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If you’re someone who chooses to remove hair from someplace on your body, you’ll know what a royal pain it can be (time, money, ingrown hair…SMH). For those who are sick of shaving and aren’t keen on waxing until the end of time, laser is by far one of the most popular (and effective) alternatives.
According to scientist, beauty educator, and founder of Lab Muffin Michelle Wong, laser hair removal works on the premise that dark colors (your hair) absorb light (the laser). The light from the laser then heats the hair follicle to a point where it becomes damaged, resulting in no growth at all or hair that’s much finer. The results are somewhat permanent as well, and after initial treatments only require maintenance once or twice a year.
Laser hair removal is traditionally administered by a professional in-clinic, but these treatments don’t come cheap. And you usually need multiple sessions to see a semi-permanent reduction, making for a costly and exhaustive process in the long run.
But thankfully, there're many effective, easy, cost-efficient at-home laser devices on the market these days. We’ll be the first to say that anything we do at home is never going to measure up to that of a trained, qualified professional, but if you’re looking to save time and a few Benjamins, the products below come highly recommended by us.
Keep reading to discover the best at-home laser hair removal devices.
Best Overall: Braun Silk-Expert Pro 5
The Rolls Royce of at-home hair removal devices, the Braun Silk-Expert Pro 5 is fast, effective, and delightful to use. Recommended by the Skin Health Alliance and cleared by the FDA, it utilizes a technology called SensoAdapt that adjusts the flash intensity for your skin tone as you're using it. There are also 10 settings so you can tailor treatment to your skin tone and pain threshold.
Best Budget: ARTOLF IPL Hair Removal Device
While not quite as powerful as some of the others on this list, the ARTOLF tool is still a good pick, given its more accessible price point. It comes loaded with an impressive 999,900 flashes and can be used weekly for eight weeks to see results. This one though is best suited for fair to medium complexions with dark hair.
Best Drugstore: MiSMON FDA Permanent IPL Hair Removal Equipment
This laser device from MiSMON is surprisingly affordable for what it is. Featuring a range of energy levels, and a screen that tells you how many flashes are left (it comes pre-loaded with 300,000 flashes), it’s easy to customize to your needs. The easy hand-held grip makes it a cinch to use on legs, arms, armpits, butt, and the bikini area as well.
Best for Medium Skin: Braun Silk-Expert Pro 3
Braun is one of the most highly regarded brands in the at-home permanent hair removal game, and the Silk Expert lives up to the hype. Pre-loaded with 300,000 flashes, it’s one of the few devices on the market that is said to work on medium to deep skin tones (level V on the Fitzpatrick scale). The included precision head is also useful when treating small areas like the bikini or face.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Silk'n Infinity Hair Removal Device
Bad at sticking to a routine? This device comes with a handy app to remind you of your next appointment because when it comes to at-home laser hair removal, consistency is key. The five power settings mean you can tailor intensity as well (a nice feature for sensitive skin types or those with a low pain threshold).
Most Comfortable: DEESS GP590 Permanent Hair Removal System
Those who are bad with pain (even something minimal like permanent hair removal) will take comfort in the fact this DEESS device comes kitted out with cool technology to soothe the skin after treatment. It’s rechargeable and comes with unlimited flashes, so in theory, it should last a really long time. There are also three heads—some of which are for skin rejuvenation, but our advice is to stick to it for hair removal only.
Best for Small Areas: ORA Iluminage Precise Touch Permanent Hair Reduction System (FDA-Cleared)
The ORA Precise Touch device uses IPL and radiofrequency combined to mitigate hair growth on all skin tones (even dark). It’s FDA-cleared, and because of the small head, it’s best-suited for treating small areas like the face, bikini, or underarms.
Best for Dark Skin Tones: Elos Me Me Sleek
With unlimited treatments and FDA clearance to work on all skin tones, there’s a lot to love about this Me Sleek laser device. We love the luxe charging cradle as well.
Best for Large Areas: ORA Iluminage Touch 4ever Home Permanent Hair Removal IPL & Radio Frequency System (FDA-Cleared)
If you want to treat your arms, legs, or back, you need a device with a larger head, such as this one from ORA. The combination of IPL and radiofrequency used in this are actually patented by the brand—in fact, the technology was originally developed by scientists behind in-clinic machines, so you know you’re in good hands. It’s also one of the few FDA-cleared tools that are said to work on all skin tones and hair colors.
Best with Cooling Technology: HappySkin Ice IPL Hair Removal Handset
This handset from Happyskin is fitted out with cooling technology to mitigate any stinging or redness post-treatment, so it’s a nice choice for sensitive skin. With 999,000 flashes and three modes (including auto, glide, and manual), it’s not bad for the price point. Bonus points for its sleek appearance as well.
The Braun Silk-Expert Pro 5 (view at Ulta) wins for us hands down. It’s smart, effective, quick, and safe—all features that are really great value given the price point. Runner-up goes to the Elos Me Me Sleek (view at Nordstrom Rack) because it’s great quality and one of the few FDA-cleared tools that can be used on dark skin tones.
What to Look for in an At-Home Laser Hair Removal Device
Laser vs IPL
According to Cleveland Clinic practitioner and dermatologist Rachel Ward, MD, there are two types of at-home hair removal methods: true laser and IPL. Both use light to heat the hair follicle, the only palpable difference is the light they actually use (laser uses one wavelength, whereas IPL uses multiple).
Skin Tone and Hair Color
Ward touches on this elsewhere, but because the laser is attracted to dark pigment, it’s tricky territory for dark skin tones due to the possibility of the laser getting confused and heating the actual skin instead of the hair (and causing permanent damage). These days, technology has come far enough (and rightly so) so that people of color can reap the rewards of laser hair removal, but it’s important to seek out the right tool. If you're really in doubt, hedge your bets and speak to a professional from the get-go. Even if you don’t commit to a series of treatments, you’ll at least have peace of mind and a better understanding of what you can and can’t do.
Likewise, those with fair body hair should also consider their options because at-home devices might not be intelligent enough to pick up the hair follicle (remember, they’re attracted to dark pigment).
Are at-home laser removal devices safe?
Ward explains that if you use your device correctly, it’s generally safe but still advises to never run the light over pigmented areas (like moles), tattoos, or around the eyes and genitals. If you have dark skin, you’ll need to seek out a suitable device, otherwise, you can risk burning your skin or bringing on hyperpigmentation (this is due to the fact the laser light is not only attracted to the dark hair follicle but the melanin in your skin).
Ward still advises, however, that lasers used by dermatologists are much more sophisticated than any at-home tool, so they are always going to be a safer option when it comes to treating skin of color.
How do you use at-home laser removal devices?
This will depend on your device of choice, but most are to be used on shaved skin (free of all skincare) once a week. You should run your device over the entire treatment area before repeating the process several times (check your instructions for specifics). If your skin feels warm or uncomfortable afterward, treat it with a cool compress.
How do the results of at-home laser removal devices compare to in-office treatments?
Ward explains that the main differences are that in-clinic machines are more powerful and often bigger, so they can cover a treatment area faster. They are generally more advanced, too, which is why those with light hair or a deep skin tone are often better off seeing a professional (given it’s in their means).
Ward also tells us that some small at-home devices are simply not strong enough to completely eradicate hair. “It depends on the person, but professional hair removal usually gives you a bigger bang for your buck,” she adds. Sage advice.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Over the years, Emily Algar has experienced and spoken to dozens of experts in the permanent hair-removal treatment space, figuring out what works, what doesn’t. For this feature, she has borrowed the expertise of two professionals (a dermatologist and beauty educator) the break down the how’s and what’s of at-home laser hair removal.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any at-home laser hair removal devices from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.