For my entire adult life, ingrown hairs along my bikini line have been my Everest.
No matter how much I shave, wax, scrub, dry brush or slather my nether region with ingrown-hair serum, the bumps still rear their ugly heads like tiny pube pimples from hell. So when Canada’s own Waxon Laser + Waxbar (formerly called Waxon Waxbar) asked if I would like to try their new laser hair removal service, my first question wasn’t “Will it hurt?” or “Will it last?” It was “Does it help with ingrowns?” The answer was a resounding yes, so I practically threw myself into the arms of my laserologist to give it a go.
The laser technology
Before actually trying out the laser, I met up with wax expert and Waxon Director of Operations Amy Finnegan Burns. She walked me through the reasons why Waxon decided to bring in Vectus by Cynosure laser technology, which arrived at its first location in the fall of 2018 and has since been rolling out to all 13 waxbars across Canada. “Our CEO, Lexi Miles, started going to med spas to do undercover research,” says Burns. “Just like with waxing seven years ago [when Lexi founded Waxon], there was a big gap for walk-in, convenient laser services that weren’t going to break the bank.” Miles wanted to fill that gap, so she and Burns spent a year and a half testing machines and finally settled on the Vectus because it’s designed exclusively for hair removal (and not additional procedures like tattoo removal) and drastically decreases the amount of time that it takes to complete a treatment. “Brazilians should be in for no longer than eight or nine minutes,” Burns states. “Full legs take 15 minutes. Underarms take three to four minutes.” She also told me that there’s minimal discomfort because the laser gun has a cooling tip that soothes the skin and minimizes the feeling of the heat that the laser emits.
As someone who is extremely sensitive to pain and shrieks like a banshee throughout my Brazilian waxes, I figured I would be the judge of that…
My first appointment: The process and pain level
I showed up to Waxon’s Summerhill location bright-eyed and bush-free. Burns told me to stop waxing at least four weeks before my first treatment and to shave my entire Brazilian area the night before or morning of my appointment. That means that I shaved my pubic bone, bikini line, lip area and even between my cheeks. (FYI: This is the worst time to shave in the summer.) It involved a lot of unflattering crouching and twisting, but my laserologist, Ashlynn, said I did the best job she’d ever seen, so it was worth it.
To start things off, Ashlynn took my skin tone reading with the Skintel Melanin Reader. It’s basically a remote control that reads how dark or light a person’s skin tone is and then pre-sets the laser machine accordingly. She also asked me about my hair colour, diameter and density around my bikini line, and then input my answers into the machine. Though the laser will work on any skin tone and most hair colours, it can’t treat white, grey or extremely light hair.
Next, Ashlynn gave me a pair of goggles to wear, pressed the laser gun to my public bone and started zapping. Though I was holding my breath in anticipation of major pain, I could barely feel anything. Yes, the head of the gun felt cool to the touch, and there was a slight snapping sensation like a small rubber band being released on my skin, but that’s it. Ashlynn mentioned that laser hair removal feels different for everyone (she actually finds it pretty uncomfortable) and it can hurt more on the legs, but I was completely fine. The entire appointment took less than 10 minutes.
Several days later, as my pubic hair started to grow out again, I found that about 30 percent of the hair would lift right out if I tugged it. It was such a thrilling feeling. Since those hairs were killed right at the root, they still haven’t grown back three months later. And as for the hair-free areas, they are smooth, smooth, smooth.
My follow-up appointments
To have good results, Ashlynn told me that I’d need to return every six weeks for a follow-up treatment. Then it typically takes four to six appointments to see the optimal results with 15 to 20 percent of the hair falling out each time.
So far, I’ve had three treatments total and have reduced the amount of hair on my pubic bone area and bikini line by about 95 percent. On the lips and between the cheeks, I’ve probably only removed about 20 percent of the hair. I think that’s because those strands are really fine and blonde (while on my pubic bone, they’re coarse and dark brown). On my most recent treatment, Ashlynn changed my settings and used the smaller laser gun to try to target my fine, blonde hairs, but that was quite painful so she had to stop. I may give it another shot, but I’m not super concerned about the fine hairs because they don’t cause ingrowns, they aren’t visible when I wear a bikini and they’re easy to shave or wax as necessary. (Don’t miss 10 things your waxer secretly wishes she could tell you.)
The state of my ingrowns
Burns told me that one of the biggest reasons people come in for laser treatments is ingrown hairs (so I’m not unique… like, at all). The reason that laser is so good for ingrowns is because “it kills the actual hair shaft, so there’s no chance the hair can start to grow up and then coil under, which is what an ingrown hair is,” she told me. After three treatments, I have way less hair, which means there are also way fewer bumps. I do still have a few ingrowns that are trapped under the skin, but only maybe half a dozen (far less than the 30+ I used to deal with). I also have confidence they’ll be completely gone by treatment five.
Longevity of laser hair removal
No hair removal process guarantees 100 percent permanent hair removal. Why? “If someone gets pregnant in two or three years, we don’t know what those hormones will do to her hair,” says Burns. “So we can’t say you’re never going to see a hair ever again, but we can say that for the rest of your life you’re going to have significant reduction in hair growth.”
Paying for it
This is kind of my favourite part because, as much as I’ve always dreamed of lasering my whole body to become as hair-free as a lemon, I find the whole process pretty cost prohibitive. That’s why Waxon offers interest-free financing. “We have an app by an external company that deals with cosmetic procedures so that you don’t have to pay up front,” says Burns. “You can fill out a form in the waiting room, take a picture of your driver’s license and it’s done in three or four minutes. You’re either instantly approved or denied — with nine out of 10 Canadians being approved. Then you can get your services and pay your bill back in three, six or 12-month installments.” Waxon also sells discounted bar tabs (15 percent off when purchasing four sessions, 20 percent off for six and 25 percent off for eight).
Though I was offered a few complimentary Waxon laser sessions to try out the technology, I’m going to continue going back on my own dime for up to six sessions to finish up my treatments. I’m even thinking of having the hair removed on my inner thighs (another area where I sometimes have ingrowns). I want those pesky suckers gone for good, and I know that the Vectus laser really works. But if waxing is still on your radar, here’s your go-to guide for preventing ingrown hairs.