For those of us who shave, permanent hair removal was a game changer. An expensive one at that. In-office procedures showed up on the scene over 10 years ago and have made their mark since. Leave it to the beauty industry to attempt more affordable and even at-home permanent hair removal opportunities to anyone not willing to take a trip to their doctor’s office.
In addition to the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders, there’s been a number of reasons for a new resurgence of at-home and FDA approved hair removal devices that don’t need much more than you and a bathroom.
Even though at-home hair removal may not be as powerful as your usual in-office treatment, I might dare to say that in comparison to that dull razor of yours… you might contemplate an attempt.
In-office laser hair removal
The laser hair removal process consists of a laser that pulsates at high concentrations of light that targets and destroys hair follicles. This can be used on most areas of the body and remove unwanted hair permanently. You will normally see these used on large areas of the body like the legs and bikini areas, but also on the face like the upper lip and chin. Laser hair removal can lead to semi-permanent and permanent results.
Hair treatment will be determined by the hair growth cycle, and treatment is scheduled every month to every month and a half.
Permanent hair removal at home
Specific to at-home devices, most of them use intense pulsed light or IPL lights for hair removal. These are also known as the at-home lasers. The difference is IPL lasers use a broad spectrum light, and in-office laser hair removal devices use a single spectrum light. They work similarly to a procedure done by a licensed technician just at a weaker energy. The light finds and destroys the color or pigment in the hair follicles.
Here are a few things to consider when deciding if at-home permanent hair removal is right for you:
Hair color & skin tone
For optimal results, lighter skin and darker hair gets the best results. Most at-home devices have less-than-favorable results when dealing with shades of blonde, red, and grey.
For people with darker skin tones, using professional devices with a specific wavelength can help when the light is trying to tell the difference between the pigment in the skin and the hair follicle. However, this type of technology is not normally found in at-home hair removal devices.
People with darker skin are also more susceptible to more prominent side effects like scabbing, burning, and blisters.
Test a patch
Like most at-home beauty products, doing a test patch on the skin is important. Seeing how your skin reacts lets you know if it is safe to continue without doing any more unintended damage to the skin.
Avoid waxing and plucking
When you pluck or wax your hair, the hair follicles are not present for treatment. Without the pigment in the hair follicles to guide the light to the root, the at-home hair removal device can be rendered ineffective. The best recommendation is to shave before each treatment. Also, it is a good idea to keep the hairs relatively short. The shortness in the hairs keeps the light from being absorbed all the way before it hits the hair follicles. Without this, the device is also rendered ineffective.
Make Sure Your Skin Is Clean
Any skin care routine or products can interfere with the device and its effectiveness. This also means avoiding tanning and tanning beds. These increase the pigment in your skin and the results will normally be less than favorable, if at all.
Do Not Rush
Sessions need to be done with the proper amount of spacing in between. Depending on the area you’re treating, your hair type and skin tone, results could take anywhere from 4 to 8 sessions up to a month apart. This doesn’t mean turning up the device to the maximum setting. Go slow, and work up to a higher level. Slow and steady wins the race!
Be Ready To Be A Little Uncomfortable
Like the in-office treatments, at-home devices do have side effects. They tend to be less severe, considering it’s working at a lower energy level, but you still may feel a zap or rubber band snap over the skin. This may be uncomfortable to some. Use a cool fan or ice before and after to help keep the session tolerable.
These procedures are not a one-stop-shop. It takes time for long term hair removal. Initially, just keeping the area fuzz down will need maintenance. After your eighth session, touch-ups can be utilized to keep down the life cycle of the hair follicle. Each treatment will help destroy the hair follicle in place, making it come back lighter and thinner each time but not always permanently removed.
Is permanent hair removal at home safe?
The number one thing to consider when deciding on an at-home hair removal device is to make sure it’s approved by the FDA. When you follow the instructions correctly, these are the tools that are the safest and yield the best results.
Prior to use, it is also recommended that certain medications like tetracycline antibiotics and antihistamines should be avoided, as well as extended time in the sun. Do this for at least 4 weeks before treatment and continue to avoid both practices two weeks after.
Pros & cons of permanent hair removal at home
Pros: With the at-home device being an option, there’s a convenience not only in time and privacy but also in money. These are amateur and safe enough for anyone to use without worrying about reducing your skin to char and making any drastic mistakes.
Cons: On the other hand, with less power comes fewer ideal results. In-office devices might be considered “permanent hair removal” while at-home devices are more so considered “laser hair reduction” than removal. Most devices may not be strong enough to reduce all the hair especially in large areas.
One of the biggest downfalls is that it only works on some hair colors and skin tones. Hair colors and skin tones that have a lot of contrast with each other. Darker skin is at risk for burns and lighter hair doesn’t always have the greatest of results in comparison to dark hair.
For this, professional grade in-office hair removal devices are generally the only option.
When you use permanent hair removal devices, use them correctly:
For most people, these devices are absolutely safe. However, there are a few things to avoid when using them:
- Avoid moles or highly pigmented areas
- Avoid tattoos
- You can reduce the bikini line but avoid the gential area
- Avoid all skin by your eyes
When it comes to at-home hair removal remedies, doing your research will be the best way to achieve results and safely. These at-home options are an awesome alternative to pricey laser hair removal treatments. Although most devices don’t remove hair entirely, they do provide adequate results to reduce and tame the hair growth, if done correctly.
If you’re looking for total hair removal, these devices are also great for touch-ups in between professional laser hair removal.
We all love an at-home beauty option! With the convenience at a less expensive rate, achieving your beauty goals without leaving the house is just hard to beat. However, certain treatments may need a little less “at-home” and a little more “licensed professional” to achieve the right results safely.
Are You Considering Permanent Hair Removal? Call Balshi Dermatology About Laser Hair Removal
It is important to remember that the best way to identify if these laser treatments are right for you is by scheduling an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist. A medical professional can better help to provide further guidance and help answer your questions.