When it comes to home laser hair removal, some immediate thoughts are
Is it safe to use them at home?
Will it be painful?
Will laser hair removal really work for me?
These are all relevant questions to ask as it involves a good investment of time and money.
Laser hair removal is one the top cosmetic procedures done every year and is only growing in popularity with the introduction of at home laser hair removal machines.
If you are looking to know all about this permanent hair removal at home method, then you will love this infographic.
Find all the answers to your queries and decide if an at home laser removal is your best solution for a hair free skin!
What Is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal refers to removal of your unwanted hair with the use of a laser beam to destroy the hair follicle.
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) or light hair removal is a similar technology that uses flashes of light to remove hair. They are commonly termed as laser hair removal or light hair removal methods.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Laser hair removal works by using the selective light absorbing property of melanin (SPTL-selective photothermolysis), a pigment that gives color to your skin and hair.
Lasers work best if you have dark hair and light skin as the dark hair contains more melanin and can absorb more light when compared to the lighter skin.
Laser beams are used to heat your dark hair without damaging the surrounding lighter skin area. Lasers contains a single wavelength of light that can be focused to a spot on the skin.
The laser will be tuned to a particular wavelength which zaps up the hair alone. An area once treated is never repeated in the same session to prevent any skin damage.
The melanin in the hair absorbs the light energy and gets heated up damaging its growth cells. The laser turns off after a certain duration to ensure your skin is not heated in the process and only the hair follicles are burnt.
IPL or light based devices generates multiple wavelengths using a flash lamp that heats the hair and damage the follicle. Due to multiple wavelengths it can heat up your skin as well and also works well on light skin and dark hair.
They are less powerful than lasers and can cover more area at a time than a laser device. There are some new IPL devices that combines radio frequency as well to be effective on all skin and hair types.
Over 1 million laser procedures are done every year, and it is becoming even more popular with the introduction of home laser devices.
Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt?
There is a certain level of discomfort associated with laser hair removal too like most popular methods like waxing and epilating. Most people describe the zap like to being hit with a rubber band.
The pain levels also varies depending on your skin color, tolerance level and treated area. Darker skin people will be more sensitive and experience more pain. With each session the discomfort reduces due to thinning of hair.
You can take pain medication in advance after consulting a doctor or use numbing creams if it is too painful for you.
Do At Home Laser Hair Removal Machines Work?
It is a proven technology and will work for most people whose skin and hair tones are suited for laser hair removal. It is important to verify if the device will work for you before considering a laser treatment to get deired results.
At home laser removal machines are toned down versions of the laser devices used in a professional clinic. They have lesser power levels and have FDA approval indicating it is safe for home use.
For home devices to work one need to pick the right machine based on individual skin type otherwise results may vary. Also as the power levels are less you may need to use it every week to see good results.
They are becoming popular nowadays which is an indication of good results and you can get laser, IPL or HPL based devices to match your skin and hair tones. The biggest advantage is that they are much cheaper when compared to a professional clinic and can be performed by yourself at home.
Best At Home Laser Hair Removal Machine Types
When it comes to picking the best at home laser hair removal machine, you can either choose a laser device or an IPL machine.
The Laser based devices are more powerful and effective among these devices. The devices uses lesser laser output power levels approved by FDA for home use. Tria 4x is one the popular FDA approved home laser machines. It uses a diode laser at 810 nm wavelength at 7-22 J/cm2 energy density.
IPL devices uses light pulses in the 400 to 1200 nm wavelengths and can cover more area at a time. They are also less painful in comparison with laser devices. Recently many manufacturers have developed different versions of IPL like HPL (Home Pulsed Light) or combined with radio frequency to treat all skin tones and hair colors.
FDA approved devices should be the first consideration factor as it ensures the device safety. Choosing one of the machine types depends on your budget, pain threshold, skin and hair color and if you want to treat larger area quickly.
Choose Suitable Device For Skin And Hair Color
Each manufacturer specifies the types of hair color and skin tone combination that is suitable for the device to give best results. Many of the devices are also equipped with a skin tone sensor that can determine if the device will work for your skin and hair color.
So before buying a home laser device, ensure that the device will work for you. You can do this by referring the color chart provided by the manufacturer. In general laser type machines work well for lighter skin tones and dark hair color combination. Below is a skin tone and hair color chart for the Tria 4x laser device.
IPL devices also have similar requirements though some of the newer devices claim to work for all skin tones and hair color combinations.
How To Prepare For A Laser Hair Removal Session
Before using a laser hair removal machine at home, there are some preparations needed as below.
- Consult your doctor or dermatologist if you have any medications or known conditions to avoid any risks or complications and to ensure the device is safe for you.
- Avoid tanning products or lotions on your skin
- Avoid sun exposure for at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to a session
- You should not do waxing, epilating or use any hair removal creams for at least 4 weeks before a session. Shaving is recommended and can be done before a session. These will allow laser to easily penetrate the skin for maximum effectiveness.
- Avoid creams, makeups , sprays and lotions on your body 24 hours before a session
Tips For Using A Home Laser Machine
Here are some useful tips and steps to follow while doing a laser removal session at home.
- Shave, clean and dry your body well before using the device
- Make sure to read and learn the device usage instructions before a session
- Test the device on a patch of your skin one day before to check power levels suited for you and for any skin reactions
- Do not use the device on tattoos, damaged skin, sores, eye regions and other sensitive areas
- Use a numbing cream or painkillers if needed after consulting your doctor
- Do not use on pregnant women, men with beard and young people under the age of 18.
- Do not use the device repeatedly on same area in a session
- Try to cover all the body area once each session so that uniform removal can be achieved
- Stop using the device if you notice any abnormal swelling or irritations for many days
- You can use a laser eye protection safety googles to prevent accidental use of device on your eye
Things To Follow After A Session
- After the session you skin will be sensitive and you need to follow these measures
- Avoid sunlight exposure for at least one week after every session
- Avoid tanning creams, body lotions, perfumes and deodorants for a week
- Avoid hair removal creams, waxing and epilation and only shave if needed
- Gentle exfoliation with a cloth or glove every week is recommended to remove the dead hair follicles
- Any minor swelling, irritation or redness may be experienced but it should be temporary and if it persists, consult your dermatologist
- Some of the common side effects are allergic reactions, hyperpigmentation, infections, hypopigmentation and even hair growth sometimes.
How Long Does Laser Hair Removal Take?
One of the common mistakes is to expect immediate results with a laser removal device. Here is what to expect from a treatment.
- There will be no reduction after your first treatment as laser does not immediately cause your hair to fall out. It only damages the follicle and hair will fallout gradually in 1 or 2 weeks.
- You will have to continue the treatment as recommended by each device type. For the Tria 4x laser it is once every two weeks for 3 months or until you see desired results.
- This is due to the fact that body hair grow in phases (Anagen, Telogen, Catagen) and laser or light can affect only active hair follicles in the growth or Anagen phase. So multiple number of sessions at specific intervals is required to target all the hair to achieve long term reduction.
- It depends on the type of laser equipment being used, skin color, body area, hair thickness and color of your hair. Generally 6 to 8 sessions spaced 2 to 4 weeks apart are required to see full body results. But some of the newer devices can even be used every week for best results.
- Each session can take 20 to 60 minutes depending on how much area you want to cover and if you are doing at home or at a clinic. You can target different areas in each session every week to achieve uniform reduction.
- For maintaining the hair reduction you can follow up with occasional touch ups or additional treatments once every year after the initial hair reduction is achieved.
Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?
One common query regarding laser hair removal is whether it can be considered as a permanent hair removal at home method.
It is more of a hair reduction method where people can expect 70 to 90% permanent hair reduction. You will experience regrowth of fine thin hair even after a complete procedure of 7-8 sessions.
Only electrolysis is considered as permanent hair removal method. But laser achieves similar results in a much less painful and convenient manner.
This is due to new follicles being formed or the damaged ones get repaired sometimes. But with regular follow up sessions every six months or one year, one can keep the growth under check.
How Much Does Laser Hair Removal Cost?
The cost of a home laser removal machine is considerably less when compared to spa treatment. They are available from $200 to $500 on the market. Laser devices are more costly than IPL devices.
Some of the devices have a fixed number of flashes and you will need to purchase a new device once it runs out. But they usually have a high number of pulses to give more number of sessions.
There are other devices that work with replaceable cartridges. The number of pulses will be less for a cartridge type device. You can get a new cartridge at around $20 to $ 40 once it runs out of flashes.
Consider the number of sessions or flashes you can get out of a device which gives an estimate of the overall cost of using a laser hair removal device.
We hope that you have a much better idea of laser hair removal devices and how to safely use them at home for a smooth hair free skin.