Does at-home laser hair removal work? Yes, but not as well as you might think. (2024)

With summer around the corner, the semi-creepy targeted advertisem*nts seem to be reading your mind. They appear to know just what you need.

That swimsuit is cute. Oh, I love those sunglasses. Maybe Baxter needs a doggie slip-and-slide. Hmmm – that at-home laser hair removal device looks pretty nifty. What if I never needed to shave again? I could save so much money with this.

At-home laser hair removal does work, however, like a lot of things on social media, the reality may be different than how it appears. To help you protect your body and your wallet, we help you determine fact from fiction.

Does at-home laser hair removal work?

First, it’s important to note that most at-home hair removal devices are not lasers. They are usually intense pulsed light devices or IPL for short. It works exactly like it sounds – intense light is pulsed to the hair follicle, which disrupts hair growth. While the mechanism of action is similar to laser hair removal, it is less powerful and takes more sessions to get the desired result.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, these IPL and other devices do work to remove unwanted hair, but it often takes many sessions, and the results are rarely permanent. IPL devices are generally safe, and they have been approved by the FDA for hair removal.

If you are considering at-home laser hair removal, you may want to talk to your physician beforehand for clear instructions (like avoiding your face and eyes) and to determine if it’s right for your skin or hair color. In an interview with The American Academy of Dermatology Association, Dr. Carolyn I. Jacob, MD, FAAD, an associate clinical instructor of dermatology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago explains that lasers that target blond, red, gray or white hair have not been developed yet, however, strides have been made so that those with darker skin types can successfully undergo the procedure.

An article published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology says that laser hair removal is available for skin types I through IV on the Fitzpatrick scale – this excludes those with darker skin types.

Want more facial hair?Here's what a dermatologist says you should know

How long does it take for at-home laser hair removal to work?

It depends on the person, but people generally see results within 6-10 treatments. As previously mentioned, the devices available for use at home are not as powerful as the devices you would find in a dermatology office, and therefore more treatments are usually needed.

Does laser hair removal hurt?Not when done properly. Here's what you need to know.

How much does an at-home laser cost?

Costs may vary from around $100 to over $1000. If an at-home laser works for you, it may be worth the investment, as it would be significantly cheaper to use at home than to continuously get treatments at the doctor’s office. However, for best results, you would have to use the device fairly often, which may make it not all that different from shaving.

Does at-home laser hair removal work? Yes, but not as well as you might think. (2024)

FAQs

Does at-home laser hair removal work? Yes, but not as well as you might think.? ›

According to the Cleveland Clinic, these IPL and other devices do work to remove unwanted hair, but it often takes many sessions, and the results are rarely permanent.

Is at home laser hair removal as effective? ›

Lasers that can be used at home for hair removal are available. These devices might cause modest hair reduction. But there are no large studies comparing how effective these devices are compared with laser hair removal done at a doctor's office.

Why is my at home laser hair removal not working? ›

One of the top reasons why Laser hair removal doesn't work boils down to hormones. Yes, believe it or not hormonal conditions can lead to ineffective hair removal. Our hormones encourage hair growth with the most common one being testosterone.

How do I know if at home laser hair removal is working? ›

Not only you'll notice that you have to shave less, the growth time of new hair will take longer than before. Eventually you go from shaving daily to shaving weekly, then less and less.

Why didn't I feel anything during laser hair removal? ›

Treatment cannot be completely painless

If you have dark, strong hair, the pricking will be stronger, and if your hair is weak, so will be the pricking. If you don't feel anything during the treatment, it means your hair is too light or the laser is not working well, so there will be no effects.

Can you overuse at home laser hair removal? ›

We know you're SO excited to experience permanent hair removal, but we do not recommend using your device more than twice per week. Using IPL every day may result in irritation – and it won't work as well, anyway!

How can I make laser hair removal more effective at home? ›

Expert Tips for At-Home Laser Hair Removal
  1. Consider Your Skin Tone & Hair Color. Lighter skin with dark hair performs best for laser hair removal. ...
  2. Don't Forget a Patch Test. As a best practice, Dr. ...
  3. Never Pluck or Wax. ...
  4. Start With Clean Skin. ...
  5. Take Your Time. ...
  6. Prepare for Some Discomfort. ...
  7. Maintenance Is Key. ...
  8. Avoid These Areas.
Aug 18, 2020

Why am I still hairy after laser hair removal? ›

Patients may notice more hair 1 – 3 weeks after laser hair removal sessions as follicles in the growing cycle begin to shed. During this process, exfoliating the skin, once swelling and redness have dissipated, can help hairs shed faster, leaving skin feeling smoother.

Why has my laser hair removal not worked? ›

Your treatment time is being cut short

Proper treatment times are essential. If not enough time has been allocated to each one of your sessions this will result in large areas being left untreated. Laser hair removal treatments should not be rushed in any way. This will dramatically affect your results.

Why am I not seeing results from laser hair removal? ›

If you saw a less than stellar result on your last treatments it could have been due to not being in the hair growth stage in the cycle during time of procedure. Hormonal imbalance while undergoing laser treatments can stimulate increased hair regrowth.

How long does it take for hair to fall out after home laser? ›

Hairs begin to fall out in 5-14 days and may continue to do so for weeks. Hairs may be more rapidly removed by rubbing, scrubbing, or plucking (with no discomfort after 5 days) if one desires to speed up this part of the process.

Why am I not seeing results with IPL? ›

If you've been doing IPL for a long time but had long gaps in between treatments, that might make it so you don't see results as quickly. What to try: Consistency is how to make IPL more effective. Plan on consistently using IPL once or twice a week for a few weeks and see if that makes a difference in results.

How do I make sure laser hair removal is effective? ›

Scarso recommends using crystal hair erasers on dry skin. Product reviews suggest that using them on wet skin can be both irritating and ineffective. Apply light pressure. If you scour yourself with etched glass, it's probably not going to feel great.

Why do I still feel stubble after laser hair removal? ›

Up to a few weeks after treatment, your skin will develop stubble or blackheads as a part of the shedding process that happens from hairs that were partially grown at the time of the procedure. Exfoliation during this period aids the shedding and diminishes the blackhead or stubble appearance.

What does it mean if your hair doesn t fall out after laser? ›

It might be that not enough time has passed post-treatment for the hair to shed. Or it could mean that the laser wasn't able to effectively target the hair follicles because it wasn't in the right growth phase yet, so the laser couldn't treat it.

What area hurts the most for laser hair removal? ›

Where is the most painful place to get laser hair removal?
  • Bikini area and pubic region. Often cited as the most sensitive area, the bikini area and pubic region have a high concentration of nerve endings. ...
  • Back. Another area with heightened sensitivity is the back.

Are home laser hair removal as good as salon? ›

There are two kinds of hair removal tools you can use at home. One is a real laser, while the other uses short bursts of very bright light. Both types of devices remove hair, but neither is as strong as the tool you'd find at a dermatologist's office. On the one hand, less power means less responsibility.

How long does it take to see results from at home laser hair removal? ›

Once the hair starts to fall off, you won't have to worry about hair removal for a long time. Regardless, it can take three to six months for at-home laser hair removal results to show. So, it is important to keep calm and not get frustrated and forgo the treatment because you can't see results immediately.

How many sessions does it take to get laser hair removal at home? ›

This is the growing phase of the hair and the only phase that laser hair removal will work on. Only 20% of your body hair is in this phase at any given time. This is why you need to treat the hairs multiple times over a period of at least three months, or 5-6 treatments.

At what age is laser hair removal most effective? ›

However, it's recommended that patients are at least 18 years of age or older before beginning their first treatment. It's important a child goes through puberty before starting treatment, as additional hair may appear in between sessions and cause a setback or delay in treatment plans.

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