Today, there are so many options for at-home hair removal—from the tried-and-true, like shaving with a razor and waxing, to the more innovative, like advanced epilators and even at-home lasers.
Like other methods of hair removal, at-home laser hair removal devices can be used just about anywhere, including large areas like legs and armpits, to smaller spots like the chin, to more intimate areas like the bikini line.
But do they really work? As a busy professional and mom to four, I couldn’t wait to find out if a few months of at-home treatments would save me from having to shave my legs and armpits every few days—or splurge on costly in-office laser hair removal sessions. (One session can range anywhere from $199 to $599.)
More From Women’s Health
What exactly is a laser hair removal device?
Before using a laser on any part of my body, I wanted to find out exactly what these devices are—and how they work. Most at-home laser hair removal devices use IPL (intense pulsed light), a light that works to destroy hair follicles at the root, preventing regrowth, says dermatologist Dr. Bertha Baum, DO.
It does take some time to see results, though. It depends on the particular device you’re using, but most people will need weekly laser treatments for anywhere from four to 12 weeks.
Are at-home laser hair removal devices safe for anyone to use?
Perhaps even more important than patience is safety. At-home laser hair removal devices aren’t suitable for all skin types. People with sensitive skin or skin of color shouldn’t use at-home lasers, since most at-home devices can’t distinguish between darker skin and dark hair—something that can lead to pigmentation issues, says dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman, MD. (The good news: Many in-office treatments today WILL work on darker skin, so head to your dermatologist if you have any concerns.)
With all of this in mind, I was confident it would be safe for me to use an at-home laser hair removal device, and I was ready to get started.
I used the Ulike Sapphire AIR+ Dark Green IPL Hair Removal Handset
TikTokers rave about this laser hair removal device. Some call it their “latest obsession,” namely, because it’s supposed to be totally pain-free. Still, it delivers smooth, hairless skin in less than four weeks—something that’s 100 percent guaranteed by the company.
Besides that, the device is super sophisticated looking. It’s a deep green with copper accents, plus it has an entirely digital display that’s easy to operate via touch.
First, you have to prepare your skin
Getting started was simple. First, I read the instructions from start to finish to ensure I was doing everything correctly. The first step: Remove any cosmetics, lotions or cream, then use the included razor to shave any visible hair from the treatment area.
Then, you perform a skin test
This particular at-home laser is suitable for pale white to moderate brown skin, but the manufacturer still recommends performing a skin test prior to use to determine whether or not you might experience any adverse reactions.
To do this, you put on the protective sunglasses (surprisingly stylish aviator types!) and use the laser a single time on a low setting. If it feels comfortable, you raise the energy level and try again in another spot. Then, you wait two hours to monitor for any adverse reaction.
If all is well, you finish treating the area
Once the two hours were up and I was certain my skin could handle the laser, I got to work on my armpits. The laser isn’t too heavy and has a nice, sleek shape, so it was easy to hold, even with my non-dominant hand. And the window that emits the light is wide and flat, so it’s easy to press flush with the skin—even the curved skin under the arm.
The most difficult part was evaluating if I was moving efficiently through each spot under my arm. I wondered if I was repeating small areas (a no-no) or missing spots (equally unfortunate).
Did it hurt?
I have to admit: I was really nervous about that first flash. I thought it was bound to hurt in some capacity—I expected a slight burn or maybe even a pinching sensation. So I put the laser to my skin and braced myself. But I didn’t even flinch. It truly was pain-free. (I’d describe my pain threshold as moderate.)
The device has a “sapphire ice cooling technology” that basically counteracts any burning sensation you might otherwise feel from the light of the laser. It almost sounds and feels as if there’s a fan working at the same time as the laser. And because of this, I had no problem using the device on even the highest setting.
Is there any recovery time?
Swimming at all! While the instructions suggest applying lotion or a cold compress gel afterwards, I found it unnecessary. I didn’t experience any burning sensation or discomfort in the slightest.
It is, however, important to note that you will need to wait at least seven days after treatment to expose the skin to direct sunlight. So don’t rush to complete at-home laser sessions right before your next beach vacation.
So are at-home laser hair removal devices worth the hype?
I can’t say definitively just yet, since I’ve only completed two of the 12 recommended sessions. But what I will say is that I’m certainly going to continue through the full treatment plan. It’s quick and easy and—best of all—totally painless, so it’s definitely worth exploring further. Especially considering how much cheaper it is than a series of in-office sessions.
Brigitte is a writer, editor and craft stylist with almost 15 years of experience. She specializes in creating SEO and e-commerce content across a range of lifestyle topics, including home, health, parenting, beauty, style, food, entertaining, travel and weddings. She also has significant experience creating native and branded content.