Best 7 Epilator Reviews for Better Hair Removal

A complete guide: Epilator hair removal

Epilators have come a long way since we started using them for hair removal a few years back, with an infinite number of features, speeds, colors. There are so many options that it is confusing to pick a good epilator unless you are an epilator veteran. To skip ahead in this guide, please expand the table of contents below.

In this guide:

Reviews of the Top 7 epilators in 2018

With prices ranging from $30 to $160 and up to 10 features to shop from, picking one of many epilators available in 2017 can be overwhelming. To help you make your choice, we have rounded up the top 7 epilators of 2018. Each epilator is broken down into features as well as cons to make it easier to find the one that best suits your lifestyle and hair removal needs.

  1. Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 – Our Top Pick Epilator
  2. This is not the most expensive epilator out there but it IS the best epilator that money can buy in 2018. Let’s see why.

    The head of this epilator is extra wide, which helps remove more hair in each pass. The head vibrates while in operation, which minimizes the pain that you might feel while epilating. The vibrations help massage and numb your skin. And finally, the Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 epilator head also pivots with your body. This helps keep the epilator head flat on your skin’s surface in trickier areas like under arms or behind knees.

    Thanks to its Micro Grip tweezer technology, the tweezers on this epilator are much longer and wider than standard. This makes this hair removal device even better than waxing, picking up hairs that you may not even see. The Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 can pick up even a grain of sand!

    It is cordless, with the longest lasting battery on the market, and can be used in both wet and dry environments. It’s also easy to clean with a detachable head, which you can wash or use the included cleaning brush.

    There is a built in light for better visibility. To help with sensitive skin areas, the Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 epilator offers 2 speeds and an efficiency cap. This helps maximize hair removal and control how much hair you want epilate at any time.

    Last but not least, the Braun epilator comes with 7 extras! Yes, SEVEN! This includes a shaver head that you can use to shave, a trimmer cap for trimming hair, an efficiency cap, a high frequency massaging cap, and a facial brush. The facial brush helps remove makeup and physically exfoliate any dead skin through micro vibrations. All of these attachments are waterproof just like the epilator itself. The seventh extra is a recharging stand for the epilator.

    (The main epilator head is considered the 7th attachment, as all of the caps are interchangeable and some can even be doubled up, with 1 over the other.)

    To read more about Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 product specifications, click here.


    What could be better

    There are really no issues with this epilator. We had to think hard about this but here are two potential issues.

    Initially, we considered the price to be a downside of this epilator. But after taking the number of attachments into consideration, the price is a 1 time cost that can save you money on razors, facial brushes, and a trimmer. For this many uses, the 1 time cost is more than reasonable.

    The second potential downside could be that you cannot use the epilator and charge at the same time. The epilator must be charged before or after each use. This could be a matter of habit for you. If you wax at home, you have to heat up the wax before you can use it. Similarly, by keeping the recharging dock nearby and in sight, this problem can easily be avoided. Just remember to charge after each use so you’re ready for the next time.

    To read more customer verified Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 reviews, click here.

    Summary

    By almost exceeding in each of the potential features that an electric epilator can have in 2017, the Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 is an incredibly feature heavy hair removal tool. If you’re looking for an investment epilator that has multiple uses, this is your epilator!

  3. Panasonic ES-ED90-P – Runner Up Epilator
  4. The Panasonic ES-ED90-P epilator comes in a close second to the Braun Silk-epil, offering another excellent choice minus a few features.

    This epilator comes with a 60 degree pivoting head with a built in light and 2 operating speeds to epilate more or less sensitive areas of your body in 1 go. With 46 tweezers, it falls into the mid to high range for tweezer power.

    It also comes with 6 attachments. Two of these attachments are epilating attachments, with a gentle epilation cap attachment and a precise cap attachment. The gentle cap is meant for areas of your body that have a low tolerance to pain as it reduces the number of tweezers running along your skin. The precision cap makes the head smaller so you can epilate smaller areas with more accuracy. The precision cap could be especially useful for men for beards.

    Other attachments include a shaver head, a bikini comb cap, and a pedicure buffer for removing dry skin and calluses.

    This epilator also works in wet and dry environments.

    To read more about Panasonic ES-ED90-P product specifications, click here.


    What could be better

    Again, like the Braun, price and rechargeability are the main but still minor concerns. This is still an excellent investment in terms of price in that it is far less than even 1 salon wax session.

    This epilator cannot be recharged while using it, like some corded epilators. Be sure to charge immediately after each or every few sessions to make sure it always runs when you need it to.

    To read more customer verified Panasonic ES-ED90-P reviews, click here.

    Summary

    This is another best contender in the best epilators money can buy. It is missing some of the features, like micro grab technology, a trimmer or a facial brush, from our top pick, but adds some feature options to make up for it. Depending on what extras you’ll use the most, the Panasonic ES-ED90-P could be your top choice.

  5. Emjoi AP-18 – Most Powerful Epilator
  6. Let’s start with the main feature that makes this epilator such powerhouse – It has 72 tweezers! This is almost double our first pick and runner up. With 72 tweezers, the Emjoi AP-18 is an ideal epilator for legs, arms, or other areas with a lot of hair or dense hair. Epilating with the Emjoi AP-18 will be much faster than either the Braun Silk-epil or the Panasonic epilators.

    However, this may not be the best epilator for a beginner for the same reason. 72 tweezers pulling hair is going to hurt much more than half that number. The Emjoi AP-18 also does not have any massaging or vibrating attachments that will help numb the pain for a beginner or for someone with low pain tolerance.

    But if you’re a seasoned veteran or have used an epilator 4-5 times, this is a powerful machine for you. Even if you are a beginner and plan on removing a lot of hair via epilation, it would be possible to build up tolerance and good technique by using it in smaller areas first.

    The second feature unique to the Emjoi is the dual opposed heads. What this means is that the tweezers are not just at the top of epilator, but rounded out to extend out the top as well as the sides. These dual opposing heads allows greater flexibility as you travel over your body with the epilator. You can use it both on the right and left, and angle accordingly as you epilate.

    The Emjoi AP-18 is corded with a 6.5 feet cord and offers 2 speeds.

    It also boasts a Skin Glide technology that helps it grab all hairs on your skin. This technology helps it “scoop” up any hairs that are sitting flat and remove them from the root.

    To read more about Emjoi AP-18 product specifications, click here.

    What could be better

    The Emjoi AP-18 does not have a built in light or shaving attachments. There is no efficiency cap, but you may not need one with the 72 tweezers and dual heads!

    It is not water resistant, but it comes with a cleaning brush for good hygiene. It certainly is missing many of the features that our top picks have.

    To read more customer verified Emjoi AP-18 reviews, click here.

    Summary

    While we wouldn’t make it our top choice, this is a great epilator to have in your hair removal tool arsenal because it is incredibly powerful. Don’t look to the Emjoi AP-18 for features. This is a workhorse epilator and exceeds expectations in the main goal of an epilator – remove hair.

  7. Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator – Best Hypoallergenic Epilator
  8. The Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator is a different kind of powerhouse in that it is a highly efficient epilator for those with sensitive skin.

    It only has 36 tweezers but has the “highest tweezes per minute”. There are 2 speeds on this epilator. So while there are far less tweezers, at each of the 2 speeds, the tweezers rotate very quickly to pull out hair quickly. This makes the Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator perfect for causing the least amount of discomfort on sensitive skin.

    Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator has another helpful feature for those with sensitive skin – all 36 tweezers are 24 karat gold plated with antibacterial properties. This plating makes the tweezers hypoallergenic and decreases ingrown hairs.

    It includes a massage attachment that helps numb your skin during epilation. Like the Emjoi AP-18, it is not water resistant but includes a cleaning brush. It should not be used in the shower.

    This epilator is also cordless and rechargeable. In fact, you can use it while it recharges unlike the other epilators we have covered so far. This allows you to use this epilator in any dry situations at any time!

    To read more about Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator product specifications, click here.

    What could be better

    It would be nice to see Emjoi make their epilators water resistant. The Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator has so many features alongside great epilation technology. Being able to use it in the shower would round out its feature list and make it contender for a wider audience.

    To read more customer verified Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator reviews, click here.

    Summary

    It’s hypoallergenic tweezers and fast rotating tweezers make the Emjoi Soft Caress epilator a unique product. If you have sensitive skin or are prone to ingrown hairs, this is the epilator to get.

  9. Remington EP7030 – Best Value Epilator
  10. If you’re worried about, there are a few decent options in a lower price range that offer a good value as a beginner epilator. The Remington EP7030 is one of the best in this category as Remington is one of the original companies in the epilator industry.

    The Remington EP7030 epilator has 40 tweezers and operates at 2 speeds. It also has a pivoting head with a few cap attachments. The precision cap, perfect angle cap, and massaging cap all help you customize your experience according to what area you are epilating. There is also a built in light for better visibility.

    It is rechargeable with a power adaptor and otherwise cordless, and can be used wet and dry. You can wash it off in the shower after use by removing the head or use a cleaning brush, also included.

    To read more about Remington EP7030 product specifications, click here.


    What could be better

    The epilator is highly functional, but lacks additional features that make this a versatile travel friendly tool. It also lacks some technological developments in terms of tweezers and epilator motor like our other picks.

    To read more customer verified Remington EP7030 reviews, click here.

    Summary

    There is a low frills epilator that does the job, and does it well. If you’re a student or not sure about epilation as a hair removal process in general, this is an excellent experimental product. That’s not to say that it is not good for long term use. These epilators will run for years. So if you find that you don’t need more features, you’ll find the Remington EP7030 performs very well.

  11. Codream 4-1 – Best Value Epilator with Features
  12. Are you looking for a beginner epilator with a few more multi-purpose functionalities? Look no further than the Codream 4-1 epilator.

    It is a lesser known epilator with a younger brand. But don’t let that hold you back if the features make this an appealing choice for you.

    The 4-1 refers to the 4 functions this epilator offers via attachments – epilator, shaver, hair clipper, and callus remover. Amongst the extras, the callus remover on Codream 4-1 is highly rated attachment. In terms of multifunctionality, this is a powerhouse.

    It is rechargeable via power adaptor and can be used while plugged in or as cordless. There is a built in LED light. The epilator head can be removed and washed with water. But the epilator itself is not wet/dry and should be using in dry places only.

    To read more about Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 product specifications, click here.


    What could be better

    In terms of features, making the whole epilator water resistant would make this epilator well rounded.

    Aside from features, the Codream 4-1 epilator does lack the latest technology in both tweezers
    and epilator motor.

    To read more customer verified Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 reviews, click here.

    Summary

    Want an beginner, budget friendly option that offers more features and versatility than the Remington EP7030? The Codream 4-1 is your epilator.

  13. Philips Satinelle HP-6401 – Best Starter Epilator
  14. For our last review, we asked ourselves – What is the cheapest basic epilator that does the job?

    Why bothering asking this question? We recognized that sometimes you want to spend the least possible money to figure out if a particular hair removal method even works for you. With that in mind, we concluded that if you want a basic starter epilator, the Philips Satinelle HP-6401 is one to try.

    It has 21 tweezers, 2 speed setting and an efficiency cap. You can also wash the top epilator head by taking it off the body of the machine, which is not water resistant.

    It is a little louder than the other epilators we have reviewed. It is also corded.

    To read more about Philips Satinelle HP-6401 product specifications,click here.

    What could be better

    Almost everything.

    This epilator has none of the features of our epilators and no additional attachments. It has a low number of tweezers and no built in light. And it is not water resistant and so cannot be used in the shower.

    To read more customer verified Philips Satinelle HP-6401 reviews, click here.

    Summary

    Remember this is a basic, no frills epilator. It is much lower in price than the others we have picked to review here. But this is also a best selling epilator and has been for many years. So it may not be fancy, but it works! The Philips Satinelle HP-6401 would be a great epilator to start your epilating journey with, and later adding a second more efficient epilator to your hair removing arsenal!

What is an epilator?

Epilators still enjoy a somewhat anonymous status. Many women have never used or heard of an epilator! This is ironic because epilators can be the ideal method of hair removal for a lot of people, men and women.

The epilator is a hair removal device that uses groups of tweezers to remove hair from it’s root. The tweezers are usually metal or ceramic. As you pass the epilator over your skin, its many tweezers rotate to grab many hairs and remove them completely just like waxing.

Epilation allows you to be hair free for longer than shaving, similar to waxing. Like waxing, when the hair regrows out from its root, you must epilate to remove it again. Depending on fast your hair grows, you could enjoy smooth skin for 1 to 3 weeks!

So why is the epilator a better alternative to shaving or waxing?

Long lasting smooth skin

Epilating gives long last smooth skin. If you remove hair by shaving, you are probably shaving anywhere from every 3 or 4 days to daily. Epilating is like waxing. It removes the hair from the root. So you have to epilate only as often as your hair regrows from its roots. That means you can enjoy smooth hairless skin for a week up to 2 or 3 weeks!

Easy

It’s also as easy as shaving, if not easier. Epilators come in many features, from cordless to rechargable to waterproof to vibrating heads that numb your skin. There is no nicking your skin or causing razor burn like shaving.

It’s definitely much easier than waxing. You may need to recharge your epilator, but there is no warming up of wax or other preparation. You even don’t need to wait for your hair to grow out ¼ of an inch, like for waxing. You can epilate the minute you start to see or feel hairs. And you can epilate from anywhere, home or a hotel.

Cheap

If you shave, how often you buy new razors or razor heads? Or you may go to a wax salon, which can cost up to $200/visit. Not to mention having to schedule an appointment and worry about hot wax burns. Even if you wax at home, you’re spending money on wax refills or waxing strips.

An epilator is a 1 time cost for several years. With epilators ranging from $40 to $140, you only have to spend that once to epilate for years. Without a doubt, epilating is the cheapest hair removal solution available to men and women today. And with technology improving every single year, epilators are becoming a go-to for hair removal for more people every year.

Features of an epilator

There are over a hundred epilators available to try out there today. You could start with any of them. So which one do you pick up? What are the differences between each epilator? Are they all the same? Why are some more expensive than others?

A few years ago, a lot of epilators were fairly straightforward. They only worked if plugged into an outlet, in dry environments (not in the shower), and sometimes hard to clean. Today, epilators are available with lots more features. Here are some of the features we looked at to differentiate a good epilator from a better one to find some of the best epilators available to us in 2017:

  1. Pulls hairs rather than breaks hairs
  2. A common question we get is: do epilators cause ingrown hairs? They can with a low quality epilator. So what does that mean?

    A good epilator will grab the hairs at their roots to pull it out completely. It should not be grabbing hairs halfway and breaking them. This will lead to faster re growth because the hair was not removed and only broken, like shaving.

    It could also mean more ingrown hairs because when a hair is pulled until it breaks halfway, it is stretched out. After it stretches and snaps, it curls back towards the skin and could become an ingrown hair.

  3. Number of tweezers
  4. The more tweezers on the head of the epilator, the faster you’ll pull out more hair. Each of the tweezers grab hairs as they rotate.

    So with an epilator that has a high number tweezers, you’ll be pulling out more hairs per pass of the epilator over your skin. This can be great because you’ll spend less time epilating.

    At the same time, if you have low tolerance for pain, more tweezers could also mean more pain. So it is important to know how many tweezers an epilator has, so you can make an informed decision.

  5. Cost
  6. Epilators can cost anywhere from $30 to $150 and prices go up with increased features, details, and accessories. Lower priced epilators can have lower number of tweezers and less convenient details, but are a good place to start if you are unsure about epilation.

    On the other hand, if you wax often or use a hair removal method that removes hair from the roots, a good quality epilator can be a useful tool. While the initial cost can seem high for an epilator will all of the features, bells and whistles available, the money you save by replacing wax salon fees quickly makes the epilator a good investment.

  7. Efficiency cap
  8. If you have low pain tolerance, the epilator cap is a must have. It is an attachment cap for the epilator head, where all the tweezers are, to help lessen the pain of epilating.

    It is curved and helps optimize the surface area that touches your skin to maximize the angle needed for epilation. The shape of the attachment cap helps you keep the epilator at a 90 degree angle, which is the best angle for epilation. It also makes epilating less painful.

  9. Easy to clean
  10. This is another must have. To make sure your epilator works for a long time, you want to be sure to clean it. The tweezers that pull hair out rotate at the top the epilator. In a good epilator, you are able to take that top portion off or apart to clean out any hairs that might have gotten stuck in there while the tweezers rotate.

    A clean epilator will also help keep your skin free of any acne or similar breakouts that are a result of bad epilator hygiene.

  11. Speed options
  12. Variable speeds help you control how fast or slow the tweezers turn. This is especially useful when you are epilating a curved and sensitive area, like an armpit or the back of knee. These areas can hurt a lot more.

    If your epilator has two or more speeds, you can continue epilating up an arm or leg by just slowing it down when you reach a sensitive area.

  13. Built in light
  14. Most of us will epilate in a bathroom, and sometimes bathrooms do not have the best light at night. Having a built in light at the head of the epilator that shines on your skin can be really helpful when you have to epilate during an evening.

    The built in light can help you see hairs that are shorter or finer so that you don’t end up with patchy areas due to bad overhead lighting.

  15. Accessories
  16. There are a lot of accessories available with some epilators. Some accessories make the basic epilator into a powerful 7-in-1 or 5-in-1 tool with attached heads for shaving hair, exfoliating, or even scrubbing your heels.

    Epilators with accessories can be the ideal choice for anyone who travels or does not have a lot of storage in their bathroom because one tool does so much more than just epilate!

  17. Cordless
  18. Corded epilators work just as fine as cordless or rechargeable epilators. However, if you travel or your bathroom outlet is too far to be comfortable, a cordless option can be a small detail that offers tremendous convenience.

    So think about where in your home you will be using your epilator, and if having a cordless epilator will make your life easier. Alternatively, if you travel often, cordless is definitely the way to go.

  19. Wet/Dry options

Want to be able to shower and epilate in 1 go? A wet/dry epilator might be your best friend. These epilators can be used in the shower with the water running. This helps with cleaning up the hair that is epilated and the epilator itself. As these epilators are water resistant, you can wash the epilator and the tweezer heads and let it dry in the shower for the next time.

These epilators are also ideal for travelers, who can use in hotels and airbnbs without worrying about the mess and cleanup.

What about pain?

All this talk about removing hair from the root brings us to an important question – How much does it hurt?

The answer depends on your tolerance for pain. We have found that it hurts less than waxing but more than shaving. However, if shaving gives you ingrown hairs then trading your razer for a good epilator may still be worth it. A well designed efficiency cap also helps with any pain you might experience.

Even if you do experience pain from epilation, there are a number of ways you can reduce epilator pain.

All in all, unless your pain tolerance is insanely low, don’t be put off by the reports of pain. With some practice, the epilator can become your go to tool for hair removal.

Best 5 At Home Waxing Kits

A complete guide to: At home waxing

Hair removal by waxing is most commonly done in professional salons by aestheticians. If waxing is your go to form of hair removal or you want to try saving time and money, waxing at home is a great option. At home waxing kits make it easy to prep and wax with little clean up needed. And they can save money. Let’s learn more about about the at home wax kit options available today.

In this guide:

Reviews for 5 of the best home waxing kits

We used countless home waxing options to select the top 5 home waxing kits available today. To help you select one to try, we evaluated each of them on features, ease of use, preparation, and clean up. Lets see what they are.

1. Gigi Student Starter Kit: Our Top Pick Home Waxing Kit

The Gigi Student Starter Kit is best kit available today. It includes everything you will need to have a salon like waxing experience right at home. The kit comes with a wax warmer, muslin wax strips in 2 sizes, applicators in 2 sizes, Pre Epilation Oil, Pre Hon, a wax off, Slow Grow, and Gigi’s All Purpose Honee wax. Gigi makes more 20 different types of waxes for different parts of your skin, from Tea tree wax as a softer antibacterial option for your face to All Purpose Honee for a 1 for all body areas solution, and the Brazilian wax for very coarse pubic hair.

Read more about our favorite waxes from Gigi.

This kit includes 1 can of Gigi’s All Purpose Honee and any of the waxes can be purchased alongside if you want a wax tailored to other areas of your body. All of Gigi’s waxes can be used with this system.

The Gigi Student Starter Kit comes with a wax warmer that you can plug in. The warmer has 3 settings at low/medium/high heat and you heat the wax to high to melt and then lower the temperature to keep it warm. The warmer also has a cover that you can use to cover up the wax container, if need be.

There is a paper collar included in the Gigi Student Starter Kit that goes around the can of wax before you put it in the warmer. The collar helps prevent drips as you scoop up wax from getting on the warmer. You can toss the collar after every or every few uses. The collars can be repurchased in packs.

However, you may quickly realize the collar is just a donut cut out of hard paper. An economical way to replace these collars can be to keep 1 collar and use it as a template to cut a new out of cardboard, cardstock, or hard paper.

The Pre Hon is a skin cleanser that is meant to be the first step of the waxing preparation. It cleans the skin of any make-up, body oils, and deodorants, and helps protect the skin from any irritations.

A bottle of Pre Epilation Oil and of Post Wax Cooling Gel are also included in this kit. The pre-epilation oil helps prepare your skin for hair removal by helping the wax removing strips grip hair rather than skin. This makes the process less painful. The post wax cooling gel helps calm your skin after hair removal.

The Slow Grow lotion is the last step of the waxing process and helps slow down future regrowth of hair through an anti-keratinization process. It also has argan oil which moisturizes and protects the skin.

And finally, the Gigi Student Starter Kit comes with popsicle stick like applicators that are wide and cut at an angle, in 2 different sizes. The can be used to scoop up and apply the wax. Once you’re done, you can throw the stick away and start with a new one during your next wax session. Popsicle sticks can be purchased for pennies at any craft store.


Cons

If you do not have an outlet that is close to where you want to use this, thena microwavable wax might be a better option. You can certainly microwave Gigi’s wax and use it as well

Summary

This is an all service wax kit meant for long term use. You may have even seen it in professional wax salons. If waxing is your go to choice for hair removal, you want a full body wax solution, and you are looking for the best at home wax kit that will last years – the Gigi Student Starter Kit is your choice!

2. Body Honee Extra Strength – Best microwavable wax

The Body Honee Extra Strength at home wax kit is the best microwavable wax option available today. The wax included in this kit is ready to use after microwaving for 1 minute. It can used on coarse hair on arms, legs, underarms, or anywhere else on the body.

However, it is extra strength, and should not be used on on your face, head, nose, or ears. Body Honee also has a separate Hard Wax that can be used for facial waxing.

The Body Honee Extra Strength at home waxing kit also comes with soothing oil based towelettes that should be used after waxing to remove any wax residue that might make your skin stick to clothing. The towelettes are 1 use only and are available for re purchase. But you can also use coconut oil, jojoba oil, or any other oil that suits your skin.

For the actual waxing, this kit offers 2 wood spatulas for applying the wax (in the same direction as the hair grows) and 8 wax strips to remove the wax and the hair (against the direction of hair growth).


Cons

There is the obvious downside of heat. Microwavable wax will cool down faster than a wax sitting on a plugged in warmer. To wax larger areas like full legs, you may need to reheat the wax in the microwave.

This is not a con as much as it is a comparison. This is a more basic kit than the Gigi at home wax kit as it is missing many of the pre and post treatment oils and lotions. However, you may find that they are not as essential for you. You can also try these products in addition if you decide that waxing is your preferred way of removing hair.

Summary

If you do not have an outlet for heating up your wax, a microwavable wax like Body Honee Extra Strength is the best and most convenient way to wax at home.

3. Bliss Poetic Waxing Kit

If you’re looking for all of the extras of the Gigi Student Starter kit but with a microwavable wax, then the Bliss Poetic Waxing Kit is worth a look.

The Bliss Poetic Waxing kit was first created for use in Bliss Spas, and then opened to the public in this waxing kit. It was one of the first at home waxing kits available on the market, and Bliss wax can be used anywhere on your body and face.

The cup of Bliss Poetic wax in this kit can be warmed up by heating it in the microwave in 30 second spurts. The cup makes it easy to use and reuse by reheating later.

The wax can be used both like soft and hard wax. It does not include any wax strips or muslin. But it has 6 spatulas in 2 different sizes to apply the wax. Then it can be removed with muslin or you can remove the wax like you normally would hard wax. Using the hard wax method of removing allows you to wax without any muslim strips.

There is a few extras in the Bliss Poetic Waxing Kit. First, there is a Super Skin Cleanser to remove body oils, makeup or other product from your skin to prepare the wax to stick to your skin and hair. The kit also comes with a Bliss Poetic Waxing pre and post waxing oil to help the wax stick to the hair and not the skin and help reduce pain. And finally there is an Ingrown Eliminating pad included to help prevent ingrown hairs.


Cons

The microwavable container in this kit is made of plastic, which makes it easier to handle while hot but also cools down the wax faster. So to wax larger areas you’ll need to microwave a few times to keep the wax at a workable consistency.

Summary

If you want a “spa like” at-home waxing experience but prefer microwavable wax instead of using an outlet, try the Bliss Poetic Waxing Kit.

4. Nair Brazilian Spa Clay Roll On Wax – Best Roll On Wax

Let’s start with the best thing about the Nair Brazilian Spa Clay Roll-On Wax: you can wash it off. Yes, that is right. This wax can be washed off! So no sticky residue ever. With the other waxes we have reviewed, you must use a post wax oil or treatment will helps remove wax residue.

In addition, the strips part of the Nair Brazilian Spa Clay Roll-On Wax kit are ALSO washable. Just like you can wash off any wax residue, you can also throw the wax strips into the laundry or hand wash them to remove the wax. Then when the strips are dry, you can reuse them!

Both of these conveniences make this a great at home waxing kit, but an even better waxing kit that can be used if you need to travel! Need to wax your legs because you didn’t have time at home and are now on the go? This kit allows you wax at home or elsewhere. Just wash your strips and pack them away.

This wax can be warmed up in the microwave or hot water and then applied onto your skin. The tube of wax looks like a toothpaste tube with a ball that rolls at the end, which applies wax to your skin. Once you are done, just wash off the ball applicator, put the cap back on, and put it away for next time.

As mentioned, this kit also comes with wax strips that can be washed. If you run out of strips or use them enough to wear them out, you can also cut up strips of muslin cloth instead or buy a pack of new Nair wax strips.


Cons

On some of these tubes of Nair Brazilian Spa Clay Roll-On Wax, the applicator balls can get a little messy. While you can certainly wash off the wax, you may end up wasting more wax than if you used a kit with a warmer or a microwavable cup.

Summary

The Nair Brazilian Spa Clay Roll-On Wax is our favorite on the go AND at home wax kit. It is minimal fuss and it works.

5. Veet Ready-to-use Wax Strip Kit

The Veet Ready-to-use Wax Strip Kit is the most minimal of the at home waxing kits available. It features 40 wax strips and 4 finishing wipes to remove wax residue.

Unlike the Nair Brazilian Spa Clay Roll-On Wax’s tube applicator, the Veet Ready-to-use Wax Strips offers the wax right on the strip. To use, rub a strip between your hands to warm up the wax, then grip each side of the wax strip and pull it apart.

In this way, each strip becomes 2 wax strips. Each wax strip can be applied to your skin in the same direction as your hair growth and then removed in the opposite direction. Then the wax strip can be throw away.

These at home wax strips can be used anywhere on your body or face. They only get as warm as you are able to warm them up between your hands, so there is no risk of burning your skin. Veet also makes a Facial wax kit with smaller strips that can work better for eyebrows or other facial waxing, but you can also cut the wax strips in this kit down to a smaller size.

The 4 finishing wipes help get rid of any wax residue. You only need 1 for each time you wax, and these can be repurchased if you decide you like them. If not, you can also use any kind of non comedogenic oil to get rid of the post waxing stickiness.


Cons

One big negatives is that if you need to wax a large area like legs more than once, you’ll need several of these at home wax strip kits. However, they certainly make do if you need a solution that works and is convenient.

This kit also does not come with many of the pre or post waxing treatments that several of our other options include.

Summary

You can’t wax endless with this kit, but it takes up even less space in your luggage than the Nair wax kit. Veet Ready-to-use Wax Strip Kit is a great utilitarian solution for a woman on the go.

Types of wax

Wax for hair removal comes in two forms – hard wax and soft wax.

Hard wax is also referred to as non strip wax, peelable wax or hot wax. Hard wax has long been advertized as the better wax as it is supposed to remove all hair without grabbing onto the skin. Commonly, it’s the recommended wax for brazilians or upper lip hair removal. It’s called hard wax because it is liberally applied while it’s pliable and viscous and then it is removed when it hardens.

However, it’s far more difficult to wax with hard wax and even takes experienced estheticians longer to wax the same area with hard wax than with soft wax. It can also be more painful. Even in professional settings, a brazilian with hard wax may take several attempts. Hard wax is applied when warm and becomes less sticky as it cools on your skin. It is then grabbed from an end by hand and quickly removed, taking the hair with it. Because there is no strip, it can be more difficult to get a grip and remove firmly, and so can be a messy and painful process.

None of the at home wax kits we review here have hard wax. All of them use some form of the other type of wax – soft wax.

(If you prefer the hard wax method, we recommend sugaring for a friendlier and less painful at home wax option. Learn more about sugaring.)

Soft wax is referred to such because it is applied when it is soft and removed while it is still soft. After soft wax is applied to your hair, a piece of muslin or wax strip is placed over the wax. When the muslim or wax strip is quickly removed, the hair goes with it, resulting in smooth and hair free skin. The strip or muslin can be discarded. Soft wax also helps exfoliate your skin and removes mature and baby hairs. Soft wax leaves your hair feeling smooth!

Many of the at home waxing kits offer soft wax in several forms – microwavable wax, wax strips, roll on wax, and wax that needs a heat set up. Each of these offer a different kind of convenience and need some kind of electric or or manual heat to soften the wax so that it adheres to your skin.

So why at home waxing?

First, professional salon waxing can really add up. It costs anywhere from $30 per visit for a small area to more than $500 per visit for full body waxes. That can be $6000 or more per year!

Let’s compare that to an at home waxing, which costs about $100 a year which some of the higher price options and even less with a lower cost one. A huge cost difference!

Another great thing about at home waxing is that it can be more convenient to be able to wax at anytime in your own bathroom rather than going to another location for a salon appointment.

If you have never had a professional salon waxing, we do recommend that you go once to see how the professionals wax once before you try at home. If you don’t have access to salons near you and have never waxed your hair before, we recommend watching a video on waxing technique first.

If you have had a professional waxing, then you have an idea of how the wax is applied and removed. Even still, there can be a learning curve to getting the wax temperature warm enough to work but not too warm, how to apply, and how to remove. However, after waxing a small portion once or twice, this learning curve can be overcome quickly.

Features of at home waxing kits

There are many features available in at home wax kits and they come in many price points. So what are the most useful features that make one wax kit a better option than the next? Here are three features to look for.

Preparation

Many of the best at home wax kits available today are soft wax. To use soft wax for hair removal, you have warm the wax so that it can stick to and remove your hair. Some at home wax kits have microwavable wax, others come with a custom heating machine, and others just need to be warmed up by rubbing your hands together. So the first feature to look for is what heating source you will need for the wax.

The most efficient at home wax kits come with their own wax warming machine that can be plugged in. These warming machines heat up the wax to different temperatures to ready the wax for use and then help keep it at an even temperature while it is used. You do need an electrical outlet near where you would like to use it.

If you do not have an outlet then microwavable wax can be very convenient. This type of wax can be microwaved for a short time and then used until it cools. Wax does not cool very quickly so you can use it for as long as it easy to work with, and then microwave again. If you need to wax in a location that does not have an accessible outlet nearby but want to wax a large area, then microwavable wax is a great solution.

Finally, there are roll on and wax strips. This type of wax can be warmed with your hands. They can be rubbed between your hands to warm up and then applied to your skin and removed for smooth skin. This type of wax can be great for small areas or for quick waxing where you do not have time to wait for wax to warm up.

Does it work?

The second important feature to consider in each at home wax kit is the efficiency – does it remove hair well? Several factors work together to create a good at home wax kit.

The wax must warm enough to use comfortably via the recommended heating method by the manufacturer, whether by microwave, by hand, or by heat warmer.

The wax strips, whether built in or offered separately as rolls, should be easy to use and easily remove the wax with little to no residue.

Some wax kits also offer accessories like catch collars that help catch extra wax or wide popsicle sticks that help spread the wax on your skin in decent quantities. These can be thrown away each time you finish waxing. These accessories are cheap but if you do not want to spend money on more, you can easily find cheaper or almost free options. We’ll cover these as we review the top at home wax kits later.

Cleanup

Finally, the last important to feature to note in these at home wax kits is how easy is it to cleanup. Does the kit offer options or accessories that can be tossed after every use and that help with cleanup?

Perhaps the wax applicator can be tossed after each use. The wax strips can be thrown out. Is the wax easy to work with at a good consistency that does not drip? Some waxes are very drippy and not cool to a easy-to-work consistency very easily and these waxes can create a bigger mess in your bathroom than is worth it.

How to wax

1. Prepare

To get started, gather your wax, popsicle stick applicators, and wax strips. Warm your wax in the microwave, hot water, or wax warmer to a comfortably warm temperature so that you do not burn yourself.

If you bought wax strips in rolls, cut a few pieces off the roll in various sizes. Wash your skin with a warm water to remove an lotions or body oils, or apply a pre waxing treatment that will remove any lotion residues from your skin.

2. Apply wax

Dip your applicator in the wax, let some of the excess drip off back into the wax container, and apply on your hair IN the same direction as your hair grows.

Depending on what you are waxing, you can get different applicator styles that can make it easier to apply the wax. Regular rounded applicator sticks are great for larger areas. The rounded applicator sticks also come in a convenient smaller size for under arms or smaller areas. Then there are also skinner angled applicator sticks that are great for eyebrows or for achieving straight lines on your bikini wax.

3. Remove wax

If you’re using soft wax, press your wax strip down on the applied wax. Then pull the wax strip off in the direction OPPOSITE hair growth. You’ll find best results in you pull at a 10-20 degree angle from your skin surface. Don’t pull straight up at 90 degrees because you’ll end up with broken instead of pulled hairs. You won’t be able to pull the wax strip off as fast either, which will also cause more pain.

A common mistake with waxing yourself is to pull the wax or the wax strip up and away. What does that mean? So let’s say your leg is horizontal to the ground and you are waxing your elg. This means, because you’re anticipating pain, you pull the wax away towards the ceiling at almost a 90 degree angle. You’re probably also breaking hair and at that angle, pulling your skin more than you need to.

What you actually want to do is remove the wax a very low angle compared to the body part your are waxing. So if your leg is horizontal, you apply the wax horizontally, and then try to remove the wax by pulling in a close to horizontal angle. This way can reduce broken hairs, remove hairs from the root, and reduce pain.

If you’re using hard wax, use your fingers to grab one end of the wax and quickly pull off the wax to remove the hair. If you can’t get a grip, use your finger tips to slightly peel up one side so you can get a grib

4. Soothe skin

Your skin will be very red after the hair is pulled out, and may even feel like it is burning. Immediately after pulling off the wax,
you can press down on the wax area to lessen the burning sensation.

After you are done waxing the entire area, you use a post waxing oil to sooth and condition your skin. You can also use an all natural aloe vera gel to quickly heal any over exfoliated skin (waxing can sometimes pull off skin too, aka exfoliation, and sometimes it is too much) or soothe any redness. You can also apply a light hydrating lotion that will not clog pores.

What about pain

Waxing can be a little painful. However, many find that it is less painful that many of the other long lasting hair removal techniques. Some may even find it waxing less painful than epilating or that epilators work better on their arms and waxing is less painful on their legs.

As you start waxing at home, you will also notice that the pain improves with your technique. You should apply the wax in the direction that hair grows and remove the wax strip against the direction of hair growth. You’ll find that there is a sweet spot angle at which the strip should be removed for little to no pain. If you have never had a professional waxing, we do recommend you experience at least session and watch closely. But if you can’t, there are countless video tutorials available on technique that can help you perfects yours for a painless wax experience.

Top 5 At-Home Laser Hair Removal Systems

A complete guide to: At Home Laser Hair Removal

For years, laser hair removal was inconveniently expensive. Laser hair removal used to be an option only available at dermatology or licensed offices, costing hundreds of dollars per treatment.

However, in the last few years, there are now an increasing number of at-home laser hair removal options. These at-home laser hair removal systems are now another DIY hair removal method like at home waxing or shaving, and last longer. While initially, these systems only worked for dark hair on light skin, now there are options for a wider range of skin and hair colors available.

Many of these laser hair removal systems for home use are reasonably priced and highly effective, and a great solution for anyone looking for long term hair removal. We’re written this guide to help determine if at home laser hair removal can work for you and reviewed the best systems available today. To skip ahead in this guide, please expand the table of contents below.

In this guide:

Reviews for 5 of the best at-home laser hair removal devices

We have been using various at home laser hair removal devices for several years now, starting with a Remington system, then a Silk’n, and later a Tria. There have been so many advancements especially in the last 3-4 years and the systems available today are easier to use and more efficient than ever. Let us take a look at the best 5 laser hair removal systems available for at home use today.

1. Tria Hair Removal 4X

The Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X beats other at home laser hair removal systems and devices on more than one front, easily taking the top spot. Let’s break it down.

Important features
  • Only FDA approved laser hair removal system
  • Cordless
  • Rechargeable
  • No replacement cartridges needed
  • Same technology as dermatologists (Advanced Diode laser)
  • LED display
  • High precision design
  • Can be used on face

Tria 4X Hair Removal Device

The Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X is a laser hair removal not an IPL hair removal system. Not sure what the difference is? Backtrack to learn more.

This means the Tria Laser Hair Removal 4x uses the same technology as dermatologists, specifically an Advanced Diode Laser. The Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X was the first true laser hair removal system approved by the FDA. And it is still the ONLY laser hair removal system approved by the FDA for at home use. The other systems we review later are IPL laser hair removal systems. So if you have done your research, or want to try a laser hair removal system not an IPL system, this is the best and only option aside from visiting a dermatologist.

BUY NOW: Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X

Every other at home laser hair removal system requires cartridge replacements after a certain number of laser flashes. The Tria Laser 4x is the only machine on the market that requires no cartridge replacement. What this means is that the Tria Laser 4x has no recurring costs. The initial cost is the only investment and after that there is $0 in ongoing costs for life. There are cheaper at home laser hair removal systems available but if you plan on using your system or device for a long time, then the initially pricey Tria Laser hair removal 4x averages out to a similar dollar investment.

So how does it avoid new cartridges? It is a cordless handheld at home laser hair removal system that uses a recharging station. Each session with the Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X lasts 40 minutes and then you recharge it for your next session.

Tria 4X has an LED display

The Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X comes with an LED display that shows you battery levels and how many pulses you have used during your session. It also comes with a Skin Sensor that unlocks the Tria for use, if you have the correct skin tone, and relocks the system after you are done with your hair removal session.

We and countless other users have found that the Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X is more effective on facial hair than any other at home laser hair removal device on the market. This is in part due to the technology and in part due to the design of the Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X. The handle and the applicator allow for precision while emitting a large amount of laser energy. This make the Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X a top choice for best at home laser hair removal for brazilians, face, underarms or another smaller area with lots of hair that needs a great attention to detail.

To read more customer verified Tria 4X reviews, click here.

Note: Many of the other great at home laser hair removal devices cannot be used on the face. You can use the Tria anywhere on your body, not just in high density hair areas or small areas. But the portability of this device makes it great for areas where you need to very careful (like your eyes… keep away!), making the Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X the best at home laser hair removal for face and body.

This device will not successfully treat dark skin or very light hair, like blonde, grey, or white hair. We have reviewed at home laser hair removal devices that work on dark skin – skip ahead to the Tanda Me or Illuminage at home laser hair systems if you have dark skin.

Tria 4X comes in many colors.

It cames in a variety of colors, like turquoise, graphite, fuschia, and more. And compared to some at home laser hair systems, it is minimal in size. You can charge it and even take it along during travel.

To read more about Tria 4X product specifications, click here.

Quick Summary

Despite the initial cost, the Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X comes out ahead when you factor in its other features. And it uses the same laser used during costlier dermatology sessions. So if you’re looking for a professional grade hair removal system for at home use (especially for facial hair), there isn’t a better option available on the market than the Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X.


2. Remington iLight Pro Hair Removal System

Remington was one of the first to introduce a laser treatment system for home use to the public. Despite the competition, the Remington iLight Pro is still one of the most reviewed and dependable hair removal system available.

Important features
  • FDA approved IPL
  • Permanent hair reduction after 3 treatments
  • Long lasting cartridges
  • Replacement cartridges reasonably priced
  • Large flash applicator face makes this great for large areas

Remington iLight Pro

The Remington iLight Pro Hair Removal System is an IPL hair removal system and was one of the first of its kind on the market. Since it’s debut, Remington has introduced several iterations of the iLight Pro and we will cover some of them too.

The Remington iLight Pro Hair Removal System that shows a reduction in hair in only 3 treatments. The cartridge has 6000 flashes, which is enough for 10 full body treatments. And there is one replacement cartridges included, so there are 20 treatments in the Remington iLight Pro Hair Removal System total. Need more? Replacement cartridges for this system are highly affordable, usually $30-40 per cartridge.

There is a skin sensor on the iLight that is touch sensitive and detects your skin color. It only operates if you have it pressed up against your skin and your skin is in range for this machine. If you are not yet holding it against your skin or your skin is too dark, then it will not flash.

This is a great safety precaution because the flashes can affect your eyes, and even cause long term blindness. So you only want the machine flashing if it is pressed on skin and not near your eyes. If your skin is out of range for this machine you can end up with skin burns, so the machine will refuse to operate so you do not end up with accidental burns on your skin.

iLight is corded and needs to be plugged in to use, which makes this system bulky. So it is not as travel friendly as certain other more compact options.

Remington iLight Pro

The larger applicator face of this device makes this a great choice for larger areas like legs, arms, and bikini hair removal. IPL technology also helps target more hairs with each flash because IPL uses diffused light. So you will notice that that applicator screens on most IPL machines are larger.

Will this at home laser hair removal system treat dark skin? No. (skip ahead to the Tanda Me and Illuminage reviews) It also will not work on grey, white, or blonde hair.

To read more about Remington iLight Pro product specifications, click here.

However, for this reason, do not use the Remington iLight Pro Hair Removal System on your face or anywhere near your eyes! The diffused light targets a larger area and even if your eyes are closed, it can hurt your eyes. If you need facial hair removal, use a device with a more controlled liked the Tria Laser Removal 4X reviewed above or the Tria Hair Removal Precision reviewed below. Do not use this on your face! Use the Remington iLight Pro Hair Removal System anywhere, except on or near your face and eyes.

To read more customer verified Remington iLight Pro reviews, click here.

Quick Summary

Amongst at-home laser hair removal systems, this is our favorite for whole body laser treatment. While the Tria products use a different kind of technology and travel friendly, each flash only treats a small area. The Remington iLight Pro Hair Removal System has a larger treatment area with each flash and is a more convenient option for treating bigger areas like full arms or full legs. So if your primary goal with laser hair removal is removing hair from your body and not your face, the Remington iLight Pro Hair Removal System should be your first choice.


3. Silk’n Flash & Go

Silk’n is another veteran maker of at home laser hair removal devices, and there are variety of models available to purchase. Many of them are similar to the Remington review ed above with bulky recharge stations. However, the Silk’n Flash & Go is a at home hair removal system that is not bulky and can be used on both face AND body at home hair removal.

Important features
  • Cordless
  • Can be used on both face and body
  • Large flash applicator face makes this great for large areas
  • FDA approved IPL
  • No replacement cartridges needed

Silkn Go Flash

The Silk’n Flash & Go is a versatile at home laser hair removal system. Unlike the Tria’s small flash face or Remington’s limitation to using it only on the face, the Silk’n Flash & Go can be used for both body and face at home laser hair removal. If you want to removal hair from all over your body, this may be the best of both worlds for you.

Like the Tria, the Silk’n Flash & Go is also cordless. There is a corded charging station, which is also small and easily packable. This makes the Silk’n Flash & Go a good system for those of us on the go, who need a system that can be charged and used from anywhere, and minimal in size.

Also like the Tria, the Silk’n Flash & Go needs no cartridges or refills for the IPL flashes. So there is no recurring cost after the initial purchase.

Many laser hair removal systems have a short delay between each flash, varying from 1 to 5 seconds. This means that after each flash, you need to wait a short interval before you can push the flash button again. The Remington machine has this delay, as does the Silk’n Flash & Go.

However, the Silk’n Flash & Go has upgraded it’s technology to minimize this delay to less than a second. This makes this a faster machine to use. But its flash applicator face is a bit smaller than Remington. So, if you are covering a large expansive area, you may find that it takes about the same time to treat with either the Remington or the Silk’n Flash & Go. However, the Silk’n Flash & Go will definitely treat a smaller area much faster due to it’s shorter interval between flashes.

Does it treat dark or tanned skin, or grey and blonde hair? No.

To read more about Silk’n Flash & Go product specifications, click here.

So why isn’t it our number one? The flash applicator face is still smaller than the Remington device. If this had a larger head that could cover larger areas faster, this would easily head the pack. Still, for at home laser hair removal of brazilians and bikini or underarms, the Silk’n Flash & Go offers the speediest treatment.

The Silk’n Flash & Go is a great “medium” for at home laser hair removal that can treat both face and body. However, if you’re looking for the most effective and well designed at home laser hair removal device for face or for body, we’d recommend going for a Remington or a Tria instead. If cost is the main driving factor, then the Silk’n Flash & Go is worth a try before you go for a more expensive machine.

To read more customer verified Silk’n Flash & Go reviews, click here.

Quick Summary

The Silk’n Flash & Go has Tria’s efficiency and good design, and the Remington’s ability to treat larger areas on your body. Combined, this is a good at home laser hair removal product for face AND body treatment. With no added costs, improved technology, this IPL at home hair removal system is a contender for the top spot in this list. But if you intend to treat your face or your body, investing in the pricier Tria or a Remington might pay off more in the long term.


4. Tria Hair Removal Precision

The Tria Hair Removal Precision is the Tria 4X boiled down into an even more compact and lightweight design. Need to travel light? You can easily pack this in your toiletries bag or luggage. Need a smaller at home laser hair removal device for a small treatment area? The Tria Hair Removal Precision fits the bill.

Important features
  • FDA approved laser hair removal system
  • Cordless
  • No replacement cartridges needed
  • Same technology as dermatologists (Advanced Diode laser)
  • Can be used on face
  • Compact design

Tria Precision

The Tria Hair Removal Precision is essentially the same at home laser hair removal device as the Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X condensed into a smaller size.

Tria intended for the Tria Hair Removal Precision to be used in areas that harder to reach with the larger flash screen of the Tria 4X. Remember, the flash applicator of whatever at home laser hair removal system you decide to try, must be completely flat against the surface of the skin to treat the hair follicles. So in certain areas with curves and bends, like your groin or your breast, it may be difficult to get the entire flash applicator face flat on your skin. In these areas, you may find that a smaller at home laser hair device like the Tria Hair Removal Precision helps treat more effectively.

Like the Tria 4X, this device does not treat dark skin or very light hair.

Another potential benefit of the Tria Hair Removal Precision is its minimal size. It can fit in your toiletries kit or a purse, as it is about the size of an electronic toothbrush. So if you travel often and travel light, the Tria Hair Removal Precision’s size could be a huge benefit.

To read more customer verified Tria Hair Removal Precision reviews, click here.

Quick Summary

Otherwise, if you do not need a smaller flash applicator or can work with the slightly bigger size of the other devices we have reviewed, we recommend going with the Tria 4X, the Remington, or the Silk’n Flash & Go first. Then if you find that you are still missing patches of hair in curvy areas, then you can try to treat those sections with this handy Tria Hair Removal Precision.


5. Tanda Me Smooth (also called Elos Professional)

The Tanda Me Smooth, also called Elos Professional, is the first of the two best at home laser hair removal systems for dark skin that we reviewed for you. Laser hair removal for dark skin is still a very novel industry, as historically if you had dark skin, you were immediately disqualified from this particular method of hair removal.

The Tanda Me Smooth also works on lighter hair, like blonde hair. And it is the only at home laser hair removal system for blonde and red hair that is effective. It does not work on white hair.

However, with new research advancements in laser technology, at home laser hair removal systems for dark skin and light hair hitting the market, with the Tanda Me Smooth currently leading in effectiveness and good design.

Important features
  • Can be used on olive to dark skin
  • Can be used on blonde and red hair
  • Reasonably priced replacement cartridges
  • Can be used on face
  • FDA approved IPL hair removal system

Tanda Me Smooth Me Elos

The Tanda Me Smooth (Elos Professional) was one of the first at home laser hair removal devices that had a wide enough range of acceptable skin and hair colors to include dark skin and light hair. It effectively treats hair that light like blonde as well as skin tones that range from olive to dark. These normally fall outside of the range for the other laser and IPL systems that we have reviewed.

The Tanda Me Smooth (Elos Professional) is a corded system that needs to be plugged in to use. It has 5 different intensity levels for the IPL laser light, and you can tailor your treatment to use any of the 5 levels or build up from the lowest level.

BUY NOW:Tanda Me Smooth Elos Professional

This system also requires replacement cartridges. However, each cartridge lasts for 100,000 flashes, or several full body treatments before you need a new one. The replacement cartridges are also very reasonably priced, ranging from $30-40 each.

The Tanda Me Smooth (Elos Professional) can be used on both face and body. It is also very efficient system that allows you to treat a full leg in 10 minutes and full body including face, in only 20 minutes.

To read more customer verified (Elos Professional) Tanda Me Smooth reviews, click here.

Quick Summary

For anyone looking for an at home laser hair removal system for blonde hair or red hair, the Tanda Me Smooth Elos Professional is the only machine available today that shows results. The Tanda Me Smooth is also one of two machines available for use on darker skin tones that were previously disqualified from laser hair removal. It is the best at home laser hair removal system for indian skin, african skin, or anyone else with olive to dark skin.


6. Bonus – Illuminage Touch

We only intended to review the top 5 at home laser hair removal systems, but the introduction of the Illuminage Touch as another best at home laser hair removal system for dark skin made it a convincing addition to our must review list.

Prior to these systems debuting on the market, there was little option for anyone looking for best at home laser hair removal system for african skin or another type of olive or darker skin. But with the Tanda Me and the Illuminage Touch, the at home laser hair removal market has become more democratic in terms of skin color.

Important features
  • Can be used on olive to dark skin
  • Can be used on blonde and red hair
  • FDA approved IPL hair removal system
  • Can be used on face

Illuminage Touch at home laser hair removal system for dark skin

Like the Tanda Me Smooth, the Illuminage Touch works for the normal ranges of skin and hair color. It also is a second option for at home laser hair removal device for blonde hair, red hair, and olive to dark skin…. all of which are normally are outside the capacities of many of the popular laser hair removal systems.

The Illuminage Touch is a corded machine, so you need an outlet to use this machine to treat your skin. It uses IPL laser to permanently reduce your hair by 94% in 7 weeks, if you treat once each week.

It can be used on face and body.

BUY NOW: Illuminage Touch

Like some of the other at home laser hair removal system we have reviewed, here, the Illuminage Touch also requires replacement cartridges for long term use. But unlike the other devices we have reviewed, the cartridges for the Illuminage Touch seem to be quite expensive, ranging $110-140. For more Illuminage Touch product specifications, click here.

Note: Normally, this price would disqualify this system from this list. But given the scarcity of at home laser hair removal devices that treat dark skin, we still wanted to include the Illuminage Touch as a bonus review. For many systems, you may find that you never end up needing a second cartridge. So if this system meets your needs in all of its other features, it may still be a good investment until that first included cartridge is used up.

To read more customer verified Illuminage Touch reviews, click here.

Quick Summary

The Illuminage Touch is a second effective option for at home laser hair removal for dark skin (olive to dark) and light hair (red, blonde). The price of the replacement cartridges make this less accessible than the other systems we have reviewed, but still keep this whole unit less than the cost of laser hair removal treatments from a dermatologist. We recommend trying the Tanda Me Smooth system first, but we wanted to offer this as an option for those of us with darker skin.


Types of at-home laser hair removal

There are two types of light based hair removal – IPL and laser hair removal. Usually both are referred to as laser hair removal but there are some differences.

IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. Sometimes you hear IPL referred to as IPL laser treatment, but that is a misnomer. IPL is not a laser, but rather a wide spectrum of diffused light. This diffused light does not go very deep into the skin.

Dark hair absorbs many of the wavelengths of the Intense Pulsed Light, which disrupts the growth of the hair and the follicle. IPL hair removal needs some contrast between skin color and hair color so that the darker of the two, the hair, can absorb the light. So for example, IPL works well on dark haired and light skinned people and not so well on people with light skin and blonde hair or those with dark skin and dark hair.

Laser hair removal involves a single and concentrated wavelength of light that also disrupts hair follicles. Specifically, the laser treatment targets melanin in hair follicle to differentiate between skin and hair. Because this is concentrated light, it penetrates the skin much more than IPL. This type of light is much much effective for very coarse or thick hair follicles.

Both are effective for hair in different stages of growth and thickness. So which one to use? It may depend on your skin color and hair.

Skin color and Hair color

There was a time when laser hair removal was only available for people with very light skin and very dark hair. However, now there are options for people who do not have as much contrast between your skin color and hair color. Still, because this type of hair removal targets pigment or melanin, it works better for certain phenotypes. Will it work for you? Let’s take a look.

  1. The first question is what color is your hair?

  2. Laser hair removal targets the root of each hair so look at the color that is closest to the root to determine the color of your hair. Is your hair color is one of the following colors or is in between the following colors?

    Laser hair removal for Light Brown to Dark Brown Hair

    If your hair is between light brown to black, then you are probably a good candidate for laser hair removal.

    Is your hair color one of the following shades or in between one of the following hair colors?

    Laser hair removal for Blonde and Red hair

    If your hair is blonde or a true red, or in between, you can still use laser hair removal. However, it may be less effective or take more treatments for you to see a difference. This is especially true if you are tanned.

    Many people with red or blonde hair have lighter tips and darker roots. If your blonde or red hair is a darker “dirty blonde” or deeper red at your roots, hair removal by laser is still a great option because it will be able to detect the dark hair follicles.

    Do you have grey or white hair?

    Laser hair removal for grey hair

    Grey or white hair makes it very hard for the light in laser hair systems to hone in the hair follicle. If your hair color is grey or white, laser hair removal will not be effective for you.

    Usually people have grey or white roots, but you may have a mix of white and darker hair. In this case, the laser hair removal systems will detect and kill the darker hair follicles. So while you may not be able to disrupt all of the hair follicles, you will see a reduction in hair as the darker hair follicles are eliminated.

  3. The second important question to ask is what is your skin color?

  4. The lighter your skin color, the easier it is for the light wavelengths to zone in on your hair follicles. Light skin colors include:

    Laser hair removal for white to brown skin

    If your skin color is pale white to light brown or light olive, then you are a great candidate for laser hair removal.

    Just like very light hair makes it hard for the laser hair removal light to differentiate between hair and skin, darker skin also makes it harder to differentiate between hair and skin.

    Laser hair removal for Medium to Dark Brown Skin

    If you have dark skin like any of the above, then most laser hair removal systems may not work very well for you. As of a year ago, there were no options for darker skinned people. Now there is 1 system on the market that shows a great reduction in hair for a wider range of skin colors, including dark skin – the Tanda Me Smooth and Iluminage Touch.

    Click here to skip to our reviews for Tanda Me Smooth or Iluminage Touch. You’ll also find it at the end of this guide in the review section, if you would like to continue reading.

Laser hair removal – Food for thought

There are a few facts and realities to keep in mind before you start using an IPL or laser hair removal system. Usually, you do not see this kind of section in a product guide. But understanding the limitations of laser hair removal will help you make a better choice in your hair removal journey.

Many IPL and laser hair removal systems have been cleared by the FDA for home use. A key term you may see in the marketing language of many of these systems is “permanent reduction” in hair. Notice that it does not say permanent removal.

This applies to both the systems approved for home use and those used in licensed medical offices. Neither can be marketed as permanent hair removal solutions. Be wary of laser hair removal providers that promise permanent hair removal. Many of these providers even offer extra sessions if you do not get permanent results, which could be a great insurance plan. However, please know that none of these options are cleared by the FDA as permanent hair removal solutions because they did not find that IPL or laser hair removal systems could accomplish that for every user.

This is because each of these systems show varying results in various people. Some people are able to use them with great results like permanent hair removal. Others notice a permanent reduction in the hair that regrows after a few sessions.

So you may also get varying results with these systems. Normally, people with high contrast skin and hair – light skin and dark hair – see tremendous results with these machines with either an almost or a total permanent hair loss in the treated areas. You may also get varying results on various parts of your body, with finer hair disappearing faster.

Even if you do not quickly accomplish total hair removal, you may be interested in extending the times between how often you have to remove hair. Many people find that way less hair grows in the treated areas, and they only need to use the laser hair removal system or another method of hair removal a few times a year. Cutting back how much time you spend on removing hair may make laser hair systems a worthy investment. With both IPL and laser hair removal, users notice increasingly positive results with each use. However, the number many treatments needed to see the results will vary person to person.

So is there an FDA approved total hair removal system? Yes, electrolysis.

Electrolysis is approved by the FDA as a permanent hair removal solution. It treats 1 hair at a time, and so can be a time consuming process. For this reason, it is also a costly option at dermatologists and hair removal salons. For much larger areas like arms or legs, it can cost thousands of dollars.

Ultimately, laser hair removal systems are an accessible and easy way to remove hair for long periods of time, if not forever. If you find yourself shaving or waxing frequently, laser hair removal will greatly reduce how often you have to remove hair. With continued treatments, less and finer hair will regrow and with less frequency until there is little to no hair left to remove.

So if you’re looking for a hair removal method that is more permanent and long lasting than shaving, sugaring, waxing or epilating, laser hair removal is an excellent option to try. There are countless laser hair removal systems available now. Many of them cost about the same as a good wax kit or an epilator, so there is no reason to not try a laser hair removal system if you don’t already wax or use an epilator. Imagine not having to wax, shave, or epilate for weeks instead of only days!

Features of at-home laser hair removal

Technology

There are several laser and IPL systems available in the at home laser hair removal systems. Some of the best options use the same technology as those in professional settings, and others use different laser technology that works equally well.

But since these laser hair removal systems have entered the consumer market, there have been many advancements in technology. A good laser hair removal system should be equipped with an up to date laser technology.

Added Cost of Cartridges

Many at home laser hair removal systems require cartridges to work and come with a set number of cartridges to use as you need. These cartridges hold a certain number of flashes that disrupt the hair follicle and kill the hair before they need replacement.

If you plan on purchasing an at home laser hair removal system with the intention of removing as much hair all over our body and face as tolerable, you will need more cartridges at some point. So it is important to take note of how much surface area a cartridge might cover and if replacement cartridges are easily available. Replacement cartridges are an added cost.

Of course, if you only plan on using your at home laser hair removal system for a small area like underarms or the upper lip, then you may never need to look for replacement cartridges.

Battery or Corded

Some at home laser hair removal systems are battery operated or rechargeable. Others are corded and can only be used when they are plugged in.

Depending on where you plan on using this device, or your lifestyle needs, this feature may be another key to making a decision.

The laser removal systems that require an outlet or are corded tend to be bulkier and would be hard to take along while traveling. You’ll also need to use them near an outlet.

Rechargable at home laser hair removal systems are usually lightweight, easy to handle, and you can use them easily at home or while traveling. You may find that it is hard to do a full treatment of a large area, like both legs, with a rechargeable device. But if you want a more accessible device that you can take with you anywhere to touch up your face or underarms, then a rechargeable or battery operated device is more ideal than a bulky corded machine.

Color of skin and hair

The range of skin color and hair colors for each laser hair removal device is probably the most important feature to note. A good at home laser hair removal system will work on a wider range of skin and hair colors. Skin color can change from body part to body part and even over the course of the seasons if you tan easily, so even the traditionally ideal candidate – light skin and dark hair – can benefit from a wider range.

If you have less contrast between your skin and hair, this feature is especially important. Blonde or red hair and light skin, or dark hair and dark brown skin, make the hair follicles harder to detect for the laser hair removal system. Make sure to pick a laser hair removal system you choose has a wide range of acceptable skin and hair colors.

What about pain?

Or a better question: What is the highest level of pain you can experience during laser hair removal at home or at a professional office? If you have a low tolerance to pain and very sensitive skin, you can compare it to the pain of snapping a rubber band against your skin.

Personally, we do not find it nearly as painful. For someone with average sensitivity, it may feel more like a light pinch and a warm sensation. Everyone also has various areas of the body with less or more sensitivity. Some people find that less sensitive areas register no pain at all.

Compared to other methods of hair removal, laser hair removal is less painful than both epilating and waxing, and more painful than just shaving.

How to prepare for a laser hair removal session

1. Shave the area you are going to treat of any hairs that might be present

You have to shave before every laser hair removal session. Laser works best if the hair has been cut down so that it can treat as close to the hair root as possible, and kill the root.

2. Pat the area dry

Helpful Tip: For IPL hair removal systems, we recommend wearing a pair of laser protection eye glasses. Because IPL is diffused light, there is greater risk of laser hitting sensitive areas like eyes and resulting in irreversible damage.

3. Begin laser hair removal

Helpful Tip: For larger areas, use a white eyeliner pencil to create a grid so that you know exactly where you have treated and can cover the whole skin surface without leaving untreated patches.

Remember to use a white eyeliner pencil because the laser hair removal system will pick up a darker color as a hair follicle where there is none, and that can lead to a skin burn.

4. Wash area again to remove singed hair smell (if present) and white pencil marks. Apply a noncomedogenic lotion.

Helpful Tip: Some may smell singed hair after treatment in certain areas of your body. We have found that coarser hair tends to lead to this singed hair smell. It is nothing to be concerned about. To get rid of the smell, just wash the newly treated area and carry on your skincare routine.

Sugaring Wax Hair Removal Guide

A guide for sugaring hair removal at home, wax’s all natural sister alternative

Waxing, shaving, laser/IPL, and even epilating are all popular and even mainstream methods of hair removal. Sugaring is a lesser known but ever growing in popularity method of hair removal. Sugaring is similar to waxing, but uses a sugaring paste or wax that is all natural and is more gentle on the skin.

In this guide:

What is sugaring?

Sugaring hair removal was first used in Persian over a millennium ago, during a time where sugar was only found in Persia or modern day Middle East. Unlike wax which sticks to both hair and skin, this ancient method of hair removal sticks to the hair while conditioning the skin.

Sugaring wax is primarily a heated mixture of water, sugar, and lemon, heated until it resembles a pliable candy like consistency. This is then applied just like you would apply wax to remove hair. Aside from lemon, there are many other additives that can be found in sugaring paste, including those that had aromatherapeutic benefits. Some other common ingredients are cornstarch to thicken, honey or molasses for additional skin conditioning, guar gum for thickening, and any essential oil for aromatherapy and fragrance.

You can buy pre made sugaring wax or paste, or make it at home yourself like the ancient Persians. To make it, the process is very simple but it takes a little bit of practice to get the consistency right. We’ll cover a great recipe later – to skip to it now, please click here.

Sugaring vs waxing

Sugaring paste feels similar to regular wax, but is actually much more gentle on the skin.

Gentle

Even the most gentlest of wax grabs both skin and hair. This allows for the wax to grab all of the hair at one time with one pass. Sugaring wax only grabs the hair and this makes sugaring less painful than waxing. Because sugaring wax isn’t as grabby as regular wax, it sometimes takes more than 1 application of sugaring wax to completely remove all of the hair. However, because the pain is minimal, this is easy to do.

Natural wax

Sugaring wax is also made of natural ingredients, usually of water, sugar, and lemon. The lemon is added for acidity to break up the sugar molecules. The water in the paste helps moisturize and condition your skin while it is applied.

Wax faster

You can also sugar large areas of hair at one time. With regular wax, there is risk of the wax drying out and making it more difficult to remove so you wax a section of skin, remove wax, and then move onto the next section. With sugaring hair removal, you can apply the sugaring wax to a large area without risk of it drying or hardening. Then you can take your time removing the sugar in smaller sections.

Not as hot

Regular waxes, especially soft waxes have to be applied hot otherwise you end up with too much wax with each application. This can result in the wax strip or cotton strip grabbing onto the wax and not the hair. Even with regular hard wax, you need for it to be very warm so that it remains pliable while you apply it on your hair.

Sugaring wax has a much lower melting point temperature than many regular waxes. So you can keep the temperature of the sugaring wax much lower and still apply and reapply.

No residue

Traditional or homemade sugaring wax leaves no residue. With some pre made sugaring waxes you may notice a small amount of residue, but this can be washed off. Unlike regular wax, sugaring requires no pre treatments or post treatment oils to help with the sticky residue. If you apply too much sugar in an area or have difficulty getting it all off, you can just wash it off with water and start again.

In fact, if you use cotton muslin strips to remove the sugaring wax, you can just throw the strips in the washing machine and reuse them again during your next sugaring session. It’s a very eco friendly hair removal method!

Get all of the missed hairs

With regular wax, you find that if you miss hairs, a second pass with the wax leaves your skin red, irritated, and resembling chicken skin. This is because the regular wax grabs both the skin and the hair. With sugaring wax, you can apply and remove the wax as many times as you need with little irritation. While sugaring should take no more than two passes to remove the hair, if you need a few applications to remove hair in a curvy or joint area, then sugaring is a great gentle option.

Better for less coarse hair

If you have thick coarse hair that you have let grow out or have been shaving, we’d recommend that you wax with regular wax first before sugaring. Sugaring is great for softer hair and will not work as well on very coarse hair. Long term shaving (without waxing in the interval) can make the hair follicles thicker, and sugaring may not be able to be remove all of the hair. However, if you have been waxing, then you may have noticed that the hair regrowing is softer and less coarse. Sugaring is a great follow up to traditional wax for long term maintenance.

If you have softer, finer hair to begin with, you already make for a great candidate for this eco and at home friendly hair removal method.

How to sugar?

Hard sugaring wax

Sugaring wax hair removal is similar to traditional wax hair removal, with a minor but important difference.

First, if you make your wax at home, you’ll find that you can make both the traditional hard and soft waxes with the sugar. Even if you do not make it at home, and buy ready to use options, you’ll notice that some have a hard wax consistency while others have the soft wax viscosity.

This means, you can make the sugaring paste a bit thicker by cooking a little bit longer and use this just like you would a regular hard wax – without cotton strips. You apply the “hard” sugaring wax in the direction of hair growth, and then remove. You apply it thickly, then you lift the edges with your fingers and remove by gripping the wax and pulling in the direction opposite of hair growth. This is the same technique that you would normally use for a regular hardwax.

Soft sugaring wax

If you prefer using strips to remove the wax, then you make the soft wax version of the sugaring wax by cooking it less. This method uses cotton muslin strips or another soft disposable wax strip like a regular soft wax.

Here’s where how you sugar breaks off from how you waxing. With the soft sugar wax, you apply the sugaring wax in the OPPOSITE direction of hair growth, press a strip down on the wax, and quickly pull in the SAME direction of hair growth to remove. This is the exact opposite of how regular soft wax is applied and removed. It seems very counterintuitive but this allows for better sugaring hair removal. If you’re not convinced, you should try both to see the difference.

Also if you use cotton muslim strips to remove hair, you can throw them all into the washing machine to wash off the hair and sugar, and reuse the strips. This can be a huge benefit. With sugaring hair removal, not only can make your own wax, but you don’t have to rebuy removal strips. It’s the ultimate money saver – no professional salon visits and no having to restock home waxing materials.

To remove any residue, wash with warm water and then moisturize. The lack of residue with sugaring makes this more ideal than regular wax for at home use.

Sugaring wax – How to make and where to buy

Sugaring predates modern day waxes because it is so simple to make. The ancient Persian recipe of heating sugar and water to make a candy like syrup was easy to make in a part of the world where sugar was abundant and hair removal was as much of an art form as routine.

At the same time, it may take an attempt or two to get the perfect consistency for at home sugaring and not end up with a sugaring paste that is too thick or runny. If you can’t get it right, don’t have the time to make it yourself, or it’s too messy of a process, but like the gentleness and ease of sugaring instead of waxing, there are a few great options of premade sugaring wax. These options are just as convenient, (if not more because it’s premade) as homemade sugaring wax. They have short ingredient lists and can easily be washed off.

Either way, let’s look at how to make sugaring wax or which to buy.

1. DIY Sugaring Wax

Want to go to our guide to making sugaring paste at home, click here.

Making sugaring wax can be a little tricky at first, but only involves 3 ingredients – sugar, water, lemon juice. It is tricky because you have to figure out when to stop cooking to get the right consistency. However, if you are a natural DIY-er and don’t mind throwing out the first learning batch that you make, then it’s easy to make sugaring wax at home.

There are several pros of making sugaring wax at home. First, you can control the ingredients. Maybe you have sensitive skin? Add a few drops of lavender oil to help condition your skin while you sugar off hair. Or you want to create a spa like experience at home? You can add any essential oil to the sugaring paste and you’ll be able to smell it and enjoy its aromatherapeutic benefits. Or you found that muslim strips you are using prefer the wax to be slightly more liquid. You can cook the sugaring paste a bit less in your next batch. These are just some of the many ways you can custom make your own sugaring paste.

Not to mention, because most people have sugar, water, and lemon juice in their kitchens all the time, you can make sugaring paste any time. No need to wait for a mail delivery or run to the store to restock sugaring paste. Make some more in 5 minutes and get to smooth skin at 6.

So, you want to make your own sugaring paste? Here is a guide to how to make different kinds of sugaring wax at home.

2. CocoJojo sugaring wax – natural ingredients

Don’t want to make sugaring wax yourself and prefer a ready to use product? CocoJojo sugaring wax is our favorite option because its simple ingredients make it most like the homemade sugaring wax.

First, let’s look at the ingredient list. It has honey, sugar, lemon juice which make up the basic sugaring wax base with argan oil, tea tree extract, and azulene oil for skin conditioning. No needless additives or chemicals. If you prefer simple products or don’t want the hassle of making sugaring wax at home, this is like if your DIY skilled friend offered to make it for you.

CocoJojo also makes several types of sugaring waxes – hard sugar wax and soft sugaring wax just like you can at home. There is also a bikini wax that is a thicker harder version of regular sugaring paste.


To read verified reviews of CocoJoJo sugaring wax, click here.

3. Gentle Bees sugaring wax – no essential oils

Gentle Bees sugaring wax is made by a very small company in Texas, and is another great ready to use sugaring wax option. You might have noticed that CocoJoJo adds skin conditioning essential oils. But, if you’re allergic to one of the oils or you’re allergic to honey, then Bees sugaring wax is a better product for you.

Gentle Bees sugaring wax only has 3 ingredients – sugar, wax, and lemon juice. These are the same 3 ingredients you use to make the basic sugaring wax at home.

It also comes in a glass container that you can microwave and use when you need to remove hair, and it makes it easy to control the temperature of the wax.


To read verified reviews of Gentle Bees sugaring wax, click here.

4. Moom sugaring wax – great for travel

Moom sugaring wax is our favorite option for sugaring hair removal while traveling. Moom is a family owned business that has been around for a long time, and has more diverse set of products than anyone else. Their kits come with everything you need – applicator popsicle sticks, wax removing strips, and easy to warm wax, and it all comes in a small travel friendly packaging.

Like CocoJojo and Bees, Moom sugaring wax also has a simple ingredient list – sugar, lemon, water make up the base and chamomile and tea tree oil offer skin conditioning properties.


To read verified reviews of Moom sugaring wax, click here.

A Skincare Guide to AHA or Alpha Hydroxy Acid

An introduction to alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), its benefits, side effects, and best products

Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, are popular ingredients in skin care products for acne, anti aging,
or just general moisturizers, but rarely do these products also educate you about how to use an AHA,
the benefits they offer or their side effects. AHAs are potent and if you use them without proper care for your skin, they can result in more damage than their intended benefits. AHAs also can help deal with a wide range of skin problems, from hydration to pigmentation and scars to acne to sun damage and aging. This guide will explain the benefits, side effects, different types of alpha hydroxy acids, and offer some recommendations for best performing AHA products for skin problems.

In this guide:

What is alpha hydroxy acid or AHA?

Alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA, is 1 of 2 hydroxy acids that is commonly used in cosmetic products for exfoliation, hydration. They’re especially popular in anti aging skincare products. AHAs can be synthetic created or naturally derived from fruit, nuts, sugar or dairy products. The other common hydroxy acid is beta hydroxy acid or bha. To learn more about bha, read our guide to bha or beta hydroxy acids here.

Unlike beta hydroxy acids which are oil soluble, alpha hydroxy acids are water soluble and so cannot penetrate the skin like beta hydroxy acids. This makes them great for aged skin (like thickened skin) or sun damaged skin that doesn’t have acne issues. Alpha hydroxy acid is very potent in deal with the skin at the surface. AHA exfoliates the top layers of skin by breaking the bonds between outer layer skin cells, sloughs off dead skin and reveals new undamaged skin underneath.

It is also hydrophilic (attracts water molecules) and helps skin retain more water and feel bouncy and hydrated.

Alpha hydroxy acid makes your skin much more sun sensitive. So if you want add an AHA to routine, you MUST add a sunscreen. Otherwise you’ll be exfoliating to get new undamaged skin only to damage the young skin further with sun exposure.

We cannot stress this enough: If you want to use an AHA, PLEASE USE SUNSCREEN! Otherwise you risk even more damage to your skin than if you had not used an alpha hydroxy acid at all.

Alpha hydroxy acids are available in a variety of concentrations, from 1% to 50% and even higher, that are proportionally stronger exfoliants. But, you have to build up your skin’s tolerance from a lower to high concentration or you can risk over exfoliation, which is difficult to repair and can take weeks or even months.

Alpha hydroxy acid helps speed up the process of removing dead skin and the topmost layers of skin. This doesn’t happen overnight, but AHA helps speed this process. This results in bringing new skin to the surface that looks bright and full. So alpha hydroxy acid is a common product in products that help fight fine lines, wrinkles, other signs of aging, and in products that help reduce hyperpigmentation, acne scars, and sun damage. Thanks to AHA’s water attracting properties, it also helps improve and condition dry skin. Routine use of an AHA over time can result in smoother, more hydrated, and firmer skin.

What are the benefits of AHA

Alpha hydroxy acids offer a number of benefits, but how many of them are backed by science. Let’s take a look at some of the main benefits of AHAs.

How does AHA treat acne

As alpha hydroxy acid breaks the bonds between skin cells and helps speed up exfoliation, it can also open up or loosen clogged comedones that are at or near the surface of your skin. Studies show that AHA is effective in treating mild or moderate acne or helping maintain against future breakouts after a stronger acne treatment.

In one study, 248 patients with mild to moderate acne in Italy were prescribed Hyseac AHA cream to be applied twice a day for 60 days. These patients had comedonic acne, inflammatory acne or a combination of both. The results of that study:

The tolerability was good to excellent in 92.3% patients, without significant differences between patients using AHA cream in monotherapy (90.0%) or associated with concomitant pharmacological treatment (97.6%). The efficacy was overall high in 64.2% patients, again without significant differences related to concomitant pharmacological treatment or not (64.8% vs. 63.3%) and/or the acne clinical type (comedonic vs. inflammatory vs. mixed: 69.2% vs. 66.7% vs. 58%). [source: Baldo A1, Bezzola P, Curatolo S, Florio T, Lo Guzzo G, Lo Presti M, Sala GP, Serra F, Tonin E, Pellicano M, Pimpinelli N. (2010) G Ital Dermatol Venereol]

Most of these patients saw an improvement in their acne, no matter what type of ache they had, and no matter how the AHA was prescribed for them to use, on its own or with another treatment.

AHA for hyperpigmentation?

AHA has also been shown to reduce acne scars, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), sun damage spots and other skin discolorations. This is thanks to how AHA speeds up exfoliation at the skin surface level.

In one study, 7 Indian patients with darker skin (Fitzpatrick skin type IV-V) and acne scarring were treated with lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, every 2 weeks for up to 2 months total. These patients were monitored for 3 months after the end of the treatment as well to ensure that the perceived effects of the peels were not just short term. How did it turn out?

At the end of 3 months, there was definite improvement in the texture, pigmentation, and appearance of the treated skin, with lightening of scars. Significant improvement (greater than 75% clearance of lesions) occurred in one patient (14.28%), good improvement (51-75% clearance) in three patients (42.84%), moderate improvement (26-50% clearance) in two patients (28.57%), and mild improvement (1-25% clearance) in one patient (14.28%). [source: Sachdeva S. (2010) J Cosmet Dermatol]

Another study involved a group of 33 older female patients with a mean age of 55.5 years and moderate to severe sun damage on their hands, like age spots, freckles and other discoloration. These patients’ hands were treated twice daily for 8 weeks with a topical cream formulated of an alpha hydroxy acid, anti oxidants, and depigmenting agents. The results:

Thirty-five subjects were enrolled with a mean age of 55.6 years; 33 subjects completed the study. The IGA of the appearance of hand photodamage improved from a mean (standard deviation) score of 5.0 (0.8) at baseline to 3.1 (1.5) and 2.6 (1.3) at weeks 4 and 8, respectively (1=mild; 9=severe). Based on expert-grader evaluation, subjects demonstrated statistically significant improvements from baseline in IGA at weeks 4 and 8 in age spots and freckling at weeks 4 and 8, (P<.0003) and in skin discolorations at week 8 (P<.05). The majority of subjects reported that they perceived improvements in each of the 9 parameters associated with skin appearance. No adverse events were reported.

The appearance of age-related hand pigmentation characteristics were significantly improved at 4 and 8 weeks of treatment. Subjects reported post-treatment improvements in other characteristics associated with healthy skin. [source: Gold MH, Gallagher C. (2013) J Drugs Dermatol]

AHA for anti aging

You would guess that using an alpha hydroxy acid to remove the top most layers of skin would result in thin skin, but actually the opposite is true. In addition to AHA’s reversal of age and sun damage and discoloration as evidenced in the previous study, AHAs also help thicken your skin and increase skin elasticity and collagen density. All of these benefits help fight age related skin deterioration, like wrinkles and fine lines.

In the following study, patients applied AHAs to their forearm to measure exactly this and found positive improvements on all fronts:

Alpha-Hydroxy acids (AHAs) have been reported to improve aging skin. The mechanisms of action of AHAs on epidermal and dermal compartments need clarification. Our purpose was to determine the effects of AHAs on photoaged human skin by clinical and microanalytic means. Patients applied a lotion containing 25% glycolic, lactic, or citric acid to one forearm and a placebo lotion to the opposite forearm for an average of 6 months. Thickness of forearm skin was measured throughout the study. Biopsy specimens from both forearms were processed for analysis at the end of the study.

Treatment with AHAs caused an approximate 25% increase in skin thickness. The epidermis was thicker and papillary dermal changes included increased thickness, increased acid mucopolysaccharides, improved quality of elastic fibers, and increased density of collagen. No inflammation was evident.Treatment with AHAs produced significant reversal of epidermal and dermal markers of photoaging. [source: Ditre CM 1 , Griffin TD , Murphy GF , Sueki H , Telegan B , Johnson WC , Yu RJ , Van Scott EJ (1996) Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology]

How to use an AHA

Alpha hydroxy acid is an active. This means that it is an ingredient that has a direct and active action on skin. Other actives include beta hydroxy acids (BHA), Vitamin A (retinoids and retinol), and Vitamin C.

There is some discussion in favor and against this, but we believe that for an active to work best, it should be in direct contact with your skin for several minutes before it is washed off or further products are layered on top. This time period lets the active acid make contact and penetrate your skin undisturbed. If you wash it off, you may not have left it long enough for it act or penetrate completely.

Alpha hydroxy acids also work best in a pH environment between 5 and 6, which is slightly acidic. If you layer on more products on top of your AHA too soon, you may change the pH environment of your skin and not allow the AHA enough contact time to work as well and make it less effective.

With many AHAs that have a higher concentration, the directions for use will ask you to gradually increase the contact time over a series of weeks. For example, you only leave the AHA on your skin for a total of 1 minute the first time you use it, 2 minutes the next time, and so gradually work your way up to 4 to 5 minutes over the course of several weeks. The longer you leave it on, the stronger the exfoliation. But if you leave it on for 4 to 5 minutes on your first use, you’ll very likely end up with highly irritated skin that is red, experience painful stinging and burning, and a severe peel that will be difficult to cover up with moisturizer and makeup. I hope that sounds unappealing enough that you will take precautions and be patient with your skin while using an AHA!

If you have never used an alpha hydroxy acid before or do not know how much AHA your skin can tolerate, it is important to patch test. You can apply a drop of the AHA on the inside of your elbow or on your neck in the same way that you would apply it on your face, and see if these areas react negatively. If they do, you now know that the AHA product is not good for your face and may have negative effects.

That’s essentially a summed up explanation of how to use AHA. We’ll write a longer post on this and link it here when it’s ready if you’re interested in real studies that show the effectiveness of AHA wait times in low pHs.

AHA side effects

Alpha hydroxy acids offer a number of amazing anti-acne and anti-aging results for your skin. But they may not work for everyone as there are also a number of side effects.

Alpha hydroxy acid side effects include burning, swelling, stinging, itching, redness, peeling, and skin discoloration.

We all have skins of various thicknesses and various tolerance levels for AHA concentrations. Some may find that they’re only able to tolerate a very low concentration of alpha hydroxy acid and experience dramatic peeling and burning if they try an acid that is higher than their tolerance. Others may find that their skin can tolerate high levels of acid without even minor peeling or irritation. It may take some trial and error to figure out how your own skin reacts to various concentrations.

What’s the difference between AHA and BHA?

You may already gathered the main differences between alpha and beta hydroxy acids, but we’ll go over them once more for clarity.

Oil vs water soluble

Alpha hydroxy acids are water soluble versus beta hydroxy acids which are oil soluble. So alpha hydroxy acids do not penetrate your skin like beta hydroxy acids and instead work at the skin’s surface level to help exfoliate skin by dissolving the bonds between skin cells and shedding dead and topmost skin cells to reveal undamaged skin below. BHAs are oil soluble and work on the skin below surface level. Learn more about beta hydroxy acids with our guide to BHAs.

Sun sensitivity

Unlike BHAs which do not make your skin more sensitive to the sun, alpha hydroxy acids greatly increase your sun sensitivity. Because they exfoliate top layers of skin which are protective, using alpha hydroxy acids can make your skin more vulnerable to environmental damage (like from the sun or pollution).

So it is HIGHLY IMPORTANT that you wear sunscreen if you are going to add an alpha hydroxy acid to your routine. Even some body moisturizers for dry skin or winter weather may have some form of an AHA to aid with skin hydration, so pay attention to ingredients list to make sure none of the common forms of AHA are included in the product. If they are, wear sunscreen (even if the sun isn’t out) if you plan on going outside. Not sure what the common forms of AHA are? We’ll be covering them in the next section so check that out.

Wrinkles and fine lines

Both AHA and BHA help exfoliate your skin and remove sun damaged skin, but AHA does far more. AHA helps thicken your skin, improve skin elasticity, and increase collagen density. AHA also attracts water to your skin. So in addition to speeding up the exfoliation of your top most layers, AHA helps improve your skin in ways that will result in less lines and wrinkles and attract hydration to help your skin look more plump.

Hyperpigmentation and scars

There are several kinds of AHAs and many of them show real results in reducing hyperpigmentation, scars, and other skin discoloration. Repeat and routine use of AHAs help remove layers of damaged skin, reverse acne or sun damage, and studies have shown that pigmentation and scars can be entirely removed with an AHA.

What are the different types of AHA

1. Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is derived from sugar and has one of the smallest molecules in AHAs found in skincare. This means it can penetrate deeper than any of the other common alpha hydroxy acids. This makes it one of the strongest AHAs, but also one of the harshest if you’re unable to tolerate this level of AHA strength.

Beginners should probably start their AHA journey with a different option. For experienced users, glycolic acid is a highly effective AHA that shows excellent results in all of the areas that alpha hydroxy acids are shown to improve for your skin.

2. Lactic acid

Lactic acid is derived from diary and people who report milk allergies should avoid this AHA.

Lactic acid has bigger molecules than glycolic but smaller molecules than mandelic acid. This makes it a gentler AHA that is a great starter acid for most people. It does everything glycolic acid does but because it has bigger molecules, the effects take a little bit longer.

Lactic acid is available in a range of concentrations for topical use. A 2% and above lactic acid concentration will help increase the hydration of your skin and a 5% and above lactic acid solution will also exfoliate your skin. Skincare products that promise exfoliation will normally have a 5% to 10% lactic acid concentration.

3. Mandelic acid

Mandelic acid is derived from almonds, so if you have a nut allergy, I would try a different AHA.

Mandelic acid has bigger molecules than lactic acid so it does not penetrate your skin as fast and also shows effects slower. This makes mandelic acid great for people who have very sensitive skin that is easily prone to rashes and irritation.

Anyone else can use it as well if you’re looking for a routine acid that will help give you a little bit of AHA power in your routine but without needing drastic results immediately.

4. Malic acid

Malic acid is made from apples but can also be created synthetically. The synthetic version is found more commonly than the naturally occurring version in skincare products, because it is easier to stabilize.

Malic acid molecules are larger than glycolic and lactic acid so it penetrates more slowly like mandelic acid. Malic acid is a great supplementary AHA alongside glycolic or lactic at low concentrations, because together they are able to penetrate at different speeds and so affect the skin at different levels.

5. Tartaric acid

Tartaric acid occurs naturally in grapes, but is also made synthetically and like malic acid the synthetic version is used in products that require a more stable acid.

Tartaric acid has a very big molecule, almost double a glycolic acid molecule. While it is able to exfoliate skin, it is used primarily as a pH adjuster to prime the way for a stronger acid like glycolic or lactic acid to go to work. However, in certain products that use AHAs with varying molecule sizes to penetrate to and exfoliate different layers of the skin, tartaric acid may be used to exfoliate the topmost layer of skin.

6. Citric acid

Citric acid is derived from, you guessed it, citrus fruit. But it also is found in berries and other fruit.

Like tartaric acid, citric acid is primarily used as a pH adjuster in skincare formulas that help keep it within a certain range so that other more potent acids have an optimal environment for effectiveness. Citric acid is also used for its antioxidant properties.

Citric acid can be confused with Vitamin C in skincare, but they are two different compounds. Vitamin C is actually L-Ascorbic acid or ascorbic acid, which is similar to but different than citric acid. Vitamin C is also another active but it is not an alpha hydroxy acid. Check out our guide to Vitamin C for your skin here.

Our recommendations for AHAs

If you want to add an AHA to your skincare routine, here are some of our top recommendations for different types of AHAs. Remember, please patch test on the inside of your elbow or your neck before using these on your face.

Glycolic acid

1. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Gel Exfoliant

The COSRX AHA liquid is an 7% glycolic acid solution in a base of butylene glycol and apple water. It also has other skin conditioning ingredients and is a gentle and well formulated AHA that is great for regular use. This is a leave on AHA and does not need to be washed off.

Read more reviews of COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid.

2. OZNaturals Glycolic Acid Facial Peel

This is a 30% glycolic solution meant to be used as a peel. This means you apply, leave on for a set period of time, wash it off, and then continue with your routine. Because of its higher concentration,
we’ve seen results immediately, namely plumper hydrated skin and increasing brightness during the subsequent days.

OZ Naturals will give you a refund if you try their product and decide that you do not like it within 30 days from purchase

Read more reviews of OZNaturals Glycolic Acid Facial Peel.

3. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Gel Exfoliant

The Skin Perfecting Gel Exfoliant is an 8% glycolic solution by Paula’s Choice. This is a leave on exfoliant. The Gel Exfoliant also includes an ingredient that is a pH adjuster to help maximize it’s efficacy, as well as antioxidants and skin soothing plant extracts.

Read more reviews of Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Gel Exfoliant.

Lactic acid

1. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10%

2. Clear Lift Revitalizing Serum

3. Theraderm – Fruit Acid Exfoliant

Mandelic acid

1. Mandelic acid 5% Skin prep water

2. Makeup Artist’s Choice Mandelic Acid Serum

3. Naruko AMPM Total Brightening Renewal Treatment