iAm: Louisa Koh

SHILLS Aqua Skin Moisturizing Spray

A 30-something from sunny Singapore who's tried her hand at lots of things, such as selling skin care & make-up, working in a (boring) corporate setting, trying to carve a singing career, giving private tuition, being a fitness instructor, writing/editing etc...

Besides exasperating her parents to no end, she loves experimenting with new make-up looks, uncovering the best make-up & skin care products, modelling for herself before the camera, singing at the top of her lungs (with preferably no one to hear it), and writing whatever, whenever (as you can already tell).

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louisa [at] louisakoh [dot] com

The lowdown on IPL hair removal in Singapore

Hello everyone!

Today, I’m going to share a little personal review on some of the IPL hair removal services I’ve been going for this year.

I guess the whole preoccupation women the world over have with hair removal, be it shaving, plucking, waxing, epilating, electrolysis, IPL or laser, is really because we don’t want to look like this, right:

Image courtesy of zenith20.blogspot.sg



And that pic is already considered modest where underarm bushes are concerned. *Ahem*

You see, I’ve been waxing for years. It all started with Brazilian waxing for those swimming sessions at the public pool, and lower leg waxing. If I was feeling generous, I’d throw in lower arm waxing as well.

In the early days of Secondary School, my preferred method for underarm hair removal was plucking, when a fellow netball player asked me about underarm hair removal. I mean, what do young girls know about hair removal right?





The lowdown on the “mowdown”
When I started working, I switched to underarm waxing. The lady whom I did my threading and waxing with said it was better to wax the underarms than pluck to reduce the problem of ingrown hair.

Caveat: The problem with waxing the underarms is the regrowth in between. Usually, you can’t wax more often than once fortnightly, and hair starts to grow about a week later. This means I can’t wear sleeveless clothes for one week, or half the month!

That’s a lousy solution, and it’s not even semi-permanent or long-term. But for lack of better choices (and information), I continued waxing the underarms for a few years.



This year, I jumped on the IPL bandwagon, what with all the Groupon deals going on.

Get this: I took up three IPL packages:

  1. Underarm IPL hair removal with One Beauty Place
  2. Brazilian IPL hair removal with Beyond Beauty
  3. Lower leg IPL hair removal with Tokyo Beauty



Review: Underarm IPL hair removal

Now, most of us women have been weaned on an endless diet of glossy magazines and celebrity photos.

We’ve been conditioned to think that smooth, hair-free underarms are desirable, and the standard for beauty and acceptance.

This is what I am talking about:

Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated

So the very first IPL deal I took up was for underarms, obviously because that’s the first area people notice if it’s *ahem* ungroomed.



Service: One Beauty Place was not a big salon, as it was tucked at the side on the second floor of Tangs Orchard, but it exuded an air of elegance and understated sophistication.

Although the staff initially told me she could not administer IPL for my right underarm as there was a lump there, unless I had a Dr’s letter declaring it to be safe, I managed to convince her that it was okay.

The staff were friendly, both on the phone and in person, patiently clarifying any doubts I had about IPL, since I had never done it before. They did not try to hard-sell or make me top up for a more expensive package.

The IPL itself felt like a heat zap that was usually painful if there’s hair still not properly removed. It is important to cover your eyes during IPL. One Beauty Place put a towel over my eyes. They assured me that their razors were disposable and that they cleaned their machine after every customer.

I was advised not to exercise (due to sweat), swim or expose the area to sunlight for about 24 hours after IPL.

I didn’t feel any different from their regular customer, despite being on a Groupon deal (I’ve read all these horror stories online about Groupon customers being snubbed). They even served me tea once!



Results: I could tell hair regrowth was slower right after my first IPL session, but strangely enough, my regrowth was more on my left underarm.

After about 3 sessions (Groupon allows monthly visit for first 6 months and bimonthly for next 12 months), the lady Christine told me to come back 2 months later, to allow all the hair to grow before the next IPL session.

I thought this meant I’d be “lugi-ing” one session in the first 6 months, but she assured me they would do a good job for me. (She says this is because I naturally don’t have a lot of underarm hair, unlike some women.) Apparently, it would be more effective if I came back only after all the hair has a chance to grow, so that the IPL can target all the hair roots, or something to that effect.



Overall: So far, I’m pretty happy with the choice I made to go with One Beauty Place, in terms of service and results. I paid $88 for 18 months of underarm IPL hair removal.



Review: Brazilian IPL hair removal 

Why do women go for Brazilian hair removal?



For the uninitiated, Brazilian waxing or hair removal simply refers to removal of “all hair down there”. The waxing version can be very painful, especially if you are a first-timer. And I find it almost impossible to handle this by yourself at home, given how messy and difficult it is.

So I figured a semi-permanent solution was in order erm, down there, as well. Beyond Beauty offered a Groupon deal for 18 months (monthly for first 6 months, bimonthly thereafter) at $145.

This is a tricky one to review, mostly because I had a good mind to trash their service in my review.



Service: Firstly, it was very hard to reach Beyond Beauty on the phone to make an appointment. When I did get through to them, my first picks were Orchard Central and Scotts Road.

The ladies who picked up the phone were either rude or sounded like they would rather be servicing someone else, especially when I mentioned “Groupon”. Orchard Central even told me they were fully booked the whole month!

I managed to score an appointment with Malacca Street, after calling many times, and leaving messages that no one responded to.



During my first session, they explained to me that Brazilian IPL only included the actual triangle, and not the hair along the bikini line that bordered on the inner thigh. In the next breath, the lady tried to make me top up my package (it was like $99 for one session or something).

Imagine my fury! During my many years of Brazilian waxing, nobody, and I mean nobody ever told me that they would not wax the bikini line/inner thigh area, or that it belonged to another area of waxing.

I might have topped up if you didn’t already piss me off with your intentionally flawed logic.

The lady who administered the IPL again asked me to top up, to which I said no. To be fair to them, Beyond Beauty was the only place that let me use dark glasses during the IPL sessions. The decor and ambience were actually the most luxurious of the lot, which meant they were doing well, since they have 7 locations island-wide.



The second visit, I made an appointment way ahead of time with Royal Brothers Building. This time, though, I was met with better service on and off the phone.

Nobody tried to sell me anything. The lady who administered my 2nd IPL, Jennifer, seemed nice and approachable, even allowing me to use their bathroom to wash off the cold gel after the session.

They politely reminded me that I should not miss the window period of my monthly visits for the first 6 months (“a couple of days before or after the date of first appointment”), and said goodbye to me.

Good service is very important to me, so I decided to come back to Royal Brothers next time.



It got trickier as my period had not come on time for two months, especially since my surgery.

For the third appointment, I tried to call Beyond Beauty a few days before my monthly appointment time. I asked them, “What if my period comes before the appointment? Can you shift the appointment to after my period ends, even if it misses the window period for the monthly visit?”

The lady on the phone who sounded Filipino said no. I tried to reason with her that it can’t be helped, but her response was that it was stated in Groupon conditions (No, you twat, it actually wasn’t.)

I called back again, and another lady who sounded local picked up. This one said it would be ok in that case. I took her word for it, said thank you, and ended the call.

Image courtesy of Groupon and Beyond Beauty





Results: I didn’t notice much of a difference after the first session. As hair growth tends to be thicker than other areas like underarms or legs (in my case at least), I was told by Jennifer it would be expected.

After the 2nd session, I noticed that there was less growth near the top of the triangle. Still, I would need more sessions, definitely, to see greater results.

I did notice that the number of zaps for Brazilian IPL at Beyond Beauty was less than the underarms (at One Beauty Place) or lower legs (Tokyo Beauty). They only zap once over each area, and there were not all that many zaps in total per session (I just finished my 3rd session not too long ago).

Pain-wise, the first 2 sessions I found were bearable. The 3rd time though, it seemed more painful than usual, but I am not sure if it’s because they did not apply enough cold gel prior to the session.



Overall: I feel like I did not get the real deal for Brazilian IPL at Beyond Beauty. After the 1st session was my 1st session for lower legs at Tokyo Beauty, and I was hopping mad about the Brazilian IPL not including the bikini line!

This prompted me to top up my package at Tokyo Beauty to include bikini line waxing, just to remove the hair around that area. I mean, come on, isn’t that the whole point of a Brazilian (for me at least)? So that you won’t have embarrassing peekaboos come swim time?

As for the service, some of the outlets really need a better attitude, is all I can say.



Review: Lower leg, bikini line & lower arm IPL hair removal 

Once you get started on IPL, it becomes addictive and you suddenly harbour aspirations of being hair-free, like totally.

Well, that’s how it happened for me.

I mean, how can you resist this:



Right. Anyways, the lower leg IPL purchase was quite a saga, I must say. This is mainly due to the fact that Groupon almost never offers monthly IPL sessions for lower legs, and from what I gathered on the Internet, sessions need to be about a month apart for best results initially, until hair growth has slowed noticeably.

I once visited my GP who offers aesthetic services like IPL and asked him about the effectiveness of IPL on various body areas like underarm, bikini line and legs. He said that underarms and bikini line were quite effective, but not so much for legs. Moreover, he found it really difficult to administer IPL for legs, so he would normally turn those requests down!

(IKR)

I digress. Since Groupon only offered bimonthly sessions for a year, I thought I’d outsmart them by buying 2 such packages from 2 different places, so I could alternate them and get monthly sessions for maximum effectiveness!



In the end, Tokyo Beauty offered me an option to top up $100 for monthly lower leg IPL sessions.

I took it only because I liked their service, and thought it made more sense to use the same machine (and technology) for all my sessions.

To cut the long story short, I sold the other Groupon voucher on eBay.



Service: By the time I got to my 3rd IPL salon at Tokyo Beauty, I kinda knew how the Groupon promotions worked. The first session, the service provider would most likely extend another promotion offer to you just for that day.

Since my session with them happened right after my 1st session with Beyond Beauty, I was hopping mad and hoped to score a “first-session” promotion with Tokyo Beauty for bikini line (which is really what it’s about for swimming).

The lady who did my IPL, Esther, was friendly and chatty, said I could top up $188 for monthly bikini line IPL hair removal, after putting down the deposit for $100 (monthly lower leg IPL, instead of bimonthly).

IPL here was not very painful, and they told me their machine was a good one recommended by the media (did not pay attention to what it was called exactly). The only things I didn’t like were that sometimes the other female beautician would peep in to talk to Esther, and I would be like hello?? Privacy please??

On the 2nd session, I opted for lower arm IPL hair removal as well, at $288 for 12 months, once monthly. They used a razor to shave my arms and did not immediately throw it away. I did ask them if they used a disposable razor, and they assured me they did but who knows right?

They didn’t cover my eyes with anything, so I had to cover them with my own hands. I also asked if it was ok to wax between sessions or exercise/swim within 24 hours, and their advice differed from others’. They said it was ok to wax between sessions and swim/exercise right after IPL.



Results: I could tell hair regrowth on my lower legs was slower right after my 1st session. It took about 2 sessions to see my bikini line regrowth slow down but the results for my lower arm were good even after 1 session.

If I had the dough, I’d go for the full leg as well, and upper lip, despite some of the pet peeves I have.



Overall: I am pretty happy with the service and results at Tokyo Beauty so far.

Although I do think $288 is a bit steep for the lower arm IPL, since I didn’t know my lower arm responded so well to it! To be fair though, $288 is very cheap for 12 sessions (most places charge that amount for 1 or 2 sessions), so honestly I can’t complain.



Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Digital, Inc, 2005.



How to make smart Groupon buys 

In light of the tendency of some service providers to snub their Groupon customers as evidenced by complaints on the Internet, I would suggest doing your research prior to buying a Groupon for IPL services, or any other service for that matter.

I tried to select venues that were in town (not neighbourhood outlets), so that they would have a reputation to upkeep. I also Googled reviews on them, and read about what their customers had to say.

For Tokyo Beauty, I read a lot of positive reviews from inSing.com which was why I signed up, despite it not having a website.

For Beyond Beauty, I mistakenly assumed they would have to be good as they had so many outlets, some of which were in Orchard. However, when I went to their Facebook page only after buying the Groupon, did I see a number of complaints on their Wall.

As for One Beauty Place, I figured that if it was located in Tangs, it couldn’t be too shabby. Thank goodness I was right on that count!



Hope this has helped some of you who are considering doing IPL for more permanent hair removal results. I’d be doing a waxing review soon for my upper leg so stay tuned!!! 😀

Update: Read my waxing review here.


6 comments to The lowdown on IPL hair removal in Singapore

  • SM

    Hey Babe,
    I bought the beyond beauty brazilian IPL Groupon like you, and boy did i regretted it! They were very unprofessional in their services. The therapist at orchard central who did the IPL left an abrasion on my thigh while shaving haphazardly 🙁 and their consultant are really desperate for sales.

    Just wanna check with you whether they gave you a member ID to facilitate booking the 2nd appointment or they can just check from your NRIC from any other outlets? Cause i don’t plan to go back to that lousy orchard outlet already.

  • Louisa Koh

    Hi there!

    I’m sorry to hear about your experience with Beyond Beauty too. Which Orchard outlet did you go? The Orchard Central or Pacific Plaza one?
    Makes me wonder why they have so many “Likes” on their Facebook page!

    They didn’t give me any member ID. I just quoted my name whenever I called to make an appointment and quote my name at the outlet. I’ve decided to stick with Royal Brothers for now so maybe you wanna try the outlet there?

    Let me know how it goes!

    xx

  • Michelle

    Hi, May I check with you how many sessions you been to tokyo B for lower leg IPL?

    How is the hair growth so far?

    How many shots do you get per lower leg?

  • Louisa Koh

    Hi Michelle,

    I’ve been to Tokyo Beauty for three sessions already so far, my fourth session is comin’ up next weekend.

    The hair growth has minimised considerably, as I noticed I’ve had to shave less in the last month or so (can’t remember if I even shaved at all since last session). I feel that it has responded very well to the IPL, even for my bikini line and lower arm, which I’ve also taken up with Tokyo Beauty.

    I counted the shots per leg and it comes up to about 120-130 per leg. I feel that they are quite conscientious, doing the front, and back of the leg, compared to Beyond Beauty. The only caveat is that because it’s under Groupon, they didn’t IPL my toes (which have some hairs on it). Because I signed separately for the lower arm with them, they do my fingers as well, but for Groupon offer, no.

    The current Groupon has a similar once in 2 month option, so do consider topping up to convert to monthly instead when they ask you.

    Cheers!

  • EY

    Hi,

    I would like to ask about your trip to Tokyo Beauty. You mentioned you did IPL for the lower arms – is it equivalent to the underarms? Because I emailed them to enquire the prices for underarm IPL and they quoted me the rates that you posted on this blog ie $288 for 12 sessions. So I’m not too sure if underarms and lower arms are being referred to the same part of the body?

    One Beauty Place has a $600 package for unlimited sessions for a year. It’s a bit steep, but they seem more established and professional than Tokyo Beauty. Thoughts on it?

    And just curious, how many sessions did you go for underarms IPL to have the hair growth slowed down to almost nothing? And how’s the hair growth so far?

  • Louisa Koh

    Hi Erika,

    Lower arms refer to the part of the arm below the elbow, the forearm, up till fingertips. I did not do my underarm with Tokyo Beauty at all.
    My underarms are done with One Beauty Place. I took up a Groupon with them, for once a month sessions for first 6 months, thereafter, once in two months, for 12 months (another 6 sessions).

    However, after the third session, they told me to come back once in 2 months, as my hair growth has slowed down considerably and it’s also not very thick, compared to other people. Yes, I do agree that One Beauty Place has a more posh and professional feel to the place, but I do know that their prices are steeper too. If you can afford it and prefer a more professional place, you can give One Beauty Place a shot.

    Right now, I shave my underarms once a week or less, in between sessions, and there is very little hair now. I started my underarm IPL in May, and had monthly sessions till July, thereafter I had one in September, and the next one (5th session) is due in the third week in Nov.

    Hope that helps!

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