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Unwanted hair on the body and face can be a source of shame and embarrassment for many of us. Certain “taboo” areas for women, such as chin, upper lip, and breast hair can be particularly disruptive to self-esteem, due to current beauty standards.
For those of us who have spent loads of time and money going to beauty salons for hair removal sessions, the idea of a home hair removal system may sound too good to be true. So is it?
Salon hair removal can take as long as a year, with treatments spaced up to one and a half months apart, and can cost a fortune. Then there is the awkwardness of baring your most intimate places, which can be off-putting.
As some women can attest, these time consuming and costly treatments don’t always work. On top of that, when they do work, they need a touch-up, about once a year.
For a fraction of the price, you can purchase your own hair removal system for use at home. You save yourself time, money, and avoid potential embarrassment.
Read Related Article: Best Home Laser Hair Removal
So how well do they work? Here all the facts you want to know about home laser hair removal.
How Does It Work?
To keep things simple, we will explain it this way, lasers work on the principle of selective photothermolysis (SPTL). That means the laser targets an area based on pigment.
This is due to the fact that dark objects, like dark hair, have the capacity to absorb laser energy. Light objects, like light pigmented skin, naturally reflect laser energy.
For hair removal, the ideal situation is fair skin and dark hair. The wavelength of the light singles out the dark pigment in the hair, and the light goes into the follicle, killing it at the root.
The selective nature of the process means that the laser energy targets only the hair and not the skin, thus protecting the skin from potential damage.
Lasers vs IPLs
First, let’s talk about lasers. Only a portion of the devices sold as laser hair removal systems are true lasers.
Many are known as IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light. This is a light based, not laser based, treatment. This method utilizes xenon flash lamps that emit full spectrum light.
While laser devices emit one single focused wavelength to maximize follicle absorption, IPL covers larger patches of hair. IPL is like using a strong light bulb and is usually cheaper than laser treatments.
IPL emits a wavelength into the skin and targets the pigment in the hair. The light is absorbed and kills the hair follicle at the root.
For IPL to be effective, the hair needs to be present in the hair follicle. However, if the hair is too long the skin can get burned.
Prior to laser and IPL hair removal treatments, it is recommended to shave, but not too close to the skin.
Some current IPL systems have proven to be more successful in the removal of hair than many lasers.
Skin Pigment: Does it Work on All Skin Colors?
As mentioned earlier the ideal conditions for laser hair removal is light skin and dark hair. This is because dark objects are attractive to laser energy. Light or white skin reflects light.
Melanin occurs naturally in the skin and gives skin and hair their color. The darker the skin pigmentation with dark hair, the less effective the laser treatment.
The laser will not discern between the skin and hair. It is more likely that the skin will be burned due to absorbing too much laser.
However, certain lasers have been shown to work on dark hair on dark skin, with some success.
Only hair colors such as black, brown, or reddish-brown hair or dirty blonde respond effectively to laser treatments. White hair, light blonde, and strawberry blonde hair do not.
Home Kits vs Salon Treatments
Laser hair removal has become popular because of its speed and efficacy. Although some of the efficacy is dependent upon the skill and experience of the laser operator, and the choice and availability of different laser technologies used for the procedure.
Some will need touch-up treatments, especially in large areas, after the initial set of approximately three to eight treatments.
Is it Safe?
Laser hair removal systems have been approved by the FDA, or the US Food and Drug Administration.
They are classified as “permanent” hair removal systems. However, some people do experience regrowth in the years following treatment.
Since these systems have been used since 1997, there is still evidence to be gathered in terms of their long term safety.
Are There Side Effects?
The most prevalent side effects of laser hair removal are short term skin sensitivity and irritation. It is recommended to wait before sun exposure, as well as before applying deodorant and other chemicals to the skin, after receiving treatment.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Compare with Other Methods?
Laser hair removal is quicker and less painful than electrolysis. Electrolysis can leave unsightly and embarrassing bruising on the skin.
Shaving is an easy fix for hair removal. It is commonly known to stimulate more hair growth, as well as unpleasant stubble.
Razor burn and other irritation can be both painful and unattractive. Another side effect is ingrown hairs in the pubic area.
Waxing can be painful. It a short term hair control method that must be repeated. While it does longer lasting than shaving, it is not permanent.
Home Laser Hair Removal kits are a great long term solution for hair removal. New technologies make these treatments nearly painless, and very effective if you are a good candidate, with light skin and dark hair.
Home kits require an initial investment, but overall can save you a lot of money when compared to long term hair removal such as waxing, and salon laser treatments. It is quick, safe, and provides long term results.