If you are thinking about doing laser hair removal for your face or neck (generally it is recommended to only do DIY laser hair removal for areas downwards of the cheek, so the eyebrows and hair on your head are not included) you need to ensure that the device you are purchasing is cleared for face use by the FDA.
You need to be aware that many marketers & retailers do not give reliable information about whether a particular device is safe for face use (some are even confused themselves).
To save you some time, we have selected and reviewed 5 of the best products that are suitable for face use. Keep in mind that these devices can also be used on the body, even though each has its own pros and cons depending on which part of the body you intend to use it on.
1. Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X
This is the device that helped me become hair free on problem areas like the bikini line, underarms and upper lip. The 4X device that delivers true laser hair removal as it uses actual laser technology compared to most devices today that use pulse light technology. Generally, laser is stronger than pulse light, so what this means is that it gives you the best chance of removing stubborn hair (especially fine hair that IPL systems typically are less effective in treating) similar to what you’d experience in a salon.
- No need for replacement cartridges – hassle free
- Designed for long term results (as compared to lower energy devices)
- Built in sensor tells you whether your skin tone is suitable
- Treatment head is very streamlined which makes it easy to access finer parts of the body which may be more difficult to access using other systems
- Portability, ergonomic design & digital display makes it extremely user friendly
- FDA cleared
- Due to the power of the device, slight pain may be experienced at the highest levels (4 & 5) especially for sensitive areas and the use of a numbing cream might be required
- Higher initial cost (up to $600) compared with other systems. However, this system can sometimes be purchased at $400+ with offers & discounts (check out link below)
VERDICT: This is a powerful device (go easy with the intensity settings initially) that can be used effectively on both the face and the body. If you intend to treat the face, neck, underarms, bikini line or any area that requires precision, but also want to remove body hair (e.g. legs) at the same time, then this is the perfect device for you.
** Update Feb 2017: The Tria 4X is currently retailing on Amazon for nearly $100 off its usual price, check out link below for details:
2. Remington iLIGHT ULTRA With Lifetime Cartridge
If you’ve read my main article, you would know that the Remington IPL6000 is one of my top picks for body hair removal, given it’s generous treatment window. Well, now Remington has finally released a model that is FDA cleared for facial hair removal (for female facial hair) with a facial treatment attachment included. What’s more, this new model includes a 65,000 flashes lifetime cartridge meaning there is no need for replacement cartridges anymore!
Among intense pulse light (IPL) systems, the iLight Pro series is one of the most powerful, capable of delivering up 7-8 J/cm2 of light energy. It also has a fairly large treatment head making it convenient to treat larger areas. If you are looking to remove hair from larger areas like the chest, legs and back, we strongly recommend this machine as it provides the best balance between power, cost and efficiency.
- One of the strongest IPL hair removal machines available
- Capable of permanent hair removal
- Large treatment window of 3 cm2
- No need to purchase replacement cartridge as a lifetime cartridge comes included with the system
- Facial treatment cap included
- FDA cleared
- Initial cost of $459 required to purchase this machine (but this is offset by the long lifetime of this system which will pay for itself in a few months compared to other systems that require you to constantly purchase replacement cartridges )
- With IPL systems, it may take a little longer to see results, as compared to professional laser treatments. Even though the advertisements say that results can be seen in as fast as 3 treatments, based on my experience with IPL systems, I would say that 6 to 8 sessions would give you a better gauge of the results. Also remember that hair grows in different phases and the pulse light only targets those hairs in the active phase, so consistent treatment over an extended period of time gives you the best chance of good results.
*Update July 2016: the new iLight ULTRA model with the lifetime cartridge is cleared for use on the face. See the link below for details.
VERDICT: This is the perfect system if you are looking at removing hair on the body (including legs, chest, arms etc), but also want to use it on the facial area. The high pulse intensity, large treatment head and low ongoing maintenance costs makes this an overall excellent value for money product.
3. Silk’n Flash & Go
This was the very first device that I used when I started DIY laser hair removal. I like that it has a very straightforward point-and-shoot design and the treatment window (4 cm2) is sized such that it is convenient for treating both smaller areas (upper lip etc.) and larger areas like the legs.
As this device uses pulse light technology rather than laser, it is virtually painless compared to professional treatment. The only drawback I found was that it takes a longer time to see results compared to laser systems so I had to be more patient. At the end of the first 8 weeks of treatment, I saw approximately 70% reduction in hair growth in the areas that were treated.
- Budget friendly: you can pick it up for a little less than $200 (see link below)
- Can be used both on the face (below the cheeks) & body
- Virtually painless compared to laser systems
- Versatile: can be used for both face (below cheeks) and body treatment
- Models purchased after 2014 comes with an upgraded 5000-flashes cartridge (1000 previously) that can provide 5 to 6 full body treatments
- Takes a longer time to see results compared to laser
- Maintenance treatment may be required for areas with stubborn hair growth
VERDICT: This system is very versatile and provides excellent value for money. It is especially great if you are new to hair removal and don’t want to spend too much on an expensive system, but still want something that can deliver good results.
* If you are looking to purchase a refill cartridge for the Flash & Go, I recommend purchasing the Long Life Upgrade Kit Cartridge rather than the regular cartridges. The long life cartridge contains 120,000 flashes that equates to more than 100 full body sessions and will last you a long long time. Much more value for money than the regular cartridge that only has 1000 flashes! (check out link below)
4. LumaRx Hair Removal Device
I was introduced to this device by my close friend Lisa who owns a spa and actually uses this on her clients. While I have personally used the Tria 4X & the Remington IPL6000 devices and find them effective, I believe the LumaRX combines the advantages of those 2 devices into 1 device which is pretty impressive! This is a relatively new product so I guess its manufacturer has really taken the time to come up with this device based on the pros & cons of existing devices in the market.
- Just like the Tria 4X, this device is FDA cleared for use on body hair, as well as female facial hair (at-home laser hair removal devices are generally not suitable for use on male facial hair as I’ve explained in the main article)
- It comes with a 65,000 flash cartridge. Although the Tria 4x comes with 90,000 flashes, its cartridge is non-replaceable which means that the device is basically dead once the flashes have been used up. On the other hand, the LumaRX can be reloaded when it’s cartridge has been expended. But to put things in perspective, 65,000 flashes is more than a year’s worth of full body treatment sessions for a single user, so it should be more than adequate for the average user if used effectively
- Like the Remington IPL6000 series (2 cm2), the LumaRX has a relatively large-sized treatment head (3 cm2 ) which makes it easy to treat larger parts of the body like the legs and chest. But where LumaRX has really upped the game is it’s inclusion of a ‘facial cap’ that can be capped onto the treatment window when you want to treat smaller, delicate & contoured areas like the chin and above the upper lip.
- The only possible disadvantage I see with this device is that being an IPL device, it has a lower power (7-8 J/cm2 ) compared to laser devices like the Tria 4X (9-22 J/cm2). However the manufacturer of LumaRX also claims that it has perfected the wavelength settings such that it can penetrate deep into the hair roots effectively despite the lower power, and that results can be seen within 3 sessions. That said, based on my personal experience with IPL systems, I would still recommend following through consistently with treatments for 6 to 8 sessions before evaluating whether the system is working for you. This is because hair grows in different phases and treating them consistently over a period of time gives you the best chance of targeting the hair roots when they are in the right phase.
VERDICT: This is a well designed device that combines the advantages and addresses the shortcomings of existing devices in the market. It is clearly designed and also priced to compete with other premium laser hair removal devices like the Tria 4X & the Remington iLight Pro Plus series. Definitely a device to consider if you intend to treat both the face and the body.
5. Iluminage Touch Permanent Hair Reduction System
The biggest draw for this machine is that unlike other systems, it is suitable for individuals of both light and dark skin tones! This breakthrough is possible because it uses a combination of IPL & RF (radio frequency) technology.
* Note: we have not personally tested this device on darker skin tones, its suitability is based on manufacturer guidelines as well as user reviews (see link below)
This device can be used on both the face (areas below the cheeks only) and the body.
- Larger treatment window makes it convenient to treat larger areas like the legs and the back
- Comes with a 120, 000 pulse cartridge – that’s up to a few years of regular use
- Can be used even for darker skin tones
- Not as powerful as laser devices (up to 9 J/cm2 compared with Tria’s 7-22 J/cm2)
- Relatively expensive – retail price is $449
VERDICT: This is an excellent product especially if you have darker skin and have been excluded from using traditional laser and IPL treatment. This versatile system is designed for both face and body use. Its larger treatment area also makes it great for treating larger areas of the body like the chest, legs and back. Even though it has a relatively high asking price, we still think it is great value for money considering how long it can be used without having to purchase a replacement cartridge.