Thursday, February 8th, 2018
This is an unpaid, unsponsored product review of a product I purchased with my own money. It was something I had thought about for several years, but never pulled the plug on. It was expensive! This past October however I bit the bullet and bought a Tria hair removal laser.
I’ll be honest, this post is a bit of catharsis for me as well. It’s not an easy subject, but I know I’m not alone in this.
In the year before getting pregnant, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It’s surprisingly common, and it can present itself in multiple ways. For myself, it presented as ovarian cysts, mid-cycle spotting, cystic acne, difficulties getting pregnant, and most embarassingly, facial hair. The last one is clinically referred to as hirsutism.
I had previously sought out laser hair removal when I was younger. In 2010 I was receiving professional laser hair removal every 6 weeks from a dermatologist’s office. I was also struggling with cystic acne at the time, but the dermatologist himself had an extensive waitlist for skin care, even though there was no waitlist for laser treatments. After a handful of treatments the technician asked me about the extensive cysts I was struggling with, and bypassed the waitlist to make me an appointment.
She was a skin saver, as was the dermatologist I saw. The day of my initial appointment, I took in a foolscap sheet of paper with a bullet point list of things I had tried that had failed. After reading through the list and asking a few questions, he honed in that I had a hormone imbalance, and prescribed a medication that would block specific hormone receptors in my skin. It worked! It didn’t address the underlying hormonal issue, but it gave my skin a fighting chance at overcoming the disfiguring cysts that were taking over my face. I don’t say that lightly, as the cysts did leave permanent scars.
One of the other benefits to this particular medication, and its hormone blocking benefits, was that it decreased hair production. As hirsutism is triggered by excess androgens (a group of hormones), this makes sense. In the years that followed, as my skin recovered to the extent it could, the excess hair I struggled with decreased.
After a couple years on the drug, I tapered off it and have managed to mostly maintain the acne to this day. For a few years, the same story was true for the hair. I got married, got pregnant, and had my son. All was good.
Fast forward another year, and I weaned my son off breastfeeding when I went back to work. Any mom who had done this can tell you that there can be a huge hormonal swing that follows as your body tries to balance itself back out again. Well, mine didn’t balance. The facial hair came back with full force.
I had been diligently plucking the strays for years. Every couple days I would get rid of one or two. Suddenly it was a dozen a day. When you consider most hair follicles have a growth cycle of ~6 weeks, and I was plucking daily, you realize how much of an issue this was becoming.
Late last summer I gave up on the tweezers, and started shaving the hair. As soon as I began doing that, I started looking into permanent hair removal options again. After considering the cost of treatments, and the inconvenience of making it to regular appointments, I decided to try an at home option.
I purchased the Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X in Graphite:
It retails for $515 Canadian, unless you catch a (small) sale. I seem to recall mine being on sale, but it wasn’t a massive discount. It came packaged with a bunch of skincare samples that I didn’t request, and to be honest didn’t try. I just donated them.
The device needs to be charged before use, but I don’t recall this taking very long. A couple hours, tops. Four and a half months later, I still have a full battery from that initial charge.
Operation is straightforward. To turn it on you hold down the button on top of the device until it lights up and beeps at you.
At this point it’s turned on, but you can’t actually use it yet. As you can see on the screen above, it’s locked. In order to unlock it, you have to place the sensor on the bottom of the device on your bare skin:
This is a safety mechanism. Lasers like this are recommended for people with light skin and dark hair, because the laser targets pigment. If your skin has a lot of pigment the laser will damage your skin, so if you’re too dark the machine won’t turn on. That includes if you have a tan.
When I was having professional treatments way back when, the technician told me about a woman who had eaten a bagel prior to coming in for her appointment. She had a poppyseed stuck in her teeth, and ended up getting burned as a result. Word to the wise.
Once it unlocks, you’ll have the option of adjusting the intensity by pressing the top button again. I tried my first session at a 2, my second session at a 4, and every session since has been at full strength.
From this point, you use the laser by pressing the tip against the skin you want to treat. When the machine detects that the entire tip is against your skin, it will emit a pulse from the laser and beep. If you can’t get complete coverage on the tip (say you’re working on something like your jaw or ankle bone), you may have to pull your skin over a little so it can sit flat.
Once it beeps, you can reposition the laser in an adjacent, non-overlapping position. It’s a small tip, so if you want to cover a large area it could take a while.
The pain will vary depending not only on your personal tolerance, but on the hair you’re treating. The darker the hair, the more it hurts. The thicker the hair, the more it hurts. The more densely clustered the hair, the more it hurts…. you get the idea.
Did it work?
To a degree, yes.
I used it every two weeks for a three month period. For the first two treatments, I didn’t notice an appreciable difference in hair growth. No massive hair fall out, no reduction of the hair growing in, nothing.
After three treatments, shortly before the fourth, I noticed a slight difference. When shaving the hair one morning, I noticed that one of the hairs pulled out with the blade rather than being cut off. Almost a month and a half in, and I finally saw something!
I noticed at this point that the density of the hair growing in had decreased somewhat. Not entirely, but it had decreased.
I noticed a couple other hairs pull out after subsequent treatments, but nothing systemic like I had seen other people write about.
At the end of a three month period, I would say that my hair density dropped by over half. I went from having the urge to shave twice a day to make sure no one saw it, to shaving twice a week and plucking the occasional tenacious hairs once every two weeks.
Would I recommend this product? That’s a tough question.
If you can say yes to the questions above, then sure. It’s more convenient than booking appointments, and you can do it from the privacy of your own home. It does work in my experience.
If you have light hair, or dark skin, do not buy this unit. It will not work if you have light hair, and the unit won’t turn on if you have a darker skin tone.
If the cost of the unit is prohibitive, you don’t have healthy savings already, or it will take you an excessively long time to save for it, don’t do it. It is an expensive unit for sure, but it is not so life changing that it is worth going into debt or compromising your financial well being over. Very few things are.
If you are treating hormonally induced hair growth… it may or may not work. Hormonal surges may stimulate the hair follicles. I used mine every two weeks for a three month period, as instructed by the product guide. It did not completely alleviate it, though it did help. I will do top up treatments in the future, as the product guide instructs is safe to do so. I cannot guarantee with any degree of certainty that it will work for you, though based on my experience it might.
I plan to try this unit again on my ankles. It’s not an area that is traditionally triggered by excess androgens, so it may respond better than facial hair. If it does, and I see the massive hair fall out the way I see others write about, I’ll report back. Until that happens, I’ll consider this post my fair and accurate review of this product from my standpoint.
Have you every tried a unit like this? What do you use for embarrassing hair removal? What do you use for day to day hair removal?