Laser Hair Removal At Home? I Try Out the Silk’n Sens Epil

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At Home Laser Hair Removal, How it works
At Home Laser Hair Removal, How it works, Silk'n sens epil reviewFirst of all, let me start this post by stating that I am spoiled rotten by my husband. I did not get this product for free, a discount, or even as a loaner. My husband let me go to Sephora.com and spend big bucks on the Silk’n SensEpil (which was cool, because I got Sephora VIB status with this purchase). He knew how tired I was of shaving every day, that I wanted to try laser hair removal at some point, and that at home laser hair removal was a cheaper option. So, you all have my hubby to thank for this review!

I think before I explain how to use this little wonder machine at home, some explanation about hair follicles and how laser hair removal works are in order. Then you’ll understand why you may (or may not be) a good candidate to use this, and why it will take a long time (weeks) before you see results. This isn’t instant hair removal and you’ll need more treatments than when you go to a pro for laser hair removal.

how at home laser hair removal worksFirst, what is the hair? Basically the hair follicle (simplified off to the right) dives down into the dermis of the hair. The papilla is a bunch of hair matrix cells that give rise to the hair shaft as these cells divide and multiply. Off to the side you’ll see the bulge, which is just a collection of hair matrix stem cells. You need to kill off both the papilla and the bulge in order to achieve permanent hair removal.

Not all hair follicles are continually growing hair. There are 3 phases, and this part is important:

Anagen/Growth Phase
About 90% of the hair on your head is in the active growth phase at any given time. This phase can last for up to 10 years for follicles on the scalp, but as short as a few months for eyelashes or body hair. Only Anagen phase hairs are subject to laser hair removal.

Catagen/Involution Phase
About 1% of your hair is involuting at any time. What this means is that the cells stop dividing and the hair shaft stops growing. The shaft separates from all of the connective tissues around it and actually lifts up and slightly out of the follicle, the bulb will actually rise to the level of the bulge.

Telogen/Rest Phase
The remaining 9% or so of hairs are in Telogen at any given time. This can last for months. The hair shaft is still present within the follicle, but it is not growing and is easily displaced by a new hair growing as the follicle re-enters Anagen phase. It is normal to lose even as many as 100 Telogen phase hairs a day!

What the Laser Does
Basically, when you direct the laser at the skin you are directing energy into the skin. You are hoping that it passes right through the skin cells of the epidermis and dermis and traveling to the hair follicle. Once it hits the hair follicle the dark pigmentation of the hair absorbs the energy, converting it to heat. The heat is then dissipated out to the bulge and the papilla, and if there’s enough heat there, these key areas will be killed off. That’s the idea anyways.

So, how do things go wrong/not work ideally?

1. Laser Energy doesn’t reach the hair: First, you are counting on the energy of the laser reaching the hair and finding a perfect place to be absorbed. If the skin cells are dark (they don’t even have to be very dark for this to happen, just have to have melanin present), the skin cells could absorb the energy. This means that there won’t be enough energy even in ideal circumstances to kill off the papilla and the bulge. That means the treatment doesn’t work and your hair sticks around.

But, there’s also issues for the skin itself. Why? All that laser energy went somewhere. Yup, into your skin. It gets converted over to heat, and that can result in skin burns. Ouch!

How to avoid this issue: Easy enough- the lighter skin toned people will be better candidates for laser hair removal because of this issue. If you’re not a super pale Irish girl like me, you might want to skip the at home treatment and be treated by a dermatologist for this reason. Any source of melanin in the skin, from the olive skin tone of being Italian to a tan (yes, this is why you need to not tan before laser hair removal) can result in this problem. In the office it can be overcome with sophisticated changes in wave length and energy, but you will want a dermatologist monitoring your treatment.

2. The hair doesn’t absorb the laser energy: So, if the energy actually does reach the hair, there can be another snag. The whole process somewhat depends upon the hair follicle being dark, and therefore being able to convert the energy over to heat to destroy the papilla and the bulge. But, what if your follicle is blonde? Or just light brown? Or red? What happens then? It’s somewhat hard to say. You likely won’t absorb all of the energy, and it can be iffy whether there is enough heat for the procedure to work. Some of this can be overcome by the experts (another reason someone may not be an at home candidate), but not all of it can be overcome. It may be simply impossible to laser off light blonde hair.

3. There is no hair there to absorb the energy: Scroll back up a second and read that stuff I said about hair stages.

Bottom line with all of those different growing phases? You can only kill off the hair follicles that are in Anagen phase. This is why you can’t be treated once and be done with it. You’ll need a series of treatments spread out over months to achieve near flawless perfection.

So, by the time you look at all of these pitfalls, here’s the perfect candidate for at home laser hair removal:
-Pale, with no tan
-Dark hair, especially if you can see it under the skin’s surface
-Not afraid of a little pain and willing to spend the bucks to do this at home

Silk'n Sens Epil at home laser hair remover machineMore about the Silk’n SensEpil
Now that you know more about the theory behind laser hair removal, let me tell you a bit more about the Silk’n SensEpil . The machine is about the size of a shoe box and weighs a few pounds. When you plug it in the first thing you notice is the fan. This thing generates quite a bit of heat, so the fan is relatively heavy duty. You can have a normal conversation over it and watch tv while you work without an issue, but it’s not exactly quiet. The light wand sits in a cubby on the top and needs to “charge” itself for about 20-30 seconds before you are able to select a level of treatment and get started.

The machine has 5 different levels of treatment. If it is your first time do not go over level 1! I will repeat this, because it is important. Do not go over level 1 for your first treatment. Thinking that you will start higher and just really kill off all of your hair follicles is asking for a skin burn. Start at level 1. For subsequent treatments you can start to slowly work your way up the level scale to a 5 if your skin can tolerate that. You position the little window over your skin, hit a button on the wand and a very bright flash of light will come out and you’ll hear a popping noise. I don’t recommend looking at the wand when you do this, you’ll see little flashes. I cup my free hand around the unit to shield some of the light. While the unit charges up for the next light flash (a few seconds) I reposition the window over the next area of skin.

Does it hurt? At first it did. The analogy of a rubber band snapping is definitely true. With time you get used to it. I’m now about 4 treatments into using the machine and I don’t feel anything with level 5. As you slowly are able to increase your level of treatment it is very important to pay attention to how much pain you are experiencing. If it hurts, don’t go up to the next level. Rather than treating the hair follicles you will just be more likely to have that energy absorbed by your skin, which means a skin burn. Ouch! The machine does have a sensor to detect your skin pigmentation (the machine will actually refuse to fire if it thinks you are too dark), but even fair complexions can get burns from using this machine. So, if it hurts- stop and don’t go up a level.

What is the deal with the levels? As you go up you’re basically adding more energy. The energy level is the only thing that can be modified with this at home unit, and for safety reasons it doesn’t go up very high. If there are issues or you aren’t getting results, I recommend checking in with a dermatologist and having in office laser treatment instead, where they can change wavelength and all sorts of other parameters in addition to monitoring your treatments closely.

As you work on your skin you’ll notice that the little light window is getting hot. It can get really hot actually. If this is happening, turn off the unit and lay down the wand so it is exposed to air (I lie it on its side next to the unit), allowing it to cool off for 5-10 minutes.

As you continue on your treatments you will notice that the areas you’ve treated might sting a little, and hair follicles might look irritated/pink. Some stinging is normal as is the irritation, but not a lot (if you have a lot, go down a level). If you didn’t shave all treatment areas before getting started you might notice that the hair shafts above your skin look singed. This is also normal, but smells funny and took away some of the laser energy before it could do its real job. Make sure you shave first so all of the energy can go down into the follicle and kill it.

My entire treatments last about 45 minutes, and the treatment process can get very boring. I suggest a book or movie to keep you occupied! The hairs won’t fall out right away, but rather will slowly come out over time. It will take at least 2 or 3 treatments to notice a difference.

Does it work?
Silk’n recommends a treatment plan that lets you take advantage of those hair growth cycles so that you can kill off more follicles. They recommend every 2 weeks for the first 3 months, and then monthly for 3-5 months, finally as needed to keep up the results.

They have done some clinical studies looking at how well it works. In the studies they used 3 treatments at 2 week intervals (so, not even the full recommended course). Long term they’ve found a 54-68% reduction in hair in the legs, underarm and bikini lines. True, that’s likely not enough to free you completely from your razor, but it will likely be very different from pre-treatment.

80% of users have said they had “noticeable hair reduction after 3 months”. Notice that’s only 80%. That means for whatever reason, the machine simply doesn’t work well for 20% of users, who probably were pretty good candidates. While it will take a few treatments for you to notice any difference, it is possible it won’t work for you.

Did it work for me?
Actually, it did. I’ve now completed about 4 treatments 2 weeks apart, and I’m kicking myself for not taking good before pictures. Pretreatment I hated wearing shorts and skirts, because even if I shaved everyday it didn’t look like I did. You could see the hair below the surface of my skin (gross!) and if I happened to get goose bumps it was all over- I was stubbly.

Post treatment I now longer have noticeable hair under the skin, I now shave every other day or every two days and am still pretty smooth on those days. I don’t worry about goose bumps. My legs have about a 50% reduction in hair density, my bikini area and underarms about a 60-70% reduction in numbers of hairs.

I am extremely happy about these differences, and am hoping that as I continue with treatments things will be even better. I know that I likely will never have complete freedom from the razor to be as smooth as I want, but given how much my shaving frequency has gone down already, I’m not really sure I care.

How much does it cost?
That little machine costs about $450-$500. You can occasionally find it on-line for less than that, but I strongly recommend that you go to a store with a liberal return policy and good customer service. When you are buying the machine you will want to buy some extra lights. They run about $50 each, and one light typically will last you about 1 body treatment (legs, bikini area, arm pits and arms). Once the light has reached it’s max pulses it will cease to work. So buy a few extra.

Update
I’ve also tried out the Silk’n Flash&Go since this review. You can see my Comparision of the Silk’n Flash and Go with the Sens Epil and an update Silk’n Flash&Go Review

Silk’n Sens Epil

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81 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    June 19, 2012 / 2:28 pm

    What a load of shite and you're obviously getting commission!

  2. June 19, 2012 / 3:14 pm

    That's an interesting hypothesis, but since in the US you have to disclose such a thing, I'm not. I'm a doctor, I make WAY too much money in my real life to risk being fine $11,000 for a commission of what, maybe $20 in all? Unfortunately for you, everything I've written above is true, and I've only spent my own money on this system. Thanks for swearing at me though.

  3. June 22, 2012 / 12:45 am

    Sounds like too much work! I'll stick with my Groupon for 6 treatments at $99. After 2 treatments, I have very few hairs coming in.

    And the commission comment…what's up with her?

  4. June 22, 2012 / 3:25 am

    Boy I wish the place I went to for laser hair removal had your knowledge. None of this was explained as thoroughly as you did. I also am glad that one of your commentators mentioned that it's not permanent but that it lessens the hair. I thought it was something wrong with me!

  5. Anonymous
    June 26, 2012 / 11:17 am

    Groupon has a great deal on the Epil right now, $249 plus some $5 fee.

  6. Anonymous
    July 4, 2012 / 12:03 pm

    Hi Christine

    I'm a male looking into this form of home laser hair removal. If this worked out to genuinely be worthwhile I would be over the moon. Getting the procedure done professionally is ridiculously expensive. Would you reccomend this for a male with plenty of areas to test it on? Furthermore… what be the effects of perhaps, using the device weekly as opposed to doing it every few months when the hair grows back? I know it's optimum to do it at these times however… how would this in fact affect the hair growth?
    Thanks.

  7. July 6, 2012 / 5:50 pm

    I had laser treatment done years ago and I loved it. I want to get in and get it done again soon, although I'm always out of town for work. I would love to be able to do it myself until I can get home and have it professionally done. Thanks for this information!

  8. Anonymous
    July 8, 2012 / 3:25 pm

    Thank you for this information. The one change I HATE about getting older is the growth of facial hair on both sides of my chin. It is SO EMBARRASSING! I have tweezed but I just can't keep up with it. I've heard how expensive it is to get treatments with a dermatologists and don't know how people pay for it on an on-going basis, especially if it is not permanent. I've also heard that once the hair turns gray laser will not work. For this reason I am getting concerned about finding a solution before this occurs for me. So, my question, you talked about shaving before you begin, since I do not shave my face, would you tweeze first or no? I'm not sure about my skin type, I have age spots so not sure if it would be safer for me to go in to a dermatologist for laser treatment. I just do not know how anyone can pay the $1000 a month which was mention from one of the readers. A few readers mentioned groupon, so I will check that out. Question 2, any idea how dark age spots are affected by this home laser system? Thanks for sharing.

  9. July 8, 2012 / 5:19 pm

    Hi Anon-
    Because the laser depends upon having the hair be dark with the surrounding skin being pale (it absorbs the energy of the laser, gets hot and basically kills off the follicle), if hair has turned grey it won't absorb the energy and it won't work. Along those same lines, DON"T pluck the hairs out, you need that hair to be there under the skin surface to grab the laser's energy or it won't work. As much energy as possible needs to go to the hair follicle that is under the skin.

    Depending on how big your age spots are and the location, it might complicate using a laser for treating the hair. Dark spots will absorb the energy of the laser, and the skin can get burned easily. For that reason you might want to consider going the pro route where they can work around any spots and you'll get less likely to have issues.

    While it isn't absolutely permanent, you should have a big effect very quickly with a laser treatment. You shouldn't need more than a few treatments and then any touch ups at the most every few years, if at all. I wouldn't expect $1000 a month, it is much less expensive for a smaller area.

  10. Anonymous
    July 16, 2012 / 3:49 am

    THANK YOU! I post this comment as I wait for the wax on my face to dry = I've been looking into this, and you gave me everything I needed to make a decision.

  11. Anonymous
    August 2, 2012 / 4:43 pm

    Hi there. Do you have to shave the area you want to treat prior to using the machine? I was thinking of buying a home laser removal machine to use on forearm hair, but don't want to have to shave my foremarms. The hair there is fine but brown and bothers me.

  12. August 2, 2012 / 10:26 pm

    You don't absolutely need to shave, but it would prevent the laser's energy from singeing the hair on the surface and redirect it to the follicle under the skin, which is where you want it to go. I think you could certainly try it without shaving first.

  13. Anonymous
    August 16, 2012 / 6:55 pm

    IS IT BAD TO USE IT EVERY WEEK OR IS IT FINE? SORRY FOR THE CAPITLES THE SHIFT IS STUCK.

  14. August 19, 2012 / 9:29 pm

    It depends on the settings and such. I think you might be more likely to burn yourself and there wouldn't be an advantage to doing it so often, the hair cycles haven't changed much by then.

  15. Anonymous
    August 24, 2012 / 2:41 pm

    I am really happy with the results on my upper lip with the Silk'n SensEpil. I After just a couple of treatments I started to see a difference in the thickness of hair. I found this device to be much more worth it then constantly having to go and get my upper lip waxed.

  16. Anonymous
    August 27, 2012 / 7:41 pm

    MY dear sisters with dark, Carmel, mocha skin tones basically what she is saying we are not a GOOD Candidate for this product. Its made for white women, oh sorry white women with no tan.

  17. August 27, 2012 / 8:23 pm

    Anon- Unfortunately, the way the technology works and with the limited ability to make changes in the intensity or wavelength of the laser, it is only recommended for yes, non-tan pale women (it would work for ethnicities besides just caucasian), with DARK hair. So, it excludes many from at home use based on where the technology is at this time.

    This isn't much different from in a dermatologist's office, where women with more pigmentation will have a difficult time with laser hair removal, though at least in the office they'll be able to modulate the laser a little to avoid complications such as burns and get optimal results.

    Hopefully at some point it will advance to be more appropriate for women of all colors and hair colors.

  18. Anonymous
    September 10, 2012 / 9:23 pm

    Can you dye your light hairs darker then use it on them?

  19. September 11, 2012 / 12:23 am

    I suppose you could, though the hair that matters the most is what is under the surface of the skin. Much less of that energy/heat from hair on the surface of the skin is transferred to the bulge, which is why it is usually recommended to shave it first. I don't think it would really make any difference other than to add another step.

  20. Anonymous
    December 8, 2012 / 5:18 am

    One person in your blog said that laser hair removal is not permanent. That is true. I have spent over $3,000.00 to remove my underarm, breast, lower legs, and almost a full brazilian (my husband likes a quarter size amount of hair left on the brazilian). It is not permanent, yet it s the best thing that I have spent my money on besides my Harley. I love having zero hair for as long as it lasts. Since hair grows in thirds, it take years to kill the last third of the hair. I still have about a sixth of my underarm hair left, but it is better than the alternative. I save my part of my monthly allowance money for hair removal. I have enough for two more sessions. I am going to go for two more before I buy this machine. I like the idea of the machine, but I want to have everything where I want it and then use the machine for maintenance. Does this sound reasonable?

  21. December 9, 2012 / 1:48 am

    I think it does sound reasonable! I know there are some places that offer cheap rates for once or twice a year touch ups as well.

  22. December 17, 2012 / 5:20 pm

    At last a Do-It-Yourself laser hair removal system. You can now only go to plastic surgeons New York city when gravely needed. This tool is so wonderful that you can even use it on your face.

  23. Anonymous
    December 19, 2012 / 7:26 pm

    Which machine is better Tria or Silk'n Sense Epil

  24. December 19, 2012 / 7:50 pm

    I haven't tried the Tria at all, so it's hard for me to say since I don't know anything about how adjustable it is. I do know that the window for the light is much bigger with both of the Silk'n products.

  25. Anonymous
    December 19, 2012 / 8:39 pm

    Thanks a lot.

  26. Anonymous
    April 3, 2013 / 9:56 pm

    I have previously tried two different professional lasers my face in an office with a professional. I have a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome which unfortunately give me dark hairs with light roots. For those of you out there with polycystic ovarian syndrome, my experience was that the professional lasers did work but the results were not lasting. In other words all of the hair came back because of my diagnosis. Frustrating. I am now researching home treatments since I am in this for the long haul. Thank you so much for your write up. It is right in line with what I have been told by professionals. I am a bit nervous to try this on my jaw line but willing to give it a try. Thanks again!

  27. April 28, 2013 / 7:58 am

    My son has hair on his cheek bones, tried few times professional laser treatments, but it's very expensive. I came a cross this product and tried to search about it, I came a cross your blog, thank you sharing your experience. I would like to know if this product is safe to use at home to remove cheek bone hair?
    I haven't purchased it, I wanted to know if it's safe to use on hair closer to eyes.

    Thank you so much for your time,

  28. April 28, 2013 / 5:30 pm

    Hi Sonia,
    Most of the at home laser aren't recommended for use that close to the eyes.

  29. May 29, 2013 / 7:54 am

    This article is one of the best on home laser hair removal on the web. The not going over level one thing at first is so true. I thought I had a high tolerance for pain but ouch!

    I used the new Tria 4x the other day (upgraded version of the normal Tria) and must say it's my favourite so far. But to be fair I've not extensively tested it over a long period of time.

  30. October 25, 2013 / 10:17 pm

    The Tria laser hair removal is very effective. If we use it right, it DOES Work! I have been embarrassed with facial hair for many years and I have always carried a tweezer in my purse. After the 2nd session at least 1/2 of the hairs that were treated were gone. I am already thrilled by my results

    It is now available at http://mommiesmall.com/product.php?asin=B00B0S7KUY

  31. Anonymous
    January 1, 2014 / 4:21 pm

    Has anyone tried Tria for the legs or any large area? I'm worried that the small area of treatment and longevity of the battery will Tria a chore.

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