Laser Hair Removal
Who it’s best for: Brides with darker hair and lighter skin. The laser is unable to treat gray or peachy-fuzzy blonde hair. “We can treat darker skin types by altering the wavelength of light used and the pulse width of the laser, but there’s certain exceptions,” said Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, dermatologist at Fifth Avenue Dermatology & Surgery in New York.
He advises erring on the side of caution and visiting a medical professional, rather than a hair laser spa, for safer treatments. Also, research the doctor’s background before you go.
How it works: A beam of light is absorbed by the pigment located in the hair follicles, heating it up and reducing its ability to re-grow. New laser technologies like the High Speed LightSheer Duet have improved treatment time — it used to take an hour-and-a-half to treat a woman’s legs (each one!) and now it can be done in just 15 minutes.
Patients shave the affected area the night before, and they must wear SPF every day in order to avoid pigmentation.
When to do it: At least six months before the wedding. Typically, five treatments are required, and they’re spaced out in one- to two-month intervals, so this will give you enough time to see significant results. Not having to shave during the honeymoon is a glorious thing!
Photo Credit: Brittany Purscell Photography
What to expect: On a scale from one to 10 (with 10 being the most painful), the pain level is about a four or a five. In many brides' experience, the laser actually hurts less than waxing; it feels like you’re getting a bad sunburn, but the sensation is only temporary.
It’s a popular misconception that laser hair removal patients are completely fuzz-free — Dr. Frank tells his patients they can anticipate 90 percent of hair to be eliminated. “Hair removal, in general, is really hair reduction. It’s unlikely you can get rid of every single hair,” he said.
Average cost: It varies depending on the area of your body or face where you want to remove hair, the most common being the bikini and underarms ($2,000 total) followed by the legs (around $4,000).
“Before a wedding, I see the bride often for various treatments, and usually the members of their family as well! Once women see how easy this procedure is, they usually come back to have other areas done,” Dr. Frank said. Keep in mind that it can be cheaper to bundle areas, although you can also pay for each treatment piecemeal.
Who it’s best for: Brides who are overly sensitive to chemical agents in cosmeceuticals and peels.
How it works: Used as a physical exfoliant, microdermabrasion removes the superficial layers of the skin using mildly abrasive aluminum oxide crystals. “It removes dead skin cells, polishes your outer surface, and drains clogged pores, giving you smoother, softer skin,” said Dr. Frank.
When to do it: Microdermabrasion only takes about 15 minutes, and treatments are done at three- to six-week intervals for maximum results.
What to expect: Dr. Frank says the pain level is around a three — “It feels like very fine sand rubbing against the skin.” There is no ‘downtime’ and you can even use makeup afterwards. However, it is recommended that patients avoid any products containing retinols or alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic and salicyclic acids, a week before the treatment.
Average cost: $250. Dr. Frank usually performs microdermabrasion in conjunction with other skin laser treatments, such as Clear and Brilliant (which replaces damaged skin with healthy, younger-looking skin tissue) and the Fraxel Thulium Treatment (which lessens the appearance of dark spots).
Skincare Tips for Any Bride:
Photo Credit: Photo Love Photography
Visit a dermatologist in case you experience anything out of the ordinary, even if you’re not usually prone to skin issues. They’ll help you set up a game plan a few months before the wedding, leading up until the week before. "I recommend that all cosmetic enhancement or corrective treatments be done before this time, but I do see brides right up to the last minute for cortisone injections if a pimple pops up, which reduces the swelling and makes it disappear within 24 hours,” said Dr. Frank.
Wear SPF every single day — even if it’s cloudy outside. Not wearing (or applying) it often enough is the number-one mistake that brides make.
Think twice before booking facials. “They’re seen as a luxury that unfortunately can do more harm than good. I’ve had many patients come in after reactions from products and scars after extractions,” said Dr. Frank. Instead, he offers the Isolaz laser treatment, which cleans out blackheads and whiteheads without damaging the skin.