In the last part of 2008, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration made an announcement that caused many women to cheer: the agency had cleared two personal laser hair removal systems for purchase by consumers. These hand-held devices are around the size of a hair-dryer, notes the "Hair Removal Journal," and use a similar technology as the lasers used in the offices of doctors who offer professional hair removal treatments. Although there are less expensive devices on the market that claim to be home laser hair removal devices, as of November 2013, there were only two FDA-approved personal systems that do the job they claim to do.
The Silk'n SensEpil markets itself as the personal laser hair removal system "physicians prefer." The device is placed flush against the body part to be treated, after which a blast of light is delivered to disable the melanin in the hair follicle; slightly over-lapping treatment areas is advised to ensure good hair removal. For optimal results, treatments should be done once every other week for three to four sessions and only as necessary as hair grows back. The Silk'n SensEpil has five power settings that can be adjusted to the consumer's comfort level. According to ABC news correspondent Becky Worley, who tested both the Silk'n and the TRIA in a December 2008 report, both devices delivered, but she got better results with the Silk'n (treatment times were also shorter). In November 2013, the Silk'n SensEpil cost $499.
TRIA Laser Hair Removal System
The TRIA personal laser hair removal system purports to use laser technology more like those used in doctors' offices. The device comes with five different power levels and works similarly to the Silk'n SensEpil. According to the TRIA Beauty website, results might not be noticeable until after three treatments using the TRIA. Twice-monthly treatment sessions are recommended for the first three months of TRIA use, after which frequency may be reduced to once a month for another four to five months. Some consumers may get optimal hair reduction in as few as eight treatments. During her test run of both personal laser hair removal systems, Worley noticed that the TRIA was caused less discomfort, but took almost three times as long to use as the Silk'n. In November 2013, the TRIA sold for $449.
Do They Work?
When it comes to laser hair removal, be it offered by a doctor or performed at home, the consumer pays her money and takes her chances. This method of hair removal gives the best results to people with light skin and dark body hair. Laser hair removal won't work on people with fair (blond, light red or light brown) or unpigmented (gray) hair, as these types of hair contain no melanin to absorb the light. Additionally, the Silk'n website notes that its device is not intended for use on those with medium-dark or dark skin. Neither device is approved by the FDA for use above the neck. Consumers who want to address facial hair may want to seek professional laser hair removal services or consider electrolysis as another option.