As a daughter of immigrants, my pre-teen years were packed with conflicts on my appearance—how I wanted to present myself vs. how my parents were willing to help me present myself—especially because I needed their help with personal care due to my disability. This included shaving my legs and armpits!
If you think this is only for women, you’re mistaken. Men can do hair removal for their face, chests, back, etc. So read on.
While most people of Asian decent are not hairy, like my mom, I inherited hairy genes from my dad. I developed a complex from not being able to shave; so much so that I never wore shorts in public.
In college, one of my personal care assistants (“PAs”) said she started laser hair removal at a doctor’s office. It was pretty new then, in 2005. She said it cost a few thousand for unlimited sessions.
Fast forward 7 years, I was living in Pasadena, California. I bought a Groupon for laser hair removal at a Medspa in the next town over. It was approximately 7 sessions for a small area (armpits) at ~$100. Different sized areas had different prices.
Embarrassingly, I went to my first session, only to be sent home because I came without having shaved. I didn’t know.
When I returned, I was able to do the laser treatments from my wheelchair. They held my arm up for me. The hair removal worked well. It basically burns your hair roots with a laser. The process was not too painful; one of my armpits stung more than the other. At the end of my 7 sessions, the Medspa staff said I would just need to come back as needed for touchups.
During my Medspa visits, I learned of a home hair removal machine. Although it was well reviewed on a TV talk show, I was skeptical—another gimmicky made for TV product. But I bought it anyway. I guess technically, it was sold online, not on TV.
My home hair removal kit came in a purple box. In it were the home hair removal laser machine that looked like a price gun, an electric cord to plug it into the wall outlet, and a CD with video instructions.
I was surprised that this home hair removal kit worked. I used it on my legs and to touch up my armpits after my Medspa visits.
Both in-person laser treatments and home hair removal have their pros and cons. While in-person laser treatments at Medspas are stronger and more effective, you need to go to their location. My Pasadena care agency made a rule that PAs could only drive people with disabilities to medical appointments. In my mind, my Medspa appointments were “medical,” but since my PA didn’t agree, she refused taking me.
The home hair removal kit is not as strong as the ones in Medspas, so it requires more sessions to be just as effective. But home hair removal seems cheaper and convenient since you can do it in the privacy of your own home. For people with disabilities, we may need someone assisting us, so this may use our precious PA hours.
There have been home hair removal advancements since I started in 2014.
The home hair removal kit I purchased and still use came with cartridges that had to be replaced after a certain number of uses. Now, they make a lifetime cartridge with no refills needed. My kit was one of the only ones in 2014, but many different companies make them now. My kit also worked best for lighter skin tones with dark hair, but it has diversified since. I qualified as a “lighter skin tone” as a Korean American, who has always been called “dark.”
I definitely recommend hair removal. My friends have gotten it done for private areas as well.
In the meantime, hope to see you around in my shorts soon!
Esther S. Lee is an attorney with a disability affecting her speech and mobility, but not her spirit. She opened Disability Law Collective, an affordable law practice providing legal advocacy for the everyday legal needs of people with disabilities and their families. She also started a non-profit housing cooperative for people with and without disabilities, called Able Community.