Tag Archives: laser hair removal

March Spending Wrap: Food & Lasers

Despite thinking I had succeed at a frugal March, it turns out I spent ~$6300 over the course of the month. This means April is going to be fiscally conservative, and I need to stick to a carefully planned budget (to be defined in my next post.)

In the meantime, here is a breakdown of what cost me so much this month…

Personal Care $4,348.10 (laser hair removal)
Food & Dining $646.10 (eeks!)
Home $632.50 (rent)
Shopping $292.16
Bills & Utilities $280.12
Health & Fitness $192.43
Auto & Transport $164.89
Uncategorized $50.00
Fees & Charges $14.25
Entertainment $9.81
TOTAL $6630.36

April is going to be a month of discipline. At least this month the majority of my spending was on the one-time fee for unlimited laser hair removal ($4300.) But the amount I spent on dining was ridiculous. And it’s not like I went out often or had extravagant dining experiences.

This is how my restaurant spending ($440) broke down…

Mar 29 Neiman Marcus Restaurants –$56.18 high tea with friends
Mar 29 Tokyo Go Go Restaurants –$84.74 shared sushi with aunt, cousin. water.
Mar 29 Little Chihuahua Restaurants –$12.50 breakfast with friend
Mar 28 Benissimo Italian Pizz Restaurants –$47.73 dinner with aunt, entree, shared bottle of wine
Mar 25 Max Restaurants –$24.64 dinner for bf, appetizer for me, water
Mar 22 Bangkok Bay Restaurants –$49.76 thai dinner for boyfriend and I
Mar 11 BJ’s Restaurant Restaurants –$64.58 bf’s birthday dinner & his drinks. I didn’t eat.
Mar 7 Cha-am Thai Restaurant Restaurants –$36.06 dinner in city with friend
Mar 1 Morocco Restaurant Restaurant Restaurants –$70.63 nice date dinner with boyfriend

At least my rent cost is still low compared to my income, so I can get away with months like this. Sure, I spent more than I made, but I make it up on other months (as long as you keep me away from the mall!!!) I’m worried about moving, and spending more money on rent this summer. Ok, time to figure out my April budget… coming up next…

Laser Hair Removal Update

I’ve been writing a lot about laser hair removal lately because it’s one of the largest purchases I’ve ever made in my life, outside of my $7000 car. Part of me still feels like I shouldn’t be spending the money — it’s much smarter to invest it, deal with shaving twice a day all my life, and that’s that. But, I’ve come to the decision that now I am going to spend some money on myself, within reason. And of everything in the world I can spend it on — vacations, jewelry, etc, I choose to spend my money on laser hair removal.

The one place I’ve been considering is giving me a really amazing package rate. $4000 for six treatments of basically everything except my face and arms. Which is like 76% off their single treatment rate. The normal discount as these places is maybe 40% off or for a special 50% off. All other places I looked at, at the cheapest for the same treatments, cost $5000 – $7000.

At first, I was very skeptical about this place. Why so cheap? That’s always something I’m cautious about when paying people lots of money to burn my hair follicles. So I went in for a full treatment — bikini and buttock (yes, there’s hair there. I’m a fairly attractive girl but my hormones make me look like Godzilla without an OCD maintenance program.) I got them to give me a 20% discount off the price of the two treatments — $460 total. That will apply to the full $4000 package if I decide to go for it, which I likely will. I just want to make sure my skin doesn’t melt off in the next two weeks, and that the hair sheds properly.

I was impressed with the quality of treatment at this place. I’ve been to a more expensive laser spa and the nurse was like a typical doctor — in and out, no time to waste. Not only that, but she burned me under my arm (I now have purple spots there the size of the laser, I hope they’ll fade.) So I’m not sold that cost has anything to do with quality when it comes to laser hair removal.

Ultimately, it’s how comfortable you are with the RN, and how comfortable the RN is with the laser. So this RN was really nice about everything, which was necessary when she was lasering in such delicate places. Yes, it was painful, esp behind the upper leg and inner thigh (youch!) but it’s so worth it. For me, anyway. Even for all that pain, knowing I’ll need 5+ more treatments in the same area for it to really do anything significant, and the reduction in savings I’ll have this year. It’s so worth it. I’m excited about the $4000 package and hope in the end I don’t regret it. I haven’t signed on the dotted line yet, but I’ve pretty much already paid 1/8th of it so it’s silly not to go all in if I like the place and I’m going to get it done anyway. Right?

They do have Care Credit — which gives 18 months free financing. I don’t need it, but I might be better off paying a few hundred bucks a month vs all at once. I can also put it on my credit card and get air mileage, which could be nice too. I’ll probably do that since I have the cash.

Laser Hair Removal Consults #4 and #5

I’ve been on 5 laser hair removal consultations. That was my goal before purchasing any major packages beyond what I bought already (8 face treatments and 5 armpit w/ GentleLASE). So I went up to San Francisco last night to two laser hair spas (which both happened to be on the same block – even though I didn’t realize that when I booked the appointments) just to get a taste of what laser hair removal spas are like in the city versus the Peninsula.

Both places were very different. Spa #1 was great – clean, and very nice. They use the Candela GentleMAX which apparently has a GentleLASE in it, but it’s still different than the GentleLASE that was used on my face and armpits. I’m not sure how. The RN who met with me was obviously very intelligent and answered every question I had without any sales pressure. I really liked her and this spa. And I like that they use the Alexandrite laser which I really think is better for my skin type (III/IV) versus the diode. My lower back, which was treated with a LightSheer last weekend, doesn’t seem to be shedding at all, the hairs are growing back but still firmly stuck in. They just have a weird texture. I didn’t get prices for this spa yet, but I think they’re fairly comparable with basically all the other places I’m looking at / maybe a little more because they use Candela’s technology. I’ll find out full prices on this place today.

Then I went to another laser hair medspa down the street. There was definitely a major different in quality and type of place, which I saw right away. This place looked, well, cheaper. It looked kind of like a salon in the front, very much set up like a “walk in and get yourself lasered” type place with some Feng Shui thrown in. So my initial impressions of this place weren’t that great. Then I met with the woman who would be doing my treatment. They use the Cynosure Elite, which apparently is a combo machine with an Alexandrite laser and a YAG laser for darker skinned clients. The room for the treatment wasn’t clean – I went to put my purse on a stool and there was hair all over it. This place reminded me more of the salons where I would get my eyebrows waxed before I discovered threading and eyebrow only shops.

The woman was really nice, but didn’t seem that knowledgeable. One thing I’ve been most surprised about is how many of these nurses don’t know about other technology on the market. The GentleLASE, Lightsheer and Apogee Elite seem to be the three main lasers that clinics are using these days, it shouldn’t be too hard to be aware of all three and why the laser you use is better. Not even knowing the other lasers exist (or calling them IPLs, which they’re not) makes you just seem kind of dumb to anyone who spent 5 minutes researching laser hair removal on Google.

All that said, this woman proceeded to do a “test patch” on my stomach with the Cynosure Elite, which is an Alexandrite laser (the kind I think I should use on my skin type, though it can burn badly if used wrong). She was just going to do a small spot but she ended up basically going almost all the way around my belly button and down a little bit towards my pubic bone on one side. It hurt like a bitch with no numbing cream, but I could see it working. The hairs popped out of the skin.

Then, the office manager quoted me an amazing rate for basically my entire body (other than my face) – which I still don’t believe is a legit rate, but I have it written down so hopefully they will hold true to this rate if I decide to book.

Now, you’re probably thinking, don’t go for the cheaper place because you’ll regret it later. That’s a possibility. But even with the more expensive place where I’m getting my armpits done I’ve had hyperpigmentation and I haven’t been happy with the service. So price isn’t everything. This place is also fairly new, which is good and bad. Bad because they can go out of business. Good because they price lower in order to get new business.

All in all, now I’m extremely confused about where to get laser hair removal. I think, if the $4000 for 6 treatments of everything below the neck (including back of neck, but not arms) holds true, I almost can’t say no to that. That’s over $1000 less than I was going to be spending for a diode laser, and more than $2000 less than any Alexandrite laser I’ve found. It really does seem “too good to be true” so I’m hesitant to just book it. But I also just want to get started with these treatments. My stomach seems to be reacting ok, it’s still a little sore, but eh. They also include free numbing cream with the treatments… I just don’t understand how this place can be so much cheaper than everywhere else. If they want to build up a clientele, I can take advantage of that, but I can also get screwed over if they fail to do so and go out of business.

10 Ways to Save Money on Laser Hair Removal

The last post I wrote was supposed to be about 10 ways to save money on laser hair removal, but turned into more of a ramble about my last year shopping around for the best prices. Thought it’d be best for my readers if I summarized exactly how to save money on laser hair removal treatments…


1.
Free Consults are Your Friend
Go to at least 3 places for a free consultation. If you can, go to 5+ places for a free consult.

2. Get it in Writing
Get everything in writing, especially prices and package deals. Find out how long they’re good for.

3. Paying Up Front? Ask About Discounts
Ask about financing plans. Places that offer financing plans pay a ridiculous fee to the medical credit companies. See if you can get that fee discounted off your price if you pay up front (one clinic offered to take another 10% off each package if I paid cash up front.)

4. Play Hard to Get

Let the clinic know you’re shopping around. Make them have to sell you on why you should pick them, instead of letting them take you for all you’re worth.


5. Negotiate Your Package
Find out if you can purchase a package of 6-7 treatments, instead of the normal 5. Even though this will cost more up front, this will save you money in the long run. You will need more than 5 treatments unless you don’t have a lot of hair, in which case, why are you bothering with laser hair removal to begin with?

6. Research Your Laser

Make sure you go somewhere that has a laser that’s right for your skin type. The Alexandrite, Diode and YAG lasers are all good for different skin & hair color combinations. Use the wrong one, and at worst you can hurt your skin, at best you’re not getting the most effective treatment, which means you’ll be disappointed with the results and have to pay for even more treatments for it work to your expectations.

7. Wait for Specials
After you get full pricing information in writing, wait for package deals. Most spas tend to offer good deals in the early summer, as this is when their clinics slow down. Sign up for mailing lists so you know when the deal is available. There are sometimes good deals at other times throughout the year, depending on how the economy is doing. I’ve seen some great deals lately, in the fall.

8. Purchase Multiple Packages for Best Savings

Buy multiple packages at once. You have a lot more wiggle room in terms of negotiating price this way. Only do this if you feel like you can pay up front and know you like the place and who will be doing the treatment on you. I recommend purchasing a single package or just one treatment to get a real idea of what the treatments are like before diving into packages costing thousands of dollars.

9. Follow Treatment Timing

Make sure to go back for your follow-up treatments in the right intervals. Waiting too long or not long enough will make your treatment less effective. Ask your practitioner how long you should wait for each body part.

10. Get a Free Zap or Two

You can’t get your legs free if you buy arms, but you might be able to negotiate your feet and toes and bikini line in a “full legs” package. My underarm hair removal package now, unofficially, includes the small bit of hair between my breasts in the center of my chest. It’s only about 10 hairs, but it’s the worst as it shows up in all my outfits. I mentioned this to the RN doing my armpits while she was treating me and she said “I’ll just zap them for you.” Even if the clinic does not condone freebies, you might be able to get a little more for your money by asking. Do this before paying for your package and then it’s official, and make sure to get it in writing. Note – this won’t work for places that charge by the laser pulse or for time spent on treating.

How to Save Money Shopping for Laser Hair Removal

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!