Does At Home Laser Hair Removal work?by FEIGE LEWIN
Over the past year there has been a rise of at home Laser hair removal devices available locally. Priced at a few thousand rands, they promise you an easier, more affordable and quicker solution to salon laser hair removal. If you’ve dealt with the pain of hair removal, the idea of getting permanent smooth hair free skin without the price tag that comes with salon laser sessions is an attractive one.
But do they work?
To answer this question I tested the Lumilia Lux 2in1 IPL Device from Lumilia Skin Co for 12 weeks.
Before you even consider laser hair removal, be it at home or at a salon, you need to be a good candidate. Contrary to most flashy ads, IPL and laser is not effective for everyone and there is always a chance that you will not get the ideal results. As Charl from Lumilia Skin Co told me at the get go;
“Numerous factors like hormones, skin tone and hair colour can play a big role in the results you get from the device.”
These factors also determine how many sessions you might need. I’ve heard horror stories of people doing a year’s worth of sessions at a salon only to find out post spending thousands of rands that they don’t meet the requirements of an eligible candidate and it never would have worked.
The Criteria for Laser Hair Removal
Hair colour and skin colour determine whether laser hair removal will work for you. Lumilia Skin Co are transparent about this and provide a handy colour chart on their website.
The lighter your skin and darker your hair, the better your chances of success are. In short, I am the ideal candidate. Keep this in mind when we get to my results.
Hormones also impact results. For laser to work, your hormones have to be in balance and your hair growth phase has to be in the Anagen phase when flashed by the device.
Other factors to consider are medical history and use of medication. Roaccutane if used in the past 6 months makes your skin more susceptible to tears, wounds or irritations. You should not laser skin that is being treated with AHAs, BHAs, Azelaic acid or isotretinoin. If you have any skin conditions, diabetes, are taking medications (aspirin, painkillers, immunosuppressants) you need to pre consult with your doctor.
How does laser hair removal work?
- Light energy produced by the device, is transferred through the skin surface and is absorbed by the melanin in the hair shaft.
- The light energy is converted into heat energy which thermically damages the hair follicle.
- The result is delayed regrowth or permanent destruction of the hair follicle.
What is the Anagen Phase?
Hair growth occurs in a cycle that has three stages; Anagen (growth), Catagen (transition) and Telogen (rest). Not all hairs are in the same phase at the same time – when you do a laser session, hairs in the Catagen and Telogen phase won’t be treated. This is why a course of treatments is required.
The Anagen phase is the growing phase. During this phase, melanin is made in the hair bulb. With Melanin being the vehicle of the light absorption that becomes the heat energy that destroys the hair follicle, without it the laser wouldn’t work. In short, for laser to work your hair growth must be in the Anagen phase.
Laser Hair Removal Preparation
Before your first light flash you want to ensure that the light energy can reach the hair follicle and quickly. To do this you need to do a close-to-skin shave prior to treatment. Exfoliation is also beneficial as it can remove any dead skin cells that get trapped under the skin.
During your treatment course you cannot wax, pluck, thread or epilate – the hair follicle needs to be intact for Laser Hair removal to work. Unlike salon laser sessions, the Lumilia Lux 2in1 IPL Device needs to be applied onto clean skin – no gel, no moisturiser.
How long does At Home Laser Hair removal take?
How long is a piece of string? There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Hair colour, skin colour, hair growth phase, hormones, skin preparation, and using the device correctly, all play a role in how long it will take.
That being said, Lumilia recommend a 12 week course of treatment:
Weeks 0-2: 1 to 2 treatments weekly
After this time you should expect hair to grow back.
Weeks 2-4: 1 to 2 treatments weekly
After this time you should start seeing a reduction in hair growth.
Weeks 4-8: 1 to 2 treatments weekly
After this you should see a significant reduction in hair growth and density.
Weeks 8-12: 1 to 2 treatments Monthly
After this only touch ups should be required on a per-need basis.
Unboxing the Lumilia Lux 2in1 IPL Device
The device is beautifully packaged in a white box with gold lettering. The lid lifts in the same slow reveal way an Apple product does and it really sets the lux tone.
Inside the box, the handheld device sits at the top with special glasses and the plug in their own boxes underneath. It also comes with a user guide that contains everything you need to know; Safety Info, Contraindications, Warnings, Device care instructions, course of treatment explanation, how to get your skin ready and patch test, How to use it, aftercare, side effects, common reactions, the specification info and FAQ’s.
My experience using the Lumilia Lux 2in1 IPL Device
The instructions are very easy to follow, but it does take a few tries to get the hang of which button does what. I accidentally shut it off and changed the level the first few times.
The device handily switches between auto and manual mode – auto mode will automatically flash when it touches the skin whereas for manual you need to wait for the device to refresh (1-3 seconds) and then hit the button for a flash. The first attempt at using it I had it set to Auto. I was not prepared for the flash and zap when it hit the skin and almost jumped out of mine. Word of caution, definitely start on manual. Once you know what to expect, I found having it on auto is easier. This prevented me from having to press the button (which prevented me accidentally adjusting the level) and it eliminated double presses (when you press before the device has refreshed and it can’t flash yet).
My Laser hair Removal Treatment Protocol
Treatment Length: 12 weeks, 23 sessions
I decided off the bat that I was going to two sessions a week for the full 12 weeks and flash each area twice. In reality this didn’t happen the full 12 weeks, as some days I was short on time so only flashed once, or had to leave out the area that took the longest (legs and arms).
Flash + intensity: Twice per area, Light Intensity 8
I wanted to start on the highest level (8) as the how to guide indicated 6-8 is the intensity setting to use for my skin type and tone. I could have started at 6 but decided to test tolerance and more felt like more. It’s the same way I like to set my hairdryer on full speed and full heat, psychologically higher settings feel like you’re getting the most.
I kept it on 8 because it was very tolerable. You do feel a warmth but I wouldn’t say it hurts. The zapping sound is more “dramatic” than the feel. There are a few areas in which you feel a painful zap but the discomfort lasts seconds. The areas that felt the most painful were knees and some spots around the bikini line. In short, be careful around bony areas. Waxing is more painful. The zap you feel is very much like a laser face treatment, which they accurately describe as a rubber band snapping against your skin.
Treatment Areas: Legs, Arms, Underarms, Bikini
I love that you can treat any area you want at the same time without it costing an arm and a leg. I started on day 1 with areas that I usually shave but had to wait on areas that I wax. As mentioned earlier, you cannot wax pre-treatment as the hair follicle needs to be intact for it to work.
Areas like the underarms and bikini are quick but the legs take a long time. Because the treatment requires you to flash an area the size of the window, it takes a while to cover larger surface areas. To cover all four areas, treatments took me 30 minutes to an hour. 30 minutes when I was doing single flashes on my legs and only spot flashing on my thighs.
1 hour sounds long and when you have days in which you’re short on time it does feel long and sluggish but bear in mind the time it would take you to do it at a salon. Booking, driving, parking, changing, treating, paying etc. is a far longer and more tedious process. Two hours a week is a time investment and doing it in the comfort of your own home is a huge plus.
Although my skin felt smoother in between shaves, during the first four weeks I didn’t see a noticeable reduction in hair growth time or density.
Week four is when I started noticing a reduction in hair growth. I was away for a full week so didn’t shave and regrowth in all areas was minimal and very soft feeling.
During this time I also started developing a histamine reaction on my legs. Tiny red bumps appeared and they were itchy. If you are prone to histamine reactions, this is completely normal. It’s also normal to have some redness or swelling around the follicles. I have always been prone to histamine reactions (get them consistently after speed training or long distance runs) so I should have seen it coming.
Lumilia defines this reaction as good because it means the treatments are working. They advised me to treat the skin with Aloe vera after the IPL session to soothe the skin and fight inflammation. They also said I could consider taking OTC anti-histamine medicine before doing my IPL sessions. I was going to do both, but before I got myself to a store to buy the goods, the reaction cleared on its own and didn’t happen again.
During this time the reduction continued gradually. You don’t notice anything major week on week, but when you get to the end of week 12 and you look back on where you started – the result is actually quite dramatic.
Prior to this trial my hair removal method for this area has been a combination of shaving and plucking. Any form of hair removal that rips the hair out at the root weakens the hair shaft, so over time you have reduced hair growth and finer hair. My hair in this area was finer.
This is the area I was most consistent with. It is so easy and quick to treat a small area (less than 5 minutes). Every session involved underarms and two flashes per area.
At the end of 12 weeks the hair is not completely gone, but regrowth has reduced by more than 90% and the hair that is still coming is only in one area.
Prior to this trial my only hair removal method has been waxing which had already reduced hair growth. I started this area much later than everywhere else, so am only 5 weeks in.
As per the general trend, this is the week that I am starting to see a reduction in growth. I am very optimistic that this area should follow the same pattern as underarms.
Prior to this trial my only hair removal method has been daily shaving.
Because of this daily ritual, I noticed a difference in this area almost immediately. I chose to only shave twice a week right before my IPL sessions and somehow from day 1 this didn’t bother me. My legs also started feeling smoother within those first four weeks.
By week 4 I was already noticing a reduction. When I went away for a week at week 5, and didn’t shave the whole week – hair growth wasn’t any fuller with the extra days in between.
I haven’t been the most consistent with this area because it takes the longest. I’ve skipped legs on a few occasion and also only flash once per area.
At the end of week 12 the results are great but definitely not done. Reduction in growth is around 60-70%. The hairs are growing in slower and smoother and after 4 days of not shaving are so short and sparce that they can’t be seen unless your eyes are right up against the leg. The spikey leg feel is long gone.
This has been the most satisfying area to see results in because of how much time it has saved me getting ready every day. Shaving takes time and if it’s something you do daily this will be such a gamechanger for you.
Prior to this trial my only hair removal method has been shaving. Hair growth on my arms has never been dense and the hairs are fine. My results have mirrored that of the underarms.
Although I was consistent in including arms in every session, I only flashed once per area.
At the end of 12 weeks the results in this area are the closest to 100%. I don’t have regrowth in between every shaving session, so the rate of growth has definitely slowed down everywhere. On the days I do see hairs, they are so light and fine that I could easily stop now and be happy.
Would I recommend At Home Laser Hair Removal with the Lumilia Lux 2in1 IPL device?
The Lumilia Lux 2in1 IPL device has blown me away. I have no doubt that if I continue treating all areas in the same way, I will be hair free in the next few months.
Not only is this much quicker than it would take at a salon, you cannot compare the cost. I also love the privacy aspect of it. Hair removal is an intimate beauty treatment and you need to be able to trust and feel comfortable with your therapist. It’s nice to not have to worry about whether the place you are going to is reputable.
Yes, it takes time and is a commitment, but the end result is permanently smooth hair free skin. A trade well worth it.
If you are considering laser hair removal, going the at home route is a no brainer.
The Lumilia Lux 2in1 IPL Device is available in 4 colours and retails for R2995 on their website (currently on sale, original price R3495). They also currently have a further R400 off offer code so you can get it for R2595. Their shipping is also free, arrives to your doorstep in 1-3 days and they also offer a 90 day money back guarantee.