Ditch the razor for the laser? Experts weigh in on hair removal

At-home laser devices can be useful, but are not always the best option, especially if you have darker skin

Bikini season is just around the corner, but don’t break out those razors just yet. When it comes to hair removal, according to the experts, lasers might be the best way to go.

“A laser is the most effective way to remove hair because it uses a particular wavelength of light that’s going to perfectly target your hair based on your hair color and your skin color,” Dr. Deirdre Hooper, co-founder of Audubon Dermatology, told CNN.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, laser hair removal uses a noninvasive, highly concentrated light to penetrate hair follicles, overheating the pigments underneath and inhibiting future hair growth. It’s not a permanent fix, however, and it sometimes requires multiple sessions.

There are also some minor risks involved.

“The darker your skin type, the more you really need to vet who is doing the treatments,” Dr. Suzanne Kilmer, founder and director of Laser and Skin Surgery Center and clinical professor at the University of California, told CNN. Because the laser devices target pigment as well as hair type, darker skin types are at risk of being burned.

Laser hair removal treatments are offered at dermatology offices, but they are also offered at medical spas. That’s where the risk is highest.

“If you have dark skin, don’t even try going to (an inexpensive medical spa) because I get all the burns from those places,” Kilmer said.

The average treatment will set a customer back $582, and it is often not covered by health insurance. For more than a decade, companies have been offering at-home laser removal kits that are much easier on the wallet. These kits work a little differently than the laser treatments offered in medical offices, using a less precise intense pulsed light system.

“You’re going to get good results with an at home IPL — probably 60% to 75% of what you could get with an in-office laser procedure — and it’s done at your convenience at a lower cost,” Hooper said.

Hooper warned, however, that people will dark skin should consider paying the extra money for a proper laser hair removal treatment at a dermatologist’s office to avoid burns.

“I have treated three of these (burns) this spring already in my office,” Hooper said.

The Audubon Dermatology co-founder advised consulting with a dermatologist before choosing the treatment right for you.