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After experiencing the many pitfalls of shaving (ingrown hairs, redness, irritation, and speedy re-growth), we're contemplating alternative hair removal methods this season. Since professional laser hair removal isn't the most budget-friendly option (initial sessions can cost upwards of $600), we're looking at the next best thing: the best at-home laser hair removal devices on the market.
We need to reassert, before we go any further, that body hair is a completely natural, normal thing, and you should absolutely not feel compelled to remove it if you don't want to—it's a personal choice. (If you're a body hair, don't care kind of person, more power to you!) But if you're into the idea of laser hair removal, are over trying to find the best razors, waxing kits, or epilators on the market, want to save some money, but are a little freaked about the idea of doing laser hair removal at home, we've got you covered.
How does laser hair removal work?
New York-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD explains: "Laser hair removal is a treatment where a laser is used to permanently destroy the hair follicle and remove the hair. A laser is a beam of light of a single wavelength that is absorbed by a specific target in the skin. In the case of hair removal, the light is absorbed by pigment within the hair follicle itself. As the laser destroys the follicle, it will not grow back, giving a permanent effect. This is true whether you are getting a professional or an at-home treatment."
How long does laser hair removal last?
"The term laser hair removal is a bit misleading, as it really should be called laser hair reduction," notes Dr. Zeichner. "In some cases it may be difficult to fully remove hair completely." He also says that "the lasers definitely decrease the density of hair and the thickness of each individual hair," and that "it takes multiple treatments to give the results most people are looking for"—so like most pricey beauty treatments, its best to stay patient when waiting for your results.
"Each treatment will partially destroy the follicle, so repeated treatments are often needed for the full effects," he explains. "The difference between at-home and professional strength treatments is the energy level of the laser. At-home devices have much lower energy levels to make sure they are safe to use at home, unsupervised. As a result, these treatments are slower to work and require more sessions to give noticeable improvements."
Are at-home laser hair removal devices safe?
Dr. Zeichner considers at-home lasers a safe alternative to in-office treatments. "At-home devices work similarly to professional treatments, but use lower energy levels. They are more time-consuming to use, but can help. They are also a great option to maintain improvements between professional treatments."
Along with Dr. Zeichner, we chatted with Dr. Howard Sobel, M.D., NYC dermatologist and founder of Sobel Skin; Dr. Rosemarie Ingleton, M.D., dermatologist and medical director of Ingleton Dermatology; and Dr. Rachel Nazarian, M.D., dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group, to tell us the best laser hair removal devices that really, truly work. Dr. Gretchen W. Frieling, a Boston-based triple-board-certified dermatopathologist, and Dr. Anahita Mansouri, a cosmetic doctor at Kat & Co Aesthetics in the UK, about the very best at-home laser hair removal devices that you can use at home.
Shop The Best At-Home Laser Hair Removal Devices
Most Compact Laser Hair Removal Device
This FDA-approved laser hair removal device is a compact-sized tool that packs a powerful punch when it comes to removing hair—fast. It glides over your skin accompanied by its 150,000 pulses per minute. Holding it down to target one hairy spot is super-easy. "This new compact version uses light-based technology, which is FDA-cleared for permanent hair reduction for the entire face and body," Dr. Sobel explains. "I like that it features a new high-tech applicator that allows you to properly target and zone in on smaller area such as the upper lip, arms, or bikini area." To see long-lasting results, employ this device every other week for two months. "This device is ideal if you have dark hair and can be used both on the face and on the body," Dr. Zeichner adds.
The Derm-Loved Laser Hair Removal Device
Just short of $450, the Tria 4X will cost you a pretty penny—but seeing that it’s the first and only FDA-approved laser for at-home use, it’s become a favorite among derms and patients for legit, professional-level results. “I’m a fan of this device because it has high energy levels and it’s super easy-to-use,” says Nazarian. Dr. Zeichner is a fan of the Tria. "This can be used both on dark and light hair, although it will not work on white hair," Zeichner explains. "It is a true laser as opposed to other devices that use a broad spectrum of light." Dr. Sobel suggests trying the Tria laser as well. "The technology safely delivers over three times more hair-eliminating energy than other at-home hair removal devices, making it the most powerful at-home hair removal device," Dr. Sobel explains.
Here, loyal readers, is an editor's pick that wouldn't be right not to include. Honesty moment: I'm really hairy and I've tried a lot of "hair removal" tactics that have failed me tremendously. This shiny rose gold device, on the other hand, did not and is worth giving a glowing review. First off, it's inexpensive compared to its counterparts. Secondly, thanks to the LCD screen you're able to monitor the number of flashes on the skin so you'll never go overboard, which is best for a beginner like me.
As a high school graduation present, my mother gifted me with laser hair removal. It wasn't exactly your average gift, but my father gave me his Cuban hair genes, and, well—you know where this story is going. So I set off on my hair-free mission, and quickly became addicted. So it's only fitting that my mother gifted me this tool for my college graduation so I could come full circle in my journey to become stubble-free. The Braun Silk Expert System uses intense pulsed light (IPL) that quickly treats my legs in under 10 minutes. It's also equipped with over 300,000 flashes, equalling out to around 16 years of treatments. Needless to say, I'm hooked.
Best On-The-Go Laser Hair Removal Device
Dr. Gretchen W. Frieling recommends the Sensica device. “I love this!” she says. “It has an automatic and manual mode and is best for on-the-go hair removal. It comes with two different heads for large and small areas. The charge will last for approximately 600 flashes.”
Most Affordable Laser Hair Removal Device
For a quarter of the price of other devices, you'll get the very same IPL technology, but less bells and whistles. (No countdown clock telling you how many pulses are left, no cordless option.) But if the reviews are any indication, it works just as effectively, especially on small areas like your forearms or upper lip.
Best Laser Hair Removal Device for All Skin Tones
“The Silk’n Infinity also uses IPL light, but unlike the Remington, it’s safe for all skin colors,” says Dr. Ingleton. The petite, circular design allows for easy, all-over treatments, and it’s also equipped with five energy-level settings for a genuinely customizable experience. If the steep price tag turns you off, Dr. Ingleton adds that the Silk’n Infinity’s lifespan makes it worth the investment to her. “It stores 400,000 pulses before it dies, so it’s going to last significantly longer than most devices,” she explains. Zeichner is also a proponent of this device. "This laser emits a broad spectrum of light, rather than a single wavelength. The technology, known as intense pulsed light, can be used across a variety of skin types, even those with an olive complexion."
Most Painless Laser Hair Removal Device
Because laser hair removal is elective, sometimes brands and derms alike downplay the discomfort associated with zapping your skin with high frequency light. This device comes equipped with an ice compress plate that cools the skin, reducing redness, swelling and inflammation as you go. The light is strong and effective enough for 500,000 flashes, which is said to be enough to remove unwanted hair head-to-toe on nine to 11 individuals. Translations: Your bikini line doesn't stand a chance. And neither do your BFFs.
Best Laser Hair Removal Device for Hard-to-Reach Areas
This handheld device has a pointed applicator to reduce hair in harder-to-get-to areas. "Because of its small size, this device is a good option to treat areas of the skin that have contours, like the upper lip," Dr. Zeichner confirms. Dr. Sobel agrees: "This is a great option for smaller areas on the face or neck since it uses diode technology, which is similar to in-office technology for laser hair removal. Most other home devices typically use IPL technology, which does not always target the hair follicle as specifically as the diode wavelength." So if there's one spot bugging you, employ this guy.
Most Versatile Laser Hair Removal Device
Not only is this the only device of its caliber that's FDA approved for every hair color and skin tone, but its midrange size means it can as readily flash away hairs on your upper lip as on your partner's back and thighs. Use once a week for seven weeks, and expect smoother skin for way longer than a razor can offer.
The Quick Fix
While not technically a laser hair removal device (IPL uses a different type of light), this sleek unit makes use of a broader range of light wavelengths to cover larger stretches of skin more quickly. Plus, it has unlimited flashes. The downside? Hair does back grow a bit more quickly, so you'll have to be more diligent with touch-ups. It's also, unfortunately, not safe for dark skin tones.
The Safe Laser Hair Removal Device
There are a few handy features in this emerald stunner. First: A cooling plate automatically kicks in when temperatures on the skin's surface climb uncomfortably high. Also, some find the handle easier to maneuver in hard-to-reach places like the backs of thighs or deep bikini zones. But most impressively, this device won't kick on unless it's in contact with your skin, meaning no unseemly (and damaging) flashes to your eyes.
The Do-It-All Laser Hair Removal Device
The Illuminage Touch offers high-power IPL technology, 120,000 pulses, and the ability to target blonde and red hair follicles, making it a force to be reckoned with. For ultimate results, this gadget should be used only once a week for six to seven weeks. “Consistency is important—you will only see results if you continue to use these products regularly and as directed,” says Dr. Nazarian. “Even though progress is slow, you will see results.” Zeichner adds that this device uses intense pulse light to treat unwanted hair across a variety of skin types and hair color. On that note, make sure to read the instructions thoroughly on whichever device you choose. Every device is a little different, but if you follow the directions, you'll quickly get hooked on your smooth-as-hell skin.
The Best 2-in-1 Laser Hair Removal Device
A common theme among the various laser hair removals is that the head of the device is so small that it sometimes can take extra time for a removal session. This device speaks for itself. The big selling point: The 330-degrees rotating head that's detachable! No matter where you're looking to treat (face, arms, legs, bikini lines, etc), there's a setting that's going to work for you. The six modes let you remove hair from any part of your body with accuracy, and the cooling screen (made from ultra-thin saphire!) keeps your skin at a constant five degrees celcius throughout the process.
Most Adjustable Laser Hair Removal Device
This lesser-known device caught our eye thanks to the five power settings, which means you can adjust based on your skin tone, the color of your hair, and let's be real: your pain tolerance levels. As with all these devices, compliance is key, so do follow the manual instructions and expect results within five weeks of diligent usage.
Most Efficient Laser Hair Removal Device
The latest edition of Braun's best-selling and dermatologist-endorsed IPL hair-removal system, this smaller, lighter device is outfitted with a skin sensor that actually recognizes your skin tone and adjusts the flash intensity as you use it. It also promises that both of your legs will be done in under five minutes, so say hello to smooth legs in a pinch.
Best Cooling Laser Hair Removal Device
This fast-acting device from DEESS has built-in ice-cool technology, which means that the hair-removal experience just got a little less painful. Since it cools skin as it works, you don't have to worry about inflammation after you're done with the process.
How should you prepare for laser hair removal?
Dr.Frieling says that you should actually shave a day ahead of when you plan to use your laser hair removal device. Similarly, she recommends staying clear of self-tanners and spray tans at least two weeks before, too. Finally, she says it’s important to “avoid potentially irritating products such as retinoids, retinal, or retinoic acids" prior to your treatment, as well as “brightening ingredients and acidic cleansers."
What should you do after laser hair removal?
Dr. Mansouri says to avoid exercising (or sweating, for that matter) for up to two days. Both sweating and heat can cause “irritation on freshly treated skin after a session is completed,” she says.
It’s also important to stay out of the sun for two weeks. To be extra careful, Mansouri says to wear loose-fitting clothing, and keep your skin cool. Furthermore, you should “avoid topicals, including makeup, except for aloe vera gel or calming and soothing creams,” to allow your skin to heal correctly.
Meet The Dermatologists
As the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital's Department of Dermatology, Dr. Zeichner has a broad interest in medical and cosmetic dermatology as well as clinical research. His specialty is the treatment of acne, as well as the cosmetic rejuvenation of the aging face. Dr. Zeichner treats general skin conditions, including eczema, rosecea, psoriasis, and skin cancer. In addition, he is well-versed in the use of Botox and dermal fillers, as well as lasers and chemical peels.
Dr. Howard Sobel, MD, operates Sobel Skin, a private practice for dermatology, cosmetic surgery, and aesthetic medicine in the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City. Sobel Skin was a part of the early stages of the medspa / medi-spa evolution in the United States. Dr. Sobel has been a pioneer of the union between dermatology & cosmetic surgery. Over the years, Dr. Sobel has not only been known for his expertise in all aesthetic treatments, but as one of the best botox and fillers doctors in New York City. His ability to provide an exceptional outcome never fails, and patients’ are not only thrilled with their results, but also feel younger and rejuvenated after treatment.
Dr. Sobel combines modern technology with over thirty years of experience. His unique practice provides the latest advances in dermatology, dermatologic cosmetic surgery and progressive face and body treatments all in one luxurious Park Avenue facility.
Dr. Sobel’s focus within dermatology is to further the total well-being and health of his patients and those who use the products he formulated and created.
Dr. Ingleton is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. She received a BA in Psychobiology from New York University and her medical degree from the University of Maryland. She completed her Internal Medicine residency at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York and her Dermatology residency at New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and a member of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgeons, the Dermatology Society of New York and the National Medical Association.
Dr. Rachel Nazarian joins Schweiger Dermatology after years of practicing various aspects of dermatology, including cosmetic treatments, skin cancer, general dermatology and dermatologic surgery.Dr. Nazarian has written many published articles in medical journals as well as widely respected dermatology textbooks, such as Treatment of Skin Disease.Dr. Nazarian serves as a faculty member at Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Department of Dermatology, where she completed her dermatology residency. While completing her medical degree at Tulane University School of Medicine, Dr. Nazarian was awarded a grant from the Women’s Dermatology Society. Dr. Nazarian is a board certified dermatologist and Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Dr. Frieling. “Dr. G,” is a medical doctor with over 13 years of experience as a leader in the Aesthetic, Dermatology and Pathology fields. Her background is notable for intensive training in ballet, which includes attending the Juilliard School in New York City. She combines her artistic eye, perfectionistic qualities, and medical expertise, to give her patients impeccable results. When it comes to cosmetic procedures, specifically injectables, Dr. G has mastered the art of re-vitalizing the face by softening fine lines and wrinkles, re-establishing volume, and optimizing overall appearance and beauty. She will listen to your requests and concerns. Dr. G will explain the available procedures that would be optimal for your unique situation. She also performs select body procedures, include fat dissolving, buttock lifting/gentle reshaping, and skin tightening.
Dr Ana is a UK qualified Aesthetic Doctor with a wide range of medical & surgical training experience as well as a background in GP training. She graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery from Newcastle University in 2014 and has since then completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Dermatology from Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr Ana is passionate about all things Aesthetic Medicine & Cosmetic Dermatology.
Julia Marzovilla is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire covering all things fashion, beauty, and entertainment. Offline, she’s most likely browsing the web for another pair of black boots or listening to music too loudly—often at the same time.
- Bianca Rodriguez Editor
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