Top 5 Best Home Laser Hair Removal Devices for Jan. 2017
Laser technology is moving into the home to help with permanent hair removal, but which device is best for your needs and should you put your trust in? GroomNStyle investigates.
You don’t have to be a scientist or a doctor (or, for that matter, Goldfinger or Dr. Evil) to appreciate the utility of lasers. From laser sights to laser pointers, from the operating suite to the military theater, the power of lasers has been harnessed to perform a myriad range of functions that even the scientists at Hughes Research Laboratory in California couldn’t have envisioned when they turned on the world’s first operational laser in 1960.
Laser Hair Removal – Growing Popularity
We’ll guarantee that they never expected the laser technology to be used for home hair removal. But do-it-yourself laser hair removal at home (LHR) has become the method of choice for many women (and men). There are drawbacks to using lasers for removing hair, including the facts that most machines don’t work well on dark skin or light hair, it’s a long-term process which requires some patience, and of course, it can be expensive. But there are several reasons for the growing popularity of LHR in recent years: treated areas stay hair-free for months or years, and it’s less painful than waxing or even a few bad razor cuts. (There is still some pain associated with the laser “zaps,” though, so it’s a good idea to start out by using numbing cream until you know whether it’s needed for future sessions.)
There are some who are scared by the word “laser” and would never dream of trying to use one at home. However, we think a laser (which isn’t dangerous at the power levels used in a home LHR machine) is a lot less scary than the prices that professionals charge for laser hair treatments – which can total thousands of dollars, while a good home machine costs only hundreds.
Don’t forget to check Must Know at the end of this article section before making any buying decision.
Laser Technology vs Intense Pulsed Light
First, though, one quick note. All of these machines, as well as many others we haven’t ranked, are referred to by vendors and in the industry as “home lasers.” However, only our #1 product actually uses laser technology. All of the others use similar but less-powerful light systems to remove hair; most use what’s called IPL (intense pulsed light).
How do you know a good laser hair removal device from a bad one? You check GroomNStyle’s list of the top 5 best at home hair removal lasers, of course.
1. Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X
There really wasn’t much question which laser hair removal product belonged at the top of our rankings. The Tria has been around longer than its competitors, it was the first LHR system approved by the FDA as safe and effective for home use, and it uses the same technology (laser diode) that pros use in the salons which charge big bucks for a full series of laser treatments.
Automatic Lock If Skin Tone Is Too Dark
GroomNStyle wouldn’t go as far as saying that any machine (of any type) is idiot-proof, but Tria does all it can to make sure this laser is used properly. We’ve already mentioned that most lasers won’t work on dark-toned skin; the 4X makes certain that it’s appropriate for your skin tone with a built-in skin sensor. If it’s safe for you, the machine beeps and unlocks. Otherwise, the Tria stays locked and you won’t be allowed to use it.
Easy to Use Digital Interface
Once you have the go-ahead (and have read the instructions to know what you’re doing), there’s a terrific digital user interface on the 4X which helps you select one of five strength settings (starting low is a good idea) and counts the number of laser pulses you’ve administered during the session (the instructions explain the proper number of pulses required for each area).
Cordless and Ergonomic
We like that the Tria machine operates cordlessly and is ergonomically designed to be maneuvered easily. The size of the laser head is more of a mixed bag; it’s small so it can be used to accurately target areas like the bikini line, but that also means it takes longer to work on larger areas like the leg. That actually didn’t bother us, since laser hair removal isn’t a quickie procedure like shaving. When it’s going to take a few months to do the number of treatments required to get rid of all stubborn hair, taking things gradually shouldn’t really be an issue.
Finite Number of Flashes – No Replacement Cartridge
One major difference between the 4X and most competitors is that there’s no cartridge to replace, meaning virtually no maintenance is required. However, that convenience comes with a price of sorts; once you’ve “used up” the laser flashes stored in the machine, it becomes a very expensive doorstop. With a capacity of 90,000 flashes the Tria should last at least a few years, but after that you’ll need to purchase a new unit. On the other hand, the average laser cartridge only provides about 1000-5000 flashes, so you’d have to buy as many as 90 cartridges for that machine (at around $25 each) to match the reserve of the 4X.
How Good Is the Hair Removal With the Tria 4X?
The one thing we haven’t mentioned yet are results, and this machine provides them. In the first few weeks there should be small signs that the treatments are working; in 2-3 months the areas that have been treated will be much less dense than they used to be as hair re-growth is lessened and the hair that does re-grow is lighter; after that the treated follicles should stop growing new hair completely, only requiring touchups from that point forward.
Quite simply, the 4X does exactly what it’s supposed to do, effectively removing hair for the long term at a price way below the cost of professional treatments and better than the competition – probably because this machine really does use laser light rather than IPL technology.
Specifications of the Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X:
2. Remington iLIGHT Pro Plus Quartz Hair Removal System
IPL rather than Laser Technology
This product uses the IPL system, rather than an actual laser, to remove hair. It ranks #2 on our list of the top 5 best at home lasers because it outperforms most IPL devices, thanks to the use of quartz light rather than flashes from an ordinary glass bulb. The Remington operates in a fashion similar to the Tria; you give each target area the designated number of flashes, and over a period of time all of the hair follicles are disabled so hair doesn’t grow back. That period of time, however, is longer than with the Tria because IPL pulses simply aren’t as strong as those from a laser.
Larger Area but Less Accuracy
The light-emitting head on the iLIGHT Pro Plus Quartz is larger than the head on the Tria 4X, meaning the light reaches an area more than twice as large which makes it possible to work faster. The downside is that it’s trickier to use this unit to treat small areas like the bikini line with pinpoint accuracy. As with most laser systems, this one is not meant for dark skin or light hair, and there’s a skin tone sensor similar to one on the 4X. The manufacturer also specifies that it should only be used below the neck. It’s easy to hold and use this unit, because it’s shaped much like a computer mouse and fits nicely in the hand.
Good for 30,000 Flashes
A real positive when comparing the Remington to other IPL devices (including the lower-level Remington, the iLIGHT Pro Plus without the quartz bulb) is that its cartridge is built to deliver 30,000 flashes, good for at least a year’s worth of treatments, before it needs to be replaced at a cost of $75-$100. However, the iLIGHT is also more expensive than most IPL machines. There is one argument for choosing the Remington over the Tria: the treatments are less painful. But that’s simply because the skin is being hit with light flashes that aren’t as powerful as the ones produced by the Tria’s laser.
You’ll see good results from this FDA approved at-home “laser” when used properly – you’ll just have to wait longer to see them than if you had used the Tria or gone to a salon for professional treatments.
Looking at the details of the Remington iLIGHT Pro Plus Quartz Hair Removal System:
3. Philips Lumea Comfort IPL Hair Removal System
Approximately 200,000 Flashes at a Reasonable Price
If the price tags of our first two choices are a little steep for your tastes, the GroomNStyle Team suggest taking a look at this Philips Lumea IPL unit. Priced at around $200, it’s meant to last a very long time; the bulb cartridge can’t be changed, but the company claims it provides a whopping 200,000 flashes before the machine needs to be replaced. (Others have estimated the number to be closer to 100,000 flashes, but that’s still a lot.)
Glide/Slide & Flash
One nice feature of this hair remover is a “slide and flash” mode, which lets you glide the unit over your skin, flashing as it goes, rather than having to deal with each patch of skin individually. There’s also a “stamp mode” meant to be used on smaller areas like the bikini line and the face. As with our first two choices, there are five intensity modes and a skin sensor on the Lumea Comfort because it isn’t meant for dark skin or light hair.
The downside and upside are the same as with other IPL machines. It will take longer to see results than with the Tria laser because the light pulses aren’t as powerful, but that means the treatments aren’t quite as painful.
A nice machine at a nice price – but sooner or later, it will have to be thrown away since you can’t buy replacement cartridges.
Facts and figures for the Philips Lumea Comfort IPL Hair Removal System:
4. Silk’n Flash & Go Hair Removal Device Original
Please also read section 4.1 as there are newer models that no longer require replacement cartridges.
Corded IPL Device for Lighter Skin
Another IPL system (they call it HPL for “home pulsed light”) which is the least-expensive of the “laser” hair removal devices on our list, this product from Silk’n is shaped like a police radar gun and has defined the medium-range hair removal market for quite a while. The Flash&Go is similar to the IPL units we’ve already discussed: it’s corded, it’s FDA approved, and it has a skin sensor because it’s not appropriate for use on dark skin.
5,000 Flashes with Replacement Cartridge
The standard bulb on the Silk’n machine is good for 5,000 flashes after which the bulb cartridge must be replaced, and the machine is OK for use on the face – although it has a head that’s on the large side, so your results working on small areas may not measure up to the performance of the Tria or Lumea. As with all quality IPL units, you’ll see good results but they’ll take longer to occur than with the Tria because of the less powerful IPL light flashes.
Cartridge Replacement Options
This Silk’n model sells for around $160 and 1000 flash replacement cartridges are around $30 apiece, although the company does offer a Long Life Upgrade cartridge with 120,000 flashes for $85. There’s also a Silk’n “Luxx” model similar to the Flash&Go unit which costs $210 and gives you 120,000 flashes standard. If you plan to be a heavy user, either of those options would probably make sense for you.
Going in-depth on the Silk’n Flash&Go Hair Removal Device:
4.1 Silk’n Compact & Express Models
The compact version provides 150,000 light pulses.
The Advanced version has a wopping 300,000 light pulses.
5. Tanda Me My Elos Syneron Touch Hair Removal System
ELOS Technology For Darker Skin
OK, those of you with dark skin have been very patient, so we have a “laser” hair removal just for you. The Me My Elos uses a slightly different FDA-approved technology called ELOS, which is similar to IPL but “color blind.”
Just about everything else about the Tanda is similar to the IPL at home lasers we’ve discussed, so we won’t go into great detail. It can be used on the face as well as the lower body, has a large head for covering good-sized patches of skin, and comes with a quartz cartridge delivering 126,000 flashes.
Unfortunately, as with most products which have the market cornered (in this case, the dark skin market), the cost is high: about $450. When you consider the number of flashes included, though, it’s not a terrible deal and it’s a good system for an IPL model.
The specs for the Tanda Me My Elos Syneron Touch Hair Removal System:
Things You Need to Know Before You Go Shopping for Your Laser Hair Removal Device
There are a lot of factors that go into determining which system is the best for you, and these are but some of the vast number of systems that are available in stores and online. Each of these systems offer benefits for the consumer, and the system that you purchase will depend on your specific needs. Based on the objective facts, and taking the majority of the population into consideration, the best laser home hair removal system is the Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X, with its ease of use and low operating costs. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get the look that you want, but you can’t assume that you can spend next to nothing for your perfect look either.
- Skin Tone: Though there has been some technological advancements that made laser hair removal systems viable for darker skin tones, if you have olive colored skin or darker, you need to find a system that is FDA rated for your skin tone. Fair skinned women can use just about any system out of the box with no problem. Talk to your dermatologist to get some help determining whether or not a home hair removal system is suitable for your skin type.
- Hair Color: Blondes might have more fun, but when it comes to laser home hair removal, blondes have a tough time. The lasers have a hard time picking up the light pigmentation of blonde, white or red hair, and so the systems are not as effective with those hair colors. On the other hand, if your hair is brown or black, you should see fantastic results with most laser removal systems.
- Price: The upfront price of a home system might seem shocking at first, but when you compare it to several trips to the doctor for treatments, you actually come out ahead. Be sure to invest in a quality system, otherwise you do run the risk of skin damage and ineffective removal. A good starting point is around $300 for a mid-range kit.
- Ongoing Costs: Finally, there are several systems on the market that have a low initial setup price, but they prove to be more costly to operate in the long-run because they require replacement cartridges every few months. Depending on how often you plan to use the machine and how expensive the replacement cartridges are, you might be better off paying a little bit more upfront for a cartridge free kit.