We have all been there- day after day we spend precious time shaving all different parts of our bodies only to have to do it all again the next day. At-home laser hair removal systems are a relatively new technology that brings home (literally) the convenience of laser hair removal at a fraction of the time and cost.
There are several benefits to laser hair removal in general, but being able to do it at home is an added bonus. It not only can save you time and money compared to shaving or waxing, but it also can help prevent damage to your skin. Our editors tried the Braun Silk-Expert 5 to see if at-home laser hair removal systems actually work and if it’s worth the up-front cost.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
There are two different types of laser hair removal systems- one you can do at-home with intense pulsating light (IPL) or one you can do with a professional in a spa or dermatologist office using a laser. With both systems, intense light targets the melanin of a hair follicle resulting in slower hair growth. Although it can slow hair growth significantly, laser hair removal is usually not permanent and you will have to have follow-up treatments either in an office or with your at-home laser hair removal device.
Laser hair removal tends to work best with those with darker hair and lighter skin. Since the laser is focused on the hair follicle, the contrast in skin color and hair color helps to absorb the light more easily and produce better results. Those with dark skin may cause damage to their skin when using laser hair removal, and those with lighter colored hair like blonde, red, and gray may not notice a significant difference.
Most people get laser hair removal treatments to reduce the amount of unwanted hair in places like their legs, bikini zone, armpits, upper lips, and chin. You can get laser hair removal on other parts of your body too except for the area surrounding the eye (so there is no lasering of your eyebrows- sorry, ladies).
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With both at-home laser hair removal systems and professional laser hair removal, there is a slight risk of both skin irritation and pigment changes in your skin. Your skin may be red, swollen, and slightly irritated immediately following a laser hair removal treatment but that discomfort usually dissipates in just a few hours. Skin pigment can change, especially for those who have darker skin but there may be a temporary change in color for all skin colors. Rarely does laser hair removal cause crusting or blistering of the skin.
Both at-home laser hair removal and professional laser hair removal requires a series of treatments. However many you need is dependent on your skin color and your hair color, but it is usually between 6 to 12 treatments. If you are visiting a professional for laser hair removal, they may have you come back in 4- to 8-week intervals for hair that grows quicker, or 12- to 16-week intervals for hair that grows slower.
Treatment is relatively painless for both a professional laser hair removal treatment and using an at-home laser hair removal system. The treatment is a series of laser pulses which cause a tiny pinch in the area of the laser. You will feel this pain more in areas with less fat, but it will barely be noticeable in areas with more fat. In professional settings, they might apply a topical anesthetic but it isn’t totally necessary.
What is the Difference Between an At-Home Laser Hair Removal System and Professional Laser Hair Removal
Although the basic idea behind laser hair removal is the same for both an at-home laser hair removal system and those used in a professional setting are the same, the technology is quite different. Namely, the type of light produced by professional laser treatment is much stronger than those in at-home laser hair removal systems (also known as IPL’s as in intense pulsed light).
Lasers used in professional laser hair removal are just one wavelength or color going in one single direction, like a laser pointer. At-home laser hair removal systems use light at different wavelengths, creating a white flash of light when being used. However, both mechanisms work with the same basic principle in mind- absorbing the melanin at the hair follicle and using heat and light energy to disrupt hair growth.
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The difference in the type of light used for laser hair removal in a professional setting versus an at-home system means that there are differences between the two types of treatment in terms of results, pain, treatment sessions, and safety.
- RESULTS– You may see longer-lasting results with professional laser hair removal treatment versus an at-home laser hair removal system because of the intensity of the laser and the more focused beam of light used to remove the hair.
- PAIN– Professional laser hair removal treatments are often categorized as more painful because they are using a more intense and specifically pointed light than an IPL.
- TREATMENT SESSIONS– Professional laser hair removal treatment sessions often take significantly longer. At-home laser hair removal systems, or IPL’s, using a broader range of light allowing you to treat larger areas at one time.
- SAFETY– Professional laser hair removal treatments use a much stronger laser, and the systems must be approved by the FDA for use in a medical professional setting. Estheticians must also be certified to use the system. However, IPL’s are not certified by the FDA which means the light being used is much weaker, but safer than those used in a professional setting.
Waxing or At-Home Laser Hair Removal?
Professional laser hair removal might not be in your budget, so many people opt for professional waxing instead. But compared to an at-home laser hair removal system, waxing is more expensive and less effective.
Professional waxing works by using hot wax that dries over the hair and then removing the wax in rapid movements, pulling the hair out with it. It is painful, and it often only produces results for about 2 to 3 weeks. After that, you will have to let the hair grow out for several days (or sometimes a week) to let it be long enough for the wax to be effective. This results in embarrassing hair growth in between appointments as well as the inconvenience of appointments and expensive treatments.
The Benefits of At-Home Laser Hair Removal
Although professional laser hair removal has its perks, one can’t deny that an at-home laser hair removal system is something to consider. There are several reasons why this should be your top beauty purchase of 2020 including the convenience, cost, and treatment time.
The Convenience of an At-Home Laser Hair Removal System
Do you really need another appointment on your calendar? Professional laser hair removal treatments are time-consuming. Not only do you have to make appointments and drive to said appointments, but you also end up spending longer in the chair than you would probably like. But at-home laser hair removal systems bring the treatments to you. You can do them at your own convenience within your own home without having to drive anywhere, schedule childcare, or juggle another appointment on your calendar.
Cost of an At-Home Laser Hair Removal System
One of the biggest benefits of at-home laser hair removal treatment systems is the lower cost compared to professional laser hair removal treatments. The average cost of laser hair removal treatments across the United States is about $429, and that’s just for one area of your body. The cost of what you actually pay in a professional setting depends on where you are located, what areas you would like to get done, and how many treatment sessions that the esthetician thinks you may need. In addition, since laser hair removal is rarely permanent, you will often have to go for secondary and follow-up treatments over time which is an additional cost.
Waxing is significantly more affordable per treatment, but the costs can add up over time especially if you are waxing several areas of your body. The average cost of an upper lip, chin, bikini line, and both full leg waxing treatment will run about $150 every 4 weeks.
The average cost of an at-home laser hair removal system is about $350 (you can get the Braun IPL Hair Removal System for $329), and you can use it anywhere. Unlike a professional setting, that one time upfront cost will allow you to remove any unwanted hair in any part of your body without additional costs. And there are no additional costs when you need a touch-up either since you already have the system.
Treatment Time with an At-Home Laser Hair Removal System
An at-home laser hair removal system not only saves you time in getting to and from appointments but it also saves you time in terms of treatment sessions. Since professional laser hair removal uses more pointed laser light, treatments often take a long time especially if you are doing large areas or more than one area. At-home laser hair removal systems don’t take as long because their broad wavelengths produce more light and cover more area in shorter periods of time.
Does At-Home Laser Hair Removal Actually Work?
All of these things sound great when it comes to an at-home laser hair removal system, but the big question still remains- Does it actually work? One of our editors tried the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 and the answer is clear, it should be everyone’s top beauty purchase for 2020.
The Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 is an at-home laser hair removal system, or IPL. It is one of the only IPLs that has been cleared by the FDA for safe at-home use. It has been recommended by the Skin Care Alliance as one of the safest, fastest, and most efficient IPLs on the market.
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This IPL works quickly during your treatment sessions and with all different skin tones. The SensoAdapt skin sensor adjusts the pulsating light to different degrees depending on how dark or light different areas of your skin appear. It is compact, light, and easy to use. Here are some of our favorite features:
- You can do single pulses or a rapid pulse by holding down the button. The single pulses are great for smaller areas like upper lip and chin, while the rapid, continuous pulse is wonderful for areas like your legs.
- It’s fast- you can do a whole-body treatment (upper lip, chin, both legs, and the bikini line) in just about 15 minutes.
- You can reduce the intensity for lighter pulses- the gentle-touch sensor allows you to adjust the intensity for more sensitive areas like your bikini line.
- There are 10 different intensity levels that are matched with your skin tone using the SensoAdapt sensor, ensuring that you will have the best treatment possible for your skin tone and hair color.
- It lasts a lifetime- the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 will last for up to 400,000 flashes which is the equivalent of 22 years of treatments, so you won’t have to purchase another costly system later on.
- It has two heads- there are two separate heads that you can use- one for smaller, more sensitive areas that offer a more precise pulsating light and one for larger areas that covers more area.
Real Results with the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5
Our editor put the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 to the test for over 6 weeks and found significantly slower hair growth or no hair growth at all in certain areas. Here is what she had to say:
“I have had professional laser hair removal done before, and although I was the “perfect candidate” with my dark hair and lighter skin tone, I found that after my third pregnancy the hair grew back rapidly and thicker. My hair has always grown really fast, too, and it’s pretty much everywhere- My eastern European background is to thank for that. My leg hair was noticeable by the 4th grade, and ever since then, I have had to shave every single day. If I don’t, it’s visibly noticeable to the naked eye. I also have always had terrible razor burn on my bikini line, and in-grown hairs are a regular nuisance.
I have been using the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 for about 6 weeks now, once a week, and I have absolutely no hair growth on certain areas like my chin, upper lip, and bikini line, and very slow hair growth on my legs, underarms, and bikini area. My bikini line has virtually no razor burn whatsoever, either.”
My biggest takeaways from using the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 are:
- It actually works! My dark thick hair is growing slower or not at all, and it’s wonderful not to feel like I have a 5 o’clock shadow all over my body every day.
- No more shaving– I have been married for over 10 years but I don’t know that my husband even realizes that I had to shave my upper lip and chin one to two times per day. After using the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 I don’t have to do that anymore- ever.
- No more dark shadows– With some areas on my face, like my upper lip, I would still have a dark shadow even after removing the hair with a razor. Makeup didn’t cover it and it was even noticeable in pictures. I no longer have this shadow after just a few weeks of using the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5.
- No more expensive waxing appointments– I have been going to get waxed every four weeks and the bill quickly adds up. The cost of the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 was covered in less than 3 waxing appointments.
- No more awkward hair growth in between waxing appointments– Although waxing was a great alternative to shaving, I hated having to let my hair grow in between appointments (especially the hair on my face and my bikini line).
- No more painful waxing appointments- Wax or IPL? IPL wins 100% of the time. The Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 is virtually painless and the little pricks are nothing compared to the pain that waxing caused me, especially in my bikini area. I can even adjust the intensity for some of my more sensitive areas.
- I can still shave in between treatments– When I started the treatments I enjoyed the fact that I could still shave the areas that still had hair growth so that I could keep those areas smooth. The Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 comes with a Venus Silk razor which allows me to keep the areas well-kept until the hair stops growing.
- I don’t have to schedule appointments– With both waxing and professional laser hair removal treatments, I had to worry about scheduling appointments and making sure that I had childcare for my children who were still at home.
- No more driving– Not only do I have less on my calendar, but I also don’t have to drive anywhere. I can do all my treatments at home while the kids are at school or after they go to bed at night.
- I don’t have to worry about paying for touch-ups– With professional laser hair removal, I knew I would have to pay again for touch-up treatments. I had since moved from the original location of where I had gotten my laser hair removal done, so I would have had to pay full-price for all new sessions if I wanted to keep it up. With the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 I can touch-up every few months as recommended without an additional cost.
“The Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 has been, by far, my favorite beauty item of 2020 so far. I would even go as far to say that it is my favorite beauty item ever. As someone who has dealt with embarrassing hair growth my entire life, including my face, and who has been embarrassed by uncomfortable and unsightly razor burn, this at-home laser hair removal system has changed my life. It has made me more confident and more comfortable.“
In the end, the upfront cost is well worth it. The benefits of an at-home laser hair removal system like the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 are significant, and it should be part of every woman’s beauty arsenal if they deal with unwanted hair growth. Like all IPL’s and professional laser hair removal, the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 only works on certain hair colors and skin tones, so make sure it will work for you before you purchase it. But if you have the right skin tone and hair color, an at-home laser hair removal is one of the best, long-term beauty purchases a woman can make.
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