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At-Home Laser Hair Removal Devices | Featured in Vogue

Dr. Alexandra Bowles shares her insights on at-home laser hair removal devices from her recent Vogue feature: The Best At-Home Laser Hair Removal Devices, According to Experts

Is laser hair removal permanent?

Laser hair removal is often marketed as a permanent solution to unwanted hair, but in reality, it generally results in long-term hair reduction rather than permanent hair removal. Many people experience significant hair reduction after a series of treatments. The treated hair may become finer, lighter and grow slower but not necessarily be completely removed. The FDA considers laser hair removal devices as providing “permanent hair reduction,” not “permanent hair removal.” This means that while treated hair follicles may not regenerate, new follicles can develop due to hormonal changes or other factors. It’s also important to keep in mind that results can vary widely among individuals. Some may experience nearly complete and long-lasting hair removal, while others may see regrowth over time.

Does laser hair removal hurt?

The sensation experienced during laser hair removal varies from person to person. However, most people describe it as uncomfortable rather than painful. Some of our patients who have undergone laser hair removal compare the sensation to a rubber band snapping against the skin or a quick, sharp sting followed by a feeling of warmth. The level of discomfort can vary based on individual pain tolerance, the area being treated, and the type of laser used. 

For example, areas with thinner skin or more nerve endings, such as the upper lip and bikini line areas, tend to be more sensitive than others, like the legs and back. Hair and skin type can also affect the level of discomfort, whereby dark, coarse hair typically absorbs more laser energy, which can make treatments more intense. Oppositely, individuals with lighter hair might feel less discomfort due to the lower absorption of laser energy. 

Is laser hair removal safe?

Laser hair removal is generally considered safe when performed by a trained and licensed professional. However, as with any cosmetic procedure, there are potential risks and side effects to always keep in mind. 

For example, some common side effects are redness and swelling, which usually subside within a few hours, and temporary discomfort around the treated area. Less common or rare side effects include pigment changes, skin irritation, and scarring if the skin is improperly treated. Nevertheless, when undergoing laser hair removal, patients have to make sure to follow any pre and post-treatment guidelines provided by their physician to ensure the best results. 

How does laser hair removal work?

Laser hair removal uses concentrated light energy to target and destroy hair follicles, inhibiting future hair growth. The laser device emits a beam of light that is absorbed by the pigment (melanin) in the hair. The absorbed light energy is then converted into heat, which damages the hair follicle, specifically the bulb and bulge responsible for hair growth. The laser inhibits or delays future hair growth by damaging these key structures within the hair follicle.

Is laser hair removal safe for all skin types?

Laser hair removal is generally safe and effective for all skin types as long as the laser and settings used are appropriate for the skin type. The effectiveness and risk of side effects however can vary based on skin tone and hair color. For this reason, it’s important for patients to always have a thorough consultation with a licensed professional who has experience treating your specific skin type. Qualified practitioners would typically administer a spot test. This will allow them to determine how your skin will react to the laser and to choose the appropriate settings. 

What to look for in an at-home laser hair removal device?

When choosing an at-home laser hair removal device, it’s essential to consider several factors to ensure safety, effectiveness, and convenience. For one, look for FDA clearance, which indicates that the device has undergone testing for safety and efficacy. Check if the device is suitable for your skin tone. Some devices may not be effective or safe for darker skin tones. Verify if the device is effective for your hair color. Lighter hair colors, such as gray or blonde, may not respond well to certain devices.

Decide whether you prefer a laser or IPL device. IPL devices emit broad-spectrum light pulses, while laser devices use specific wavelengths of light. Laser devices are generally considered more effective for permanent hair reduction. Look for devices with adjustable energy levels and settings to customize treatments based on your skin sensitivity and hair thickness. I also recommend patients obtain proper eye protection if they choose to use these devices at home. 

Which ones do you recommend?

Specific recommendations may vary based on individual needs and preferences. Some popular and highly-rated at-home laser hair removal devices that I have come across include:

  • Philips Lumea Prestige IPL Hair Removal Device
  • Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X
  • Silk’n Infinity Hair Removal Device.

These devices are popular for their effectiveness, versatility in treating a range of skin tones and hair colors, and user-friendly features such as adjustable settings and ergonomic designs. Additionally, they have received positive reviews from users, highlighting their reliability and noticeable hair reduction results over time.



Q&A with Dr. Mona on Brown Spots

As seen in the August 2022 issue of Cincinnati Magazine.

What are brown spots and how do they form?

There are different types of “brown spots” that might suddenly appear on our skin. Pigment producing cells called melanocytes create them all. UV exposure, most commonly from the sun or tanning beds, can cause our melanocytes to produce a pigment called melanin in an effort to protect our skin from the UV damage. This is what creates a tan. It’s our skin’s way of trying to shield itself. With repeated UV exposure, melanin clumps into higher concentration and produces those pesky “sun spots” that we start seeing as we get older. In addition, many people suffer from melasma, which can be aggravated by UV ray and hormonal causes. 

How can we prevent brown spots?

I like to think of brown spots as icebergs that form in the ocean of our skin. Over time, the icebergs start floating to the top where we start to see them. The sun’s UV rays produce more pigment icebergs and cause them to rise to the surface more quickly.

For this reason, the easiest and best way to prevent brown spots suddenly appearing on the skin is to be “sun smart.” Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Avoid the middle of the day sun between 10am-2pm. Wear a broad brimmed hat, and consider wearing UPF clothing. I recommend sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Some of my favorites are made by Elta MD, Colorescience, SkinMedica, and Alastin. Don’t forget to reapply every 2-3 hours! 

You should also add a good topical antioxidant on a daily basis to prevent free radical damage from UV, pollution, and blue light. The Lumivive System by Skinmedica is one of my favorites. The day serum protects your skin from environmental damage, while the night serum repairs that damage. CE Ferulic, Phloretin CF and Sillymarin by SkinCeuticals are other fan-favorite antioxidants as well.

How can we treat brown spots after they form?

First, see a dermatologist to make sure that your brown spots are just normal sun damage and not something else such as skin cancer. I recommend a yearly skin exam and doing monthly self-exams using the ABCDEs as your guide. Early detection of skin cancers can result in higher cure rates.

To treat your brown spots, talk to your dermatologist about what approach is right for you. More superficial brown spots may be addressed with fading creams, skin brighteners, or a series of chemical peels. No down time treatments such as broad band light, often called BBL or IPL, can also help to even out your skin tone.

Occasionally, the “pigment icebergs” I mentioned earlier are too deep and dark, and we need to turn to different options such as Fraxel, Co2, or Picosecond lasers to break up the brown spots.

Are there any products that you recommend?

If you suffer from brown spot formation, I highly recommend a pigment brightener like Even & Correct by SkinMedica. Unlike hydroquinone (which I recommend people cycle on and off of) Even & Correct is safe to use year round and helps prevent and decrease brown spot formation.

Nail Strengthening Habits | Featuring Body Network

Dr. Alexandra Bowles expands upon her insights on nail-strengthening habits from her recent Body Network feature: Nail Strengthening Habits for Thicker, Longer Nails

When it comes to strengthening your nails, incorporating certain habits into your routine can promote stronger, thicker nails and encourage healthy nail growth over time. Dr. Bowles shares 9 nail strengthening habits to incorporate into your routine. 

Maintain a Balanced Diet

For one, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet that includes essential nutrients such as protein, biotin, vitamins (particularly C and E), and minerals like iron and zinc, which are important for nail health.

Hydrate

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water to keep your nails hydrated and prevent them from becoming brittle.

Wear Gloves

Protect your nails by wearing gloves when doing household chores or working with harsh chemicals to prevent damage and breakage to your nails.

Avoid Acetone

Avoid harsh chemicals by limiting exposure to nail polish removers containing acetone, as it can dry out and weaken your nails. Opt for acetone-free formulas instead.

Moisturize with Hand Cream

Moisturize regularly by applying a moisturizing hand cream or nail oil to your nails and cuticles daily to keep them hydrated and prevent them from becoming dry and brittle. 

File Nails Carefully

Use a gentle nail file to shape your nails, avoiding harsh filing motions that can cause damage and weaken the nails. 

Take a Break From Nail Polish

Limit Nail Polish use by occasionally giving your nails a break from nail polish to allow them to breathe and recover. When using nail polish, opt for formulas free of harsh chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). 

Be Gentle with Your Nails

Be gentle with your nails by avoiding using them as tools for tasks like opening packages or scratching surfaces, as this can cause them to break or become damaged. 

Protect Them From Trauma

Protect your nails from trauma by being mindful of activities that can cause trauma to your nails, such as biting or picking at them or wearing acrylic tips, which can weaken and damage the nail structure.

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