I’m not one to splurge on treatments at any place referring to itself as a “spa,” so the fact that the past week or so included visits to about 5 different of these establishments might seem perplexing to anyone who knows me. But for the first time in my life, I can afford to purchase laser hair removal.
It’s not cheap. It’s not even close to cheap. It sets me further away from the seemingly-impossible dream of one day owning a house. To get everything done that I want to get treated, it will likely add up to about $7000. And that’s probably only considered half done. I won’t be completely hair free. But even a 50% reduction is worth it. Or at least I feel like it is.
But spending $7000 is better than spending $10k for the same treatment, and the only way to figure out how to get the best price is to shop around and really haggle. I hate haggling, especially with anyone who, if hired for the job, will soon be pointing a laser at my vagina. I’m hoping that these businesses are used to a hard sell, and they’ll treat me the same as someone paying more if I happen to “win” a more “affordable” package.
Still, it makes me nervous. I’ve been to consultations at 4 different medspas and I have one more set up this week. Besides the price difference, there’s also a ton of other variables — which laser do they use? Alexandrite? Diode? Yag? Is it Candela GentleLASE, Lumenis LightSheer, Cynosure Elite or Apogee? And then, who does the procedure? Do they know what they are doing? What if they leave half way through the treatment package (it takes about 1 year since you go back every 6-8 weeks for a treatment)? What if the medspa goes out of business? Do they offer financing? Does financing make sense? How do I know the practitioner isn’t jipping me — using too low of a setting so I will need to come back for many more treatments to finish up? What if they burn me and I still have $2000 of treatments left to follow up with? Ugh, too many variables, and that’s why this makes me so very nervous.
Last year, after going to two consultations I jumped on a package deal at one spa. I spent $420 for 5 underarm treatments (which is still, I feel, a good price for the area) and $1680 for 8 treatments for full face without my forehead (which is fine, I don’t have hair on my forehead at least, thank goodness.) The place I go to for these treatments uses the Candela GentleLASE, which I read is best for my type of skin (III – IV with dark hair) as the Alexandrite supposedly gets more of the finer hairs than the LightSheer, which I also considered. Oh, and I’ve also spent about $40 on numbing cream so far, can’t forget to add that into the total. So I’ve spent $2120 so far on my attempts to be hair free.
They say that after 6-10 treatments you should see about 80% reduction of hair growth, or more, or less, depending on how messed up you are hormonally. Since I’m pretty messed up, I’m concerned this won’t work at all in the long term.
So far I’ve had 3 treatments done on my underarms — and so far they are much easier to shave and I have to shave much less frequently. It’s really great because my underarm flesh is so pasty and my hair is so, so dark that it always looks like I haven’t shaved my pits even if I just cut them so close they’re bleeding. Underarms are definitely worth it. I’ve only had one treatment on my face so far and besides being quite painful in some sensitive areas (by my ear, upper sideburns, mustache right inside my nostrils (you don’t want to know what that smells like)). However, the results on my face thus far make it all worth it. I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) so I have, well, somewhat of a beard. It isn’t exactly a beard, it’s more or less random spots where I have a patch of thick hair that grows in. Being OCD doesn’t help because I’m constantly tweezing out the hairs, leaving my skin a wreck. When I first was interested in doing laser hair removal, I wanted to do just my face. But I was worried about how my skin would react so I figured armpits would be a good place to test first, and it wouldn’t hurt to have less hair under there anyway.
Now, I’m ready to get zapped even more. But not without shopping around first. It’s really a pain in the ass to drive around the entire area to go to consult after consult, trying to get prices and figure out which clinic makes the most sense. There’s one spa, the one I went to my first consult at, where I like the RN and she really wants me to go there, I can tell. She’s willing to negotiate on price — likely she’ll match the price I find elsewhere if I can find somewhere that uses the same laser (LightSheer) with a lower price. Well, I did… I found another spa in the area that currently is running a 50% all packages deal if you buy 2 or more packages. The numbers add up nicely even though they still ain’t cheap.
I could just go to this place with the discount, but I kind of feel like I should at least let this first woman have a shot at giving me a good price. It also turns out that her spa is a block from my office so it’s much more convenient for going back for multiple treatments. But I don’t mind driving if it means saving hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Ultimately, though, it’s important to pick the right laser for me. I don’t want to spend $5000 instead of $7000, where the laser doesn’t get the fine hairs that the other one would have zapped for good.
There’s another clinic up in the city that has a decent price for certain body parts, I’m trying to figure out how I can mix and match different treatment sites and body areas so I get the best deal without driving myself too nuts (where was my appointment today? – I’d be asking myself as I drove 30 minutes in the wrong direction). But, in the end, it all comes down to playing hardball, and not being willing to settle. Laser Hair Removal “spas” or “medspas” or whatever you want to call the practices are really in it to make the most money off you that they can. They already spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on their laser, and they need to use it as much as possible before the technology is obsolete. They sell a single treatment, they’re probably not going to see the person again. But they sell a package, that’s a good $1000 to pay off the machine and then profit on it. The more they can make off of you the better, but if they can get $5000 instead of $7000 they want vs. having to start from scratch courting another customer, some places may budge. If they’re too eager to budge, then you have to start wondering about quality. As long as you get a recommendation for the place (from someone you know or an online site like Yelp), you should be ok.
I still can’t believe I’m about to spend $5000 more on laser hair removal, but I also am fantasizing about the day I can wear a bathing suit and not worry about my full-body five o’clock shadow!