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Laser hair removal is one of the most effective ways to remove unwanted facial and body hair, but it doesn't come cheap. Professional sessions, of which you'll likely need more than one, can cost quite a few Benjamins. Still, most people would agree that the long-lasting results are worth the investment.
Shelling out the cash for smooth, fuzz-free skin is one thing, but did you know you could get similar results with an at-home laser hair removal device? While they're not quite as effective as the machines used in salons (and understandably so since you need to be a licensed laser technician to handle one of those), they do work to slow down hair growth over time.
Most at-home laser hair removal devices utilize intense pulse light (IPL) to damage the hair follicle, explains Josie Holmes, esthetician at SKINNEY Medspa in New York City, who adds that while these devices are extremely safe, they typically take longer to see results and generally don’t have the capacity to cover large areas. Holmes says at-home laser hair removal devices are great for touch-ups between in-office sessions as well as for small areas like the underarm and upper lip.
When buying an at-home laser hair removal device, the first thing you should do is check to see if it’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recommends Dr. Marie Hayag, dermatologist and founder of Fifth Avenue Aesthetics in New York City. “At-home devices are required by the FDA to operate at lower levels than the powerful lasers used by medically-trained professionals,” says Hayag. “They also need to have appropriate built-in safety mechanisms to gain official approvals.” These safety features will ensure the light beam doesn’t fire unless the device is held properly against your skin, with full contact—this will protect your eyes against damage from the powerful light, explains Hayag.
Ready to say goodbye to body hair? Here, the 11 best at-home laser hair removal devices for fuzz-free skin.
Byrdie senior editor Lindsey Metrus loves this at-home laser hair removal device—and for good reason. The FDA-approved tool uses powerful diode laser technology, which is the same technology used by dermatologists, to safely and effectively get rid of hair on the face and body. While many at-home laser hair removal devices need to be plugged in, this one operates via an internal battery, so that you can use it comfortably from any room. The device works on fair to light brown skin and light brown to black hair.
Many at-home laser hair removal devices come with a hefty price tag, but this one is a good choice for a fraction of the price. It features a range of energy levels from one to five so you can customize your treatment. Plus, the LCD screen tells you how many flashes are left in the device (it comes powered with 300,000 flashes total). It’s suitable for use on legs, arms, underarms, back, butt, and bikini.
This at-home laser hair removal device is designed especially for fair skin tones with dark blonde, brown, and black hair. It’s safe for use in a variety of areas, including legs, underarms, bikini, stomach, arms, and even your delicate facial skin. It comes with special attachments so you can effectively target different areas and is safe and gentle enough to use on sensitive skin.
While experts stress that those with dark and very dark skin tones will need to visit a professional for laser services, this FDA-cleared device is safe and effective for use on medium-dark skin tones (level V on the Fitzpatrick scale). It’s loaded with 300,000 flashes and comes with a precision head to target hair on the bikini, underarms, or face.
The underarms are another popular area to use a laser device on—and this is a solid choice for just that. The FDA-cleared device comes with two treatment caps, one for face and one for body, making targeted hair removal easy. It’s also gentle enough to be used on cheeks, sideburns, and the upper lip area.
Removing hair on your face requires special care—especially if you’re using an at-home laser hair removal device. This option from Tria is ideal for treating that tricky upper lip area because it has an ergonomic head that can be used on hard-to-reach areas. The 15-minute battery life makes this device perfect for quick touchups.
Who says you can’t get smoother skin on the go? This travel-size at-home laser hair removal device is super compact you can throw it in your bag and use it on the go. It’s a great option for those small, hard-to-reach areas: think, your upper lip and bikini line. There’s even a built-in safety sensor, so you can be sure you’ll be irritation-free every time you pick up the device.
Say sayonara to leg hair for good with this at-home laser hair removal device engineered for larger areas. You can expect results on dark blonde, brown, dark brown, and black hair in just eight minutes per session. The device has a range of energy levels for customization as well as a screen that tells you how many flashes are left in the device.
Have sensitive skin and not sure if at-home laser hair removal is right for you? Consider this FDA-cleared device, which works fast yet gently to zap hairs at the root. With five power settings, you can choose a less intense setting to tailor your treatment and make it work for you. There’s an even an app to remind you of your next at-home appointment.
Beyond FDA approval, look for an at-home laser hair removal device that offers multiple energy settings so you can customize and tailor your treatments, says Holmes. “Another feature to look out for is the number of light pulses,” she adds. “Most laser devices will run out of pulses after a certain amount of uses, so always check the label.”
Holmes adds that this is one product you don’t want to cheap out on. “If you want to see results, you will need to spend some money,” she says.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Laser Hair Removal?
Not everyone is a candidate for laser hair removal—whether done professionally or at home. At-home laser hair removal devices work best on those with dark, coarse hair, says Hayag. “These devices work by targeting pigment,” says Hayag. “Light energy, which is the kind of energy emitted by lasers, is absorbed by dark objects and reflected by light-colored objects.” The darker the hair, which has more melanin, the greater absorption of energy into the hair follicle, and the better the results, she explains. Blonde and white hair won’t respond to laser hair removal treatment.
Skin color is another consideration. “Lighter skin won’t compete for the laser energy that is delivered to the hair follicle, and thus there is less competition for this light energy on the skin and less chance of side effects,” says Hayag. If you have darker skin and would like to try laser hair removal, you’ll likely have the best results by visiting a professional.
Other Things to Consider
Before you go ahead and use an at-home laser device, there are a few precautions you should take, according to Hayag and Holmes:
- Read all instructions before use—and be aware of potential side effects. This will ensure you’re familiar with the device and get the best results possible. Note that at-home laser hair removal devices may cause side effects like burning, crusting, redness, and hyperpigmentation. Do a test first and wait 24 hours to see how your skin reacts before proceeding to use an at-home device on a larger area.
- Make sure your hair is short. Lasers aren’t effective on longer hair—and doing a treatment on longer hair can actually lead to burning—so keep hair short.
- Avoid tweezing and waxing six weeks prior to treatment. “If the hair is removed by tweezing or waxing, there will not be a target because the hair in the follicle is gone,” says Hayag. “Instead, you can shave or use a depilatory cream to remove the hair from the surface prior to using your hair removal device.”
- Skip deodorant, makeup, and lotion prior to treatment. All of these can interfere with the efficacy of an at-home laser hair removal device.
- Don’t tan. When it comes to laser hair removal, the lighter the skin, the better the results. Sun exposure prior to treatment can also lead to burning and skin damage, so experts recommend avoiding the sun for two weeks prior to treatment.
- Follow a good after-care protocol. “It’s important to treat skin with moisturizer after using an at-home laser hair removal device,” says Hayag. “This helps hydrate and repair the skin barrier.
- Use your device every four to six weeks. “All laser hair removal services stick to a schedule of four to six weeks between each treatment,” says Holmes. “The reasoning behind this is due to the length of the hair growth cycle.”
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 email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.