If you’re sick of shaving, waxing, and using those smelly depilatories, it might be time to try an at-home IPL laser hair removal device, which zaps away at the hair follicles – that makes unwanted body hair be a thing of the past. These devices have been on the market for a few years now. I may be a beauty editor, but I will cut any corner to avoid shaving my legs in winter. I hate it! That’s why I was so excited to get my hands on the Carlany Hair Removal IPL ($139.99; Carlany.com)-a handset device that promises to zap away your unwanted hair for good and do it just as well as an in-office treatment.
Here’s how it works: Lasers use pulsed light to target hair, which then converts to heat and breaks down the dark pigment in the hair follicle. Zap the same pigment over and over, and it’ll damage it enough to prevent future growth.
If you’re looking for a more permanent solution for unwanted body hair, then IPL at-home hair removal could be a really good solution for you. After testing it out myself, I’ve rounded up 20 things you should know before giving it a try.
20 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. An At-Home Laser Hair Removal Device Will Save You Money
I buy clothing from my roommates’ closets and consider Chipotle a gourmet restaurant-so I know a thing or two about nickel-and-diming. Most devices do have a one-time cost of about $400, but the in-office option can clock in at $150 per visit-and most people need between five to eight sessions for effective results. And waxing the recommended once per month can cost up to $500 a year; razors and shaving cream add up to thousands of dollars over our lives. (See where I’m going with this?)
2. Lasers are Specific to Skin and Hair Color
Important disclaimer: You should only use an at-home laser hair removal device if you have light or medium skin with dark hair. If your complexion is even slightly deeper than medium, the pulsed light won’t be able to distinguish the dark hair from your dark skin. On the flip side, lasers can’t pinpoint blonde hairs either, making Reese Witherspoon, for example, a poor candidate. (These 5 Better-for-You Beauty Treatments aren’t color-specific.)
3. If you want results, you have to be consistent.
Yep, it’s not a magical device that you use once and then forget about it. In fact, I admit that not long after I published the aforementioned video, I kinda thought to myself, OK, job done. Well, no, it wasn’t. Because your hair follicles are on their own individual growth cycles, you have to continue ‘zapping’ (this is what I call the process, thanks to the flash of light which kind of ‘zaps’ your leg when you use the Lumea at home) every four weeks in order to maximize the potential of targeting the most follicles.
I used the smaller Lumea device for around 6 months before letting it slide, and although my body hair is far more sparse than before, it’s still there. So this time around, I’ve made myself a promise that I’m going to stick it out.
4. You’ll see permanent results from month three.
This does NOT mean you will be hair free after three months. This is what I originally thought. After the first few treatments, the impatient ones amongst us may be disappointed as you may not see much of a difference, but after the three-month mark, you will start to notice that a lot of your body hair is not growing back. My legs felt smoother and I could go far longer without shaving my underarms, and over time it just kept on getting better.
5. Treatment Won’t Necessarily Be Fast
As I said, you’ll need anywhere between five to eight sessions to let the hair fall out naturally after each growth cycle. You can treat the area as little as once every two weeks. (Further proof that good things don’t always come quickly. Sigh.)
6. Spoiler Alert – it doesn’t actually work by Magic!
Although it certainly seems that way. But scientifically what is actually happening is that the laser light pulses from the Lumea convert to heat which stimulates the hair root, triggering it to go into the resting phase. The hair then falls out naturally and regrowth is slowed, and then totally prevented after a few uses.
7. Some hair and skin types are a little more tricky to treat.
Darker hair follicles are the easiest to treat, because the laser targets the hair’s pigment, while grey, blonde and red pigments can be tricky, as can darker skin tones. However the Philips Lumea has five settings and clear instructions on which set to pick for each skin and hair type, and they also have a handy chart here which you can use to decide if the Lumea is right for you.
8. Autumn/Winter is the best time to start.
Because you have to be free of a tan, natural, or fake when you use laser hair removal. The device works best when the contrast between your darker hair and lighter skin is greatest, and while the Carlany IPL is designed to work on darker skin tones too, it’s always safest to wait. So while I am still zapping my underarms at the moment, I’ll be starting on my legs again in Autumn.
9. My favourite thing
You can shave between IPL sessions! Not just can, in fact, you must. The best thing to do is shave the day before you get zapping, or the morning of, so that you’re silky smooth ahead of the session.
10 Different skin types experience different levels of pain (or lack of).
Personally, thankfully, I feel no pain. I have fair skin and fairly light brown hair and I’d describe the sensation as a warm zap, but in no way painful or ‘uncomfortable’ as they like to say! Some friends that have also tried the treatment, who have much thicker darker hair than I do, describe it as an electric rubber band snapping you, but still not painful. With the Lumea’s 5 settings, you can adjust the strength to where you feel comfortable.
11. Avoid plucking and waxing after your treatment.
Shaving is your new favorite hair removal method, anything else pulls hair from the follicle and hinders the IPL process, which you don’t want.
12. Lather yourself in suncream after you zap.
You should always always always be using SPF, but especially after you treat an area with IPL, it will sensitive, so take extra precaution with sun protection. Or do what I do, and wear jeans.
13. Avoid perfumes, deodorants, and hot showers.
Just for the first 24 hours after your treatment, again due to the sensitivity of the skin. I usually zap before going to bed and use a more natural deodorant the next day (I know, not strictly 24 hours later).
14. It Hurts Really Badly
Mid-armpit zap, you’ll likely be cursing your parents for your hairy genes, too. It just feels a little like someone with tiny, claw-like nails is pinching you…over and over again. But here’s the reason to suck it up: higher intensity levels (the Tria device has up to 5 settings) yield much quicker results. So instead of it taking eight sessions to reach hair-free status, you could be done in half that. Plus, your skin adjusts to the sensation-after a few zaps, you’ll be used to it.
15. Different Body Parts Hurt More Than Others
Bony areas (such as your shins or ankles, for example) will hurt a lot more than spots with a little more cushion to them (like your calf). That’s because skin closest to the bone is thinner, but it doesn’t mean that hair is more difficult to treat.
16. You Shouldn’t Laser Your Lady Bits at Home
Sounds obvious, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t read the directions three times to try and find a reason why it wouldn’t be so bad to do. (Note: I didn’t find one.) The skin down yonder is extra-sensitive, so stick strictly to the bikini line-area.
17.You’re Supposed to Shave Before Zapping
Unlike waxing or shaving-where, you’ve got to either pull the hair out from the root or trim them-lasers work by targeting the hair follicle at the surface of the skin. When you shave, the follicle remains. On the other hand, you shouldn’t wax for at least a month before treatment, since a treatment typically removes the root of the hair (and the laser needs to be able to find that to effectively removing it).
18. Yes, it works.
After a few uses, most of the treated area will have a reduced amount of body hair, and if you stick with it, eventually all the hair will be gone. You can always top up if you notice a few stragglers coming through, but they’re pretty much unnoticeable. I can get away with going a month without shaving my legs, and this winter I’m going to be more strict with my routine, to hopefully banish them for good.
19. Laser Removal Is Not Always Permanent
You’ll likely need touch-ups every so often afterward. If you notice a stray leg hair growing a year after treatment, it means that either the follicle’s natural growth cycle wasn’t finished or the hair was too fine for the laser to target. Just zap the suckers that pop up every once in awhile, and you’ll be good to go.
20. Is it worth it? A million times YES!
And that’s coming from someone who has never really ‘struggled’ with body hair. It’s just so darn convenient! The underarms are the game-changer for me, but if you’ve got dark hair on your legs, then using the IPL Laser hair removal could be an actual life changer. Just imagine the FREEDOM from stubble and having to wear jeans on hot days because CBA to shave…. Yes, it is so, so worth it.
I really hope this post is useful if you’ve been thinking about purchasing an at-home IPL device, and I honestly truly recommend the Carlany IPL Laser hair removal as a device that works wonderfully and is safe and easy to use.