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Dealing with unwanted body hair is never fun. Take waxing, for example. It can hurt like hell and leave your skin looking red and angry. Though shaving is usually painless, it’s still a pain in the metaphorical sense, as regrowth happens way too quickly and ingrown hairs are always a threat. That’s where at-home laser hair removal comes in. Sure, you can get it done by a pro, but that can get pricey, not to mention that in-person appointments aren’t as easy as they used to be.
However, many people don’t even realize that DIY laser hair removal is a viable option. Even if you have heard of this solution, you may have a lot of questions about the safety and process. To help answer all of your questions about at-home laser hair removal, we tapped Lucia Miranda, Medical Aesthetician at the Shafer Clinic in New York City.
In addition, we’ve selected the best laser hair removal devices for home use. If you’re ready to put down the waxing kits and razors for good, then keep reading for our FAQ and product selection.
How does at-home laser hair removal work?
“At home laser hair removal occurs due to the concept of selective photothermolysis, which allows for the destruction of a target through the delivery of light of a single wavelength that is absorbed by the skin,” Miranda says. “In laser hair removal, the target chromophore is melanin in the hair follicle, which produces heat and damages the follicle. This will delay growth posteriorly, resulting in permanent hair reduction over time.”
When applied to the skin, laser light is absorbed by your body’s cells, and the resulting reaction can be used in the treatment of skin diseases, tattoo removal and hair removal.
What does the “IPL” in IPL hair removal stand for?
When you shop for DIY laser hair removal devices, you will see that many of these products are called IPL hair removal devices. IPL stands for “intense pulsed light,” and technically this technology differs from the laser lights used in professional hair removal clinics. (Despite this, IPL devices are commonly referred to as laser hair removal devices, and that is how we refer to them in this piece.) Intense pulsed light operates in a very similar manner to laser light, but at a lower intensity. IPL wavelengths are wider and less focused than laser light, which makes it safer for DIY hair removal.
At-home laser hair removal devices that use actual laser light, such as the Tria beauty device, are more expensive than IPL hair removal devices. They also tend to be more effective.
How does at-home laser hair removal differ from getting it done by a professional?
“Office-based hair removal systems use a number of wavelengths and technology to achieve results that last longer.” Most importantly, “there is less of a risk of sustaining skin damage in a clinic.” Emphasis added. Miranda also says that patients with darker skin tones will have better results in professional clinics, as DIY laser hair removal devices will not be as effective.
Are most at-home laser hair removal devices safe?
“These devices are designed for safe and easy usage with different energy and intensity levels that are gentle enough to use on different skin types and areas… The Diode lasers were cleared by the FDA and have longer wavelength, active cooling and longer widths, therefore individuals with darker skin can be treated.”
What should you look for in an at-home laser hair removal device?
“When choosing an at-home device, it is important to consider the skin and hair tones the device works on, if it’s designed for smaller or larger areas of the body, how many pulses the device will last for and the use of diode laser or intense pulsed light technology.”
What should consumers know before trying at-home options?
“It is important for consumers to understand that home lasers operate at a lower fluence than the lasers used in-office,” Miranda says. Fluence is a measure of the radiation the skin is exposed to during this process. For safety reasons, at-home laser-hair removal devices will have lower fluence. “Therefore, they will require more treatments and they have in-built safety mechanisms to ensure that light is not emitted if it detects that the skin is not suitable. The lasers are not effective in treating gray, white or light hair.”
What is the best way to use them?
“Users should use the device on clean, dry skin and shaven beforehand,” Miranda says. “Shaving helps the laser reach the follicles directly. The user should start out on a small, unobtrusive area several days prior to treatment to minimize potential risks, and ensure the laser is set correctly for their hair color and skin type.”
What common mistakes should be avoided?
“Avoid tweezing and waxing four to six weeks prior to treatment; instead you can shave… Not all laser hair removal devices are designed for use on all areas of the body. For targeting hair on the face, use devices that are specifically designed for that purpose. Avoid using laser hair removal devices on tattooed, damaged or tanned skin.”
Are the results different for men and women?
“Yes, men who have their hair removed will need touch up sessions every few months. Hair in men is located deeper and the dermis is usually thicker. Lasers that work the best for them are those with a longer wavelength, longer pulse length and a larger spot size.”
Ready to start zapping your hair? Keep reading to find the best at-home laser hair removal devices.
1. Tria Hair Removal Laser 4x
This little guy runs on the same in-office Diode Laser Technology that’s used by the pros, which explains why it’s one of Miranda’s top picks for DIY laser hair removal. Another sign it’s the real deal: It’s approved by the FDA for at-home use. Boasting three times more hair-eliminating energy than any other at-home laser hair removal device, it works by its lasers targeting pigment in the hair follicle, then the hair falls out, and then it’s permanently disabled. The Tria Hair Removal Laser 4x is meant for naturally light brown to black body hair.
2. Remington IPL6000Q iLight Pro plus Quartz At-Home IPL Hair Removal System
Another pick from Miranda, this at-home laser hair removal device promises up to 94% hair reduction in only three treatments. FDA cleared and clinically proven, it delivers longer-lasting, permanent results in fewer treatments. It relies on pro-level IPL technology with an impressive 16 joules per flash to stop hair growth at the root.
3. Silk’n Infinity
Recommended by Miranda, you won’t have to worry about stubble, ingrown hairs, redness or other irritation with the Silk’n Infinity. It uses high-speed pulses of light to effectively and permanently remove hair. Simple to use, it works practically anywhere on the body, leaving you with silky skin. Its quartz bulb provides faster pulses and reloading to speed up the process.
4. Gozye Elelsilk Laser Hair Removal Device
Yes, you can get an at-home laser hair removal device without breaking the bank that actually works, as this one proves. It has the same IPL technology at a fraction of the price of many of its competitors and delivers the same results, with up to 98% hair reduction after a complete treatment. The hand-held design is comfortable and easy to use and works on most parts of the body.
5. MiSMON Laser Hair Removal
If you’re easily distracted, this at-home laser hair removal device takes out the guesswork with its LCD screen that tracks the number of flashes on the skin, so you won’t have to worry about losing track and burning your skin. Employing IPL technology, it also has a built-in automatic skin sensor to make it even more foolproof. After around seven to nine treatments, you can expect to see up to 94% permanent hair reduction.
6. iMene Laser Hair Removal
Those with extra sensitive skin will want to get this for at-home laser removal. Sure, the process doesn’t hurt, but those with a more delicate complexion can be left with sweltering skin. After all, you are zapping yourself with high-speed light. This device has a built-in ice compress plate that cools the skin, bringing down redness and swelling, making it a truly painless process. Relying on IPL, it has both a manual and auto flash option, so you can use the former on precision areas.
7. Philips Lumea SC1998/00 IPL Hair Remover
Dermatologists and scientists helped develop this at-home laser hair removal device. Driven by salon-level IPL technology, users can expect to see as long as eight weeks of hair-free smoothness, after a round of four to five treatments. Safe for the face and body, it works on most areas.
8. Braun IPL Hair Removal Silk Expert Pro 5
Thanks to speedy and efficient IPL technology, you can expect to see a permanent reduction in hair in only four weeks. Clinically tested by the Skin Health Alliance, it has a SensoAdapt skin sensor that offers UV protection and continuously adapts to your skin tone while zapping hair. Its ergonomic design makes it easy and comfy to wield, delivering precision just where you need it.
9. Feeke IPL Hair Removal Device
Designed to be extra gentle, this is a great at-home laser hair removal device for those with sensitive skin. Using the latest IPL technology, its strong pulse light knocks out hair from the root to delay growth, eventually delivering permanent hair removal. To work with your skin tone and sensitivity, it has five different levels of intensity and two adjustable flash modes. Safe for the whole body, it also comes with a disposable razor and a pair of sunglasses.
10. Fasbruy at-Home IPL Hair Removal Device
Another perfect pick for those on a budget, this tool relies on IPL technology to break the hair regrowth cycle and is safe to use on the face and body. The device gives off a warm light and only the slightest heat as it works to permanently remove hair. Adjust it to your needs with the five different energy levels, as well as two modes for small or larger hair removal areas. Boasting 999,999 flashes, you’ll be set for life and won’t ever need a replacement cartridge.