Vicki from Hollywood
My story with unbearable hair growth begins when I was thirteen years old. The laser crave had just hit LA. I’m Persian and from all the Persians on the block, laser was supposed to be the final answer to our years of battles with excessive hairiness. Now I don’t remember being that hairy. Definitely more so than your average Caucasian American, but never as bad as I am now. I had some soft, dark (definitely visible) hair on my arms and legs, along with sideburns, a mustache and visible baby hairs on my cheeks and chin. My skin tone is an olive tan, definitely not the super pale candidacy that lasers at the time were looking for. Nonetheless, my mom took me in to the brand new laser joint in Encino and bought a package for both of us. She would do her legs and I would do my arms and face, so the kids at school wouldn’t make fun of me and so I wouldn’t have to wax every week anymore. I remember being seen by the doctor who ran the laser clinic and she performed a test run on me. She explained that although I wasn’t the “ideal candidate” for laser (dark hair on pale skin), the laser technology had improved enough to work on tanner individuals. The test session went fine and I was actually looking forward to finally becoming “normal” and hair-free.
Boy, was I wrong. The laser sessions would turn out to ruin my life. After six sessions on my arms and face, I saw no improvement. At around the third or fourth session, I noticed that not only were my hairs growing back after about a month, they would grow back darker, faster, and thicker. Much, much thicker. By the end of six sessions, the hairs on my arm were like those of a man. The laser did nothing for the lower half and actually induced thick, monster, eyebrow-like hair to grow on my upper arms and near my shoulders. I have to shave my entire arms almost every day to feel normal. Even then, people would brush against me and ask why I was always so “prickly.” But that wasn’t the worst of it.
The laser took a similar toll on the hairs of my face. The technicians were only supposed to treat my sideburns, jawline, mustache, and chin. They ended up zapping the entire lower half of my face, including my neck, where I had no hair. I wouldn’t say anything in the sessions because I thought it could only do me good to be treating these areas. I thought I was getting a deal by not opening my mouth. It wouldn’t even have mattered though, because once you zap a spot once, the damage is irreversible. The hairs on my face became thick and coarse like a man’s beard. They grew frighteningly fast and there were hundreds of them, covering the half of my face nose down, all the way to the middle of my neck. I would have to wake up two hours before school began to pluck out every single one…and then go to class and contend with the fact that I could grow more of a beard than any of the boys in my classes. It took a ridiculous toll on my emotional well being. I gained the reputation of “taking forever to get ready” and always being late–little did anyone know that all of the time I spent to get ready was spent shaving every inch of my arms and plucking every hair off my bristly face. When I got tired of plucking, I would wax at home and rip off patches of my skin because the hair was too thick to remove. I’d go to school with bandages on my face and have to explain why I so often “burned myself.” When I couldn’t take waxing anymore, I started up a membership and the threading parlor at the mall, where most people go to get their eyebrows done. Every week, I’d pay $35 to get a threading on my full face. The ladies would pull so hard at the thick hairs on my face that their threads would break. They would whisper to each other about me and my hairiness. Some even asked me why I had such a thick beard on my face. Imagine being sixteen years old and having to answer this question.
Because of the laser induced growth on my face and arms, I spiraled into a depression. There were days where I’d come home from school and go straight to my room and cry my eyes out. I stopped eating and lost a lot of weight. I would throw violent tantrums in front of my mom out of my helplessness. I blamed her for causing all of these problems and cried that it wasn’t fair. Especially because she was rather unhairy and pale-skinned. The laser had completely removed the leg hair she was treated for. She had no hair on her face and barely any on her arms. To top it off, my younger sister had none of the same problems that I did. She never went through laser and could wax the manageable hair she had on her arms and face. I felt so alone. I felt like I was the only person in the world going through this. At one point my mom became helpless and took me back to the laser center we had originally sought treatment at. She complained to the owner and showed her the growth on my arms and face. The owner mentioned that for some people, laser actually induces hair growth, and they don’t know why. She said a good option would be to keep coming back for laser sessions to keep the hair away for at least a good month until they would start their vigorous growth cycles again. She gave me six free sessions. So that’s what I did for the next year.
I kept going to get my face lasered once a month. We couldn’t afford to go for my arms, so I kept shaving them, but my face was unbearable and the laser treatments were necessary for my functioning as a normal human being. Even then it was impossible to have good relationships. I would hide from my boyfriend and all my friends during the week when my facial hair began to grow back, until my mom could take me to get it lasered off again. I was living my life at the mercy of the laser. During my first year of college, I still went every month to get my face lasered. I found a new laser joint that offered face sessions for extremely cheap, about $25 a session. This was totally affordable considering I’d paid $35 a week to stay clean until the next week. But still, laser didn’t answer my problems. I still searched for a solution because I got tired of feeling shameful and abnormal for that week where my hair would grow back thick as a man’s beard and I’d have to shave it. I tried new lasers and settings that the new laser center offered. I switched from an Alexandrite laser to a YAG laser (which is supposed to reach deeper in the skin and preferable for clients with darker skin tones). Nothing helped. When I tried one more session on my arms and underarms with the new YAG laser I was using for my face, I found that everything I already had got EVEN worse than it already was. I vowed to stop laser right then and there.
I shaved every day for about a month until I found Alison and set up an appointment for electrolysis. I had heard of it before, but figured it was extremely painful and far, far too expensive for my parent’s pockets. However, there was nothing more that I could do. I couldn’t live with the unasked for consequences of laser any more. I had never been so depressed in my life so my parents agreed to help me pay for the cost of electrolysis. I’ve been to five sessions so far and I’ve seen results already. The treatment is nowhere near as painful as I’d imagined. It is tedious, though; but, with everything I’ve been through, I’m not spending another dime on anything that won’t guarantee me permanent reversal from the bitter consequences of laser. All in all, I am just thankful that there even is an answer. It could be far worse. I could have to deal with this for the rest of my life.
I want all hairy women out there (either born that way or induced by outside forces) to know that you are not alone. No matter how hard you struggle, there are people out there who experience the same hardships and heartbreaks that you do. For all the less hairy moms with more hairy daughters, please, be sympathetic. Just because something works for you doesn’t mean it will work for your daughter. And please, do not risk your daughter’s or your own well being with the fraud of laser. If I could go back to the moment the first beam zapped my skin and stop it all from occurring, I would. For now, I will soldier on with electrolysis and hopefully reach a state of normalcy and happiness once and for all.