How (if at all) you decide to remove body hair ahead of your wedding celebrations is your choice, but one aspect of it we can all agree on is that none of the options available are entirely pleasant. The path to dolphin-smooth skin is paved with time-consuming treatments and painful results. Luckily, there have been a couple of techy advances in the past few years that make at-home laser hair removal a more appealing option.
From the comfort of your home, you can prepare for your upcoming bachelorette or honeymoon trip by zapping away strands and stubble with a tool smaller than a water bottle, leading to a reduction in hair growth and welcoming you to a world free from worrying about hair-removal maintenance. How, exactly? The laser targets pigmentation in the hair follicle by converting it to heat and breaking it down over time so that it becomes weaker and grows back slower. Many of these devices use intense pulsed light technology (IPL) to achieve this, which has proven to be safe for at-home use and effective if you stay committed to your treatments.
Here’s that catch: There are a dizzying array of options promising to deliver these effective, fast, and painless results. Over the course of 12 weeks, the team at Brides tested 13 at-home laser hair removal devices and we evaluated the performance of each one, taking into account how easy it was to use, how many settings and modes each one offered, whether using it was painful, and if we found the treatment to noticeably limit hair growth by the end of the three-month period. In the end, our research led us to uncover seven of the best at-home laser hair removal devices that live up to their claims.
At its best, a top-notch laser hair removal device zaps away hair swiftly and efficiently, but this one also does an excellent job of making the process as painless and easy as possible. Additionally, its lightweight feel, intuitive set-up, and ergonomic design send it straight to the top of this list.
In under 15 minutes, our legs were totally hairless, which we credit to the wide treatment window that made it easy to target large patches of hair at once. We were especially overjoyed at how it took less than five strokes when we used it on smaller surface areas, like under our arms. Still, despite being slightly bulkier than other options, it fit nicely in our hands and allowed us to target trickier areas effortlessly.
Even more user-friendly features include a digital display that clearly showed which of the five intensity levels we were using and a convenient side button to notch the level up or down while we worked.
What’s more, at six weeks, about halfway through our testing period, we definitely saw fewer signs of hair growth. Plus, this pick is simply an incredible value — it already costs less than other options and offers a lifetime flash guarantee, so the brand will replace it for free if we do run out.
Price at time of publish: $189
Cordless: No | Intensity Levels: 5 | Flashes: 600,000
The chic minimal aesthetic and pleasing color options of this pick aren’t its only appeal, the handset also equipped us with everything we needed to achieve the smoothest skin, including exfoliating gloves and an easy-to-follow user manual.
We admired how in addition to the six levels of intensity, we could choose from three different modes—stamp, glide, and auto—to target different areas of the body. We breezed through our lasering session as we could quickly stamp hair in smaller areas, like the bikini line and armpits, and seamlessly glide it over our arms without having to simultaneously press a button. However, the auto mode may have been the most ingenious capability since it auto-detected when we touched the treatment window to our skin and only activated upon contact.
To our delight, our arm and leg hair started growing back slower and thinner after just a few weeks of use. Although we didn’t see quite as successful results around our bikini line, we’re pretty confident that with continued treatments hair would be less patchy here, too.
For the most part, lasering our body with this tool was totally painless—though we do recommend lowering the intensity to around three on your arms to avoid discomfort in this area.
Price at time of publish: $229
Cordless: No | Intensity Levels: Six | Flashes: 900,000
Consider this pick the Dyson AirWrap of at-home laser hair removal, as it’s certainly a similar investment, but one we think is well worth the cost since it touts some impressive features that put it on par with today’s innovative beauty tools. Namely, a built-in skin color sensor that shuts off if your skin is too dark, dual-voltage to target hair at the root, and an app to remind us when it’s time for our next treatment.
However, its pièce de résistance is the patented eHPL technology, which uses galvanic and optical energy to remove hair for good. We know this sounds like a lot of fancy wording, but the results spoke for themselves as our hair grew back slower and thinner throughout using it.
Getting to this point was quick, easy, and pain-free thanks to the gliding setting which allowed sweep the tool across our legs and arms in one fell swoop as the lasers gently zapped away hairs with galvanic circulation. The pulse mode, which required us to press a button to emit the laser, was also perfect for when we needed to eliminate hair in smaller surface areas, like under our arms.
Price at time of publish: $429
Cordless: No | Intensity Levels: Five | Flashes: Unlimited
If you ask us, hair removal is definitely the area of self-care we want to spend the least amount of time on, especially when there are so many other, more exciting preparations to take care of before our wedding (skin, hair, nails, etc.) so we were thrilled to find that it took under 20 minutes to laser our legs with the Kenzzi Pro. Aside from having an easy-to-grip slim handle, compact design, and lightweight feel that allowed us to maneuver around our body quicker, the device also emits broader wavelengths so we could target larger patches of hair at a time.
The cool head, which restricts the amount of light emitted to avoid burns and painful zaps, is another nice touch and a boon for those with sensitive skin.
One more suggestion: The cord is a tad short, so be sure you have close access to an outlet.
Price at time of publish: $349
Cordless: No | Intensity Levels: Five | Flashes: 999,999
Any type of hair removal is daunting for those with sensitive skin — one wayward nick or shaving with an old razor and you have irritation for days and red bumps making an appearance in all of our bachelorette beach trip photos. This device solves these woes with some pretty nifty tech by way of a sapphire lamp head that cooled our skin to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and provided a pleasant, soothing experience (not typically what you’d expect while working with lasers).
We were also able to tailor our treatment to suit our skin’s needs by selecting from one of the five intensity levels, each one geared toward targeting a different part of the body, which helped ensure our pain threshold was never met.
In addition to seeing a noticeable reduction in hair growth after using it for less than a month, another aspect that knocked this pick out of the park is its compact design, which felt lighter than an empty water bottle and made navigating the device like a pro so simple.
Price at time of publish: $359
Cordless: No | Intensity Levels: Five | Flashes: Unlimited
Marrying luxury and utility, the JOVS hair remover’s sleek matte finish and wireless capabilities are only the baselines of what makes using it a truly opulent experience. From a self-cleaning charging dock to a skin-cooling setting, the brand thought of everything to make hair removal a hassle-free (and dare we say fun?) experience.
Whether we’re wearing a mini wedding dress or opting for a low-cut style, we’d feel pretty confident about showing some skin during our nuptials since we were able to use it on even the most hard-to-reach areas, like our back, thanks to its 330-degree rotating head and L-shape that conformed to different parts of our body and made the treatment fly by in around 20 minutes.
With twelve settings total—six modes curated for different body parts and six intensity levels—it also boasts more features than any of the other devices we tested. The auto-flash mode was one setting we found particularly handy because it activated upon making contact with the skin, meaning we didn’t have to worry about simultaneously pressing a button.
Price at time of publish: $429
Cordless: Yes | Intensity Levels: Six | Flashes: Unlimited
Considered to be one the first brands to launch an at-home IPL hair removal tool, Smoothskin re-invented its design into an even more travel-friendly, slim, and compact device we can stow away in a carry-on for a quick touch-up while we’re on our honeymoon.
Although you can modify its three intensity levels manually, we appreciated how the smart technology took much of the guesswork out of the process for us by automatically adjusting the level of heat emitted based on skin tone. And, since it only flashes when it makes contact with the skin, it’s a great choice for sensitive skin and eyes— just be sure the front panel is facing you because otherwise, it’s hard to tell when the lasers are activated.
Another facet that differentiates this product from its competitors is the internal fan that kicked on as soon as we plugged it in and kept our skin from feeling overheated.
Price at time of publish: $264
Cordless: No | Intensity Levels: Three | Flashes: Unlimited
How We Tested
We began the testing process by spending hours researching the most popular at-home laser hair removal devices before carefully selecting 12 options to try. Next, we set up our devices at home and familiarized ourselves with each one by reading the instructions and user manuals. We took note of how complicated it was to assemble the device, turn it on, and use it on our legs, chest, backs, underarms, and bikini area.
We only used the device as recommended by the manufacturer, closely monitoring our results and recording how effective the device was at removing unwanted body hair on a weekly basis. We also considered other factors like if we experienced any pain, how many features the device came with, and whether it impacted the texture of our skin. By the end of the three-month testing period, we assessed the look and feel of our skin before compiling our results to land on this list of seven top-rated picks.
What to Look for in a Laser Hair Removal Device
Since consistency is key while using these devices, you’ll want a model that is small enough to fit anywhere your travels take you and isn’t heavy. We’re particularly fond of the Smoothskin Pure Mini because it showcases a slimmer design than many of its competitors and clocks in at under two pounds. However, you can’t go wrong choosing any option on this list as we found all of them to be lightweight and compact.
Plus, despite advertising some innovative technology, these devices don’t typically come with bulky attachments and instead may only include a chord — or none at all if you opt for a wireless model such as the JOVS Venus Pro II Hair Remover.
We won’t deny that these devices are an investment, but one that pays off in the long run. Consider the average cost of one professional hair removal treatment — it can range anywhere from $200 to $500, depending on what area of the body you’re targeting, and may still require you to revisit for another session down the road. Many at-home laser hair removal treatments cost around the same price initially, but they come with unlimited flashes or lifetime guarantees, so while you may have to perform more frequent touch-ups, you’re saving money by putting in a little extra work.
Especially for those with sensitive skin, having multiple settings is key so you can tailor your intensity to fit your desired comfort level. You may also want to seek out a device with multiple modes, like the RoseSkinCo. Lumi IPL Hair Removal Handset, that caters to various areas of your body for the quickest, most efficient results.
Luckily, most options typically have at least two: A glide and stamp setting. The former consistently emits light as you sweep it across your body whereas the latter allows you to target smaller areas of the body by manually pressing a button.
You can expect some minor discomfort during your treatment— we’d describe it as similar to tiny pinches or snapping your skin with a rubber band. Places on your body with thinner skin might hurt a tad more (think: your bikini area, knees, and ankles), but nothing should feel unbearable if you’re following directions, never going over the same area twice, or stacking pulses.
“A little pinkness and irritation around the hair follicle are normal,” says Dr. Anthony Rossi Jr., MD, founder of Dr. Rossi Derm. You are zapping your body with lasers after all, but there are ways to mitigate the pain by using a device with an internal fan or one that has cooling technology to soothe irritated skin, such as the KENZZI IPL Pro Hair Removal Handset.
In short: Lasers target hair, convert it to heat, thus breaking down the dark pigmentation, and damaging it to the point where eventually hair won’t grow back. Most of the options on this list target hair through IPL, which uses multiple light wavelengths, as opposed to one long stream of light. Not only is this safe for use by non-professionals (hello, us), but IPL emits a larger footprint using less light, thereby covering more surface area and making the process go by quicker.
At-home laser hair removal can be very effective at reducing hair growth if you’re committed to sticking with a schedule, says Dr. Rossi. To make them safe for use by a nonprofessional, they emit much lower energy than what you’d receive in a treatment center, but staying consistent and keeping the tool handy for touch-ups should lead you eventually only see the stray hair here and there. Keep in mind that this means if you start using this device two weeks before your honeymoon you may not see results in time, so it’s best to start treatments at least six weeks prior to your celebrations.
It’s also important to note effectiveness varies based on your hair’s pigmentation. “There are two types of melanin: Eumelanin, which makes up black and browns, and then there’s pheomelanin, which makes up reds and pinks,” explains Dr. Rossi. Since laser hair removal is targeted to pick up on darker pigmentations, these treatments probably won’t work super well on those with blonde or red hair.
Additionally, at-home laser hair removal devices work best on areas with a noticeable contrast between skin and hair. Those with darker skin tones may run the risk of burning their skin if the device isn’t equipped to differentiate between hair color and skin tone. Thankfully (and finally, we might add) technology has advanced so that people of color can take advantage of these products, the Smoothskin Pure Mini and Silk’n Infinity Hair Removal Device for example adjust their intensity based on the user’s skin tone. Still, if you fall into this category, it never hurts to speak with your doctor or dermatologist before using one.
Before you impart on your at-home laser hair removal journey, it’s crucial that you test out the product well in advance of your bachelorette trip, wedding, or honeymoon to check for any skin sensitivities. We recommend performing a patch test on a small, unnoticeable area of your skin and waiting a few days to see how your skin reacts to the device.
If after a few days, you don’t notice any long-lasting irritation or changes in skin color, start with clean, dry skin free from any lotions, oils, or soap residue before using a laser hair removal device. “You don’t want anything that impedes the transfer of the laser energy from the device into the skin,” says Dr. Rossi.
And while your skin doesn’t need to be totally smooth ahead of time, you should shave your body free of any long hairs. Dr. Rossi doesn’t recommend plucking or waxing hair before treatment because, “that pulls the follicle out, whereas shaving the follicle is still there, it’s just underneath the skin, so you can still target it with the razor,” says Dr. Rossi. Once you’re finished, then you can slather on a hydrating lotion or gel to calm the skin and avoid irritation.
Why Trust Brides
Irene Richardson is a writer covering fashion and beauty trends for Brides, Byrdie, InStyle, and others. For this article, she drew on research from the Brides testing team who scoured the market for the most effective at-home laser hair removal devices. She also tapped insights from Dr. Anthony Rossi about what you should expect from an effective and safe at-home hair removal device.