My long fascination with hair removal borders on the disturbing. This is because I inherited my dark looks from my father and hirsuteness from my blonde mother.
From the age of eight, I became increasingly worried about the dark hairs covering my legs, arms top lip and base of my spine, and this was partly why I went on to train as a beauty therapist.
In those days, 20 or so years ago, the only permanent method of hair removal was electrolysis – which is what I specialised in, concentrating on easing needles down people’s individual hair follicles.
It was a very demanding job and in the end I lasted only six months – not just because of the concentration needed, but also because of having to deal with so many anxious women. Although excessive hair is often dismissed by GPs as something women just have to put up with, it can be removed safely and relatively cheaply.
Interestingly, increasing numbers of men are also trying the new methods of permanent hair removal, particularly for hair on the back and shoulders.
Two years ago, I had laser hair removal on my lower legs. I had previously been waxing my legs every six to eight weeks, which was not only painful but inconvenient.
As fellow waxers know, after the first week you have varying amounts of re-growth, yet must wait another six weeks, covered in stubble, until all the hairs are long enough to be waxed again.
I worked out that cost of laser treatment would be covered by the amount I would be paying out over the next ten years in leg waxing.
Laser hair removal works, but I had to endure some unpleasant side-effects, including minor burns. (You can’t have it done with a tan and, although I’d left it three months after the holiday, I had some tan left which reacted badly with the laser.) The redness and blistering lasted for more than two weeks.
But how does the new laser work and how is it different? The new light uses a different density of beam diffused through a filter, rather than a single beam as the original laser did. It penetrates deeper, is faster, more accurate – and therefore cheaper, safer and less painful.
The laser is transmitted through a clear filter, approximately ten centimetres in width, attached to a highly sophisticated machine that can be finely tuned to give you only the amount of light you need to kill the unwanted hairs.
The light travels down the hair follicle to the bulb, which is effectively ‘zapped’ by the heat created. Some hairs may grow back if they are treated at the end of their life when the hair is not fully attached to the bulb, but results are normally guaranteed over three treatments.
A six to eight-week period between treatments is recommended. This time I had the straggly incredibly long, coarse hairs at the back of my thighs treated – the sort only your husband notices. First, a patch test checked the strength of light needed to rid me of my hair. Then eight weeks later, I returned for my first treatment.
After donning sunglasses to protect my eyes, a gel was applied to the skin. As the light hits the hair you feel a momentary stinging sensation, akin to an elastic band being pinged on your skin.
The more hair, the more it hurts. But the laser head covers a substantial area and it is soon over. The treatment took less than 20 minutes. You should not use any method of hair removal system between treatments. Pulling hairs out by whatever method stimulates the hair root and may make hairs stronger again.
However, it definitely works, and my thighs are now almost hairless. The trouble is, as soon as you have had one area done others become suitable targets.
I have to admit to an utter dislike of hairy backs on men, and have now duly dispatched my next target, Mr Ross, to the clinic. In three hour-long sessions, he will have the hair sprouting on his back and shoulders removed permanently.
Strangely, I’ve got quite attached to my own fuzzy back.