We've all seen the commercials, heard a friend mention it, typed laser hair removal at home” or DIY laser hair removal on our Google search engine and seen the infinite results. Though the question remains, do these laser hair removal kits really work? There are many machines out there for sale, each being marketed as the best, the stand out, the only one that really works, unfortunately there's a lot of information that the companies marketing these machines don't fully explain or even want you to know.
First and foremost, these companies are marketing these devices as laser hair removal, when in actual fact they are an IPL technology. IPL is not a laser hair removal it is and intense pulse light. Recent studies have found that IPL is not as effective in achieving permanent hair reduction as laser hair removal is. The following is why:
- Laser hair removal has a specific wavelength of 755nm the ideal wavelength for destroying the hair follicle. It is an incredibly special type of light and is the brightest most powerful light to date. IPL does not have a specific wavelength, the wavelength ranges from 500 nm to 1200nm deeming it not as effective in the reduction of hair growth.
- Laser hair removal is Monochromatic - this means nearly 100% of laser hair removal light is ONE pure colour. IPL is Non-Monochromatic -meaning that IPL has many different colours and only a small percentage of these colours are effective in the treatment of hair reduction.
- Collimated, laser hair removal is slow to spread out. This is what makes laser hair removal so powerful and effective in treating hair as nearly 100% of the light can be harnessed to remove hair. IPL is Non-Collimated and therefore is quick to spread out making it less effective in the treatment of hair reduction.
- Laser hair removal is Coherent this means that the light is reinforcing in the way that it does not cancel itself out. IPL on the other hand is Non-Coherent meaning it is reinforcing and likely to cancel itself out making it less effective in the treatment of hair reduction.
So now that we've clarified that these kits are not in fact laser hair removal, already deeming them less effective, let's see how they measure up to professional IPL technology.
A professional IPL hair removal machine works by applying a controlled pulse of energy to the hair and the follicle, damaging and weakening the follicle to prevent it growing in the future.
When considering results there's more to consider than just price.
A professional IPL treatment like a professional laser hair removal treatment is personalised. Your skin type and colour, body chemistry, medical background, hair colour and density are taken into account. It is quick and takes about 10 minutes to complete the underarms or the face. Treatments are scheduled based on the hair growth cycle. In order to weaken the hair follicle the hair must be in the anagen phase of growth. The better models of professional IPL machines will also include a cooling feature.
As the majority of people using these devices are not trained professionals, to release a home device that is as powerful as a professional IPL machine would be negligent not to mention impossible as the potential for damage would be phenomenal. This means that these units simply lack the necessary power required to achieve true results. The lower output means that most of these devices don't do anything or even worse just burn the hair and sometimes a small patch of skin, without reaching the follicle. The hair simply grows back after a couple of days or the growth is slowed minimally.
When the makers of these at home devices release them to the public their main marketing tactic is the comparison of pricing and the savings, surprise surprise, always favour the likes of the at-home kits.
Now that we know that these kits are not designed with true results in mind the savings comparison is simply unjust. It would however be fair if the exact permanent reduction in hair was achieved. What is actually being compared is the cost of a treatment that offers very minimal results if any at all versus a treatment that has scientifically been proven to achieve results.
Last but definitely not least it is worthwhile to note that permanent hair reduction whether using laser hair removal or IPL is a medical grade treatment. It is for this reason that I would always recommend that you do your research and undergo professional advice where a thorough consultation is given explaining all the details, pre and post care and any potential risks.
Before I sign off, for personal market and industry research, I did in fact trial the 2 most popular at home IPL devices Boots Smooth Skin Plus and E-One. As I am a fully qualified Laser hair removal and IPL therapist I have had amazing results with laser hair removal treatments and am virtually hair free I have tested the devices on a willing client. The below are my findings
Once plugged in you apply the enclosed activator gel to the area being treated and you're ready to go. It does not require you to select a setting as the little handheld device is meant to read your skin to give you the correct setting. When the handpiece is positioned correctly on the skin a light comes on, this is the signal to hit the trigger button. The light is bright and no protective goggles are included which all professional therapists will tell you is a massive no no, instead it is advised to look the other way. My client noted that the sensation was one of intense heat which lasted for a few seconds. Right away I noticed that the hair was not responding the way they would in a professional treatment, most of the hair seemed to not have been affected by the pulses. Though I chose to give the device the benefit of the doubt and completed the treatment on her right leg.
The treatment takes almost twice as long as a professional laser hair removal treatment and that's with me preforming the treatment. I unplugged the device and gave it to my client to see if she could easily reach around to treat the back of her leg, hello and behold she found it quite difficult and uncomfortable so god only knows how long it would have taken her to complete the treatment herself. Post treatment the client advised that her leg felt warm which is normal and her skin was only just red once again normal. Aloe Vera was applied.
The E-One is not as compact as the Boots smooth skin plus though the handheld device has a wider laser hair removal beam the advantage here is that it is much easier to manuover the device and treatment should be quicker. Once again I have the consent of the same client though this time I will be treating her left leg. The E-One I'm glad to see comes with protective goggles. It enables you to select the heat intensity, skin type, hair thickness and gender. In addition to the goggles they have included activating gel, a white makeup pencil to mark the area, and fluid to clean the laser hair removal. For an untrained professional this can all seem a little daunting, this is evident by my client's facial expression.
There are five levels of intensity and once again I am glad to see that the instructions advise starting at level one and working your way up once no reaction has been identified. Starting at level one my client feels nothing and the hair does not respond, I wait awhile and turn it up to the next level, again nothing I repeat this process until I've reached level 4, at this point my client states that she can feel a little head, some of the hair is responding but most are not. As stated the treatment was quicker using the E-One.
It is worth mentioning that the client in question has also had professional laser hair removal treatment on her underarms, Brazilian and face and has had phenomenal results after only 3 treatments.
As my client walks into the room I can already tell she's not happy with the results. After six weeks both legs look as though they have not been treated, there's still plenty of hair and the hair has not grown back finer as with professional laser hair removal. Upon closer inspection I do fine the occasional bald spot on the left leg (E-One).
I discuss the last 6 weeks with my client, how she felt, any reactions, did the hair fall out etc. Though there were no adverse reactions she advises me that the majority of hair did not fall out and growth was visible after 2.5 weeks which tells me the pulse did not reach the follicle. Asking my client if she'd like to try again she shakes her head and reply's and I quote “No that's ok thanks I don't wanna waste any more time hit me with your laser hair removal that way I know I'll be hair free before summer”