Throughout my life, I’ve been a naturally hairy person. Shaving was useless as it just left ingrown hairs and dark stubble. I honestly could never feel beautiful or desirable with the dark hair all over my body. Even my boyfriend, who is the least superficial person on earth, would not want to touch me a day after I had shaved because of the hair on my legs. My bathroom, shared with a roommate, would always be covered in hair from my various attempts to rid myself of human fur. Enough was enough.
So a few years ago I started looking for a permanent solution. Lucky for me, I was an ideal candidate for laser hair removal – pale skin, dark hair. It wasn’t cheap and it sounded frightening, so I spent a lot of time researching different treatments, lasers and pricing options. I went to probably about six different consultations. For starters, I paid $1800 for a package of six treatments for my face, because due to PCOS I had thick disgusting chin hairs and sideburns that I would spend every second of my life tweezing. Then, when my face didn’t explode from the first few treatments, I decided to get serious. I wanted as much of my body hair gone as possible.
At one consultation, where I paid for a single bikini treatment, the nurse started to upsell me on multiple treatments packages, which that one treatment could be applied to. I gave her the run down of everything I wanted lasered. Which was pretty much, everything:
- Behind the Neck
- Lower Back
- Bikini Area (Let’s leave a landing strip, thank you)
Yes, I think that is just about everywhere person can possibly have hair, with the exception of her head. She added up the cost for six treatments per area, and filled me in on a little secret — another spa, where she worked part time, had an amazing deal for laser hair removal. Unlimited treatments in 90 minute sessions for $4500. While $4500 isn’t cheap, my total for six sessions in each of my planned areas was going to be something like $7000. Unlimited. Sounded. Unlimitedly awesome. I knew that laser hair removal was designed to reduce, not fully get rid of body hair, but from what I’ve read six treatments really wouldn’t be enough to make a serious dent. I liked the idea of being able to keep getting hair removed until it was gone for good.
So I splurged. It was my biggest purchase yet outside of my then $8k car. I bought “Unlimited Hair Removal” in March of 2011. I always knew that I was risking the spa going out of business in this purchase, but I hoped I could get the value out of the $4.5k before that time came. I had to stick to a very strict visit plan. I couldn’t hit all the areas each visit, and the treatments had to be 6-8 weeks apart, so that resulted in 1-2 visits per month to a spa about an hour away from my house, across a toll bridge. It was kind of a pain to get there, but the deal was worth it. I couldn’t find anything else remotely close to it, and the spa seemed actually reputable. I was so excited about the journey to becoming hair free as I made my way in for my first appointment.
Getting your body zapped with a laser is not fun. They say it is going to feel like a rubber band snapping against your skin but that is a lie. Basically every hair follicle shot by the laser gets so hot that it explodes under your skin and feels like tiny shards of hot glass. Early on in treatments, at least for the first six treatments, there are a lot of hairs each zap gets at a time. This is good because it goes faster, but when doing areas like the legs that are large, or the bikini that are extremely sensitive, the pain can be intense. I would use numbing creme for my bikini and face but that just helped minimize the shock. Trust me, it hurt. And each time they increased the strength of the laser, so it hurt more. 90 minutes straight of this is torture. But worth it.
Since it’s dangerous to have laser treatments when you are tan at all, I would take the summers off from going in for treatments, figuring that I had, well, “unlimited” treatments forever, I could wait. Then, this summer, I got a letter from the spa’s doctor saying “you are at the clinical endpoint of your treatments, you cannot come in anymore.” Wait a second. I was like, WTF? Unlimited doesn’t mean six months after I go in for a treatment you randomly decide that I’m done. Granted, some areas have seen serious improvement (my legs, while they still have a few strands of hair here and there, are a billion times better than they were when I started) but others are still a bit patchy (my armpits and bikini, which I figured would take just a lot more treatments, but again, I had an unlimited pass, so eventually all the hair would be gone.)
I wrote a nastygram to the company saying that it’s ridiculous they say I’m at the medical endpoint of my treatment because I’m treating multiple areas of my body and it’s impossible for them all to magically have the same medical endpoint. Also, my nurse, at my last session, said nothing about being close to a medical endpoint, which I kind of assumed would be told to me before the treatment was over (“oh, yea, this area only needs one more treatment and you’re done.”) But the nurses there constantly told me stories of women who would come in for years for treatments, if hair started to grow again, they would just zap it. That was the magic of this deal, which really was too good to be true.
In response to my nastygram, the assistant wrote me back saying, contrary to the note I received, that this package had been discontinued. Now, that really got me boiling, because you can’t discontinue something that I bought with a signed contract for unlimited treatments. A few more nastygrams later, which threatened bad online reviews and legal action, they offered two dates when I could come in and meet with their doctor (who also owns the business) so he could look over my history and current progress to determine if I needed more treatments. This was a pain in the ass because the doctor was only available in the middle of the work week, and I live an hour away from the clinic, but I figured once I showed the doctor my armpits and some other areas that clearly still need treatment he’d be reasonable.
Unfortunately, when I came in, the doctor told me the REAL story – they were selling the business. In three days. And they couldn’t tell anyone about it. So… I was pretty much SOL. I negotiated one more 90 minute treatment the next day in the late afternoon, which required traveling a 2 hour trip to the spa that normally takes 1 hour because of traffic. I really couldn’t do anything other than that. Funny enough, the nurse who first recommended me this deal that I met at the other spa in 2011, who had left this spa for a while, was randomly back working there one day a week, and she was the only nurse with an appointment to fit me in. So it was like coming full circle.
As she zapped me I thought about how glad I was that, despite not having a truly unlimited deal, that I was able to have about 10-12 treatments per area for $4500, which really would have cost something like $10k-$15k had I paid separately. It was still very much a worthwhile deal, I’m just bummed that my “unlimited” treatments only lasted for two years. Had I been smarter, I would have not taken the summers off, and made appointments more frequently, at the risk they would sell or go out of business.