The first thing we need to understand is how laser hair removal works. For at-home laser hair removal, a laser hair removal machine emits light energy in the form of pulsed light that is absorbed by the pigments in the hair follicles. The pigments, also called melanin, and the hair follicles themselves are both damaged by the heat of the light. This causes the hair follicles to slow future hair growth.
The type of laser used in the laser hair removal machine will determine if you can use it on your hair color or not. Laser hair removal machines that use IPL or intense pulse light are best used on dark hair and light skin. Red, blonde, and gray hair does not respond to IPL laser hair removal machines.
Permanent hair removal takes time when using an at-home laser hair removal machine. You will need to perform more than one laser treatment to significantly reduce unwanted hair. However, using an at-home laser hair removal machine is a highly effective hair removal procedure that produces longer-lasting results than plucking, waxing, or shaving.
Lasers have to be able to tell the difference between the skin and the hair. There needs to be a contrast in colors for the laser to effectively work. If you have darker skin tones, you will likely need to choose a laser hair removal machine that has strong wavelengths within the light energy. This is the only way the laser will be able to tell the difference between the skin and the hair.
The only hair removal method that is completely permanent is electrolysis. Electrolysis is a professional laser hair removal service that is performed by an electrologist. The electrologist inserts a thin wire into the hair follicle just underneath the surface of the skin.
Then, the electrologist sends an electrical current through the wire that goes into the hair follicle, destroying the hair root. Electrolysis is approved by the FDA as a safe and effective hair removal method.
Choosing the Best Type of Permanent Hair Removal
You shouldn’t purchase the first home laser hair removal device you come across, nor should you choose the first professional laser hair removal treatment you find. You will need to research different hair removal methods to decide which one is the best for you.
At-Home Laser Hair Removal
Let’s talk about home hair removal devices first.
You can remove body hair at home by using a laser hair removal machine. These devices can be purchased at Amazon and many of them are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
When choosing a laser hair removal machine, you will need to know what type of laser the machine uses. Most home laser hair removal devices use IPL technology. IPL, also known as intense pulsed light technology, uses a broad light range that has multiple wavelengths within the light. These wavelengths focus on both the skin and the hair, making sure that the hair follicle and the pigments of the hair become damaged to prevent regrowth.
IPL works best for lighter skin colors and for those who have dark hair. It doesn’t work well with blonde, red, or gray hair because the melanin in the hair doesn’t absorb the light energy so it doesn’t damage the hair follicle. For example, gray hair has a type of melanin called pheomelanin. Pheomelanin can’t absorb light energy, so IPL treatment is useless.
When using an IPL laser hair removal machine, you should focus on small areas of the body, like the bikini line, bikini area, underarms, and legs. These smaller areas respond well to the IPL treatment and permanent hair reduction can occur in as few as four treatments.
Electrolysis Hair Removal
Electrolysis hair removal has to be done by an electrologist. The electrologist will insert a thin wire into the hair follicle just below the surface of the skin. Once inserted, an electrical current will zap down the wire and go into the root of the hair. The electrical current damages the hair follicle, killing the existing hair and preventing new hair from growing.
Electrolysis should be chosen if you have an excess amount of unwanted hair growth in sensitive or problematic areas that you want to permanently remove.
The number of electrolysis treatments will depend on the area of the body that is being treated as well as the color of the hair. If you have darker skin or will be treating a large area of the body, you will likely need several sessions to achieve permanent hair reduction.
So, Are Laser Hair Removal Machines Safe?
Any time that heat, light energy, and lasers are used on the body, there can always be a chance of side effects. The good news is that these side effects are generally mild, minor, and temporary.
Changes in Skin Color
A common temporary side effect from using a laser hair removal machine is a change in skin color. One type of change in skin color is called hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is pigment changes that occur on the skin that results in areas of darker skin colors. There is also the risk of dark skin becoming lighter after using a laser hair removal machine. The skin color should return to normal after a few days.
Redness, Irritation, and Blistering
Heat and light energy can cause the skin around the hair follicles to become red, irritated, or blister. The skin can become tingly or swell for a few days following laser hair removal treatment. You can visit a dermatologist to treat the redness and irritation to get relief if the symptoms last for more than one day. The dermatologist can prescribe soothing creams that will help relieve the symptoms. Typically, the redness and irritation are gone within just a few hours of treatment.
You should always wear protective eye gear if you are using a laser hair removal machine on the upper lip and on the face. The wavelengths of the lasers can cause damage to the eyes if protective eyewear isn’t worn.
Are They Safe?
Yes. Overall, laser hair removal machines are safe. While you may have some minor discomfort during the laser hair removal treatment process (like tingling, pinching, or heat sensation), there is very little risk of any long-term health effects developing after using either an at-home laser hair removal device or a licensed practitioner to perform the skincare treatment.
After you have undergone a treatment, the skin around the treated areas can be tender, swollen, and red. This is normal and can be treated topically with creams or a cool bandage. The feeling is similar to that of a sunburn. It may not feel good for a day, but it’s tolerable and temporary.
You should not perform laser hair removal if you are pregnant. Hormones often cause a change in body hair that isn’t permanent, so you shouldn’t perform laser hair removal on these unwanted hairs during this time. They will often go away on their own. It’s safer to pluck or shave these areas while pregnant. If you decide to get laser hair removal treatment after delivering your baby, you should wait at least four weeks.
Laser hair removal machines are safe for those with all different skin types, including sensitive skin and darker skin tones. The amount of heat and light energy used in the machine is often adjusted within the machine itself so that no extra unnecessary heat is used.
If you choose to use an at-home laser hair removal machine, we recommend the Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser or the Silk’n Flash & Go Laser Hair Removal System. They are both clinically proven at-home laser hair removal machines that are safe and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.