At-Home Laser Hair Removal vs. Professional Treatment: Which Is Better?

The constant, uncomfortable routine of shaving, waxing, or tweezing unwanted hair can get tiresome for some people. If this is true in your case, then you’ve probably considered a longer-lasting solution. Laser treatments are one of the most common cosmetic procedures around and can be done either at home or at a medical spa. But when it comes to at-home laser hair removal vs. professional treatment, which is really better overall? 

Here’s everything you need to know about the process—and whether doing it yourself or visiting a medical spa is the best option…

How Laser Hair Removal Works

With laser hair removal, a concentrated beam of light is used to stop unwanted hair growth. This light (typically intense pulsed light, or IPL) is absorbed by the dark melanin pigment in the hair. Then, the energy from that light heats up the hair follicles beneath the skin, which damages the hair follicles safely without harming the surrounding tissue or skin. Ultimately, laser hair removal stops or delays hair growth by going beyond the surface level, delivering longer-lasting results than shaving or waxing. 

Equipment Used for At-Home Laser Hair Removal vs. Professional Treatment

As you may have guessed, different equipment is used for at-home laser hair removal vs. professional treatment. 

At-Home Devices

Young woman at home using her own laser hair removal appliance.

The handheld IPL devices you can purchase for at-home use are cost-effective when you compare the price against what you spend each year on shaving and/or waxing supplies. They’re also convenient, as they let you get any desired grooming done at a moment’s notice. These devices typically come with simple controls and safety switches that allow you to get rid of unwanted hair without hurting yourself. 

However, there is still a risk of burning, especially for those with darker skin tones. Further, these devices are much less powerful than their professional counterparts, emitting energy around 7 J/cm2. Using such a device, you may find it harder to cover large surface areas and have to wait longer to see results.        

Professional IPL Machines

Many medical spas are equipped with advanced IPL machines that have more versatile configurations. They can be tailored to fit your needs and unique hair color for the best results. Additionally, these machines are more powerful than at-home devices, reaching an energy output of 40 J/cm2. However, they can still be used safely on any part of the body desired. Moreover, they’re operated by trained professionals, so you can look forward to a hassle-free treatment.

Getting professional laser hair removal via an IPL machine at a medical spa does tend to be more expensive. That said, some medical spas offer unlimited treatments for life. And although some discomfort may be experienced, a good medical spa will use equipment with cooling technology to provide a more comfortable treatment. 

Are Laser Hair Removal Devices Safe?

Serious side effects after hair removal of any kind are uncommon regardless of which method you use. However, there is a possibility of skin irritation and/or pigment changes. And if you have darker skin, you must be especially careful about what you use to get the job done.

With at-home laser devices, there is a potential risk of damage to those with darker skin, as the amount of melanin in the skin and hair makes it difficult to focus the heat on the follicle. This can lead to skin cells absorbing some energy, causing pain, blisters, and burns. There are a few IPL options that are less dangerous, but the damage is still possible. 

Professional treatments, on the other hand, are much safer in general. 

Here’s why…

  1. An initial consultation will determine if laser hair removal is suitable for you. 
  2. The equipment is configured to your unique skin and hair color. 
  3. Both you and the technician will wear safety glasses during the treatment. 
  4. Both pre-treatment and post-treatment care are provided. 

Is It Permanent?

When it comes to at-home laser hair removal vs. professional treatment, neither option is fully permanent. However, the effects of multiple sessions can last a considerable amount of time. 

Professional treatments provide the most long-lasting results for hair reduction. In most cases, six to eight sessions about six weeks apart are needed to stop most hair follicles from growing. Regular maintenance may be necessary in the future, but that is all. 

Home devices are not as intense or effective. The number of sessions needed varies depending on the manufacturer, but the general range is between four and 12 sessions. Significant results should be seen after a month or two of consistent use. Regular maintenance will be needed afterward to keep your skin smooth. 

Is It Worth the Money?

Ultimately, laser hair removal is a cost-effective option for eliminating unwanted hair in the long run. It’s even an eco-friendly option that allows you to save on waxing and/or shaving supplies while reducing the amount of waste you contribute to landfills! However, the price varies depending on whether you opt for at-home or professional treatment. 

Comparing the Cost of At-Home Laser Hair Removal vs. Professional Treatment

At-home devices cost less upfront. However, their lower rate of effectiveness may hit your bank account over time. The extra sessions and maintenance needed to stay smooth with at-home devices means that you'll be spending money on your grooming for longer than you would by visiting a spa. 

Although the initial cost of a professional treatment is more expensive, you end up with better, longer-lasting results. And as mentioned previously, some medical spas—like Ethos MedSpa—offer unlimited treatments for life! This means you can look forward to a better value overall. 

Esthetician attending to a female clients legs using an eco-friendly hair removal tool.

At-Home Laser Hair Removal vs. Professional Treatment: Which Type of Laser Hair Removal Is Best?

All methods of laser hair removal have their merits. But when it comes to at-home laser hair removal vs. professional treatment, the choice is clear. In terms of safety, effectiveness, convenience, and long-term cost savings, getting laser hair removal done professionally is the better way to go. 

If you're looking to get rid of unwanted hair, it’s well worth turning to a medical spa like Ethos MedSpa. With advanced equipment, trained medical estheticians, and unlimited treatments for life, we’ll help you achieve the smooth skin you deserve! For more information about our laser hair removal treatments, click here