Permanent Hair Removal Part 1: Laser, IPL, or Tria?
by Ning Chao
Published Apr 08, 2011
If you're tired of shaving or waxing and want smooth skin by summer, now's the time to get started on a permanent hair removal plan. Regardless of whether you choose laser, IPL, or an at home device (like the Tria), permanent hair removal is not a one time procedure, which is why you need to start your regimen now. "At any one time, only 20% of our body hair follicles and only 15% of our facial hair follicles are at the active stage," explains Cynthia Chua, co-founder of Strip Ministry of Waxing. Light-based treatments (such as laser, IPL, or Tria) work by targeting your active hair follicles (the ones in the growth phase), so that means that only 20% of our body hair follicles or 15% of our facial hair follicles will be destroyed during the first session. "This is why we always recommend at least 6 sessions to ensure effective results for body hair reduction and 10 sessions for facial hair reduction. Don't believe the hype, you don't need unlimited sessions to eliminate your hair woes," says Cynthia.
Not sure which permanent hair removal procedure is right for you? Here are the pros and cons for laser, IPL, and Tria:
Pros: Lasers use a narrow wavelength of light to zap and destroy hair follicles. Because of the targeted precision, this method is extremely effective.
Cons: Laser treatment is not recommended for tan and darker skin tones, which have a high risk of burning and scarring because lasers are designed to target pigment and can't differentiate between the pigment in your skin and in your hair. Because the laser focuses on pigment, gray and blonde hairs can't be treated with laser hair removal. The zapping is more painful than other light-based treatments, like IPL. It will feel like a rubber band snapping against your skin.
Pros: IPL uses a broader spectrum of light than a laser so it's safer and less painful. The device is also larger than a laser head, so the actual treatment is faster too. A wider range of skin tones can be treated with IPL, but you should still schedule a consult first to make sure you're a suitable candidate.
Cons: There is still a risk of burning with IPL, especially if you don't go to a reputable place (be wary of too good to be true deals). Also, not all IPL devices are designed to treat darker skin tones. If you feel any sort of discomfort, speak up immediately!
Pros: At $495, the Tria is still an investment, but it's less expensive than professional laser and IPL treatments and you have the device at home, so you can use it at your convenience. Also, if you see the odd hair sprouting up a few months later, you can just zap it immediately.
Cons: The Tria's device head is small, so Tria hair removal treatments will take much longer than a professional service (good thing you're doing it at home!). Also, in order to lower the risk of burning, the Tria is less powerful than a professional laser or IPL machine. There is a safety lock where the Tria won't turn on if your skin tone and hair color are too close in pigment shade, but if you do end up burning yourself, there isn't much recourse if you're at home. Finally, certain areas (such as the bikini) are awkward to reach and treat on your own.