Home Laser Devices vs Professional Hair Removal – Which is Better?
When considering the various methods of hair removal it is tempting to opt for the lower cost, more convenient home treatments. However, when it comes to laser hair removal, is this a wise choice?
This article looks at the pros and cons of home laser devices and the results they achieve as compared with professional treatments, provided in a salon, by trained practitioners.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
Lasers work by sending a beam of light at a specified wavelength to target melanin, the dark pigment found in skin and hair. Melanin is found in high concentration around the hair follicle, at the base of the hair.
The light produces heat, which disables the follicle and causes the hair to fall out (between 1 – 2 weeks after treatment).
The aim is to disable the follicle sufficiently to prevent future re-growth of the hair, by matching a specific wavelength of light and pulse duration to maximise the effect on the target whilst minimizing the effect on the surrounding skin.
For this reason, laser hair removal has traditionally worked best for those with light skin and dark hair.
There is no doubt that there is a substantial cost difference between home laser hair removal and professional treatments.
Professional laser hair removal can be very expensive with costs ranging from $150 - $800+ per session depending on the size and density of the area being treated. Given that a full treatment programme is likely to be at least 6 - 8 sessions, it is easy to see that a substantial financial commitment is required.
In comparison the FDA approved home laser devices on the market, costing from $300 - $400+ represent a significant saving. However, many require replacement bulbs and these can range from $40 - £120+ depending on which device they are for and how many flashes they include, so it is worth bearing this in mind.
For either option - check that the laser device is FDA Approved.
If having professional treatment be sure to go to a reputable, qualified and experienced technician.
Home hair removal devices are only suitable for skin type I-IV on the Fitzpatrick scale (see below)
Hair Color (darkest)
White or very pale
Blue, grey, green
Always burns, never tans
Pale white with beige tint
Chestnut or dark blond
Always burns, sometimes tans
Beige to light brown (olive)
Sometimes burns, always tans
Light to moderate brown
Rarely Burns, always tans
Medium to Dark Brown
Rarely burns, tans more than average
Dark brown to black
Therefore, if you do not fit into these four categories, the only option is professional laser treatment or electrolysis. Even professionally, laser treatment for darker skin is limited to certain laser devices e.g. Nd:YAG so you will need to ensure that the laser being used has been FDA approved for your particular skin type.
It goes without saying that the convenience of being able to carry out the treatments at home, in your own time, as and when you feel like it has its attractions.
However, set against this you have to consider the discipline involved in carrying out the required number of sessions over a lengthy period of time to achieve the results that you desire.
In order to ensure safe use by untrained individuals, the home devices operate with much less intensity than those used by professionals. They therefore require more time to cover a smaller area. You will most likely have to be prepared to carry out treatments every 2 - 3 weeks over a period of several months to see results.
Conversely, fewer professional treatments will be required to achieve the same results and will likely be spread out at 4 - 6 week intervals. An average of 7 sessions are likely to be required although this could be more or less, depending on the area treated and hair density.
Laser hair removal is approved by the FDA as achieving permanent hair reduction, which should not be confused with permanent hair removal.
Therefore, with either professional or home laser hair removal there will almost certainly be regrowth, necessitating follow-up treatments.
As previously mentioned, home laser devices operate at a lower intensity than those used professionally. Therefore, their ability to disable the hair follicle sufficiently to inhibit hair regrowth is lessened.
The obvious outcome of this is that professional laser hair removal will give you better results in terms of length of time between follow-up treatments and density of hair regrowth. It is fair to say that with hair removal, as with most other things, you get what you pay for when comparing outcomes.
This is not to say though, that home hair laser devices are not effective, but rather that you will need to put in a substantial time investment to achieve anything like comparable results.
In summary, we have outlined below the respective pros and cons of both home use laser devices and professional laser hair treatments.
Home Use Laser Hair Removal Devices
- You regulate the pain
- May achieve noticeable hair reduction over time
- Cost of replacement parts
- Skin Type - only suitable up to IV on Fitzpatrick scale
- Use - may be complicated
- Discipline - number of regular sessions required
- Time consuming
- Results - less intense than professional treatments
Professional Laser Hair Removal
- Quick and efficient
- Carried out by qualified professional
- Can treat all skin types
- Can achieve permanent hair reduction
- Fewer treatments required
- Appointments required
- Higher intensity - can be more painful
In conclusion, both at home and professional laser hair removal treatments have merit and can achieve hair reduction
It is ultimately up to the individual to weigh up the various pros and cons of each treatment option when deciding the route to take.
Professional treatments will more than likely achieve quicker, better and more longer lasting results, whilst home treatments are more convenient, offer more flexibility and are less costly.