Monday, January 21, 2013

How to Choose a Laser Hair Removal Package on Groupon and Similar Sites/Deals

We've all seen the now plethora of deeply discounted laser deals being offered on daily deal sites at 50-85%+ off, they seem almost too good to be true. Well, as someone who is obsessed with both laser hair removal and finding deals (oh, and beauty), I can tell you the great news is that some of those offers really are legit and as great as they seem. But I can also tell you many, if not most, are not and are a complete waste of time and money. I personally had most of my laser hair removal through similar deals (starting years ago before groupon et al existed), 1 place I ended up staying with, and my results have been awesome. But get the *wrong* deal and you'll have purchased what is no better than a good waxing; the hair will grow back leaving you close to right back where you started.

It's pretty common to see deals for 6 underarm or bikini sessions for $99-$200+ total, 6 brazilian $149-$300+, and $250-$600 for 6 sessions of ½ leg on daily deal sites. Wow. Most body parts require between 6 and 8 (sometimes more for brazilian) sessions so these packages are often all you need or close to what you need for maximum permanent hair reduction...anywhere from 75-99% of the hair in the area to be gone forever (yes, it really is permanent, 10 years+). The only problem is that it can be difficult to figure out which places are worth going to.
Note: If you are not that familiar with the the basics of Laser Hair Removal, this clinic’s website has a pretty good basic FAQ section. I am not affiliated with the site/spa, just linking a faq section.

Your first step to choosing a deal is to find all the deals in your area and eliminate or include them as a possibility, one by one. The best and most of the deals are found on Groupon and Lifebooker. In a major metropolitan area there can be anywhere from a few to over a dozen laser hair removal offerings at any given time and maybe 10-30% are worth considering.

When you look up laser hair removal on Groupon or Lifebooker, etc and you might get something that looks like this (this was only a 1/3 of what was available in nyc):

Eep! You’ll need to sort through them one by one and find the place or places that will be appropriate.

Real Laser vs. IPL
One of the most important things is to find the right laser. There are 4 commonly used systems. 3 of which are lasers (Alexandrite, Diode and Ng:Yag) and 1 of which is Intensive Pulse Light. IPL is not nearly effective for significant permanent reduction, (it is sometimes totally ineffective and sometimes slightly effective, as in, reduction but not of the majority of hair, but rarely very effective) so you need to eliminate places that use IPL. And that is fairly easy if you know what you're looking for.

Go to each of the clinic websites and scour their LHR page for IPL keywords. “Pulses of light”, “IPL” "Light and heat" (jury still out on that, I'd pass), and machines "Starlux" "Harmony" "Solera". Once you see any of those you can cross that practice off your list. (Many clinics will have IPL for other reasons, so don’t confuse it with IPL for hair removal). A lot of times a clinic will say they offer laser hair removal, but they use IPL instead of a true laser, like this one below. Pass on it. I always feel bad when I see how many packages have been sold for places that don't have real laser. :(

What you ARE looking for are true lasers, the website usually mentions the laser type (sometimes it's on the Groupon pages itself): 'We use a lightsheer diode (or Alexandrite or Yag)'. Or sometimes they’ll name the machine, look for “Cynosure/Elite”, “Candela/Gentlemax, GentleLase", "Cutera/Prowave, Coolglide” and a couple others (Saprano is a diode, but I hear repeatedly it's not the best. Still better than IPL though). Here's an example of what you're looking for:

You will also need to make sure they have the laser that is right for your skin type.

Which Laser is for you:
In a nutshell, light skin tones do best with a “alexandrite” laser and “diode” lasers. Those with darker/darker-medium skin tones and medium olive skintones do best with a Yag laser (Ng:Yag). Some clinics have the diode or alex but not the Yag, and some have the Yag and not the alex or diode. Only persons who are fair or light/light-medium skinned should choose a place that only has a Diode laser and they can get by with a Yag if necessary. If you're in the middle, try find a place that has both, but that is not pivotal. Darker tones must use a Yag.

If you’ve looked through the clinic/spa website and the type of laser is not mentioned, give them a call. They are asked that question all the time; the front desk person will know the answer. If they don’t, count that as a possible red flag. Doesn’t mean that it’s a bad clinic, but it’s always better when it’s a clinic takes their services seriously.

After going through the laser offerings using the steps above I came up with something like this:

More than just the laser:
Once you’ve narrowed it down to whichever clinics have the right laser you’ll want to know more. Two places could have the exact same equipment and still have notable differences. The skill of the practitioners and laser maintenance. Both of those things could make a difference in your results, the former most of all. With laser hair removal, the better/more experienced your technician, the more likely you are to achieve the results you want. Check Yelp and Citysearch for reviews (take Lifebooker reviews with a large grain of salt). Read through the reviews; some mention their long term results, or their experience/success with a specific technician, as well as other aspects of their laser experience at the clinic - very helpful. Believe me, you can go to a place with the right laser, but if they don't know how to use it, it doesn't help you.

(sorry, couldn't help myself, lol. but i've been that person myself. so, derp.)

Once I looked through reviews of all the ones with the appropriate laser, I was left with 4 to choose from out of my original 28. I always have preferences that help me choose if I’m choosing among different offers that all have my requirements.
  • Preference for dedicated med-spas or laser clinics.
  • Preference for places that have reviews on Yelp and Citysearch so that you don't go in blind. 
And in the end, the 1 that was the best option was a great place offering a 6 session set for underarms for $179, and a 6 session set for brazilian, $279. Woot! Another was a also a fantastic option but cost more than twice as much. (actually, I preferred the first one anyway).

Sadly, unless you’re in NYC or a few other places, there’s a good chance you might not find a good number of clinics on the daily deal sites that fit all the requirements, and sometimes none at all. If your choices are very limited it might be (hell yeah it is) worth traveling a bit if you can find something in a neighboring area. Buy packages for a couple areas of your body and travel the hour or 2 if you have to, (unless you really enjoy spending money on razors, waxing, ingrown remedies, time removing hair and dealing with stubble).

Expand your search, promotions are not only on daily deal sites:
Plenty of medi-spa and laser clinics have their own very good deals that can be found by contacting them or just checking on their website. So you may decide to do your search by finding the practice first through Yelp/CitySearch then checking their offers instead of the other way around. Some of the offers are so-so (10% off $1,000's, um...thanks, but no), but once in a while close enough that you may decide to go with the slightly more expensive non-daily deal site offering if you think for any reason they would be better for you, even if it pushes your budget a little. Your goal should not be which is the cheapest deal I can find, but rather, which of the deals is the best place that I can afford, all depends on your options of course. I mean, of course that also depends. If you just want to try your hand at laser, and want to grab a $99 underarm deal and check it out, then the goal is a little different.

So if you're thinking of picking up one of the Groupon, etc Laser Hair removal deals, follow the instructions above and you will be well on your way to what many, including myself, have called a life-changing and liberating decision. : ).

  • I'm also gonna add, if a place has the right laser but the pricing is really strangely even lower than the rest of the offers, pass. I mean, 1 year of 3 large body parts for $200? yeah, no, something's not right.
  • If you find an awesome place that has a Groupon, go for the most expensive package you would want to get in the future because you're saving the most and the smaller areas you can always do whatever package they put together for you later.

Unless an RN is doing your laser, which is rare these days, in most cases you should tip your practitioner. I always do. They recommend you tip based on the original price of a single treatment, which can sometimes be pretty high, which would be an $60-$80 tip on just one body part. If your funds aren't large, it's okay to tip less imo. I mean, if someone does my undie arms in 5 minutes it's very different than someone who has to do a full or half leg for the first time, I tend to use that as my guide.

Update: See my new entry on 'Laser Hair Removal, a chat with a certified laser hair removal technician'.

Update II: I just want to add something that I was reminded of in my chat with Jennifer Belser of Pulse Laser Center. She mentioned something that people who purchase deals often do and that is, do part of ones lasering in 1 clinic and the rest of the sessions in another based on access to daily deal sites. I recommend avoiding that if you can. Once you find a technician that knows how to effectively treat your skin and hair, you might experience your best results by sticking with them because of the learning curve there is for each client, as well as initial conservative treatment(s) for each client. So if your promotionally-priced treatments have ended and you still need more work on the area, ask your practitioner what kind of deal they can give you for additional treatments on that and other areas. (That's why i say if you find an amazing place offering a promotion, get the larger packages. I know it's hard to gauge, but the more you know about the laser places in your city the better off you'll be).


  1. Always makes sure that the laser hair removal facility you are going to has a good reputation and the doctors are highly skilled.

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  3. Always makes sure that the laser hair removal facility you are going to has a good reputation and the doctors are highly skilled.

    1. Agree! Doesn't need to be a doctor though, unless you live in a state that requires it. Doctors aren't always better either. Sorry it took so long for me to publish your comment! : )

  4. Always look for a review. Many Groupon laser hair removal companies will happily take your money for "one year of laser hair removal", but the waiting time for an appointment (especially the second appointment) is months, so you only get a couple of treatments.

  5. Very good tips! I'm glad, I found this article. ;)

  6. Its amazing, looking at the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you provide. I'll bookmark your blog and visit it weekly for your new posts.

  7. Thank you for the post very helpful

  8. I work at the Kanata Skin Clinic. We offer hair removal in Ottawa under the direction of Dr. Erik Hegmann. I would like to commend you on your thorough knowledge of the laser hair removal industry, and your impressive deal-seeking abilities! However, I would like to add a couple of points:

    1. The Kanata Skin Clinic uses the Cynosure (formerly Palomar) Icon IPL system. It is one of the newest and most powerful IPL systems available. It produces results that are equal to, if not better than, traditional lasers. I would invite you to compare them head-to-head, or research current clinical studies comparing the two technologies. I guess, like all technology, it has improved over time.

    2. I am the manager of the Kanata Skin Clinic. I know how much it costs to run a reputable, well-managed Clinic. I look at these amazing groupon deals and wonder...How can they possibly offer safe, effective and thorough treatments, provided by experienced, qualified laser technicians, in a safe, clean environment, properly supervised by a doctor, using current and well-maintained machines?

    (And remember...the business only gets half of that amazingly low-priced deal. The other half goes to groupon.)

    The obvious answer is: They can't. It's too expensive.

    ....I wonder which corners they're cutting to give you the cheapest price?

  9. Excellent post. I have been trying to educate myself on this subject and was reading a lot of reviews, all very contradictory. Thank you for piecing it all together.

  10. I have really annoying shoulder and back hair that I absolutely hate. Shaving it is impossible to do and I'm a little worried about trying to wax it. Do you think laser would work for me? My biggest concern is having to get it done a lot. I'd like a solution that is fairly permanent.

  11. Thanks for the information on online deals. I will try today for Laser Hair Removal Surrey and will give my feedback

  12. Have been doing laser for quite some time, and the laser used is really important. I went to numerous laser sessions with an older model laser that was painful. (I had a total body package and let me tell you bikini area was not fun). I did not see much reduction in my hair either.

    Then the company I went to switched their laser to Gentlemax Pro, since their research showed better results with it and I finally saw the hair disappear when I started using it. I had good results with this laser and it is not painful. I am Indian with darker tan skin and dark black hair.

    I am going for touch ups on my upper legs since I had missed a few sessions and found this deal on livingsoccial:

    Again, the type of laser matters. Research Gentlemax Pro (Yag laser) as it definitely has the best results!

  13. informative post but Generally 6 to 8 treatments are enough to get smooth, hairless skin, but this may vary from individual to individual, depending upon the number, color and texture of hair as well as the size of the area that needs treatment. Some patients get desired results even after four treatments, while there are few who need more than eight treatments, though the latter are very few. Read more visit on Laser hair removal dubai

  14. When you suggest $60-$80 for a tip are you talking per treatment or in total? If you are talking about in total, when should I tip? The first treatment or the last treatment?

  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. Very informative post about online deals. I once used laser hair treatment for Neck and shoulder for $99 and $119 respectively. But it's true that one of the disadvantage of laser hair treatment is that the results can vary depending on the skin and hair types.

  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  18. This is my first comment anywhere my whole lifetime lol ... this info is soooo helpful. I am new to Laser, got my upper lips done and now want to get my legs done. Thanks google for taking me here and thanks for the write-up. Great info!!

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  25. I can tell you the great news is that some of those offers really are legit and as great as they seem.Laser Hair Removal Devices Review

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