Philippines

A Day of Jiu-Jitsu, Job Interviews, Hair Removal, Male Masseuses, and Fruitcake

With yesterday’s morning Muay Thai and evening jiu-jitsu under the belt, plus another jiu-jitsu session this morning, it was time for a change of scenery. As much as I love the interior of B.A.M.F., I could barely hobble out and make the bicycle ride back today my lower back and ribs were so sore.

I bike home in the pouring rain, throw my gi in the laundry, get a shower, hand wash the rest of my gym clothes, eat some lunch, and get in front of the computer just in time for an interview with a brand new online-English-teaching startup in Korea called Malhana. Promising!

After Skyping with my mom to talk about exciting new developments, I get an Uber to SM Southmall for my standing appointment at Flawless (only in the Philippines, by the way).

 

18 Months of Laser Hair Removal: My Flawless Review

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If there’s one terribly embarrassing thing I’ve struggled with almost all my life, it’s hair removal. Not only have I been blessed with thick, long hair; I also have what one might call tough skin. It is my theory that these two factors have resulted in the most stubborn and impossible-to-remove leg hairs. They curl up under my skin like, “NO.”

So after a decade of shaving, epilating, tweezing, exfoliating, and moisturizing and legs covered in red spots and tiny scars, I finally decided to dip into my personal savings and buy a life-long package of laser hair removal for my lower legs at Flawless.

I did a fair bit of research into laser hair removal and closely evaluated the many skin clinics that offer such services here in Manila and Flawless was the best choice by far.

I had both read and heard enough horror stories to know that the last thing I wanted was to walk into some hole-in-the-wall clinic and get a suspiciously cheap laser session. Best case scenario, you’ve wasted your money on an ineffective treatment. Worst case, you walk away with burns and rashes. No, thank you.

On the other hand, I also walked into some ridiculously pricey clinics and walked right back out.

Thankfully, there is an in between. After seeing a friend’s recommendation of Flawless on Facebook, I looked them up online and later visited the nearest branch.

The first box they ticked–and the first thing you should check when considering laser hair removal–is that they have the “gold standard Diode System” that destroys hair follicles with a laser while protecting the skin with a contact-cooling hand piece.

The Diode laser differs from the also-common IPL in that it is actually a laser, whereas IPL is technically not laser hair removal.

There does seem to be some debate online as to whether or not the Diode laser truly is more effective than IPL, but in general I think it’s safe to say that Diode is more suited to different skin types and I’d say, because it is set to a specific wavelength, it’s more controlled and less likely to cause damage. That is just my opinion; feel free to do your own research.

Either way, make sure any clinic you’re considering uses a certified device. This may go without saying in western countries but if you’re in, say, Southeast Asia and thinking to optimize on some cheap laser sessions–I’ll say it again–do your research.

Moving on: let’s talk about results.

I’ve been coming to Flawless in SM Southmall for a year-and-a-half now. Unless I’m out of the country, I come every four weeks. Typically, at this point, the doctor would schedule me in every six to eight weeks, but I asked her if I could keep coming every month since I’ll be moving abroad at the end of this year and she graciously accommodated.

After a year-and-a-half of regular treatments, I still have hair and it still grows. Laser does not equal magic. However, the hair sparse, finer, and lighter than it used to be. When I came in for the first treatment, after not doing any hair removal for a month, they must have gone through a dozen disposable razors cutting through that forest.

So, yes, I would say there have been results. Most importantly, the ingrown hairs are almost completely gone. For the first time in my life, I could walk around in shorts (or the occasional skirt) without feeling self-conscious about my red-speckled, white-as-a-sheet, sun-deprived legs.

Now I can either shave or epilate. If I shave, I still have to do it every couple of days but for me, that’s no big deal. I used to shave in the morning and have prickly legs by the time I went to bed. If I epilate, I have to stop three weeks before my next hair removal session for it to be most effective, but I can also go a good week on one epilation.

In conclusion, and just in case you’re wondering (because I had no idea when I started), this is how the laser hair removal process works:

First, you stop doing any hair removal for awhile. When you go in for your session, they will shave your legs with a razor (or you can do this yourself right before the appointment). They put a cold gel on your legs and then go up and down in straight lines with the laser, which beeps and hurts a little bit but is easy to get used to.

Afterward, they’ll clean off the gel and give you some lotion, which helps with any itchiness. The whole process doesn’t have to take more than ten minutes. It is fairly normal to experience slight redness or itchiness, for which your doctor can give you cream. Just be sure to keep it in check. If you’re reacting too strongly to the laser, the doctor will likely lower the intensity and build it up more gradually.

Alright, let’s wrap this up. I recommend Flawless because, for laser hair removal, they have some pretty affordable packages, it’s always easy to schedule with them and they’re accommodating of my changing schedule, the doctor is friendly and professional, and the whole process is efficient. Today I received a new card with what looks like some loyalty perks. I haven’t looked at it yet, but it’s a nice gesture.

 

Things to do at Southmall

After my Flawless appointment (it just doesn’t get old), I decided to take time for a half-hour upper-body massage. I’d noticed a little parlor right next to the clinic, after all. There were no women available and I didn’t want to wait, so I had a male masseuse.

He was friendly, spoke good English, and was gentle when working around my bruised rib, but the poor guy had to go call the lady from the front desk to tell me it was time to turn around.

I could hear the other masseuses whispering and giggling; it was quite amusing and I had to make an effort to keep a creeping smirk off my face.

There were a few points when I thought he might start hyperventilating but overall it was a nice, strong massage that worked out all of my terribly tense back and neck muscles and it felt good to finally take the time to do that. Thank you, male masseuse!

That, then, is today’s cliche take away: take the time to take care of yourself! Really, though, you should; everybody deserves to feel good.

As I’m writing this, I’m enjoying my new-favorite Americano with vanilla cream and a slice of fruitcake at Cafe Mary Grace–such a cute place!

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I like Southmall because, for a mall, it’s quite straightforward and not nearly as crowded and noisy as most in Manila. It has a little second-hand bookstore, a bowling alley and pool hall with cheap beer towers, cinemas, of course; some funky Japanese store with random stuff, an H&M, a Jamba Juice, cute cafes, and as I discovered today, a massage parlor.

From personal experience though, I can’t say much about the restaurants. The ones I’ve tried in the past (I’m talking about you, Sambo Kojin; disgusting!) have quite definitively ruined the experience for me. I still have nightmares about how sick we were leaving that buffet.

All bias aside, a lot of promising new places have opened up since then and if nothing else there’s perfectly good food to be had at the cafes. (Mary Grace!)

That’s all for tonight; a jumping-around-kind-of-post for a jumping-around-kind-of-day. Time to rest up for Muay Thai in the morning.

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