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Beauty & Fitness: Best Hair Removal

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At last count, New York had nearly 400 hair-removal establishments offering to wax, pluck, electrolysize, and laser-zap your skin to a desirable baldness. In the last four years, a fleet of laser treatments have been invented: While you don't get the instant hairless gratification waxing brings (because hair takes at least a week to fall out), the results are more permanent. Some Yag lasers require messy topical applications of carbon, while the Ruby laser gets so hot that the beam is more likely to burn the skin. Vanishing Point (4 West 16th Street; 255-3474, and 102 West 73rd Street; 362-1327) has taken to calling itself the "Starbucks of hair removal" (though $100 to $1560 for a package costs a mite more than a latte). For a quick and practically painless solution, Vanishing Point is tops, zapping small patches of hair with quick pulses of light; this is known as photo-epilation, which is technically not a laser treatment. Vanishing Point even offers fifteen free introductory minutes, which, they say, is enough time to treat an upper lip, underarms, or a bikini line -- though four to six more treatments at $125 for each fifteen-minute session are needed to remove at least 80 percent of an average person's hair permanently. (Those with very dark skin or even a tan should consider other options; the photo-epilation machine has difficulty differentiating between dark pigmentation and excess hair.)

If the thought of a doctor or nurse wielding a Star Wars-like laser around your nether regions is more comforting than the idea of a "technician" in that vicinity, visit Steven Victor, M.D. (30 East 76th Street; 249-3050), who uses the Yag 1064 in a procedure he helped pioneer. Safer and more precise than other lasers, the Yag 1064 emits quick pulses of light without the cooling gels or carbon suspensions required by other laser treatments. The treatment may be pricier, but this is the state-of-the art treatment right now, and it is doctor-supervised. Treatments average $400 each, depending on the area, with a standard minimum of six additional treatments spread three months apart.


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