Does anyone know a woman who wouldn’t want to trade shaving and waxing regularly for a few painless treatments that will leave her hairless with silky skin? Because the answer for most women is a resounding no, the hottest present for this holiday season may just be a home laser hair removal device that keeps you hairless in unwanted areas for the long-term. Until now, laser hair removal has been a luxury treatment offered by doctors, aestheticians, and spas for anywhere from $400 to $900 per treatment area and on average for $3000 per year if you were treating legs, bikini line, and underarms. Now, the same laser technology is finally available to use at home safely and the FDA has approved two home-use laser devices that deliver professional-level hair removal results in the privacy of your own home with minimal discomfort.
The two FDA-cleared devices have just been launched and are Silk’n Hair Removal Device ($800) and the TRIA ($995). Besides the convenience of being able to forego the endless waxing and shaving routine and the cost savings relative to standard hair removal methods (see comparison table below), these devices have actually been proven to deliver excellent results in clinical studies.
(Left: Before Silk’n treatments, Right: 3.5 months after Silk’n treatments)
With Silk’n, women who participated in clinical trials achieved an average hair reduction of 50% following three months of bi-monthly treatment sessions. Using these devices is a relatively painless ritual, with most people reporting a slight sensation of heat, itch, or minor sting that goes away immediately after treatment. That may just be a small price to pay compared to painful waxing, continuous shaving routines, side effects like razor bumps and ingrown hairs, and expensive in-office treatments. The FDA cleared these devices for home-use, which means that when used as directed Silk’n or TRIA have been tested to have no side effects or risks. However, just like with professional spa hair removal devices, these home-devices should not be used on deep brown and black skin tones and they are not effective on blond, red, gray, or white body hair. The user satisfaction rate speaks for itself, as nearly 90% of women said they would recommend Silk’n to a friend or family member, and close to 90% described Silk’n as convenient, easy, useful and innovative.
For optimal results, the manufacturers of the devices recommend spacing treatments every two weeks during the first few months and then gradually reducing the number of treatments and using the devices again only when hair re-appears. The results are not immediate due to the nature of hair growing in cycles. During any cycle, some hair follicles will be dormant and will not be visible and then grow and become visible during the growth phase. Laser hair removal is only effective when the hair is in the growth cycle, which is why the treatments need to be repeated for some time.
The technology underlying Silk’n and TRIA is the very same technology behind professional machines found in spas and aesthetician offices. Light-based hair removal is based on the theory of selective photothermolysis in which optical energy is used to disable hair growth. To achieve this effect, the hair shaft needs to selectively absorb light energy and transform it into heat. This selectivity is achieved when high optical energy that is delivered to the tissue is mostly absorbed by hair shaft pigment, while the epidermis and the surrounding tissue is actively cooled (by a cooling mechanism). Melanin is the pigment in the hair shaft that is responsible for the absorption of the light, which generates the heat that eventually disables hair growth. When hair growth is disabled, long-term hair removal is achieved.
(Left: Before treatment, Middle: During laser hair removal; Right: After treatment)
Both Silk’n and TRIA have safety features to make the user experience as safe as possible. Silk’n comes equipped with an applicator tip that has been designed so that a light pulse can only be emitted when the applicator is in contact with the skin. This eliminates the possibility of an accidental flash of light directly towards a user’s eyes. Silk’n also uses a very low but effective level of energy, up to 5 joules per square centimeter. The TRIA includes a neat, proprietary skin sensor that enables the user to test their skin prior to each treatment to ensure that the user’s skin tone is compatible with TRIA.
With a price tag of less than $1,000, Silk’n and TRIA can save you more than just the hassle and pain of shaving and waxing — but money as well. The average cost of alternative hair removal over a period of 10 years is estimated to run anywhere from $3,400 to over $7,000, whereas Silk’n and TRIA can be used again and again, reducing the overall cost* of lasting hair removal.
|Waxing at Home||$3,440|
|Professional Hair Removal||$4,980|
*cost included time spent at $20 per hour
So which device works better?
In November this year, Good Morning America’s Becky Worley put the two devices to the test and used Silk’n on one leg and TRIA on the other for two and a half months. The results showed that Silk’n worked remarkably better than TRIA, which takes longer to deliver results.
“If I had to qualify the differences in hair growth for me, I’d say that after two weeks of not shaving either leg I have 70 percent less hair on the Silk’n leg and about 30 percent less hair on the Tria leg,” said Worley. “I haven’t counted the hairs, but I have twice as much hair on the Tria side as I do on the Silk’n side.”
Featuring a patented Home Pulsed Light (“HPL”) technology, Silk’n has a spot treatment size of 2cm by 6 cm, compared to the smaller spot size of 1 cm diameter of the TRIA, a diode laser. This means that Silk’n covers more area with less time than the TRIA. On average, the underarms can be treated in as little as 5 minutes by Silk’n and two lower legs can be treated in less than 30 minutes.
Dr. R. Stephen Mullholland, a cosmetic plastic surgeon in practice in Los Angeles, California and Toronto, Canada believes that compared to TRIA, Silk’n is “not as painful and the effective treatment size [with Silk'n] is probably about 300% larger, so it is much faster.” Dr. Mullholland, who has tested the two systems, also points to the advantage of Silk’n running on regular household current with unlimited power, unlike the battery-operated Tria which provides power “for only a limited number of pulses, so you cannot treat an entire lower leg on one charge.”
While the devices are both being marketed to women, that is not to say that men have not rushed to try the devices either. With men accounting for 13% of the laser hair removal market, it is not surprising to find men buying Silk’n and TRIA.
So if you’re still undecided what to get your significant other, friend, relative, or for yourself, you may just want to consider Silk’n or TRIA, which is certainly heating up to be one of the most sought after gifts during this holiday season.
Where can I find Silk’n & TRIA?
- Shop for Silk’n here
- TRIA is sold exclusively through physicians’ offices