I will never look the same as I did at age 28. (I'm 37, for the record.) But while I miss my 28-year-old metabolism, there is one thing I don't miss: my mustache.
Thanks to my Sicilian genes, I am a fuzzy lady, and while I appreciate that the mane on my head is dark and thick, it's a constant battle with my body hair. I don't mind shaving my legs, grooming my eyebrows, or even getting bikini waxes. But having a hairy face feels decidedly unfeminine.
A few years ago, I decided to take it all off. I'd heard mixed reviews about electrolysis, so I talked to my dermatologist about laser hair removal, and she told me I was a perfect candidate due to my relatively light, olive-toned skin and dark, thick hair. As she explained, the greater the contrast between the color of your skin and the color of your hair, the more effective laser hair removal is.
My doctor's office didn't offer laser hair removal, so they referred me to a dermaspa while advising that any reputable spot would probably be fine. When I found an online offer for discounted treatments at LaserAway  — the California chain endorsed by Kim Kardashian  — I jumped. If it's good enough for Kim, I thought, it's good enough for me.
For years, I'd been bleaching my upper-lip hair; due to my use of Retin A and sensitive skin in general, I wasn't able to wax. But as I got older, my hair got thicker and thicker, and I had to bleach it more and more frequently, and I wasn't fooling anyone. A thick yellow mustache is still a mustache. I'm sure no one else noticed it as much as me, but it drove me crazy.
After my first surprisingly quick and easy lasering session, I left thinking, why didn't I do this sooner? Basically the only barrier to lasering my whole face was the high price tag, but having laser hair removal on my upper lip was some of the best money I've ever spent.
Below, you can see my before shot. I've circled part of my furry blonde mustache for your convenience.
Does It Hurt? And Other Questions You Might Be Asking
Before getting laser hair removal, I was advised to avoid sun (not a problem) and medications like Retin A and antibiotics. I also had to shave (yes, with a razor) the parts of my skin that were getting lasered. I booked my first appointment expecting it to take half an hour, when in reality, it took less than five minutes.
The upper lip is a sensitive area for laser hair removal, but it's also a small area. I put on some protective shades and declined the "elective topical anesthetic," because the nurse made it sound like it was for wusses. Then, I sat back while she delivered a few quick laser pulses across the width of my lip while blasting cold air on my skin. It was slightly uncomfortable (a sort of stinging sensation, like getting slapped) but it also took less than 45 seconds.
They slathered me with a mix of aloe and sunscreen and sent me on my way. My upper lip was slightly red, but only for about half an hour. The results are immediate, and it was weeks before I noticed even a smidgen of hair.
How Does It Work?
As I learned at LaserAway (also where Kirbie shot the above video), laser hair removal works by targeting dark, coarse hair follicles, and it does not work on gray or red hair. Laser hair removal leaves your skin undamaged (unless you break the rules) by ceasing hair growth in the targeted follicles. Each session creates a 10 to 15 percent reduction in hair; overall, you can remove about 90 percent of your hair in any desired area.
How Many Sessions Do You Need?
LaserAway recommended at least six monthly sessions for permanent hair loss, though your hair growth slows with every treatment. In between visits, you shave your face, and with every session, they increase the power of the laser. That also increased the pain level, but again, only for 45 seconds, and after every session, I noticed less and less hair growing back.
In the end, I did eight sessions, though I could probably use a few more. While most of my 'stache is totally gone, I have two patches on either end where the hair still grows back. Yes, I shave it off, and no, it doesn't grow back thicker. Eventually I will probably spring for a few more sessions to be done once and for all.
Either way, I'm much happier with the way I look (see after shot below), and I certainly don't miss my bimonthly bleaching sessions.
How Much Does It Cost?
Laser hair removal was so easy and effective that I kept asking myself "why didn't I do this sooner?" But then I'd remember that, oh yeah, it's really expensive. The cost of a laser treatment depends on the size of the area you're treating and how many sessions you need, but according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average is $235 per session.
At LaserAway, it costs $450 for three small-area sessions, though I got my first three via an online offer for just $99. Better yet, LaserAway generously extended that deal for the remaining sessions. So in the end, I spent less than $250, and I'm so glad I did.