As we munched on a beauty detox bento box lunch spilling over with colorful fruits and veggies at a Peninsula Hotel Spa beauty event recently, Dr. Tina Alster of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Study endorsed one of her office's best-selling products; the brand new Silk'n SensEpil at-home laser hair removal device.
The bubble gum pink handheld device emits a low frequency of pulsated laser light that targets and zaps the darker melanin of hair follicles. Several safety features come with the FDA-approved tool – it won't pulse unless it's correctly positioned against the skin or if the automatic sensor finds that the skin tone is too dark to safely treat.
"Using at-home beauty devices is a trend we're seeing during this recession, and women do tend to prefer to remove hair in the privacy of their home. I saw such amazing results in my patients that I decided to invest my own money in the company," says Dr. Alster.
When we powered the Barbie-looking accessory up for a test drive, a fan jetted on and the device beeped ready to go. Then the nerves set in. Would it hurt? Would it burn? What if we did it wrong?
Holding our breath with a click of the button later, a startling flash of light went off – but there was no pain; just a slight tingle of warmth and the faintest hint of a smoky smell. Intrigued, we finished a freshly shaven, dry leg that showed no sign of pain or irritation afterwards.
Clinical trials have shown a 54% to 65% long-term reduction in hair removal on the arms, legs and bikini area of women after using the machine. While it can't be used on the face, the head does glide safely over sections like the underarms and bikini area which are often too sensitive for a lot of women to treat with more traditional hair removal methods like shaving and waxing.
Priced at a I-need-to-think-about-it $499, this girly pink gadget is still significantly cheaper than a series of spa laser hair removal sessions – which can often reach into the mid hundreds for a single session.
The catch? Each unit comes with a lamp cartridge that contains about 750 light flashes, or enough to do one full body treatment from the neck down. Additional cartridges can be purchased for $49 each.
But for the power of permanently reducing those annoying quick-to-stubble spots, we predict a lot of women will happily pay up for the pleasure.