first but I found it surprisingly easy to handle plucking these hairs than any other ones. The positives were, of course, the slower regrowth and finer hairs.
Despite winning an epilator before tweezing became a part of my routine, I was always too scared of the potential pain. It is supposed to be like a bunch of tweezers working all at one time. Once I realized my pits were tougher than expected, an epilator was a life and time saver. Until...I became increasingly annoyed by how difficult it was to clean all the hairs out of the teeny crevices. Talk about unhygienic!
So that's how the story goes and I found myself going through the tedious task of tweezing each hair one by one again. Maybe it is because I went through so many methods yet still came back to this particular one. I found it even more strenuous on my eyes this time around while trying to pluck those underarm hairs. Even though I could stare into the right corner for a long time, no problem, staring to the other side caused me to lose focus and become rather lightheaded and dizzy easily. To say I am hoping the Hair Removal Laser works well at least in this main department would be a major understatement.
Now knuckle hairs never really bothered me at all. They can be there or not, no big deal. I only included it in this series because I first used it as a test area to see how tolerant I am of the different energy levels and because why the heck not? I have the device anyways so let's see how well it works on as many body parts as I can.
I always thought I would go for professional laser hair removal if I ever had the money to. But maybe now I won't have to. We'll see. A major reason why I wanted to push this post out so soon and interrupt the travel series was so I could hold myself accountable and keep up with treatments. If not, how else would I see if this potential miraculous device actually works? Wish me luck!