Monday, August 2, 2010

At-Home Laser Hair Removal: Silk'n SensEpil Review

Not too long ago, ExtraPetite mentioned that she is getting laser hair removal and was immediately met with a lot of interest.  I think she is planning to blog about it, but I wanted to throw in my two cents about my experience with at-home laser hair removal just in case anyone has ever thought about trying it.

I’m definitely not one of those lucky Asian gals who have no or hardly noticeable body hair.  Instead I have tons of thick coarse black hair which, in combination with my super fair skin, makes shaving only effective for a day at most.  Not to mention stubble makes me really itchy and I have borderline eczema so it’s just no good!  I’ve also tried epilation, which basically is tweezing with a gizmo that has multiple tweezer heads that rotates at high speed… and as you can imagine, it simply equates to amplified pain to get the job done quicker.  Now some people swear by it and say that after a while you don’t feel the pain anymore.  But it definitely hurts (especially on the legs) so I tend to go for a long time in between sessions, which meant my skin never really got used to the pain.  The additional downsides for me are that it takes a long time to do (~30 min), and I get lots of in-growns which are never fun.

Fortunately, I'm apparently the ideal candidate for laser hair removal.  Since it targets pigmentation, having darker hair makes it more effective and lighter skin makes it more safe.  After a little bit of research, I decided to try the Silk'n SensEpil:

It works by some type of pulsing light technology:

The treatment area is an approximately 1 x 1.5 inch rectangle (yellow):

You basically place the yellow part on the skin, press the button and it flashes like a camera.  Then move on to the next area while it recharges (about 2-3 seconds) and repeat.  This is supposedly fast compared to other at-home laser systems.  It took me about 45 min total to do my legs and underarms, but I was very careful about overlapping areas to make sure nothing gets missed.  It's safe for legs, underarms, bikini area, and even upper lip.  As for pain level, it’s not bad (especially compared to epilating) but gets more uncomfortable as time goes on and as the unit gets hotter, so I’d definitely recommend doing more sensitive areas first.

I used it once every 2 weeks for a total of 4 sessions, and initially I was pretty happy with the results.  Although hair did not fall out right away, they easily came off within a day or two.  Because hair grows in cycles, it took 2-3 sessions to treat them all, and after that I was completely smooth for weeks!  Any hair that did grow were very fine and not noticeable at all.  And the best part?  No in-growns!!  But since I thought the results were “permanent” I stopped using it and ended up not keeping it.  Over time, my hair started growing back, although to this day I still see an overall reduction in the amount of hair… probably by ~50%.

The unit retails for $500, and each $50 replacement cartridge lasts about 2 sessions for my legs and underarms.  Here's where being petite is a plus because there's less skin to cover and the cartridge lasts for longer!  It’s definitely not a frivolous purchase, but still cost-effective compared to professional laser treatment which costs thousands of dollars.  There’s also a convenience factor since you can do it at home.  The only downside for me is the need to keep using it (and replacing cartridges) to maintain results.  But supposedly, after the initial few sessions, the treatments needed will become more infrequent.

I really miss the smoothness of the results and the convenience of not having to shave or tweeze for months at a time.  I'm considering re-purchasing and giving it a long-term chance to work.  Some other options include the other popular at-home laser system, Tria, which I've heard mixed results about and am not too familiar with:

And of course there's always the much more expensive professional laser hair removal, which I would be willing to pay for if the results are permanent without necessary maintenance sessions.  But from what I've read, laser removal only achieves permanent hair reduction.  The only FDA-approved truly permanent hair removal method is electrolysis, where a thin needle is inserted into the hair follicle, which sounds very painful as well as painstakingly time-consuming.

Please share if you have tried or have heard about any permanent hair removal systems!


  1. I didn't even know there are at-home laser hair removal tools. I suppose body hair has never really been a problem for me, and that might be why I haven't looked into something like this. I can get away without having to shave the lower portions of legs for a week and a half during the warmer months. As for the upper portions, I can do without a shave for over a month. I will definitely keep the products you reviewed here in mind for my friends.

  2. wow! this is super informative. i'd be scared to zap my hairs off .. i'm turned off by epilation too. it's good that this worked so great on you! shaving every day is super annoying. my underarms get the girl version of a 5 o'clock shadow (eww!?) after a shave and i resort to yanking them out one by one with a tweezer. it makes me super dizzy though to keep staring into my armpits hahahaa.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing! Like you, I am not one of those hairless Asians. Shaving lasts only a day or two on my legs. So I'm seriously considering purchasing this because the $500 + replacement cartridge seems worth it to me. Another option that I'm considering is waxing. A friend of my got her legs waxed for ~$40 and claimed it lasted for a few months. Obviously there would be pain, and my skin can be sensitive to shaving so I'm not sure how good waxing would be.

  4. I'm lazy as sin and a huge weeny when it comes to pain, a perfect product for me. I might check it out once my wallet lets me. =0D

    Angie- you are not the only one tweezing your underarms. I hate having the stubble so I resort to tweezing as well.

  5. i am the same hair grows really fast and i have to shave at least once every 2 days.

    i saw that tria...or something similar at nordies. im very curious to if its really works. i don't want to spend $500 and not achieve the results i want.

  6. Wow I read the part about electrolysis and NEEDLES and I was so horrified! Ugh imagining the number of hair follicles I have and needles going into each one is terrifying!

    I'd like to see an update on this Sensepil you bought! If it removes hair permanently I might consider investing in one.

  7. Sydney - So you're one of THOSE lucky Asians! :)

    Angie & Hanna - I know what you mean! The same thing happens to me too... and it never even looks smooth even right after I shave because my skin is too translucent and shows the dark follicles underneath. So I resort to tweezing too (which I swear is probably not good for my near-sightedness!).

    Anon - I have gotten waxed before (bikini area, hope it's not TMI lol... but omg *ouch!*). They said it lasts for months for some people too, but for me, I was only smooth for 1-1.5 weeks at the most... then it's stubble time again... and you have to wait for the hair to grow out to at least 0.5 inch or something again to get waxed again, which is not convenient if you need to show skin!

    Ping - I've read some reviews online which are mixed, and have heard from a couple people that it didn't really work too well for them and takes a long time to do.

    sophia - I doubt this can achieve completely permanent removal of ALL hair... but so far I have seen permanent removal of SOME hair (~50%) like I mentioned before. I'm expecting that if I keep using it, the touch-ups will be come more infrequent (maybe once or twice a year?) which is not too shabby to be hair-free all the time!

  8. Very informative post! I just wanted to add my two cents about the Tria ... I guess it could work if you really devote yourself to the schedule and if you have the patience to slowly go over every little folicle. I have this gadget myself and completley regret getting it. Each zap only gets about 2 hairs so it would take hours to get my entire legs. I also didn't notice the hair fall out at all in a day or two like when I go to the professional. So to sum it up I'd much rather go somewhere to get it done (only takes about 30 minutes because their laser is bigger and stronger) plus I visibly see the hair fall out in a day or two.

  9. Very interesting! I'm not one of the lucky Asians, either. Laser hair removal is definitely on my to-do list =)

  10. I get sick of having to shave every two or three days so I wear pants most of the time. I do not realize there are at home laser tools these days, pretty neat but I will have to stick with old fashioned way for now (which I hate because I end up cutting myself 95% of the time..ouch!). Thanks for a very detailed review.

  11. This is a great device i saw it on shopping channel Canada . I just wanted to say that this product works great i was amazed by how fast i could see result after about 3 treatment i could say that 25% was of the hair on my legs was gone give it a try ladies:)))

  12. It is really good to know that there are at home laser hair treatments. This is the first time i am hearing about at home laser hair treatment. does at home laser hair removal cause any side effects? How to get the instrument? Please reply me.

  13. This is an absolutely remarkable post that it should be interesting one. Keep sharing here!.. sugar waxing products


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