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The Bald Facts On Why Women Are Rethinking Laser Hair Removal

It's been 20 years since laser hair removal was approved by the government for use in suburban salons. Two decades later, many men and women have far less hairy bodies, but some feel locked into a hair fad they can't undo.

Ever since Gillette first marketed a female razor, the Milady Décolleté, more than 100 years ago, women have been told body hair is abnormal and not desirable.

Over the course of the following century, a number of other hair removal techniques became widely used -- including waxing and hair removal cream.

An iconic scene in an episode of Sex And The City is said to have popularised the full Brazilian wax thanks to Carrie Bradshaw. Soon after, Brazilians via laser rather than hot wax hit the market.

Image: HBO.

"I was probably 20 when I started doing laser, and the appealing thing for it was -- being from a Lebanese and rather hirsute background -- I was very much attracted to the fact that I didn't have to go to the beautician every three weeks," comedian and social commentator Jan Fran told 10 daily.

Laser hair removal uses targeted laser beams to destroy hair follicles and prevent future growth.  It had been performed experimentally for about 20 years before becoming commercially available in the late 1990s.

As with most popular culture trends, over time, they change. But laser hair removal -- with its permanent hair reduction and removal -- doesn't allow for a change of heart.

"I do feel like I'm aesthetically trapped in an era. Life is really long and you grow and you change and to have the choice taken away from you in the end is a bit annoying and kinda sad," Jan Fran said.

The popularity of the treatment has been helped along by lower prices, increased accessibility (almost all suburban shopping centres have laser salons) and of course aided by the likes of Kim Kardashian who said, “I am Armenian, so of course I am obsessed with laser hair removal."

So while the Brazilian or full vaginal hair removal has ruled the pubic grooming scene for more than 15 years, there's a shift among some whose lifestyles or attitudes have changed.

Brisbane-based naturopath Cindy Smith married a man 15 years her senior and with different attitudes to body hair.

"My husband likes the big '80s bush and I have nothing, I was kind of like' sorry mate I lasered it off'," she told 10 daily.

Smith maintains that having laser was both cost and time efficient over the years.

How well laser therapy works depends on your type of hair and skin.
IMAGE: LaserClinics

"So while I don't regret having hair removed on my arms and leg and upper lip, it's kind of funny that my sexual partner from here on prefers hair that I don't have," Smith said.

However, she didn't consider what it would be like having no pubic hair once she had children.

When my daughter goes through puberty and gets pubic hair she won't be able to look to me to understand that it's natural and that mummy has it too.

Micky Button is a franchisee of Australia's largest laser clinics business LaserClinics, which operates more than 140 clinics around Australia and New Zealand.

She said over the past five years she's seen an increase in both men and women wanting pubic hair removed at her clinic on Sydney's north shore.

"We don't do as many Brazilians, or full Brazilians as other areas of Sydney, and lately I have had some women say I don't want everything taken away, what if I change my mind? So they are beginning to think like that," she said. 

However, on the whole, she said the treatment is still very popular.

"If you can access porn on the internet it's what you are going to expect as normal and that's the sad part I guess, younger people who watch porn and see that tend to do it more for those reasons," she said.

Popular pubic hair removal options. IMAGE: Pinterest

Phelissitie Johnstone, who has been a beauty therapist for more than a decade, has seen a shift in north Melbourne where she runs a beauty salon.

"We see those who regret the perpetuity of their decisions or started to do laser and now want a more natural, less invasive hair removal option," she said.

Johnstone specialises in sugaring -- a hair removal technique that uses an all-natural paste to pull off body hair. The paste consists of only lemon, sugar, and water.

"People come to us who have sensitive skin, who don't want something so permanent. And remember, not all hair and skin types can do laser," she said.

Is the Bush ever going to come back?

In 2017, Kardashian nemesis Amber Rose briefly appeared naked from the waist down on Instagram, advocating #bringbackthebush. Singer Miley Cyrus and actress/model Emily Ratajkowski are also attempting to popularise body hair.

If you type #hairypits on Instagram, there are 63,500 results.

But for Jan Fran, the bush -- quite literally -- cannot come back.

While she regrets the perpetuity of her decision, she simply suggests younger women think more carefully about it.

"It has been very convenient - but fashion is ephemeral; it comes and goes and particularly for women it often tells us to mutilate our bodies in ways we don't really think of as mutilation but it is, it is what we do to ourselves as part of fashion," Jan Fran said.

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au 

Lisa Portolan

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