Reader question: Should you epilate while on a laser regimen?

I just found out that this girl I've been seeing for the past few months has some issues with underarm hair. She says that she's "balbon" in the said area and the strands are fatter than common underarm hair. It had always been an issue for her since adolescence and has slowly grown into an insecurity. Because of this, her parents paid for laser hair removal sessions; she's about to go into her 4th of 15 sessions.

She says it's working fine naman daw, and she's seeing some improvement. However, session intervals are long, and are getting longer as she progresses with the program. In between these sessions, she would simply let the hair grow out, and settle for clothes with sleeves. She won't shave because she's afraid that it may darken her underarms. She only does so when absolutely needed, like when she has to attend an event where she has to wear a dress or something.

Anyway, I heard about epilators from my girl friends. I'm thinking of getting her one for her to use in between sessions. I googled about them and ran into this blog. Now, I ask, would you recommend that I buy her an epilator? Would it work on underarms? Kasi, most product reviews I read say na the product is for legs only. Also, do consider that she's getting laser sessions.

Miss Liz, and other Filipinas out there, I hope you can help me help my girlfriend. Thank you! - Thoughtful Boyfriend

Hi Throughtful Boyfriend! You are thoughtful indeed! And sweet. I like that your letter was well-written and thought out, so I thought I'd answer it on the main blog. :) 

I'm glad you asked me this question because one of the worst things your girlfriend can do is epilate while on a laser regimen. Epilating pulls out hair from the roots (well, most of it) - hair will take longer to grow out and it shouldn't damage the skin as much as a razor would. However, laser requires hair follicles to be present. Otherwise, there won't be anything to zap off permanently. Laser works best when there's some hair growth!

In other words, it's not recommended to wax or epilate while she's doing her laser.

What I'm curious about though is why it would take 15 laser sessions to remove her hair permanently. Is she doing IPL laser? I find that it's less effective than diode laser, which would only take about 6-8 sessions (depends of course but that's the average). When I did my diode laser at Wink, my underarm hair has significantly less growth just on the first sessions. But I suppose it's not going to be the same for everyone across the board.

I'm afraid that the best your girlfriend can do is to shave or use a depilatory cream. To prevent damage on her skin during shaving, she can use a shaving cream or gel - it's easy to find in most drugstores. She can also use a scrub like Asian Secrets to ward off chicken skin and ingrown hair. Shaved underarms look dark simply because the hair is showing beneath the skin. It's technically not the skin that's dark; it's the hair growth.

IMG_9798 by project_vanity.

Always exfoliate to reveal new skin and ingrown hair

Depilatory creams melt off the hair, still leaving some hair under the skin. However, it's a little matapang. It can damage her skin if she is reactive to the ingredients of the cream. She should do a patch test on her inner upper arm first to see if she will react! Veet makes good, affordable depilatory creams; just make sure that she isn't allergic or anything.

Laser is a commitment. It's not a cheap commitment, but the payoff is worth it if you're self-conscious about the body hair. Those who undergo laser just need to make sacrifices until the final session!

So there you go, I hope my advice helps. Do note I'm not a derma so this is not a professional opinion. I'm just speaking from experience and from what I learned while having laser done. :) Girls, help Thoughtful Boyfriend! Just comment if you know of other ways to remove hair while on a laser regimen.

PS If you enjoyed this post, hope you could spend a few minutes to vote for me at the Virtual Style Awards! Pretty pleeeeease? You can vote 10 times everday (just click till it's ten) until September 15. Thank you very much! ^_^