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Smooth Moves: A Guide to Laser Hair Removal

Beach and pool season is here. Here’s how and where to remove hair as thoroughly and painlessly as possible.

If the thought of applying wax and ripping hair off your body leaves you cold, a laser is another option.

Most dermatologists, and some spas and full-service salons, now offer laser hair removal, in which a trained technician or physician beams a high-intensity light onto unwanted hair to kill the follicle. While it’s relatively easy and painless, laser hair removal often takes three to six sessions per area (at around $250 to $500 a session), and it tends to work best on lighter skin with darker hair.

The cost of professional laser sessions has led to a rise in the popularity of at-home lasers. While the idea of lasering off your own hair might sound dicey, newer lasers come with lengthy and helpful instructions and feature smart designs that allow the device to be used on tricky-to-reach areas.

The most popular is the easy-to-use and effective Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X (1), $449. It’s not cheap, but you may save money in the long term if you frequent salons for hair removal. Used every week, Tria—which employs the same diode-laser technology dermatology offices use—promises to leave skin permanently smooth after three months.

Another option is Me Smooth (2), $395, which has a slightly boxier design. It uses intense pulsed light (IPL) along with radio-frequency waves to attack the follicle, making it a good choice for those with darker skin. Me Smooth promises a permanent reduction in hair.

Also popular, and less expensive at around $250, is Remington i-Light Pro (3), which also relies on IPL technology. Results don’t last as long—with the Remington you’ll be hair-free for approximately six months. Unlike the other two, it can’t be used on the face.

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This article appears in the June 2014 issue of Washingtonian.