Hair today, missing tomorrow: what you need to know about laser hair removal

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What’s the best way to banish unwanted hair? (Photo: Metro.co.uk)

As a man in his mid-30s, I’ve seen hair appear uninvited in all kinds of unwanted places.

And from affordable household gadgets to several types of professional machines in salon environments, I have been zapped by various types of laser hair removal solutions in an attempt to get rid of them for good.

I have had varying degrees of success.

But despite all its ups and downs, the global laser hair removal industry is, uh, growing. It is worth $ 549.6 million today and is expected to grow to $ 3.4 billion by 2026, according to market experts Acumen Research and Consulting.

We understand why: waxing, shaving or waxing are painful and especially short-term solutions.

Laser treatment, on the other hand, is long term, low maintenance, and saves you time and money. And just after summer, it’s time to zap.

Here’s all you need to know …

How does laser hair removal work?

Laser hair removal works when the laser emits light that is absorbed by pigment, or melanin, in the hair. This light energy is converted into heat which damages hair follicles in the skin and inhibits or retards future hair growth.

But sun exposure and laser hair removal don’t mix, experts say, as the process makes the skin more sensitive to heat. This means that it makes sense to start the hair removal process after the summer.

Now, before you start your hair removal quest, you should know that there are two fundamentally different types of lasers available: devices that can be used at home, and professional-grade machines with a more powerful laser – and therefore one. higher heat hitting the follicle – which require a trained clinician to operate.

While commercial devices can be used on a weekly basis, professional models require booked appointments about four to six weeks apart to give the skin time to recover.


Metro reporter Lee Bell tries laser hair removal
There are many DIY options

Does laser hair removal hurt?

Or should it be: is it safe? Both home and professional laser devices must be FDA or CE approved, but since professional devices are more powerful, don’t be afraid to ask what your practitioner’s training is. Ideally, they should be registered with the General Medical Council, or voluntarily with the local council or a government approved registry such as Save Face.

As to whether it hurts, it depends a bit, although you shouldn’t worry. While the blast of heat entering your hair follicle may feel like a sharp pinch, it is bearable and not on the same level as the tattoo.

It should be noted, however, that not everyone who chooses to fry their down will achieve the same results. Different factors come into play, such as skin type, hair color and thickness, for example.

Each affects the level of absorption and energy required to achieve destruction of the follicles. Go for darker skin, which has a higher melanin content and therefore has less chance of energy reaching the follicle; or thinner or lighter hair, which has less melanin, so there is less target for energy, so more energy is needed.

This means that the home laser is less effective for people with these qualities, as explained by Dr Ross Perry, skin expert, Cosmedics Skin Clinics in London.

“Home hair removal devices will only work on a narrow range of hair and skin colors,” he says. “This is because lasers focus on the pigments in the hair follicle and are only effective when there is a lot of contrast between the skin and the hair.

“If you have dark skin or light hair, laser hair removal at home will rarely work because the dark pigment absorbs the laser and can cause a burn. Many household lasers have sensors that prevent them from working on darker skin.

DIY possibilities

Thanks to technological advancements, the latest household laser devices are now much more efficient. Don’t expect permanent results.

Some of the top-rated home laser devices include Philips Lumea Prestige (£ 449, philips.co.uk) and Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 (£ 285, braunshop.fr). Having used both in the past six months, each offers a very similar laser removal experience, but with different functionality.


philips lumea prestige
The Lumea Prestige is a solid option (Photo: Philips)

While the outstanding features of the Philips device include wireless operation with app connectivity for treatment monitoring, Braun’s offering features a SensoAdapt skin sensor that automatically and continuously adapts to type. skin during use.

It won’t be long before you find out that neither device offers permanent hair removal, just a reduction in thickness and frequency of growth. According to Dr Perry, this is because household laser devices emit less power.

“Most of the products are safe to use, but because of the low potency, you won’t end up hairless forever, you just reduce the amount of hair and lighten it,” he says.


brown silk expert
Much like Braun’s silk expert (Photo: Braun)

It’s time to bring in the professionals

Professional laser treatments promise to be more effective because they operate at a much higher heat frequency of 70 degrees, the temperature required to prevent hair regrowth. However, as the skin begins to damage at 44 degrees, these salon devices are equipped with an intelligent skin contact cooling system that keeps the skin surface cool while the laser energy is delivered in. deep in the follicle.

I tried the two state-of-the-art lasers: Soprano ICE from ABC Lasers (within the Beauty and Melody clinic chain in London, beautyandmelody.co.uk) and the Primelase laser from Cocoon Medical (at the Nova Aesthetic Clinic in Greenwich, novaclinic.fr).

The Soprano ICE uses multiple laser wavelengths in order to treat a variety of skin and hair types, while the new Primelase operates at a higher pulse repetition rate, which means it is able to do the job. same job but much faster.

While Soprano ICE significantly reduced the growth and thickness of the hair on my back, after about six months it continued to grow.


Metro reporter Lee Bell underwent hair removal treatment.
Or you can go to the professionals

The Primelase treatment I’ve received since has given the most impressive results – the hair I still have is much lighter and thinner, and I’m not even at the end of my six-set treatment yet. So what makes the Primelase so special?

“The Primelase laser is able to reach the blood supply faster,” explains Silvia Solinas, manager of the Nova Aesthetic Clinic. “In just one treatment, patients will see a 20% reduction. “

With each hair growing in a different cycle, you will need several treatments spaced a month apart for this to really work.

Solinas recommends at least six sessions for permanent results and a start of the cure in September or October, so that you can go through the full cure in winter to give yourself time to prepare for the summer. So it goes without saying that tanning between sessions is a no-no.

Verdict: Home or living room?

Depending on the gadget and the area of ​​the body, the prices differ.

Six sessions of Primelase at the Nova Aesthetic Clinic, for example, cost £ 638 for the full back and shoulders (compared to £ 405 for my Soprano ICE treatment, although Nova is offering a 50% discount in September), or you can choose a home appliance for under £ 300 that can be used on multiple areas but won’t give you the same permanent results.

After trying both state-of-the-art lasers, I’m convinced that going professional is the way to go – the results have been much more impressive.


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