Nov 16, 2022
Smooth, hair-free skin that doesn’t need constant tending sounds like a dream. While plenty of ways to remove pesky body hair (plenty of people opt for sugaring wax or face razors for hard-to-reach places to get the job done), very few do the job effectively while also offering long-lasting results. But the best at home laser hair removal products help get rid of unwanted hair for extended periods of time—some even claim for good (though the jury is still out on that).
While performing laser hair removal at home can work, it’s important to note that you’ll get the best (and safest!) results by seeking a dermatologist to perform an in-office treatment.“Home laser hair reduction treatments appear to take longer to work than in-office laser hair removal treatments, meaning that more treatments over a longer period would be required for a home treatment,” explains Oma Agbai, M.D. , board-certified dermatologist, health sciences associate clinical professor of dermatology and director of multicultural dermatology and hair loss disorders at the University of California, Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California.
If you plan to try this at home, experts recommend chatting with a board-certified dermatologist who can help guide you through the process of at-home laser hair removal, as well as assess any adverse effects—especially if you have a history of skin cancer.
Meet the experts: Oma Agbai, M.D. , board-certified dermatologist and Marisa Garshick, M.D., F.A.A.D. , board-certified dermatologist in NYC.
It’s also important to note that many at-home machines don’t use lasers at all, Marisa Garshick, M.D., F.A.A.D. , board-certified dermatologist in NYC, says. “Different technologies may be found in at-home devices,” she explains. “IPL—also known as intense pulsed light—is a light-based therapy that emits multiple wavelengths of light. It is using heat to destroy the hair follicles and many of the at-home devices utilize this technology,” she explains.
Our top picks
Where can it be used per the brand?
body, bikini line, Brazilian, underarms, legs, and face
What’s the difference between laser and IPL?
“Different technologies may be found in at-home devices,” explains Dr. Garshick. “IPL—also known as intense-pulsed light—is a light based therapy that emits multiple wavelengths of light. It is using heat to destroy the hair follicles and many of the at-home devices utilize this technology, and these devices can also be used for photorejuvenation.”
Meanwhile, she says other devices may use laser technology, often diode lasers, “which use a single wavelength of light, to target the pigment of the hair follicle and is selectively absorbed by the pigment of the hair follicle and minimizes injury to the surrounding skin,” she says.
Are at home laser hair removal treatments worth it?
It depends on a few factors, including your skin tone. “One major limitation is that knowledge on efficacy in darker skin types with dark hair is very limited,” Dr. Agbai says. Other things to consider is if you’re looking to remove hair once and for all and if you don’t mind some trial, error, and the feel of laser or IPL.
It’s also important to note that laser hair removal results vary and the outcomes are hard to predict, per the Mayo Clinic , so what might work for you might not for someone else.
Are at-home laser hair removal treatments safe?
“In general, some lasers may be considered safe for all skin types, while it is best to avoid IPL in darker skin types given the IPL has an increased risk of injury to the surrounding skin as well,” Dr. Garshick explains. “Both types of devices rely on the same target, which is the pigment of the hair follicle to have an effect, but the diode laser is generally more targeted than the IPL and as a result a safer option for all skin types.”
At the end of the day, if you’re concerned it’s best to consult a professional. “If you are interested in a home hair reduction device, go over the instructions with a board-certified dermatologist to make sure you are using the device safely and in a manner that will increase your chances to get hair reduction and reduce the risk of side effects,” Dr. Agbai says.
How to choose the best at home laser hair removal treatment
While experts recommend making an appointment with a professional for an in-office laser hair removal treatment, there are some at-home options worth considering. That being said, here’s what to keep in mind before you go shopping:
Safety. Has the device been tested on various skin tones? Has it been approved by the Federal Drug Association (FDA)? If this information is not readily accessible, it’s best to consult your dermatologist before purchasing.
Technology. At-home laser treatments differ from IPL, but we often use them interchangeably. With different technology comes different efficacy, and this is important to keep in mind. While both IPL and laser aim to remove hair, the way in which they do, and how long it takes to see results, differs.
Cost. At the end of the day, it’s worth comparing an at-home laser hair removal device to an in-office treatment. Depending on where you live and the professional you go to, if you need to buy multiple devices to find one that works best for you, you might end up paying just as much as you would for an in-office treatment.
Are there any side effects to at home laser treatments?
Yes, and they vary. “Side effects have been reported to be uncommon, and have been reported as redness, bumpiness of the skin, burns, and discoloration,” Dr. Agbai says. “Damage to the eye can occur with direct exposure of the laser light to the eye.”
How we chose
We spoke with Oma Agbai, M.D. , a board-certified dermatologist, health sciences associate clinical professor of dermatology and director of multicultural dermatology and hair loss disorders at the University of California, Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California and Marisa Garshick, M.D., F.A.A.D. , board-certified dermatologist in NYC. The Best IPL Hair Removal Device for Bikini Area, the Best IPL Hair Remover Device for Face, and the Best Value IPL Hair Removal Device selects were recommended by the Good Housekeeping Institute .
Why trust us
For more than 70 years, Prevention has been a leading provider of trustworthy health information, empowering readers with practical strategies to improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Our editors interview medical experts to help guide our health-focused product selections. Additionally, Prevention also examines hundreds of reviews—and often conducts personal testing done by our staff—to help you make informed decisions.
Emily Goldman Emily Goldman is the senior editor at Prevention.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below