Dealing with unwanted hair is rarely a fun task. Waxing is painful, using epilators often even more so and shaving is only effective in the first couple of hours. It’s an unending nightmare that just gets more challenging the more you do it. That’s precisely why laser hair removal became such a big trend.
However, should you go the DIY route here? In the matter of at home laser hair removal vs professional, what is the better option for you? Let’s make a thorough comparison and help you find the answer.
At Home Laser Hair Removal vs Professional – how do they work ?
While laser hair removal initially had to be performed solely by trained professionals, you now have access to laser hair removal machines that allow you to eliminate unwanted hair from the comfort of your own home.
At home vs professional laser hair removal share some similarities, but they rely on different technologies.
In salons, your dermatologist uses a powerful diode laser that emits a single, concentrated light beam. The light beam travels through your skin, targeting the pigment in your hair (since darker colors absorb light while lighter ones refract it). As the energy from the light reaches the hair follicle, it converts into heat, which then damages the follicle and forces it into a resting phase.
On the other hand, home devices rarely use laser technology for hair removal. Instead, they use Intense Pulsed Light(IPL). It produces a broad spectrum of visible light, which consists of different wavelengths. Not every wavelength will penetrate deep enough into the skin to reach the hair follicle, meaning that some follicles may be left unaffected after the treatment.
Since home devices are less powerful, you will need to have more repeat treatments. Still, you will enjoy comparable results and silky smooth skin whichever option you choose to go for.
Laser Hair Removal at Home vs Salon – what results to expect?
Neither at home nor professional laser hair removal offer immediate results. With both, you will need to undergo several hair removal sessions to get the desired hair free outcome.
Most dermatologists recommend going in for anywhere between six and eight sessions of professional treatment at six week intervals. After the first session, you should see up to 25% hair reduction and every subsequent treatment should deliver increasingly better results. Ultimately, this means that your hair removal process can last as long as nine months. So, be ready to commit!
As mentioned, at home laser hair removal will require more sessions. The number varies between devices but expect anywhere up to 12 treatments at a weekly or bi-weekly intervals for the best results. Once your skin becomes smooth, you might have to do minor top ups every other month.
Depending on the device, your skin, hair color and hair thickness, you can achieve results that last months, if not years.
Professional Laser Hair Removal vs At Home – will they hurt?
Whether it is professional or at home laser hair removal, the sensation of laser feels like a rubber band snap against the skin.
Since the lasers used at salons are much more powerful, they are often more uncomfortable. If you are sensitive to heat or have low pain tolerance, you might not have a great time, but the sensation is completely tolerable. Most dermatologists will do a small patch test to see how you react. If it is too painful for you, they might apply topical pain relievers or cooling packs to make you more comfortable.
At home laser hair removal devices often have adjustable intensity. If hair removal hurts, you can lower the intensity and try again. Keep in mind that you will feel some heat and sense the scent of burning hair, but you will rarely feel any actual pain when using adjustable devices.
At Home Laser Hair Removal vs Professional – tips, tricks and safety advice
When it comes to at home laser hair removal vs professional, you need to be aware of some of the side effects you may encounter:
- Increased sensitivity
- Discoloration of the skin
More severe side effects like blistering and infections occur when the configuration of the device is not suitable for your skin. That is why it is CRITICAL to always do a patch test and take note of your reaction. Your dermatologist will take care of it in professional settings, but you will need to keep this in mind when using laser hair removal at home.
Whichever route you go for, when doing a laser hair removal, you will also want to pay attention to the following:
- Avoid contact with the eyes
- Avoid sun exposure after laser hair removal
- Avoid artificial self tanning before and after laser hair removal
- Use SPF (even during the colder months) after the treatment
- Don’t apply laser hair removal treatment over darker skin (moles, birthmarks, warts)
- Don’t use laser over injured skin
- Don’t use laser over tattoos
Always make sure that you read and follow the instructions included in the packaging of your home device and/or pay attention to the instructions provided by your dermatologist.
Professional vs at home laser hair removal – what are the costs?
When comparing at home laser hair removal vs professional treatments, most people make a decision based on price. The hair removal processes are relatively similar, the results are comparable, so the price is the determining factor.
Neither solution is cheap.
The cost of professional treatments will vary based on your location. In the US, a single session can go from $285 up to $1,500! Considering that you will need at least six sessions, the price stacks up.
On the other hand, you can find sophisticated at home ipl devices for well under $500. They are effective, durable and reliable. Most importantly, they require just a one time investment.
When it comes to at home laser hair removal vs professional treatments, there is no clear winner. Both hair removal solutions offer permanent results and both will keep you hair free for months on end.
Going to a salon will require the least effort on your part, but you will need to make quite an investment. On the other hand, using at home laser hair removal devices will keep your wallet happy, but you will have to do the treatment yourself.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. As long as you are responsible and pay attention to all the instructions, you will be content with the results you get, whether you choose at home or professional treatments.