Hair Removal Technologies – At-Home Devices & Clinical Technology
What Hair Removal Method Works the Best?
The most comprehensive and thorough hair removal requires state-of-the-art technology or, in some cases, professional assistance. The reality is that unless you endeavor to stick to shaving every other day, you need to rely on science and technology to get the job done.
The average man or woman looking to perform hair removal treatments might not have the scientific knowledge to decipher which technology makes the most sense for them. There is a lot of information to process and a decision should be made based on a person’s specific needs, skin type, tone and sensitivities. Then, you must consider what you’re comfortable with and what works with your budget, lifestyle and schedule.
This decision shouldn’t come lightly. Every technology and treatment plan takes an investment of time and money in addition to commitment. Can you carve out time in your schedule for clinical appointments? Are you comfortable performing simple, safe and unsupervised treatments from the privacy of your home? The biggest question might be, do you want to keep shaving and irritating your skin for the rest of your life?
Choosing a plan takes knowledge and research and that’s why we’re here to help. To start, we’ll explore the history of hair removal technology. This will illustrate the role that technology has played in making it what it is today. Next, we’ll look at what proper hair removal looks like and define technology so that it’s less broad and intangible. Lastly, we’ll breakdown different technologies, highlighting various pros and cons and how each intends to remove even the most stubborn hair.
Don’t worry if you find technology to be intimidating. This article will simplify the capabilities of popular at-home and clinical technologies so you understand how they work.
Hair Removal Methods - Deciding Factors
Take the first step toward having beautiful and hairless skin by creating a checklist which contains the important elements of a treatment plan you should consider. This way, you can narrow your list of technologies and then decide on the best course of action to remove hair.
Here is a list you can adapt to your life and preferences:
- What is your monthly and annual grooming budget?
- Do you have any skin sensitivities?
- What is your skin type per the Fitzpatrick scale (some treatments don’t respond to dark skin tones)?
- Is the cost of a complete treatment plan feasible?
- Is the duration of the complete treatment plan reasonable?
- When do you want to complete the treatments by?
- Do you feel comfortable with how the technology is administered?
- What are the side effects?
- Do you have any genetic conditions which could derail the efficacy of a technology?
- Are you comfortable performing treatments on your own?
- Have far is the closest clinic to your home or work?
Ultimately, each person must decide what works for them and their personal comfort level. Some people require the convenience and cost-efficiency whereas others want the spa experience. There’s no right or wrong if you make an informed decision.
Hair Removal Technology
Hair removal usually refers to the complete removal of hair from one or more areas of your body outside of eyebrows and scalp. Both men and women partake in hair removal but often it is women who feel pressure to make sure they have little to no body hair.
Technology doesn’t require undivided loyalty. You can shop around and try a few different ones to see what you like. Additionally, you can use different technologies for different areas. The best advice, though, is to jump in with both feet once you decide on the route you want to take.
The common areas to treat are:
- Upper lip
- Legs including thighs
- Bikini line
- Pubic area
- Feet and toes
Eyebrows are another popular area to target but that is usually done via low-tech means like plucking, threading or waxing. Some go as far as removing their eyebrows and tattooing permanent replacements.
Many technologies promise permanent hair removal and it’s important to understand what this means. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearly states that permanent hair removal is actually, “the long-term reduction in the number of hairs re-growing after a treatment regime.”
Regardless of technology, permanent removal means long-term reduction. So, the aim should be to thoroughly remove hair in the short-term while ensuring that the recurrence of hair will be reduced in the long run.
The History of Hair Removal Technology
Technology is a broad term that refers to leveraging scientific knowledge and advancements for practical purposes. Technology has played a key role in improving the efficacy and efficiency of hair removal treatments while reducing the stress someone feels when wearing a bikini or bathing suit.
To understand the role and importance of technology with respect to hair removal, you need to delve into how different eras embraced innovation to streamline the process. Even a cursory study of the history of hair removal illustrates the profound role that technology has played.
The Egyptians are considered the first to create and adopt beauty routines and rituals that removed hair from certain body parts. Egyptian women were known to completely remove body hair, including on their head, with remedial technologies like seashell tweezers or pumice stones (which have experienced an uptick in popularity the last few years).
Romans considered pubic hair to be barbaric and were the first to develop razors from flints along with the first creams. The rejection of pubic hair was captured by sculpture and painters who often dabbled in nudes that were bare from head to toe.
Queen Elizabeth I was a trendsetter during her reign in the Middle Ages. She spearheaded the movement of removing eyebrows and facial hair but leaving body hair as is. Technology didn’t advance much during this era. The popular tools were ammonia-soaked bandages (the ammonia was courtesy of cat urine) and vinegar. Yes, it was probably pretty painful.
Moving along, the 18th century saw the advent of the straight razor, which was popular with both men and women. The 19th century was when the first depilatory cream hit the market. It was called, Poudre Subtile. Later that century, King Camp Gillette crafted what would become the first modern razor for men. Decades later, an entirely different razor was engineered for women.
Circa 1915, expectations for women to take care of their body were established (rather unfairly) when an ad in a fashion magazine featured a woman with her bare arms raised. By the 1940s, hair removal was all the rage. WWII limited supplies and accessibility of everyday items like nylons, leading to women to shave their legs.
In the 1960s, the method of waxing grew in popularity and the first laser treatment was made available to the public but abandoned shortly after because it was damaging to skin. The next decade saw a giant leap in technology as electrolysis became safer and more reliable, leading to an explosion of high-tech spas and salons in the 1980s. Around this time, hair removal became one of the most popular health and beauty services.
Ten years ago, Silk’n helped develop the at-home hair removal market with a line of hair removal devices. Each one offered a safe version of the technology being used in clinics by aestheticians and cosmetic surgeons. And the results garnered a fanbase in the millions.
Professional Hair Removal Treatments
It wasn’t long ago that if someone wanted hair removed from their body or certain facial areas, the only option outside of shaving or painful waxing was to seek treatments from a professional establishment. Times have changed but people can still visit a clinic or spa to undergo a variety of technologies:
- Hot wax
- which can be painful, cause a mess and lead to infection when not done right.
- This is where threads or strings are employed in a twisting pattern to remove hair. It is most common for eyebrows.
- Laser Therapy
- This method produces long-lasting results but requires a commitment of multiple appointments.
- This is where tiny needles direct an electric current into hair follicles.
These treatments utilize a variety of technologies, including Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), galvanic energy, laser beams or thermolytic.
There are two distinct downsides to these technologies. First is that they are expensive to administer. Second is that most of these treatments take a series of appointments to achieve or maintain results. This means a person must find time in their busy schedule to commute to the location, undergo treatment and then commute home. They aren’t really designed for quick lunchtime appointments.
Some technologies are only available in a clinical setting in the form of devices or workstations. One example of a workstation is the Triton by InMode. This simultaneous multi-wavelength workstation uses Alexandrite and Diode or Nd: YAG and Diode emitted via a single pulse to safely treat a variety of hair and skin types.
Due to convenience and price, at-home treatments have become the go-to for people who want smooth and silky skin. They’re equally safe and typically produce similar results in the same amount of time as professional treatments.
At-Home Hair Removal Treatments
Technology powers treatments, propelling hair removal to exciting new frontiers. It was technology that created the at-home market, including waxing, depilatory creams and, of course, state-of-the-art devices.
The Silk’n family of hair removal devices offer reliable treatments that remove hair and enhance skin’s natural beauty. Treatments are safe and don’t really damper one’s schedule. In fact, some devices allow the user to perform treatments in the small window of time before work.
Don’t forget, these devices are FDA-cleared so they’re safe to use on your face and sensitive areas.
Home Pulsed Light (HPL)
With proper use, the proprietary HPL helps you achieve permanent hair removal. It employs safe pulses of optical light to target hair at a follicle’s root. The follicle absorbs the light, ensuring that skin is unharmed. This heats the follicle, damaging it and achieving removal while stunting the possibility of regrowth.
HPL exploits the contrast in colour between skin tone and hair colour. The caveat is that people with dark skin tones or blonde hair might not be susceptible to treatment.
This powerful technology produces noticeable results in four weeks with complete treatments taking 6-8 weeks if the user consistently follows the simple instructions.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
IPL is a technology used and popularized by salons, spas and clinics to perform hair removal and various skincare treatments, including photorejuvenation. This non-invasive technology requires little recovery time.
IPL produces a controlled and high-powered light that hair or skin first attracts and then absorbs. This intense light is visible and in the spectral range of 400 to 1200 nm. The handheld devices that features IPL are typically built with filters that remove shorter wavelengths, including potentially dangerous UV ones.
By targeting melanin, it heats and destroys hairs in a similar fashion to laser treatments. The main difference is that laser treatments use monochromatic light. IPL emits a light that travels into skin to strike the shaft of a hair follicle or the root, which usually has the highest concentration of melanin. During the process of heating the follicle or root, the papilla that produces hair is destroyed.
IPL treatments can be relatively painful, expensive and require maintenance. They work best on dark and coarse hair.
The use of galvanic energy has propelled hair removal technologies to the next level. Powering the Infinity hair removal device, galvanic energy allows treatment to penetrate further and attack hair with more efficacy.
The Infinity combines galvanic energy with optical energy to create a strategic one-two punch. Essentially, galvanic energy opens the pores to allow optical energy to reach follicles and deliver the most thorough and direct treatment on the market.
Investing in this device means not having to pay a fortune to receive expert hair removal. This device has adjustable energy levels so you can customize treatment to your skin type, tone or sensitivities. This gives the user complete control over the intensity of each session.
In eight treatments, the combination of galvanic and optical energy can produce noticeable results and smooth skin that will make you look and feel great.
Remember, the higher the energy level the more positive the results but also you increase the chances of negative side effects.
Diode Laser Technology
A diode is a semiconductor device that has two terminals to control the flow of a current in one direction while blocking it from travelling in the opposite direction. This current can be in the form of light, ranging from visible to infrared.
A diode controls a laser beam to target melanin or blood. It can damage hair follicles without harming skin and disrupt hair’s ability to regenerate. Often, treatments involving this technology include a cooling element to ensure a patient’s comfort and safety.
Radio-Frequency (RF) and IPL
Radio frequency is a band of frequencies often used in telecommunications. It leverages electromagnetic waves at different frequencies to produce a result. Think about tuning a radio and how the static subsides when you reach a frequency that carries a transmitted station.
Some at-home hair removal devices combine this technology with IPL, claiming that this marriage provides users with superior technology, safety and performance. It can penetrate to 1,400 nm whereas the traditional laser treatment can go as far as 800nm.
Theoretically, this duo works because IPL heats the follicles, which attract the RF energy. It offers many of the same benefits as IPL, including inhibiting the reappearance of hair by disabling the follicle. In some ways, it is more advanced than IPL on its own because it has the potential to treat both darker skin tones and lighter hair.
Photoepilation vs. Laser Hair Removal Systems
Companies like SharpLight offer a version of laser hair removal known as photoepilation. This clinical technology reduces hair in target areas by converting energy into heat and penetrating follicles while in the active growth stage. It can work with an array of skin types, colours and all body areas.
Photoepilation is a relatively new term and differs from laser therapy. It is hair removal by means of light (usually IPL), not with laser systems. These two technologies have other distinct differences.
A laser system is a light of a singular color where photons converge at the same wavelength (Alexandrite: 755 nm and Diode: 800nm) to travel in a straight line. The light is pure so it can accurately hit its target and maximize absorption.
Lasers are known for their unparalleled accuracy. This accuracy allows hair to be targeted without affecting the surrounding tissue. Incidentally, accuracy is responsible for laser treatment’s flaw. It’s a one-note tool that requires several lasers or a system of lasers to treat different target areas.
IPL emits a mixed light comprised of photons that travel at wavelengths that range from 590nm to 1200nm. Consider a lightbulb that disperses light in all directions to fill a room. IPL technology is the opposite. It controls light through filters and allows it to work a specific target area.
Less precise than lasers, IPL offers more versatility because it can emit different types of light. This technology can work better than laser treatments as it can treat a range of hair colour and skin colour.
Dynamic Pulse Control (DPC)
Versatility is an important component of technology. With respect to hair removal, technology needs the ability to treat specific needs, including:
- Hair color
- Hair thickness
- Hair depth
- Skin tone
- Skin color
- Small and large areas
- Growth phase
- Hormone phase
A more versatile technology employed by some brands and clinics is DPC. This system is designed with three pulse configurations: smooth pulse, long pulse and high pulse. These configurations allow the operator to exude maximum control over treatment.
Like HPL, DPC was developed as the next evolution of IPL, which was a step up from the laser treatments that first came to market in the 1970s. It helped to create a network of at-home technologies that were safe and that effectively removed hair.
Silk’n vs. The Competition
Understanding the technologies that power both clinical and at-home treatment is the first step toward hair-free skin. The next step is to decide on what treatment to seek. While technology and efficacy are key factors, you also want to consider what best fits your life.
- Elos Me used to be the best option to treat dark skin and light coloured hair. The Infinity offers the same benefits with better results and at a much lower price.
- Lumea Comfort is still incapable of treating lighter hair colors like blonde. Additionally, treatments tend to be longer than certain Silk’n devices like the Express.
- Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X lets users enjoy the diode laser technology often found in a dermatologist’s office. This oldie—the first to be FDA approved—Is still a solid device but less powerful than any from the Flash&Go It can’t treat as many hair or skin types as the Infinity.
The Infinity emits a wavelength at 475-1200nm, giving users painless treatments that don’t leave a trail of stubble or irritate the skin. You can customize treatments via one of the five power settings. It is built with a quartz bulb that truncates treatment duration. The result every time is silky smooth skin.
This product requires 6-12 treatments followed by a maintenance plan. Don’t worry if you aren’t the most patient person, you will see noticeable results after only a couple of treatments.
Start a Program Today!
Now that you understand the technology behind the best hair removal methods, you need to commit to a treatment plan that will make you look amazing and feel your most confident. Find the one that will remove stubborn hair with the greatest ease.
Browse our hair removal devices to find that one that best fits your lifestyle. To continue to grow your hair removal knowledge, visit our Hair Removal Resource Center for access to tips, advice, testimonials and product use best practices.