Many manufacturers make bold claims that their home laser hair removal devices will permanently remove hair. But here’s the big question, “Is laser hair removal permanent?” Further, can these manufacturers legally or ethically make such a claim?
In this article, we explore these questions and others, and provide you with insight into other areas of laser hair removal. Read on to find out more.
What Is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is a process using laser or light energy, to temporarily remove unwanted hair on various parts of the body, changing the texture and reducing the amount of hair when it grows back. We use the term temporarily, as laser hair removal is not permanent, as you will read in the following section entitled “Is Laser Hair Reduction Permanent?”
Whether using Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) or Laser technology, the principle behind laser hair removal is the same. Laser or light energy targets the melanin in the hair follicle. The melanin absorbs the energy which in turn generates heat and temporarily destroys the follicle.
This disruption of follicle growth stops the hair from growing, however, it will eventually heal and begin to grow hair again. Re-growth can begin within days or it can take many months. When re-growth occurs, less hair will return, and its texture will generally be much finer and softer.
Laser hair removal is most effective on dark coarse hair. The combination of light skin and dark hair produces the best results. A fairly new laser technology called Nd:YAG has shown some success in treating individuals with dark hair and dark skin.
Because the laser hair removal process is most effective where there is a high contrast between skin tone and hair color, it is not effective for hair colors that don’t absorb light well such as gray, red, blond, and white.
Laser hair removal can be performed on virtually any part of the body, however, due to varying sensitivities, intensity levels should be adjusted. Common areas include the face and neck, stomach and back, arms and legs, as well as the pubic and bikini area.
The procedure can be performed at home using a home laser hair removal device, or at clinics, spas, or salons, by certified practitioners such as dermatologists and trained technicians which generally use a device designed for commercial use.
Permanent Hair Removal Options
Currently, there are 2 main categories of laser hair removal the first being laser, which can be broken down into Ruby, Alexandrite, the Diode and the Nd: YAG, and the second being Intense Pulsed Laser (IPL) which is often categorized as laser, but technically is not.
The different laser hair removal technologies are defined by different properties including:
- Wavelength: The main determinant of laser type ranges from visible light to near-infrared radiation and is measured in nanometres.
- Repetition rate: This refers to the rate at which the laser beam pulses. The longer the time between pulses, the greater the cooling time, lessening the pain.
- Spot size: Relates to the width of the laser beam. The wider the width, the greater and deeper the penetration into the hair follicle.
- Pulse width: This relates to the length of the heating pulse and has a direct effect on the damage inflicted on the hair follicle.
The IPL is defined by wavelength alone. Without getting too involved in the technical aspects, each technology is more conducive to certain applications. Following is a brief description of each.
- Ruby Laser
The Ruby laser hair removal system directs a laser beam with a wavelength of 694 nanometres which is rapidly absorbed by the melanin in the hair follicle while protecting the skin around it. The Ruby was the first laser approved for hair removal, and with its 2-second interval between pulses, has a natural cooling effect.
It works best on lighter, finer hair, and is ineffective on dark brown or black hair. The procedure is safe and pain-free due to the longer intervals between pulses, however, it does require repeat treatments to be effective. It is losing some of its popularity due to the development of newer technologies, however, it still remains popular and is the choice of many loyal users.
Ruby Laser Specifications
Wavelength: 694 nm
Repetition rate: 0.5 – 1.2 Hz
Spot size: 3-10 mm
Pulse width: 0.85-3 ms
- Alexandrite Laser
One of the most commonly used technologies on the market today, the Alexandrite Laser is extremely fast and effective. It is most effective on larger regions of the body such as the back, legs, and arms, and works best on light to olive skin tones. Similar to the Ruby, melanin in the hair follicles absorbs the Alexandrite laser light extremely well. As a result of its rapid pulsation, treatments can be more painful than the other treatments. On the positive side, treatments are very fast, as an entire back and leg treatment can be completed in as little as one hour.
Wavelength: 755 nm
Repetition rate: up to 5 Hz
Spot size: 6-16mm
Pulse Width: 5-140 ms
- Pulsed Diode
The Pulsed Diode laser hair removal process, although fairly new, is a very popular procedure. It differs from other laser technologies in that it combines diodes and semiconductors to form the light source of the laser. They operate at a wavelength of 800-810 nm and can be adjusted to suit your needs. It involves aiming a beam of intense light into the melanin at the base of the hair follicle, which is absorbed by the pigment. The follicle is destroyed resulting in the reduction or elimination of hair growth. Side effects include redness to the surrounding skin, and in some cases, burns and skin discoloration.
Pulse Diode Specifications
Wavelength: 800-810 nm
Repetition rate: 1 Hz
Spot size; 9mm
Pulse Width: 5-30 ms
- Nd: YAG Laser
Nd:YAG laser hair removal is a relatively new technology that was originally developed for tattoo removal and skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation. They operate at a wavelength of 1064 nm, which falls into the infrared zone of the spectrum of light. The procedure involves the use of a carbon-based lotion to the skin and beaming the Nd:YAG to the region. Although somewhat painful, it has proven to be effective on darker or heavily tanned skin.
Nd: YAG Laser Specifications
Wavelength: 1064 nm
Repetition rate: up to 10 Hz
Spot size: 3-5 mm
Pulse Width: 10-50 ms
- Intense Pulsed Light
Intense Pulsed Light hair removal is often referred to as laser, however, technically speaking it is not. It uses the principles of photo thermolysis, which sends bursts of light into the hair follicle in the same way as a laser hair removal would. The IPL system differs from a laser in that there is no pre-set wavelength, meaning that it can be set to meet specific needs.
The IPL process is the most popular home laser hair removal system as it is very safe with most side effects being limited to redness or swelling of the surrounding skin. The process directs light to the pigment at the root of the hair follicle, which absorbs the light, generates heat, and destroys the follicle.
Intense Pulsed Light Specifications
Wavelength: 500 – 1200 nm
Is Laser Hair Removal Really Permanent?
The answer to this question is no. Is laser hair removal effective? The answer is yes. Laser hair removal is highly effective. In fact, it is not uncommon to find people report that they see positive results within a few weeks of initial treatment.
The premise behind laser hair removal is that it works by directing light into the melanin into the root of the, and in turn generating heat in the hair follicles, thereby disrupting and stunting growth, and stopping new hairs from growing – at least temporarily.
The hair follicles go into a state of dormancy. Depending upon the body location, dormancy can range from a few weeks to several months. They will ultimately grow back, and when they do, they will be lighter, finer, and fewer in number.
Essentially, laser hair removal treatments reduce the number of unwanted hairs in a specific region but does not remove hair completely.
The FDA And Laser Hair Removal
Under their Radiation Emitting Products category, the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, will not allow any manufacturer to make a claim that a laser hair removal device will deliver permanent hair loss, or is painless.
However, by submitting substantial testing data showing supporting results, the FDA may allow a manufacturer to make a claim that their laser hair device delivers “permanent hair reduction,” as opposed to “permanent hair removal”. The FDA definition of permanent hair reduction is “intended to effect stable, long-term, or permanent reduction”.
In layman’s terms, this means that amount of hair re-growth after a full hair growth cycle, which can range between 4 and 12 months, must be less than it was prior to the treatment.
Why A Home Laser Hair Removal Device
In 1997, the FDA in the United States approved the first home hair removal device, and since that time the market has grown exponentially, and there is an abundance of choices available. In addition, the technology has improved, and the cost has moved down to the point where most units have become affordable to the average consumer. Following are a few benefits of owning a home laser hair removal system.
- They Work
Although manufacturers cannot make a claim that their hair removal system will permanently remove hair, they can state that the units will permanently reduce hair. Any FDA-approved hair removal device is effective. It is not uncommon to see reports of users seeing hair reduction in as little as 2-3 weeks.
- They Are Safe To Use
With a track record of over 20 years, lasers have been tried and tested for safety giving you peace of mind that the technology is entirely safe to use.
- Cost Savings
An at-home hair removal device eliminates the requirement to purchase supplies such as razors, shaving cream, depilatory creams, as well as waxing hair removal treatments. The cost of waxing and hair removal treatments is high, therefore, eliminating these services will more than pay for most home laser hair removal devices in a very short period of time.
- Fast and Convenient
A Home laser device at your disposal allows for treatments any time and anywhere you wish. In addition, the newer technologies allow for a full body treatment to be completed in under an hour, and single treatments such as an arm or a leg to be completed within a few minutes.
- No More Embarrassment
No one likes to take off their clothes in front of a stranger and have them perform a procedure on private body parts. . A home hair removal device allows you to avoid these uncomfortable situations and get it done in the privacy of your own space.
Best Home Laser Device
We devoted an entire article to The 7 Top Home Laser Hair Removal devices, and after a very thorough analysis of the marketplace, found the Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X for Women and Men to out rank them all. Below is a reprint of the review.
Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X for Women and Men (Laser)
The Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X for Women and Men, was developed in 2003 and initially launched into the Japanese market in 2005. And after proactively seeking regulatory approvals for the use of home laser hair removal technology, it was subsequently launched in the United States in 2008, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain in 2011, and Canada in 2012.
The Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X for Women and Men is marketed as “The Most Powerful Home Laser Hair Removal Solution” on the market, and they certainly back that claim by supplying 3 times more energy, and a more precise laser wavelength than their closest competitor. In fact, the Tria delivers an energy density of 20 J/cm^2, while the closest competitor is at 20 J/cm^2.
The Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X is designed for use by men and women and is most effective on darker, courser hair, and less effective on blonde, red, or grey hair. If the skin sensor detects an unsafe application, such as areas with freckles, birthmarks, moles, or tattoos, its built-in safety feature will not allow the device to operate.
Same Technology As Dermatologists
In 2007, world-renowned dermatologist Dr. Ronald G. Wheeland, M.D., evaluated Tria’s Blue Light Technology. After his analysis, he concluded that 94% of participants reported an improvement of skin appearance in just two weeks.
The Tria Laser 4X is designed to allow consumers to experience home hair removal results, similar to those provided by a medical practitioner, at a fraction of the cost. The diode laser technology is the same technology used by 9 out of 10 dermatologists in the United States. It is currently the only pure laser device approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), for Home Laser Hair Removal. It consists of the following three-step process:
- Lasers target the pigment of the hair follicle
- Compromised hair falls out leaving soft and smooth skin
- The laser effectively disables and renders the follicle useless
Dr. Eric F. Bernstein, a leading Dermatologic Laser Surgeon, uses the Tria Laser 4X in his own practice, and when discussing the Tria Laser 4X, states “There’s no substitute for great science, quality, and effectiveness, Period.”
Interactive LED Display
Housed on the top of the device is an interactive LED Display that allows for easy operation and completion of each treatment. The features on the display include:
- Lock Icon which engages when the device is not in use
- Pulse Counter to ensure complete coverage during a treatment
- Treatment Level provides a variety of intensity options
- Skin Sensor Indicator signaling that the unit is ready to use
- Battery Level Indicator
- Power Button
What Are Customers Saying?
Most customers experienced excellent results and found that within 2 months of use, hair growth was eliminated, and if re-growth occurred, it was slowed down and the hair was finer and lighter. Others talked about the huge amounts of money they saved by having an effective home laser hair removal device at their disposal any time they need it.
On the downside, a few users found that the procedure was somewhat painful, while others were not happy with the price versus IPL devices.
- Comfortable easy-grip handle
- Built-in skin sensor for safety and protection
- Cordless with a charger socket
- Interactive LED Display
- Range of intensity settings
- Can be somewhat painful for some
- Not suitable for lighter-skinned fair-haired individuals
In this article, our intent was to provide useful and informative information to educate you on various aspects of permanent hair removal. Initially, we defined laser hair removal and discussed some of the main permanent hair removal options. We then explored the question of whether laser hair removal is really permanent and looked at the FDA guidelines as they pertain to laser hair removal devices. Finally, we identified the benefits of owning a home laser hair removal device and reviewed the Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X for Women and Men, our choice for the best device.