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 as budget-friendly as we wish they were, coupled with how summer is just around the corner, at-home laser hair removal devices become all the more enticing. To help you wade through the treacherous waters of the world wide web, we spoke to two licensed dermatologists to find out which tools were really the best laser hair removal devices for at-home use. Ahead, shop the 17 best at-home laser hair removal devices for women.
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IPL Hair Removal
What is laser hair removal?
In terms of 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 Dr. Garshick. “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—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.
How long does it take to see results?
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. Remember to always follow the instructions of your specific device.
Does laser hair removal hurt?
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?
Does laser hair removal work on all skin tones and hair colors?
But before you start shopping (and zapping) away we do have one 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, because most companies disclose this information upfront. 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.
Is at home laser hair removal safe?
Generally speaking, laser hair removal devices are safe. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take proper precautions. “At home laser hair removal can be safe,” says Dr. Lal. However, “It is not universally safe because many factors play a role in safety. All of the available devices are safe for those with light skin and dark hair. Needless to say burns and redness can still occur with less powerful at home devices. These devices are best suited for small to medium hairs in small areas–upper lip, chin, cheeks, bikini, etc. They are not meant for large surface areas like the back.” If you are concerned, or notice any discomfort or irritation, reach out to a doctor. Dr. Lal has a few helpful tips to make removal easier and safer: “Be sure to have tiny stubble the laser can pick up for treatment. Make sure the device you are using is suitable for your skin color and hair color. Don’t use this laser if you have red or very light blonde hair. Don’t over-pulse the laser in the same location as this could lead to burns.”
Which home hair removal laser is best?
Dr. Lal’s favorite at-home device is the Tria 4X laser. “This is a true laser with diode technology. I use it, my mom uses it,” says Dr. Lal. “It’s affordable and great for light to medium skin types. It is cordless. It is not intense pulse technology which is more likely to cause burns.” For in-office treatments, “The gold standard in office laser is the Gentlemax Pro by Candela. It is a dual alexandrite and Nd-Yag laser that can treat all skin types, hairs of various sizes, and in various locations.”
Tatjana Freund Beauty Commerce Writer Tatjana Freund is a Beauty Commerce Writer, covering makeup, skincare, and haircare products and trends.
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