I have a friend, who we’ll call Charlotte, who decided to investigate an investment in laser hair removal to replace her monthly trip to the beauty salon for her ritual waxing treatments (read torture).
I hear what you’re saying. How could the subject of waxing be even remotely within the field of potential story topics for a column called Savvy Investor? Bear with me and you’ll see (although let’s face it, this blog hasn’t been bang on topic for some weeks now, although it always has something to do with money).
Advertisement: Story continues below
Charlotte decided to investigate laser hair removal because the return on investment has more longevity than waxing. Waxing lasts about four weeks, while some laser clinics offer a lifetime guarantee the hair will never grow back, although my investigations reveal a six monthly top up to get rid of the odd, unwanted straggler is more realistic.
Doing her research, Charlotte contacted two different clinics and discovered significant economies of scale were on offer if she decided to invest in multiple treatments.
The premium lower leg package offered by the first laser hair removal clinic covers 10 sessions and costs $2400. If you buy a second premium package for a smaller area of hair removal, you get the third premium package for free, with the total cost of all three packages being $2820. In a nutshell, buy half-leg and underarms and they thrown in a bikini line.
Charlotte discovered that compared to the cost of waxing, she could recoup the cost of laser hair removal in two and a half years. (It costs her $90 a month for a half leg, underarm and bikini wax, which equals $1080 a year. So $2820 divided by $90 equals 31 months, or two and a half years.)
Regular waxers may think $90 is a lot for a half leg, underarm and bikini wax, but as Charlotte says “in my long history of waxing, I’ve found that the more expensive the salon, the better the technicians. I recently went to a cheap salon and they used terrible wax…basically took the hairs off at the surface. I had to go for a wax at my current (expensive) place a mere three weeks later – very annoying.”
Charlotte says “in a way, the length of payback doesn’t matter…the laser hair removal means I will hopefully have at least 40-odd years hair-free. My ‘investment’ isn’t producing any kind of return…but it does ultimately save me money, time, hassle and pain, which are rewards of the non-monetary sort.”
The second operator Charlotte contacted had seemed less expensive than the first. Based on their advertising, 10 lower-leg sessions appeared to cost $1490. But as they say, you get what you pay for. Charlotte turned up to the second place for her initial consultation to find a woman cleaning the front desk. This woman failed to introduce herself, but asked whether Charlotte had been there before.
Charlotte answered in the negative and the woman continued to ask questions, all while cleaning the reception desk. Charlotte was perplexed as to who this woman was – a laser technician, a receptionist or a cleaner? And was this her consultation? So she queried the lady. The conversation went something like this.
“So is this my consultation?”
“Yes,” says the woman, still cleaning the front desk.
“Who actually performs the laser therapy?”
“And what qualifications do you have?” asks Charlotte thinking to herself, are you really qualified to wield something that has the potential to cause third degree burns on, let’s face it, some pretty delicate skin areas?
“Qualifications…what is qualifications?”
“You know, have you had any training? Any diplomas? Certificates?”
“I am beauty therapist.”
“So do you have beauty therapy qualifications?”
“I am beauty therapist long time.”
At this point Charlotte backed slowly out of the room, never to return. The next day, she called the head office of this particular outfit to explain the unfortunate incident, the highlight of which was that the ‘therapist’ had never even examined her legs to confirm whether laser would be appropriate. She was told a general manager would call her back within 24 hours. The call never came.
Charlotte has subsequently decided to invest with the first laser clinic and give the second one a wide berth. But the message is clear. Do your homework before you decide to give your cold, hard readies to a laser clinic. A good quality laser hair removal clinic will likely deliver a more permanent result than waxing and you’ll also be able to amortise the cost of the investment over time.
But if you go with a cheapie outfit without any sort of professional standards, it could cost you a lot more in corrective surgery and hospital bills than regular trips to the beautician for a wax. You have been warned.
First published at http://www.smh.com.au/money/on-the-money/blogs/savvy-investor/what-price-beauty/20101222-195dk.html