Laser hair removal is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the world. In the US alone, more than 1.4 million procedures are performed annually — that’s a whole lot of hair.
Given laser hair removal’s immense popularity and the desire for most of us to do away with body hair in a way that lasts longer than say, shaving or waxing, a number of consumer companies and laser manufacturers have partnered to produce at-home devices. While this might sound like a beauty boon to anyone with hair to spare, not all devices or methods are created equal. If you’re wondering which route to smooth, hair-free skin is best, we have the inside scoop on the ideal method for you.
At-Home Hair Removal Basics
The devices popping up on store shelves aimed at removing unwanted hair in a way that goes beyond standard at-home methods are doing so with varying results. Few have so far demonstrated results comparable to professionally administered laser hair removal treatments, and they can be pricey (in some cases over $800/device). However, the convenience of the at-home device warrants attention. There is something to be said for having the flexibility to tackle hair removal on your own time, rather than having to book (and remember to go to) an appointment.
The technology used in these devices varies — some use lasers, while some use light-based sources, or electric currents and all have their own set of pros and cons. The popular at-home laser hair removal systems include the following:
- No!No! Thermodynamic Hair Removal: This device utilizes a thermodynamic wire to heat individual hairs and remove them. Cost: $270.00. Refills approx. $20-30
- TRIA Laser Hair Removal System: This device was the first laser to be FDA cleared for use at home and uses similar laser technology used by professionals for in-office laser hair removal. Cost: $395.00. No refills.
- Silk’n IPL Hair Removal At Home: The Silk’n is unique in that it uses intense pulsed light (IPL) energy to damage hair follicles and remove hair. Cost: $299.00. Refills approx. $45.00.
- Tanda ME: The at-home combination lPL (intense-pulsed light) and Radio Frequency device delivers energy to reduce the number of hairs in the treated area. Cost: $395.00. Refills approx. $60.00.
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Laser Hair Removal with a Professional
Professional laser hair removal has been offered in dermatology and other medical practices since 1996, so it’s a tried-and-true science with years of clinical research. . It’s a very established treatment with proven results on everything from legs and bikini lines, to back, chest and facial hair. Check out some of the biggest benefits:
- It’s a non-invasive, gentle technique (i.e. little to no pain, just less hair and smooth skin)
- It treats larger areas effectively (back, legs) because it disables more than one hair at a time
- There’s minimal discomfort involved
- It easily replaces waxing, electrolysis, shaving and bleaching (thank goodness)
- There’s no downtime
- Results are long lasting
A professional may also have the choice of multiple lasers to match your skin type, which is important for achieving optimum results.
When to See a Professional
It’s always a good idea to at least talk to a professional before you opting for an at-home treatment, but if you have darker skin you’re better off skipping over anything you find on store shelves altogether. “Treating a person with dark skin is one of the more challenging tasks for any laser surgeon,” notes Dr. Eric Bernstein. “Treating patients with dark skin or patients who are tan requires more skill and more intimate knowledge of which lasers to use and which settings to use with those lasers,” he explains. “Using the wrong setting or wrong device on dark skin patients has a much higher risk of causing blisters or other side-effects.”
Laser Hair Removal: Safety First
No matter what type of laser hair removal you opt for, always make sure to consult with your physician regarding hair removal treatments. Your physician can discuss which (if any) at-home device could work for your, and how they can potentially work in combination with professional treatment.
The bottom line is that when it comes to fast, long-lasting results, professional laser hair removal takes the cake. While at-home laser hair removal offers convenience and in many cases may also save you time and money, there really is no substitute for visiting someone with years of experience and medical credentials on their side.