We love an at-home beauty treatment just as much as the next person — they're convenient, they save you money, and they get the job done without you having you leave your home. But there are some treatments, like laser hair removal, that you might be a little more sceptical about doing without a certified technician in the room. With salons and spas closed indefinitely, you might be wondering if it's a good idea to continue doing your laser treatments at home.
To find you the answer, we asked the pros for what to keep in mind before performing at-home laser hair removal.
Do Your Research
First things first, know that doing the treatment at home is not recommended by everyone. While New York-based dermatologist Kenneth Mark told us that he's not personally an advocate of "the at-home practice of medicine" — he recommends you either leave it alone or just shave — dermatologist Marie Hayag of Fifth Avenue Aesthetics has a different take.
"At-home laser hair devices are pretty safe and are great alternative to professional laser hair removal," she said. "Most devices don't actually use 'laser' but intense pulsed light, which is absorbed by pigment in the hair follicles. "The repeated heating of the hair follicles destroy them and thus decreases hair growth."
Even though these devices are generally safe to use at home, you should still be aware that they're designed to reduce hair growth — not permanently remove it. "The at-home devices use lower energy settings than the in-office treatments so it takes longer time to treat the area and more treatments are needed," Hayag said. "However, it is a great maintenance treatment for in-between professional laser hair removal and is a wonderful option for home use."
Consider Your Skin Tone
Lasers work because they're able to target hair follicles that contrast your skin colour, which is why it normally works best for people with fair skin and dark hair. Because of this, people with darker skin tones are advised to use devices with a specific wavelength that can actually tell the difference between the hair follicle and the skin pigment. The good news is that there are laser treatment centres that have devices with this sophistication, though you likely won't find this in at-home devices.
"I would not recommend using [these devices] if you have a darker skin tone or are tanned, as the pigment on the skin will compete for the pigment in the follicle — these devices are not that smart," Hayag said. "There is higher chance of side effects such as burning, blistering, scabbing, and hyperpigmentation."
Don't Use Just Any Device
If you do end up buying a laser device, Hayag recommends using the Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X ($449). "This device actually uses a low level diode laser," she said. "It is the first and only FDA approved device and super easy to use.
If All Else Fails, Consider Other Options
Depending on how long you've been receiving treatments, it wouldn't be the end of the world if you shaved right now, though that's not the only alternative. "Another option for hair removal besides using an at-home laser hair device is a depilatory cream," Hayag said. "Follow the directions carefully and use on a small area first."