I tested a home laser hair removal device and having had the real thing, here’s how it compares

  • Laser hair removal is usually done by a professional, but there are home IPL devices.

  • The SmoothSkin Bare + is an FDA approved portable IPL hair removal device.

  • A publisher tested the effectiveness of the device on his armpits compared to professional treatments.

I shave my armpits about every other day in the shower. It’s not something I absolutely hate doing, but I don’t really like the activity either. If I’m given the option to just snap my fingers and pouf, I would be able to get rid of the hair for good, I would totally do it – it’s just my personal preference. I tried different hair removal methods besides shaving, like waxing, but couldn’t commit to the rigorous schedule it requires. On the other hand, I have done laser hair removal on my bikini line and preferred this over all other forms of body hair removal. The only problem: professional laser hair removal is not the most accessible beauty treatment because of its price. I never even considered being able to laser at home until I learned of the existence of SmoothSkin Bare + ($ 279), a newly approved FDA-approved home IPL hair removal device.

SmoothSkin has been in the home laser hair removal business for some time, but it has just expanded into the US market. Its products are clinically proven and safe for home use. Honestly, I was skeptical at first that this would work. Having had very successful laser hair removal at a spa in the past, I was not sure it would give the same results without hair.

The SmoothSkin Bare + is a small, portable device just bigger than my palm. It uses 100 IPL – which stands for Intense Pulsed Light – blinks per minute to target body hair, reducing its growth over time to reveal smooth skin. (Technically speaking, IPL is not the same as laser treatment, which uses single spectrum light to emit a specific wavelength.)

It is allowed to be used on the whole body – armpits, legs, bikini line and even the face – and all you have to do is press a single button to activate it, so it is very simple to use. The instructions advise to use it on clean skin and that all visible hair should be removed by shaving before treating the area – this is very different from professional laser hair removal, which requires there to be a beard short and visible on the area. Once you plug it in, the device will automatically turn on and you are good to go. To use it, you lightly press it against the area you want to treat and press the button. The device has a smart sensor and only allows you to activate IPL if it registers a compatible surface and skin tone, which is clearly indicated by the button that changes from red to blue. Even if you press the button without the device giving you the OK, it will not work.

The first time I used the SmoothSkin Bare + I was a little nervous – probably more than I was about getting professional laser hair removal. Even though the instructions seemed simple enough, I was afraid I would mess everything up or hurt. I finally found the courage to use it for the first time one night and was pleasantly surprised. I positioned the device against my armpit and once the button turned blue I clicked. A burst of white light – nothing too strong or dangerous for you to need glasses – flashed against my skin, and I felt a slight warmth and tingling sensation. It was nothing compared to the laser treatment I received at the salon. After the first pass, I felt confident to continue to treat my entire armpits and move to the other side.

The device treats an area of ​​skin about an inch by two centimeters at a time, so it took several passes to finish my armpit. I wouldn’t describe the feeling it leaves as painful, although obviously the pain is subjective – it’s just hot. Afterwards, my skin was a little pink, but it was barely noticeable and there was no lingering pain.

There are some limitations to the device – as with all lasers, you have to check that it is compatible with your skin tone and that it will not cause any irritation (the brand strongly recommends a patch test, and I approve). It also does not work on all hair colors (a common problem with all types of IPL hair removal) because the device cannot register the ultra-light pigment in blonde hair, so it works best for dark hair. .

Yet I have been using the SmoothSkin Bare + once a week for about a month and a half, and although I still get some hair growth that causes me to shave, I have noticed a difference in the amount and thickness. . . After about five weeks my armpit hair has started to get thinner and I plan to go through the treatments to see how much progress I can make (besides testing them on other areas of my body as well). Considering that treating both of my armpits takes me less than five minutes, it’s not difficult to fit into my routine.

So, is it as effective as professional grade laser hair removal? No, but considering it’s priced under $ 300 and you can treat your whole body with it, I think it’s worth it.