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Dubai: It might be something that’s a bit taboo to talk about so publicly as a woman, but body hair continues to be a daily struggle for women everywhere, specifically in the Arab and South Asian regions, where it is common to start removing body hair when you hit your early teens. “I highly recommend laser hair removal,” my friend said quietly to me over lunch the other day. “It literally slows down the growth of your hair and when it does grow it’s very light and soft. I wish I had done it years ago.”

Laser hair removal is a big topic of conversation among my friends and me and even when I meet new people and the subject comes up, which it usually will when it’s a group of women, I very much vouch for this method as the most effective way to keep your hair from growing in the first place.

“Trust me guys,” Alexa, one of my other friends would say. “It is worth the investment of time and money.” No more tweezing, waxing or spending excessive amounts of money on razors and hair removal creams only to have to do it all over again in a few days.

Ahead of the summer vacation, laser hair removal has gone up in popularity since most people are peeling off their quarantine sweatpants and wearing more swimsuits and breezy summer outfits. “We have more customers than usual these days,” said my laser technician. “Many of our clients are using the quieter months of summer to get their sessions done.”

Razors leave behind pesky bumps on your skin and waxing could cause your pores to expand, but laser hair removal means you don’t have to deal with any of that. Plus, the demand for non-invasive hair removal treatments is increasing, which is seen evidently in the number of laser clinics continuing to pop up all over the place.

Not only does laser hair removal save you time and money, but it also requires very little upkeep (just a bi-yearly maintenance session). Consider all of the monthly waxing appointments and extra shower minutes that can now be substituted with more fun activities. You'll eventually be able to say goodbye to your disposable razors and hello to smooth, hair-free skin.

What exactly is laser hair removal?

Laser hair removal
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Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a concentrated beam of light (laser) to eliminate unwanted hair. During the hair removal process, a laser emits light that is absorbed by the pigment (melanin) in the hair. This light is converted into heat energy, which damages the hair follicles and in turn, helps to reduce hair growth. It is the process of preventing your hair from growing by exposing the root to pulses of laser light that destroy the hair follicle.

Is it expensive?

Although it is more expensive than waxing, it will save you money over time, since you won’t need waxing appointments or have to buy any hair removal equipment. In Dubai specifically, because of the sheer amount of laser hair removal clinics, it is easy to find plenty of discounts or packaged deals.

When I did my sessions I bought six sessions for a small area (think underarms) and six sessions for a medium area (think arms or Brazillian) for Dh1,800.

It also depends on which clinic you visit. If you go for something higher end in a high-end neighbourhood, you are looking at shelling out between Dh4,000 and Dh5,000. The smaller clinics are where you will get deals.

What is the procedure like?

Usually, you arrive at your session and your practitioner will help you shave the areas that you want to be lasered. (It saves you time to shave it yourself at home the morning of your treatment)

You and the practitioner will both wear special goggles that shield you from the laser beam during the procedure. Usually, machines will have a cool rush of air which reduces the pain of the laser beam on your skin. This makes it more comfortable for the patient and relaxing the skin at the same time. Most session lights depend on the portion of the body that is being treated. Underarms take about three minutes each, while legs, for example, will take slightly longer to complete since it is a bigger surface area.

What are the most commonly treated areas?

The most commonly treated areas include legs, underarms, bikini zone, back, arms and the face.

Does it hurt?

To a certain extent, laser hair removal is slightly painful. The pain level also depends on which area you are working on. The sensitive bikini zone does hurt more than if you were to laser your forearm or your legs, so numbing cream is certainly advised in some body parts.

The pain of a laser is comparable to a rubber band being snapped against your skin over and over again. But the cooling effect on the laser machine helps reduce the discomfort.

The downside was that with every session, the laser beam had to be more powerful so that it continues to kill the hair follicle. So you just need to mentally prepare yourself. 

How long does the process take?

Laser hair removal isn't a one-time procedure. Most people will require a series of 5 to 10 sessions to attain the desired results. On average it takes six to eight months to complete your session and to reach desired results, so it’s best to start sooner than later.

Each session will be spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart. After the first few weeks of treatment, you should notice that your hair starts to fall out. This is known as shedding, and it indicates that the treatment is effective. It's a good idea to exfoliate the region gently throughout this period.

Three years later... is laser still effective?

For me it is. The areas that I have lasered do have some hair growth but it is as light as fluff and doesn't grow as frequently. 

All your burning questions on laser hair removal answered

Two leading experts from Dubai weigh in on the laser hair removal procedure while discussing the pros and cons

As the popularity of laser hair removal continues to grow in the UAE, we get two experts to weigh in on the pros and cons of the treatment, along with answering all the burning questions you may have.

How popular is laser hair removal in Dubai and the UAE?

Dr Hebatallah Mahmoud, Specialist Dermatologist, Medcare Medical Centre, Jumeirah says: “Laser hair removal is a non-invasive way to reduce or remove unwanted body hair. With more than one million procedures performed in 2016 and continued increased since then, laser hair removal is one of the most popular minimally invasive cosmetic treatments in the UAE.”

Dubai London Clinic’s Laser Technician Rebecca Treston agrees as well, saying the treatment is ‘extremely popular’ in the region. “When I arrived in Dubai 22 years ago it was just emerging, but it has grown phenomenally since...”

What are the popular areas clients choose to undergo laser hair removal and does it differ between men and women?

Treston says popular areas for women include legs, underarms, the bikini line and the face, “although some cultures prefer to be completely hairless so will remove all of the hair on their bodies using permanent laser hair removal.”

Dh Mahmoud adds that full-body treatments are quite popular as well, including legs arms private areas, chest, back, face and neck.

What do you mean by ‘stages of hair’?

Treston further explains there are three hair growth stages which are Anagen, the active phase, Catagen, the shedding phase and Telogen, the rest phase, so depending on what stage of growth your hair is currently in, will affect how effective the laser is. “This is why you need several sessions of laser hair removal, in order to ensure that you target the correct phase in order to get permanent hair reduction,” she adds.

Men’s grooming comes under scrutiny

Laser hair removal isn’t a playground for women alone. Accord to health experts in the UAE, a growing male clientele has been walking through the doors over the years.

“The majority of clients who come in for laser hair removal are still female, but we do have a fair percentage of men, specifically Arab men who prefer the groomed, straight lines of beards etc,” says Treston, adding: “Some men also prefer to remove excessive hair growth on their backs and chests for example, so this area of hair laser removal is growing for men in the region.”

Dr Mahmoud concurs, adding: “We used to see more female clients than male for laser hair removal while effectively it works for all patients with dark hair and light skin. But nowadays, a number of common treatment areas for men like the chest, back, shoulders, neck, and face are increasing so it can reduce the itchiness and irritation that coarse and dense hair growth can cause.”

So what is it that men go for? “Men tend to focus a lot on their facial hair, sharpening their beard lines and sideburns while backs, chest and other areas with excessive hair growth are popular for men to receive laser hair removal too,” reveals Treston.