The Tria 4X vs. the Silk'N SensEpil: A Dermatologist's Guide

Which one comes out on top?

(Image credit: Bob Thomas)

If you've made the personal decision to remove some of your body hair, odds are you're frustrated with the standard razor situation. I've been shaving my legs since my preteens and my God, it gets old. The idea of a permanent solution is beyond tempting—but personally, I made it to two sessions with my lovely aesthetician before I quit my in-office hair removal journey. The pain, lack of immediate results, and–let's be honest–huge sums of money just didn't seem worth it. Enter what may be our Holy Grail: laser hair removal devices you can use at home. The only problem? I am skeptical to the point of pessimistic. Still, I was curious about the two most popular tools: the Tria 4X laser, and the Silk'n SensEpil at-home device.

So, do they work? Will they work for you? Before dropping $400+ on one of these devices, tune in to dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal for all the info you need before making a purchase. Think of this like March Madness for at-home hair removal devices. Which one will win?

The Tria 4X laser

What is it?

"Tria 4X is a diode laser device which targets the melanin—pigment or color—of the hair follicle," says Dr. Lal. In short: "It destroys the hair selectively to reduce hair growth."

Where can I use it?

Both the Tria 4X and the Silk'n SensEpil can be used anywhere on your body, including the face, body, bikini area, and underarms.

Is it safe?

Yes, as long as used according to the instructions.

Will it work on my skin tone and hair color?

"The diode works best for contrast in skin and hair. So light skin and dark hair responds the best," says Dr. Lal.

The two devices use two different technologies—lasers for the Tria 4X, and intense pulsed light (IPL) for the Silk'n SensEpil—so they differ in effectiveness for different hair colors and skin tones.

Does it hurt?

In short, yes. "Most hair removal devices feel like a hot rubber band snap," says Dr. Lal. "Areas with higher hair density and thicker hairs will feel hotter and sharper than others. Do expect a zing—it is not painless!"

Will it work?

"These devices work," Dr. Lal concludes. But that doesn't necessarily mean they work quickly. "Time to hair reduction is hard to say because that requires knowing a person’s skin tone, hair thickness, hair color. People will notice reduction in hair which is the definition of hair removal but I would say it takes 4-6 consecutive treatments with each device before you start seeing results."

The Silk'n SensEpil

What is it?

"The Silk'n SensEpil is a light-based device that uses different wavelengths of visible light to reduce hair growth," notes Dr. Lal.

Where can I use it?

Like the Tria 4X, anywhere on your body.

Is it safe?

If you were planning on gifting a hair removal device to a man in your life for some manscaping, maybe buy him a potted plant instead. "They should not be used on the scrotum in men because of the thin skin in this area," warns Dr. Lal. But if used correctly, these tools are safe.

Will it work on my skin tone and hair color?

IPL-based devices like the Silk'n SensEpil do tend to require a few extra treatments. "Because it is less selective, it often takes more treatments for the same result and has the potential for more side effects," Dr. Lal says.

"IPL devices may help [reduce] red hair and lighter hair colors too," he adds. But, "Because IPL based devices are less selective, they are not suitable for people with darker skin colors and can potentially cause more side effects like burns, blisters, and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation."

For very light hair, neither device "will likely help with white, grey, and blonde hairs."

Does it hurt?

Like most hair removal devices—yes, a little.

For anyone who's hesitant to use a hair removal device at-home or is worried about potential risks, it's always smart to try the in-office route. "These devices have been made for at home use and thus will take longer than in office treatments for hair reduction," says Dr. Lal. When it doubt, turn to your friendly neighborhood derm!

Tatjana Freund

Tatjana Freund is a Beauty Commerce Writer, covering makeup, skincare, and haircare products and trends. She's a fan of vodka tonics and creepy Wikipedia pages.