Laser Tag: Round Two — Chronicling our Experiences with the TRIA Hair Removal Laser
In late November, I mentioned I’d be keeping a log of my experiences with the TRIA Beauty Hair Removal Laser. Like many women, I’ve had a long, troublesome, frustration-filled history with hair removal — whether I experimented with shaving creams and cutting-edge razors, went to a spa to have my stems waxed, experimented with DIY wax strips, or tried depilatory creams and gels. This journey has involved such incidents as a failed experiment with a spray-on hair removal cream that ultimately ended in my legs being covered with first degree burns. And then, of course, there’s the time I stripped off a layer of skin by attempting to wax my own legs a bit too aggressively, not to mention the countless indignities suffered at the hands of unseemly razor bumps that left me looking like I had an incurable case of chicken pox. Needless to say, I’ve often contemplated investing in laser hair removal but my investigations always ended in frustration as I calculated the type of financial commitment I’d be making in order to ensure permanent results, not to mention the time I’d spend in the dermatologist’s office as they zapped each inch of stubbly surface.
Imagine my excitement, then, when I heard about the TRIA Beauty Hair Removal Laser, an at-home device valued at $395, that vows to permanently remove hair in six months. The handheld hair removal device features a small tip that emits a laser which, when pressed against the skin, disables hair follicles, thereby preventing future hair growth. When I was approached about testing the TRIA laser over six-month period and documenting my experiences, I pounced at the offer, eager to see if the device would deliver the groundbreaking results it promises.
How does it work? Well, though it’s a handheld (albeit hefty) device, it relies on the same FDA-approved diode laser technology used in professional settings. The driving force is photothermolysis, a process whereby the beams of laser emitted by the device are absorbed by the hair’s natural pigment and converted into heat. This thermal energy then disables follicles, hence preventing future hair growth.
Ideally, you want to use the TRIA laser every two weeks (I’d suggest marking the days on your calendar so that you can make sure you don’t wait too long or, alternatively, repeat the process too early on). Thus far, I’ve been completed two separate treatments, focusing on my legs (from knees to ankles). Before using, you want to shave your legs so that the surface is completely smooth and dry.
Handling the device isn’t necessarily intuitive, so I would definitely suggest reading the instruction manual from beginning to end (no skimming, okay?). Perfect example: even when the device is fully charged, it won’t start working just because you hit the power button. To activate, you need to place the flat bottom of the device atop a steady surface area on the skin (like the top of your thigh, say) and the built-in skin sensor will register that the device is ready to be unlocked. Then you can press the power button and activate the TRIA Laser. Once it’s on, you can pick between five treatment settings, each of which corresponds to a heat level. The levels are shown in the display window at the top of the device, represented by pill-shaped ovals.
You’re advised to select the highest level you can tolerate but do be advised that Levels 4 and 5 are for those gutsy gals who can really withstand more than a wee bit of pain. In fact, I started out with Level 3 and had to switch to Level 2 (and gals, I have six tattoos, suffered from painful gall stones before finally getting surgery, and gave birth to a hefty 8 lb. child, so my tolerance for pain is pretty high). Eventually, I did move back up to Level 3, but it did require some Lamase-style breathing to get through the full treatment.
Now, when you use the TRIA, you want to press the treatment window against the skin lightly, making sure it’s positioned flat against the skin. Next, you’ll keep the device on that spot until you hear a beep indicating that the area has been treated. This should happen in a matter of seconds, so pay close attention. Once that area is treated, you’ll want to lift the device and move on to the next area. To cover the entire surface area, you can glide the device up and down in linear strokes or try to move the treatment window using small circular motions.
As you’re treating the affected area, you’ll feel a bit of a prickling sensation. If you have tender skin, you might feel more of a zap or nip (imagine a mini current or an elastic snapping against the skin). It’s not pleasant, but it’s tolerable — particularly when you keep in mind that you might be hair-free in a matter of months by just bucking up and withstanding the discomfort.
After my first treatment, I didn’t notice any changes, but I was forewarned that this would be the case. After the second treatment, however, I’m noticing that less hair is growing back in and that it seems to be a bit thinner.
I’ll still have to shave, of course, but hopefully as I continue these routine treatments, I’ll be one step closer to having smooth, hair-free legs!
Stay tuned, gals!