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Our Associate Fashion & Beauty Editor Elizabeth Swanson test drives the latest beauty products and treatments to help bring our brides-to-be the best of the best in the skin care, makeup, and hair world. Here, she's dishing on a laser hair removal that's perfect for engaged girls in search of a gentle, but effective treatment.
One thing that would be nice to not worry about when it comes to wedding-day beauty prep? Hair removal, that tedious but non-negotiable part of our beauty routines. So when Dr. Dennis Gross's office unveiled a new form of laser hair removal, it sounded perfect for brides-to-be. It's called Syneron Candela Gentle Max Pro Laser Hair Removal (a mouthful, yes) but this is what you need to know: it's the first type of laser that can treat every skin tone. It also boasts a cooling effect that makes it very gentle for a bride (or, you know, me) who has a low threshold for pain.
What it's like: First, you have to make sure you're prepped and ready to go. I was instructed to arrive without a tan — no problem since I basically repel the sun — and without having waxed for three weeks. "Waxing pulls out the follicle," Dr. Gross' office said. "The laser targets the blood supply to the follicle in order to stop growth." Shaving the day before, however, is recommended in order to create a smooth surface.
Valentina, my aesthetician, examined my skin tone, set the laser accordingly and gave me a pair of goggles to ensure the light from the laser wouldn't irritate my eyes. She started with my right leg, noting that it's useless to laser your upper thighs, since that hair is hormonally induced and will return. She kept asking me if I was alright — I probably couldn't hide the bit of nervousness I felt — but it turns out that the "little prick," as she described it, felt just like that. Nothing worse. Could I feel it? Yes. Does a massage feel better? Yes. But it was totally and completely tolerable, even for my finicky self.
See more: Editor-Approved: A Gentle Peel That Will Leave You with a Wedding-Ready Complexion (No Downtime Required!)
My left leg was more sensitive than my right, which could be explained by a variety of reasons including hormones, allergies, or reaction to a cream, but it still wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Zapping both my legs and underarms took about half an hour. I was scooted out the door with instructions not to take a hot shower, apply lotion or deodorant for 24 hours to avoid unnecessary irritation.
When I got home, I noticed tiny little red bumps on my lower legs. "They should be gone within the week," Dr. Gross' office said. "But you can put topical cortisone on it if you'd like." I went the lazy route and decided to not do anything about it. Sure enough, they were gone a week later and I was left with smooth, hairless skin.
The fine print: For the best results, six treatments once a month is recommended, depending upon the person. Prices differ among dermatologists and based upon the amount of area you want to cover. At Dr. Gross' office, they start at $150 for under arms and go up to $700 for legs. (He offers a buy five sessions, get the sixth free.) Go to Syneron Candela to find a dermatologist in your area.
Our verdict: If you're ready to make an investment, this is a total game changer. (Even if you go less than six times, I say it's still worth it, since it lessens the amount of hair that grows back each time. I went in for two sessions and am still hairless, a whole month later!) Oh, and did I mention it gets rid of in-grown hair, too? Plus, if you tally all of the times you'll have to spend buying razors or getting waxed in your lifetime, well, the price might very well be comparable.