Last month, on ThandieKay.com I wrote about unwanted facial hair on women and the stigma they sometimes face. I also spoke to Dr Sam Bunting about the causes and solutions available to women and one of the solutions mentioned was laser hair removal. Following that I took some time out to question to the woman dubbed ‘London’s Laser Queen’ – Debbie Thomas – who runs the self titled Debbie Thomas Clinic where all manner of beauty and hi tech skincare happens.
Debbie sees a lot of women with unwanted facial hair, so I am very grateful for her to take the time out to shed a bit more light about what happens in her practice and her experience in treating the condition.
- Do you treat a lot of women for treatment with unwanted facial hair?
- With all the services you provide, where does it feature in terms of demand?
It is a very popular treatment. We offer all methods of hair removal including waxing and threading, but the most effective for long term reduction is laser treatments. We have several different types of laser so are able to treat most skin colours and hair types safely and effectively.
The rise of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome has changed the typical client with unwanted facial hair
- Over the last five years what has been the trend for the service?
It’s definitely gone up. For many women it is a social thing, we don’t feel its feminine to have facial hair. With conditions like PCOS seeming to be on the rise, more women are getting facial hair, and with more knowledge about lasers, more are coming forward to get it treated. Also the hair growth can aggravate conditions like acne, so laser hair removal has double benefits.
- Do you treat more of a particular demographic – young? middle aged? White, Black, Asian?
I think this is the biggest change over the last ten years. Once it was more Asian, Arabic and Indian clients having these treatments due to naturally having darker hair and more of it. However, now it is much more mixed. Again I think this is due to conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The age group tends to be 30-50 but I treat teenagers from aged 16 through to ladies in their 50-60’s.
- Can you treat everyone that comes through your door?
No, not for laser, not all hair can be treated, mainly hair lacking or very low in color (blond, white, grey) will not respond to a laser treatment, also the hair has to be darker than the skin by several shades for the laser to effect the hair without damaging the skin.
Waxing and threading can be used on all hair types, and even though we don’t offer it, electrolysis is still an effective treatment for hair removal of lighter hairs, it is just much slower than laser.
Society has caused some women to be embarrassed and scared to confront a condition that is quite easy to treat
- What’s the general demeanour of women coming to see you?
There is a mix, but embarrassed is probably the most common. Women think that they are unusual, unnatural and unfeminine when they have this kind of hair growth so they try and hide it. Talking about it can be very hard. I think that we all need to understand that its not unusual, it is actually very common and nowadays it is easy to treat. Taking that first step of a consultation is both scary but also a big relief, just knowing your not tackling it alone anymore.
- Do you feel that it is a condition people talk about enough?
They definitely talk about it more than they used to, but of course if it was discussed more then people would perhaps feel more confident seeking out treatments.
It can take two years for a woman to build up the confidence to talk to a professional
- In your experience what is a woman’s typical journey before they end up with you?
I do think many go through home remedies first, then perhaps a beauty salon for waxing or threading, so yes I guess they come to us once they become fed up or overwhelmed with the constant upkeep, we offer effective long term solutions. A study showed that on average a woman will think about it and research it for up to two years before picking up the phone to enquire about the treatment.
- Do you think women seek help early enough?
I think more balanced information on treatment options would help women to seek help earlier, it is very confusing knowing where to go for safe treatment and which laser or Intense Pulsed Light is best for results. This confusing information makes women hesitate because they don’t want to risk their face being damaged or paying out for a ineffective treatment.
- Do you think women know (or know enough) about the treatment options available to them?
No, I think that lasers in the past have gotten a bad name for being aggressive, painful and scary. Modern day lasers are much more controlled and targeted making the treatments very safe and much more comfortable. You still need to go to an experienced laser practitioner to ensure you get the safest treatment.
- What are the best solutions for dealing with unwanted facial hair – what course of action do people need to take?
A salon or clinic dealing with hair removal all the time is your best option. If the hair growth is related to a medical condition, occasionally you may get some laser treatments on the NHS but I think only three or four which won’t be enough to completely reduce the hairs.
When choosing a salon or clinic to go to try and go to a recommended one, or if researching yourself look for good online reviews and that they have multiple lasers/IPL as sometimes you get a better result from a mixture of laser wavelengths.
- Do you feel GP’s are helpful in dealing with the condition?
In my experience not really, it seems to be considered a cosmetic issue not a medical condition.
Dealing with unwanted facial hair doesn’t have to break the bank
- What are the costs of treatment?
On the face between £60-£150 per treatment with a package of eight-twelve recommended. Treatments are carried out three to ten weeks apart and 20%-25% saving is made if you purchase a package of treatments.
For more information:
Debbie Thomas Advanced Skin Treatments
2nd Floor, Haris Salon, 305 Brompton Road, London. SW3 2DY
Bookings: 020 7118 9000