For all of the many methods of body-hair removal out there—from shaving to sugaring to waxing, and everything else in between—laser hair removal (both professional and at-home) is the only strategy that promises permanent results. However, since the professional versions are not very budget friendly, coupled with how we’re still spending a bit more time at home, at-home laser hair removal devices become all the more enticing.
How does laser hair removal work?
In terms of the technology, at-home handheld hair removal devices come in two categories: IPL or a diode laser. “Both devices rely on the same target, which is the pigment of the hair follicle, to have an effect,” says Marisa Garshick, a dermatologist in New York City. “At the most basic level, the diode refers to an actual laser, while the IPL is a light-based device.”
A majority of at-home laser hair removal devices rely on IPL—or intense pulsated light—therapy, in which tiny beams of light zap the bulb within each hair follicle. “In essence, it is using heat to destroy the hair follicles,” explains Garshick. “Many of the at-home devices use this technology.” IPL technology emits a variety of different light wavelengths, and dermatologists also use versions of it for photo rejuvenation procedures (AKA fading dark spots).
On the flip side, diode laser technology uses one single wavelength of light, which can experts say can help minimize damage to the surrounding skin and be used safely on all skin types and shades. The light is selectively absorbed by the pigment, or melanin, within the hair follicle, making it a more targeted (and often more effective) approach to hair removal.
Whichever light beam route you opt for, with a bit of consistency and a lot of patience will come real results. Typically, it will take at least a few sessions to see results, and each session should be spaced out at least one week apart (always follow the instructions of your specific device). And yes, depending on the intensity level of the laser (many of the devices have multiple settings), it can feel uncomfortable; When each follicle gets zapped, it might sting a bit—many people compare it to a rubber band being snapped on the skin. But hey, no pain no gain, right?
Important editor’s note:
Because laser hair removal relies on melanin to produce results, it’s often not effective on lighter hair colors (like blonde and light gray), which, by nature, contain less pigment. If you have a lighter hair color, consult with a dermatologist before investing your money into an expensive at-home device (and also read the fine print of every product description—most companies disclose this information up front). Laser hair removal is also safe for people of color but certain lasers can cause hyperpigmentation and irritation on darker skin tones, so again, it is best to consult your dermatologist.
IPL Silk Expert Pro 5 PL5137
With ten different intensity levels to choose from, this FDA-approved device strikes the perfect balance between safety and efficacy. For those with sensitive skin, there’s also three ‘comfort modes’ to choose from: Normal, gentle, or extra gentle.
Laser Hair Removal For Women
According to some reviewers, this device is best suited for those with very dark and/or coarse hair. It’s equipped with an LED screen so you can track how many light pulses have beamed onto each area—though you may need to wear safety goggles (which are included) while operating. Each lamp comes programmed with enough pulses to last for up to five years. When it runs out, you can simply order a replacement cartridge and keep the handle.
Best for Sensitive Skin
Unlike many at-home IPL devices, this one is suitable for all skin types and hair colors, and according to reviewers, it’s also a gentler option than many others on the market. The device itself isn’t rechargeable or corded; it comes pre-charged with 400,000 light pulses, which the company claims will last for a lifetime of treatments.
Best for Medium Skin Tones
Braun IPL Silk Expert Pro 3 PL3111
With smart IPL technology, this FDA-approved laser features a skin sensor which automatically adapts your treatment to your skin tone to ensure a safe and effective treatment. The device is small enough for trickier areas (and is safe for facial use!) while still covering enough skin so the process doesn’t take forever.
Hair Removal Laser 4X Deluxe Kit
This FDA-approved laser hair removal device is the real deal: Rather than IPL, it utilizes diode laser technology, which is the same type of laser your dermatologist likely uses in-office. For best results, the company recommends treating each area (it’s safe for both face and body) once every two weeks. I can personally attest to how well this bright pink baby works (it really does!), although as with many things pertaining to beauty, it does take commitment to really see results.
Best for a Fast Treatment
Flash&Go Express IPL Laser
This compact, lightweight, FDA-approved device is the most time efficient option out there. The device itself is corded so keep that in mind, but as its title suggests, you simply press the button where you want to laser for a quick treatment. Plus, it’s safe to use on your face!
Best for Small Areas
Hair Removal Laser Precision
This version of the Tria laser is designed specifically for smaller and harder-to-reach areas, such as the upper lip, between the eyebrows, and along the contours of the jaw. It uses the same FDA-cleared, diode laser technology as its larger-sized counterpart (see #1 on this list) and promises a 70% reduction in hair after three months of regular use.
Best for Large Areas
Iluminage Touch Hair Reduction System
If you’re looking for an FDA-approved device to treat larger areas like your legs, arms, or back cover more ground with this laser’s larger head. The laser emitted is a brand patented combination of IPL and radiofrequency that was actually developed by the scientists behind the professional machines so you know you’re in good hands.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io