Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Best home laser hair removal for black skin electrolysis vs

Laser hair removal is a popular, effective treatment for removing unwanted body hair. It’s safe, fast, and effective—but there are some things you should know before you get started.

We’ll walk you through the ins and outs of laser hair removal in this article, so you can make informed decisions about your treatment.

Best home laser hair removal for black skin electrolysis vs

Black people have a hard time finding effective hair removal.

Luckily, there are two options that are great for black skin: electrolysis and laser hair removal.

Let’s start with electrolysis.

Electrolysis is a process where an electrical current is applied to your hair follicle to destroy it. It’s actually been around since 1875—so it’s not exactly experimental! But it does require more than one session to achieve permanent results, which makes it more expensive than other methods of hair removal.

Laser hair removal is newer on the scene, but it’s also more expensive than electrolysis. In fact, it was only recently approved by the FDA for use on the face and neck of anyone with dark skin tones (or anyone at all if they’re less than 30% white).

Laser hair removal is a popular and effective treatment for getting rid of unwanted hair, but it’s not right for everyone.

There are some conditions that make laser hair removal less effective, or even impossible. If you have dark skin, then you may be more likely to fall into this category.

We’ll go over the pros and cons of laser hair removal for people with dark skin, as well as the alternative treatments that work better for them.

Laser hair removal is one of the most popular beauty treatments. It’s safe, effective and can be done in a matter of minutes.

It’s also becoming more popular with black skinned people, who have been traditionally overlooked when it comes to laser hair removal.

One reason for this is because of the risk of hyperpigmentation – a darkening of the skin that occurs when melanin production increases after injury or trauma.

However, there are home laser hair removal systems that are specifically designed for people with darker skin tones and they can be used on the face or other parts of the body where unwanted hair growth occurs.

In this article we’ll look at what you need to know about home laser hair removal systems for black skin and how to find one that works best for you.

Laser hair removal works by delivering a laser beam through the skin and into the pigment-containing hair follicle. The laser light causes the target cell to heat up, destroying it without damaging surrounding cells.

The primary benefit of laser hair removal is that it can be used to permanently reduce or remove unwanted hair from almost any part of your body. The procedure works best for people with dark skin because it targets the melanin in your hair follicles, which makes them easier to see through your skin (1).

Laser hair removal works best on coarse, dark hairs that grow in different directions (2). Some areas of your body such as the upper lip and chin are ideal for this treatment because these areas have sufficient amounts of dark hairs that grow in different directions (3).

17 At-Home Laser Hair Removal Devices That Work, According to Experts
You’ve got time and hair, we’ve got dermatologist-vetted suggestions.

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woman after using laser hair removal devices for hairless legs
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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How does laser hair removal work?
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Julia Marzovilla
By Julia Marzovilla
Published March 31, 2022
After experiencing the many pitfalls of shaving (ingrown hairs,(opens in new tab) redness, irritation, and speedy re-growth), we’re contemplating alternative hair removal methods(opens in new tab) this season. Since professional laser hair removal isn’t the most budget-friendly option (initial sessions can cost upwards of $600), we’re looking at the next best thing: at-home laser hair removal gadgets.

We need to reassert, before we go any further, that body hair is a completely natural, normal thing, and you should absolutely not feel compelled to remove it if you don’t want to—it’s a personal choice. (If you’re a body hair, don’t care kind of person, more power to you!) But if you’re into the idea of laser hair removal, want to save some money, but are a little freaked about the idea of doing it at home, we’ve got you covered.

New York-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD explains: “Lasers work by emitting a beam of light that is absorbed by a specific target in the skin. In this case, the light is absorbed by pigment in the hair follicle to heat it up and destroy it, so the hair does not grow back.”

Dr. Zeicher considers at-home lasers a safe alternative to in-office treatments. “At-home devices work similarly to professional treatments, but use lower energy levels. They are more time-consuming to use, but can help. They are also a great option to maintain improvements between professional treatments.” (As an interesting FYI, Dr. Zeichner adds that, “Each treatment causes some degree of damage to the hair follicle resulting in thinner hair, and it often takes multiple treatments to completely remove hair. For this reason, the term laser hair removal is a bit of misnomer, and it should probably be called laser hair reduction.”)

Dr. Gretchen W. Frieling, a Boston-based triple-board-certified dermatopathologist, says that you should actually shave a day ahead of when you plan to use your laser hair removal device. Similarly, she recommends staying clear of self-tanners and spray tans at least two weeks before, too. Finally, she says it’s important to “avoid potentially irritating products such as retinoids, retinal, or retinoic acids” prior to your treatment, as well as “brightening ingredients and acidic cleansers.”

Dr. Anahita Mansouri, a cosmetic doctor at Kat & Co Aesthetics in the UK, says to avoid exercising (or sweating, for that matter) for up to two days. Both sweating and heat can cause “irritation on freshly treated skin after a session is completed,” she says.

Dr. Anahita Mansouri, a cosmetic doctor at Kat & Co Aesthetics in the UK, says to avoid exercising (or sweating, for that matter) for up to two days. Both sweating and heat can cause “irritation on freshly treated skin after a session is completed,” she says.

It’s also important to stay out of the sun for two weeks. To be extra careful, Mansouri says to wear loose-fitting clothing, and keep your skin cool. Furthermore, you should “avoid topicals, including makeup, except for aloe vera gel or calming and soothing creams,” to allow your skin to heal correctly.

Along with Dr. Zeichner, Dr. Frieling, and Dr. Mansouri, we chatted with Howard Sobel, M.D., NYC dermatologist and founder of Sobel Skin; Rosemarie Ingleton, M.D., dermatologist and medical director of Ingleton Dermatology; and Rachel Nazarian, M.D., dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group, to tell us the best laser hair removal devices that really, truly work.


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Silk’n Flash&Go Express, IPL Laser Hair Removal System
This FDA-approved device is a compact-sized tool that packs a powerful punch when it comes to removing hair—fast. It glides over your skin accompanied by its 150,000 pulses per minute. Holding it down to target one hairy spot is super-easy. “This new compact version uses light-based technology, which is FDA-cleared for permanent hair reduction for the entire face and body,” Dr. Sobel explains. “I like that it features a new high-tech applicator that allows you to properly target and zone in on smaller area such as the upper lip, arms, or bikini area.” To see long-lasting results, employ this device every other week for two months. “This device is ideal if you have dark hair and can be used both on the face and on the body,” Dr. Zeichner adds.

at Amazon
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Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X
Just short of $450, the Tria 4X will cost you a pretty penny—but seeing that it’s the first and only FDA-approved laser for at-home use, it’s become a favorite among derms and patients for legit, professional-level results. “I’m a fan of this device because it has high energy levels and it’s super easy-to-use,” says Nazarian. Dr. Zeichner is a fan of the Tria. “This can be used both on dark and light hair, although it will not work on white hair,” Zeichner explains. “It is a true laser as opposed to other devices that use a broad spectrum of light.” Dr. Sobel suggests trying the Tria laser as well. “The technology safely delivers over three times more hair-eliminating energy than other at-home hair removal devices, making it the most powerful at-home hair removal device,” Dr. Sobel explains.

at Amazon

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MiSMON Hair Removal Device
Here, loyal readers, is an editor’s pick that wouldn’t be right not to include. Honesty moment: I’m really hairy and I’ve tried a lot of “hair removal” tactics that have failed me tremendously. This shiny rose gold device, on the other hand, did not and is worth giving a glowing review. First off, it’s inexpensive compared to its counterparts. Secondly, thanks to the LCD screen you’re able to monitor the number of flashes on the skin so you’ll never go overboard, which is best for a beginner like me.

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Braun Silk Expert Pro3 Permanent Hair Removal System
As a high school graduation present, my mother gifted me with laser hair removal. It wasn’t exactly your average gift, but my father gave me his Cuban hair genes, and, well—you know where this story is going. So I set off on my hair-free mission, and quickly became addicted. So it’s only fitting that my mother gifted me this tool for my college graduation so I could come full circle in my journey to become stubble-free. The Braun Silk Expert System uses intense pulsed light (IPL) that quickly treats my legs in under 10 minutes. It’s also equipped with over 300,000 flashes, equalling out to around 16 years of treatments. Needless to say, I’m hooked.

at Amazon

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Sensica SensiLight Pro Bronze
Dr. Gretchen W. Frieling recommends the Sensica device. “I love this!” she says. “It has an automatic and manual mode and is best for on-the-go hair removal. It comes with two different heads for large and small areas. The charge will last for approximately 600 flashes.”

$413 at Dermstore

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Ellesilk Laser Hair Removal Device
For a quarter of the price of other devices, you’ll get the very same IPL technology, but less bells and whistles. (No countdown clock telling you how many pulses are left, no cordless option.) But if the reviews are any indication, it works just as effectively, especially on small areas like your forearms or upper lip.

at Amazon

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Silk’n Infinity
“The Silk’n Infinity also uses IPL light, but unlike the Remington, it’s safe for all skin colors,” says Dr. Ingleton. The petite, circular design allows for easy, all-over treatments, and it’s also equipped with five energy-level settings for a genuinely customizable experience. If the steep price tag turns you off, Dr. Ingleton adds that the Silk’n Infinity’s lifespan makes it worth the investment to her. “It stores 400,000 pulses before it dies, so it’s going to last significantly longer than most devices,” she explains. Zeichner is also a proponent of this device. “This laser emits a broad spectrum of light, rather than a single wavelength. The technology, known as intense pulsed light, can be used across a variety of skin types, even those with an olive complexion.”

at Amazon
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Imene IPL Laser Hair Remover
Because laser hair removal is elective, sometimes brands and derms alike downplay the discomfort associated with zapping your skin with high frequency light. This device comes equipped with an ice compress plate that cools the skin, reducing redness, swelling and inflammation as you go. The light is strong and effective enough for 500,000 flashes, which is said to be enough to remove unwanted hair head-to-toe on nine to 11 individuals. Translations: Your bikini line doesn’t stand a chance. And neither do your BFFs.

at Amazon
at Amazon

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Tria Beauty Hair Removal
This handheld device has a pointed applicator to reduce hair in harder-to-get-to areas. “Because of its small size, this device is a good option to treat areas of the skin that have contours, like the upper lip,” Dr. Zeichner confirms. Dr. Sobel agrees: “This is a great option for smaller areas on the face or neck since it uses diode technology, which is similar to in-office technology for laser hair removal. Most other home devices typically use IPL technology, which does not always target the hair follicle as specifically as the diode wavelength.” So if there’s one spot bugging you, employ this guy.

at Amazon

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mē Sleek Permanent Hair Reduction Device
Not only is this the only device of its caliber that’s FDA approved for every hair color and skin tone, but its midrange size means it can as readily flash away hairs on your upper lip as on your partner’s back and thighs. Use once a week for seven weeks, and expect smoother skin for way longer than a razor can offer.

$269 at Amazon

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SmoothSkin Pure IPL Hair Removal Device
While not technically a laser hair removal device (IPL uses a different type of light), this sleek unit makes use of a broader range of light wavelengths to cover larger stretches of skin more quickly. Plus, it has unlimited flashes. The downside? Hair does back grow a bit more quickly, so you’ll have to be more diligent with touch-ups. It’s also, unfortunately, not safe for dark skin tones.

$379 at Best Buy

Lukelady Home Ice-Sense IPL Laser Hair Removal Green
There are a few handy features in this emerald stunner. First: A cooling plate automatically kicks in when temperatures on the skin’s surface climb uncomfortably high. Also, some find the handle easier to maneuver in hard-to-reach places like the backs of thighs or deep bikini zones. But most impressively, this device won’t kick on unless it’s in contact with your skin, meaning no unseemly (and damaging) flashes to your eyes.

$400 at Currentbody

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​Iluminage Touch Permanent Hair Reduction System
The Illuminage Touch offers high-power IPL technology, 120,000 pulses, and the ability to target blonde and red hair follicles, making it a force to be reckoned with. For ultimate results, this gadget should be used only once a week for six to seven weeks. “Consistency is important—you will only see results if you continue to use these products regularly and as directed,” says Dr. Nazarian. “Even though progress is slow, you will see results.” Zeichner adds that this device uses intense pulse light to treat unwanted hair across a variety of skin types and hair color. On that note, make sure to read the instructions thoroughly on whichever device you choose. Every device is a little different, but if you follow the directions, you’ll quickly get hooked on your smooth-as-hell skin.

$449 at Nordstrom

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JOVS Venus Pro
A common theme among the various laser hair removals is that the head of the device is so small that it sometimes can take extra time for a removal session. Currentbody knows a thing or two about innovative beauty tools—they sell the iconic and game-changing NuFace—and its reputation alone should tell you what you need to know, but this device speaks for itself. The big selling point: The 180-degrees rotating head that’s detachable! No matter where you’re looking to treat (face, arms, legs, bikini lines, etc), there’s an attachment that can work specifically for those. Oh, and the LED power also helps with skin rejuvenation to help with wrinkles.

$340.00 at

Kenzzi IPL Laser Hair Removal Handset
This lesser-known device caught our eye thanks to the five power settings, which means you can adjust based on your skin tone, the color of your hair, and let’s be real: your pain tolerance levels. As with all these devices, compliance is key, so do follow the manual instructions and expect results within five weeks of diligent usage.

$299 at Kenzzi

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Braun Silk-Expert Pro 5 IPL Hair Removal System
The latest edition of Braun’s best-selling and dermatologist-endorsed IPL hair-removal system, this smaller, lighter device is outfitted with a skin sensor that actually recognizes your skin tone and adjusts the flash intensity as you use it. It also promises that both of your legs will be done in under five minutes, so say hello to smooth legs in a pinch.

at Amazon
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DEESS Permanent Hair Removal System
This fast-acting device from DEESS has built-in ice-cool technology, which means that the hair-removal experience just got a little less painful. Since it cools skin as it works, you don’t have to worry about inflammation after you’re done with the process.

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Julia Marzovilla
Julia Marzovilla (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
E-Commerce Writer
Julia Marzovilla is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire covering all things fashion, beauty, and entertainment. Offline, she’s most likely browsing the web for another pair of black boots or listening to music too loudly—often at the same time.

With contributions from
Bianca Rodriguez Editor

9 At-Home Laser Hair Removal Devices That Actually Work

9 At-Home Laser Hair Removal Devices That Actually Work
They’re all FDA cleared.
By Rebecca Carhart

and Emily Cieslak Published on March 28, 2022
We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Laser Hair Removal
While there are many hair removal methods today, most of them are far from perfect. From ingrown hairs to razor burn, the pains of shaving and waxing have made many turn to laser hair removal, which promises a permanent reduction in hair growth.

Getting laser hair removal done professionally can be quite costly, but there are several at-home devices that are more affordable and still effective for zapping off hair. The thought of lasering your face or body may sound scary, so we talked to dermatologists to get the scoop on everything you need to know about at-home laser hair removal devices. When researching devices for this list, we looked for models with FDA clearance, proper safety features, and customer seals of approval.

Ready to say goodbye to unwanted hair? Below, discover the best at-home laser hair removal devices to shop now.

Prime Day Deals:

Silk’n Infinity, our pick for coarse hair, is 26 percent off on Amazon.

Best Overall: SmoothSkin Pure Fit
Best Splurge: Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X
Best for Body: Braun Silk Expert Pro3 Permanent Hair Removal System
Best for Coarse Hair: Silk’n Infinity
Best for Dark Skin: Iluminage TOUCH Permanent Hair Reduction System
Best for the Face: Tria Precision Hair Removal Laser
Fastest Option: SmoothSkin Bare +
Best for Bikini Line: BoSidin-Pioneer Permanent Hair Removal Device
Best Cordless: Sensica Pro Permanent Cordless Hair Removal Device
Our Picks
Best Overall: SmoothSkin Pure Fit
SmoothSkin Pure Fit
View at Amazon ($379)
What We Love: You can customize the energy, comfort level, and speed.
What We Don’t Love: There’s a bit of a learning curve with all the different settings.

SmoothSkin has been in the laser hair removal game for more than 30 years, so it’s no surprise its FDA-cleared Pure Fit device is one of the best all around. Not only does it go up to 10 energy settings, but it also has three different comfort modes (power, speed, and gentle) and two operating settings (stamp and glide) so you can customize the experience for different parts of your body. The precision head lets you tackle trickier areas like the bikini line, upper lip, and even the fingers and toes. It has a built in skin sensor that selects the right intensity for your skin tone as well as prevents accidental activation. The brand recommends using it once a week for 12 weeks, after which you can use it once every one to two months to maintain the results.

Type: IPL | Flashes: Unlimited | Warranty: 2 years

Best Splurge: Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X
Hair Removal for Women and Men Permanent Painless Laser
View at Amazon ($499)
What We Love: It uses salon-style technology at FDA-cleared levels.
What We Don’t Love: The small laser makes covering large areas tedious.

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner recommends this Tria Hair Removal Laser because “it uses diode technology, which is the same that is used in the office. The energy, however, is lower so it can safely be used at home.” The FDA-cleared device has a smaller laser cap that targets hair follicles more precisely and uses less intense light emissions as it goes up to five levels, so it won’t bother your eyes. It also has a clever sensor that lights up green if you have the right skin tone to use the device safely; otherwise it won’t unlock when you put it over your skin. With a 60 day return policy, you can try it out risk-free.

Type: Laser | Flashes: Unlimited | Warranty: 1 year

Best for Body: Braun Silk Expert Pro3 Permanent Hair Removal System
Braun Silk Expert Pro 3 PL3111 IPL Permanent Hair Removal System
View at Amazon ($220-$250)
What We Love: You can easily switch from using this laser on small to large areas.
What We Don’t Love: It can burn darker skin tones.

The Braun Silk Expert System uses intense pulsed light (IPL) that has been clinically tested to be a safe and efficient at-home hair removal treatment. Not only does the FDA-cleared device work quickly (you can treat both legs in just nine minutes), but it also comes equipped with over 300,000 flashes, which equals out to an average of 16 years worth of treatments. The precision head lets you zap smaller areas like your bikini line or armpits with ease. For extra safety, the SensoAdapt™ sensor continuously reads your skin tone and adapts the intensity of the flashes. The kit also comes with a Venus razor to use to shave beforehand, so you have one less thing to worry about.

Type: IPL | Flashes: 300,000 | Warranty: N/A

Related: The Best Hair Removal Creams

Best for Coarse Hair: Silk’n Infinity
Hair Removal for Women and Men Permanent Painless Laser
View at Amazon ($399)
What We Love: It uses special technology to better target coarse hair.
What We Don’t Love: The light sensor can be a little finicky.

If you are trying to remove coarse hair, this device uses galvanic energy to open your pores, allowing the light to treat thick, stubborn hairs right at their root even more effectively. With its quartz bulb, it reloads faster, allowing for more pulses in a shorter amount of time. According to the brand, after eight treatments, you should see a 92 percent reduction in hair growth, and some shoppers say they saw amazing results in even less time. The FDA-cleared device has a built in skin sensor to prevent using unsafe levels, however, some customers say it won’t flash just because it didn’t get a good read of the skin. We also love how this device comes with an app that lets you keep track of your treatments and reminds you when it’s time for the next one.

Type: IPL | Flashes: Unlimited | Warranty: 1 year

Best for Dark Skin: Iluminage TOUCH Permanent Hair Reduction System
Iluminage TOUCH Permanent Hair Reduction System
View at Nordstrom ($499)
What We Love: This device is FDA-cleared on all skin tones.
What We Don’t Love: You need to buy replacement cartridges once the flashes run out.

If you have darker skin, it can be hard to find an at home laser device that won’t burn your skin. But Iluminage uses elos technology, a combination of IPL and radio frequency, to safely treat a wider range of skin tones and hair colors. The device is FDA-cleared and tested on all skin tones. It has three power levels and is medium sized, so it can cover both large and small areas easily. In a clinical study, participants found that 46 percent of hair was removed after just two treatments, according to the brand. Do note that the device only comes with 120,000 flashes, and you need to purchase replacement cartridges if you want more.

Type: EOS | Flashes: 120,000 | Warranty: 1 year

Best for Face: Tria Precision Hair Removal Laser
Hair Removal Device
View at Tria ($329)
What We Love: It’s easy to use this laser over small areas on the face.
What We Don’t Love: The battery only holds a 15 minute charge.

If you’re trying to target smaller or hard-to-reach areas, opt for this Tria Beauty device. It uses the same diode laser technology as the previous pick from the brand, but it comes in a more compact and lightweight design so you can easily target hairs on trickier areas, like the upper lip, chin, or along the bikini line. There are five energy levels to choose from, and you should start to see results after about eight uses, according to the brand. Do keep in mind that the battery only holds a 15 minute charge, so it’s best for zapping small areas quickly.

Type: Laser | Flashes: Unlimited | Warranty: 1 year

Fastest Option: SmoothSkin Bare +
SmoothSkin Bare +
View at Amazon ($215-$235)
What We Love: You can laser your entire body in just 10 minutes.
What We Don’t Love: You need to use it more frequently than others.

While it’s nice that today’s devices come with so many settings and features, sometimes you want a simple design that you can use quickly. Consider SmoothSkin’s Bare +, the pared down version of our Best Overall pick. You still get the brand’s strong, FDA-cleared IPL technology and safety skin sensor in a compact design that delivers 100 flashes per minute, meaning you can treat your entire body in about 10 minutes. Rather than having different power and comfort levels, it just comes with two modes: stamp and glide. It does require a little more consistency than the Pure Fit (treatment every 2-4 weeks for maintenance), but if you don’t mind consistent but short sessions, this is the device for you.

Type: IPL | Flashes: Unlimited | Warranty: 2 years

Best for Bikini Line: BoSidin Permanent Hair Removal Device
BoSidin Permanent Hair Removal Device
View at Amazon ($340)
What We Love: The head easily rotates to reach all areas of the bikini line.
What We Don’t Love: The buttons are so close together you may hit both by accident.

Anyone that has tried to shave their bikini line knows it’s no easy feat — it feels like you have to do gymnastics to reach all the nooks and crannies. With a head that rotates 180 degrees, this FDA-cleared device can get all the angles down there. The cooling setting is also great for treating sensitive areas and reducing any swelling or redness. The system uses the same optimal pulse technology which combines laser and IPL technology to achieve the perfect blend of energy level and wavelength. The sleek design feels good in the hands and looks as if you truly brought the salon to your home.

Type: OPT | Flashes: Unlimited | Warranty: None

Best Cordless: Sensica Pro Permanent Cordless Hair Removal Device
Sensica Pro Permanent Cordless Hair Removal Device
View at Amazon ($399)
What We Love: It’s rechargeable and cordless, so you can use it anywhere.
What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t come with sunglasses for the bright flashes.

Most hair removal devices require to be plugged in during use, so it’s nice to have a cordless option that you can use anywhere, regardless of where the outlet is. This FDA-cleared device comes with six power levels and two heads for both larger and smaller areas. It uses IPL and a skin tone sensor to set the optimum energy level for your skin. Though it has unlimited flashes, it carries about 600 flashes between charges. It also has an automatic and manual mode.

Type: IPL | Flashes: Unlimited | Warranty: 1 year

Related: The Best Razors

What to Keep in Mind
Treatment Area
The first factor to consider is what area you are trying to laser. Some devices are specifically made for larger surface areas, like your legs and arms, while others are made for small or curved areas, like your face and/or bikini line. If you plan to use the device all over your body, look for one that has interchangeable heads of different sizes and different modes. Automatic mode, or continuous flashes, makes it easy to target big areas quickly while manual mode offers more precision when treating smaller areas.

IPL vs. Laser
Most at-home devices actually use IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light, rather than the lasers used at the salons. IPL tends to be weaker and less targeted than lasers. “Because at-home IPL utilizes both weaker and non-targeted energy, it is generally not as effective,” says Dr. Mark McKenna, Chief Medical Officer and Founder of OVME Aesthetics. “That being said, at-home IPL may be a suitable option for those with sensitive skin or sparse hair growth.” Some brands like Tria make devices with lasers so you can harness their power at home.

Safety Features and Credentials
When it comes to choosing a device, Dr. Zeichner suggests sticking to “trusted companies who have ideally published results of clinical evaluations of the devices themselves.” Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman recommends selecting an option that has FDA clearance and good customer reviews. “Don’t look for a bargain or try to skimp on price because what you pay for is what you get. A more expensive device will give better results. You want one with enough power/energy and as close to an in-office laser hair removal machine as you can get,” says Dr. Jaliman.

Besides FDA clearance, you may want to look for at home devices with certain safety features. “Higher quality laser hair removal devices typically feature a skin tone sensor that unlocks the device for use when the skin tone in the treatment area is identified as a tone which is safely treatable,” says Dr. McKenna. “Skin contact sensors and pulse counters can also reduce user error to help keep treatments safe and consistent from one treatment to the next.”

It’s best to buy a device with different energy levels, so you can find the right intensity for your skin. Some devices also have a cooling feature that helps reduce pain and irritation.

Your Questions, Answered
How does laser hair removal work?
“Laser hair removal is a procedure in which a beam of light is used to destroy the root of the hair follicle to permanently prevent the hair from growing back,” says Dr. Zeichner. “The beam of light is selectively absorbed by the pigment cells within the hair follicle.”

While these treatments are much less painful than waxing, there can be some discomfort involved. “It feels like a snapping rubber band,” says Dr. Jaliman. “The more powerful the machine, the more discomfort you will feel. Some areas are more painful than others. However, it’s nothing you need painkillers for.” If you do feel irritation or pain, she suggests applying a cold pack to the area right after your treatment.

Is at-home laser hair removal safe?
“At-home laser hair removal devices are not as potent as in-office ones and you will not get the same results. [But] they are safe if used properly and instructions are followed,” says Dr. Jaliman. Like with any new skincare treatment, it’s recommended to patch-test a small area of skin and wait to see if any complications arise. “Don’t just start zapping your device when you take it out the box,” she adds. “This puts you at risk of injury or even burning yourself. Treat one area at a time and don’t over-treat the same area repeatedly!”

Keep in mind that laser hair removal doesn’t work the same for everyone. “In general, laser and IPL hair removal devices work best when there’s more contrast between the skin and the hair. The best candidates for energy-based hair removal are those with coarse or terminal dark brown or black hair and lighter skin tones,” says Dr. McKenna. “Blonde, gray, or red hair lacks enough melanin needed to attract the laser’s follicle destroying energy, as does hair which is ultra-fine (‘peach fuzz’). Similarly, dark skin with dark hair can lack the contrast needed to heat the hair and not the skin.”

Even though at home-devices tend to be weaker than salon models, Dr. McKenna says they can still cause irritation, hyperpigmentation, or even burns, especially in darker or deeply-pigmented skin. More brands are creating devices that can treat darker skin tones, though it’s always best to first double check with the specific device and start with the lowest power setting. You can also consult with a professional at a salon if you aren’t sure if lasers will work for your skin.

How do I use a laser?
Just like with other hair removal methods, you have to take certain steps before and after lasering to get the best results. “Do not wax or pluck the hair, as you need the root in place as a target for the laser,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Make sure that the skin is fully washed, removing any creams or cosmetics before using the laser.”

You need to shave all areas that will be lasered a day before treatment. You also want to avoid sun exposure, including using self tanners, two weeks prior to treatments as they can make your skin darker and burn. Acid-based cleansers, peel pads, and topical retinoids can also make your skin more sensitive and should be avoided in between treatments.

After treatment, your skin might be a little irritated and red, so it’s best to avoid tight clothes, hot water, and any strenuous exercise for the next couple of days. As the hair grows back, it may start to shed, which is a sign that the laser is working. You can gently exfoliate the area to speed up the shedding process.

Each device has different instructions on how often to use the laser, but it usually takes a few months of consistent use to see significant results.

Are the results permanent?
While many people use lasers with the hopes of never having to shave again, there’s no guarantee the treatment will remove all your hair, forever.

“Multiple factors such as hormonal changes, medications, the efficacy of the device, and whether or not the treatment regimen was consistent will affect results,” says Dr. McKenna. “Touch ups, spot treatments, and even ongoing treatments can be necessary with at-home devices. But for many women, it’s still better than the irritation and inconvenience of shaving, waxing, or tweezing.”

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