Best at home laser hair removal for PCOS: Is IPL Effective for PCOS Facial Hair?
Permanent hair removal options are few and far between, with laser hair removal and IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) are the best options for removing facial hair.
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Women with Polycystic ovary syndrome often have an excess of male hormone (androgen)circulating, causing increased hair growth, especially chin hair, sideburns and upper lip hair, while simultaneously causing hair loss on the top of your head (male pattern baldness). Permanent hair reduction or complete removal of this unwanted facial hair is the goal of many women with PCOS.
Hair removal options for women with PCOS do include:
This can be painful, and while you can do it yourself, many pay to have it done. Needs repeated every 4-6 weeks. Regrowth needs to be managed in between sessions and you will get some ingrown hairs and possible skin irritation.
This is great if you only have a few strays, but once you are getting serious hair issues, it is no longer realistic to spend an hour a day plucking. You will also likely have the odd ingrown hair and can have an increase of pimples due to all the irritation and handling of your skin.
There is a plethora of different hair removal creams available, but not all are suitable for your more sensitive facial skin. You risk burning your skin if you leave them too long, and thicker darker hair is more difficult to remove.
Believe it or not, this is what many women with PCOS end up resorting to – it is faster, and while it needs done more often, you don’t have to put up with regrowth before doing it again. The down side to shaving is that you still get those tell tale dark hair follicles under the skin.
There are some medications that will help lessen your hair growth, but you cannot take them if you plan on getting pregnant. The ketogenic diet has been reported to significantly reduce facial hair growth in women with PCOS.
Laser or IPL (Intense pulsed light)
This is the gold standard for removing excess hair growth. You can pay to get laser treatment or IPL done at a beautician but it will cost you a pretty penny. You could be looking at $700-1000 or more per year, and then you will have to keep going for a maintenance dose once every couple of months thereafter.
IPL home machines are growing in popularity, so I decided to try out one for myself.
IPL vs Laser hair removal treatment for PCOS
IPL and laser are two popular types of permanent hair removal methods that use light to remove or reduce hair in specifics areas of the body. They are similar, but different.
Laser hair removal – produce a concentrated beam to penetrate deep into the skin and hits the melanin (the dark pigment of the hair) inside the hair follicle, meaning the hair growth cycle is inhibited, without impacting the surrounding skin. It is very targeted and relies on there being a destinct color difference between your hair and your skin tone. For this reason, darker skin tones are less suited to light-based hair elimination techniques, as are fair skinned people with fair hair.
IPL treatments are similar to laser hair removal, in that it also uses light to damage the hair follicle. IPL stands for intense pulsed light so unlike a laser, it is a broad spectrum high-intensity light that emits multiple wavelengths to cover a wider area of skin. Which means it is faster to do a larger area, but it is less intense so it can take more treatments.
Home IPL Machines – Do they work?
Intense pulsed light is a technology used by cosmetic and medical practitioners to perform various skin treatments for aesthetic and therapeutic purposes, including hair removal, but also IPL can improve the appearance of:
Home IPL machines vary in strength and ability. The stronger the IPL the more effective the machine will be at removing your hair permanently.
These devices have been on the market for a few years now, and by far the leader of the pack is the Philips Lumea.
Because your hair follicles are on their own individual growth cycles, you have to continue using it every four weeks in order to maximize the potential of targeting the most follicles.
It takes time for the results to show, but it does happen. It will take about 3 sessions before you notice real hair reduction.
The laser light pulses convert to heat which stimulates the hair root, triggering it to go into resting phase. Hair then falls out naturally and regrowth is slowed, and then totally prevented after a few uses.
The darker your hair, and the lighter your skin, the more effective it will be for you. If you have very dark skin, or very light hair you may not have such good success, in fact it may not work for you at all.
Best at home laser hair removal for pcos ( Philips Lumea Advanced Prestige (BG) Review for PCOS )
PCOS hair growth is dark and persistent, with hirsutism being one of the most complained about symptoms of this condition. After doing some research I settled on buying and reviewing the Philips Lumea Prestige . I did toss up between the Lumea Prestige and the slightly cheaper Lumea Advanced . I believe that now they have upgraded the Advanced, and rebranded the Prestige to target the male market under the name Philips Lumea BG.
The biggest difference between the Prestige (or the BG) and the Advanced is the speed of treatments. The Prestige is much faster and stronger and so is a better choice if you want to treat large areas or your full body. You can finish a full leg in around 14+ mins with the Lumea Advanced where as it takes about 8 minutes with the Prestige.
The Philips Lumea Prestige boasts up to 92% hair reduction in 3 treatments in 90% of their trial subjects and 6 months of hair-free smoothness after just 12 treatments.
Philips Lumea Prestige Features
- Curved attachments to fit well
- Adaptable treatment programs for body, face, bikini & underarms
- Options for individual flash, or hold down the button and slide the device and it flashes for you
- Developed with Dermatologists for a safe treatment, even on sensitive areas
- Built in SmartSkin sensor indicates most comfortable setting for your skin tone automatically
- Both corded and cordless use for maximum convenience
- Good battery length
- Free app available for continued support and personalized treatment guidance (I have not tried this yet)
To gently but effectively treat hair on your face, the attachment has been carefully designed with a flat window for precise use on the upper lip, chin or jawline.
It has an extra integrated red filter and when added to the device the it will automatically adjust the light treatment so it’s better suited for treating unwanted hair on the face without undue skin irritation.
The specially curved attachment is designed to treat hard-to-reach underarm hair. When this attachment is added to the device, a tailored underarm treatment is automatically triggered thanks to the fancy computer chip style connector.
Hair in the bikini area tends to be stronger and thicker than other body hair so it requires a specific attachment to deliver the best results for that area. The attachment is curved and has an extra transparent filter. The light treatment is adjusted automatically when the attachment is added to the device.
The body attachment is perfect for a fast treatment on large body areas like legs, arms and stomach. The curved-in design closely follows body contours for optimal skin contact. Adding the attachment to the device automatically triggers a tailored treatment suitable for these body areas.
Philips Lumea Drawbacks
To be honest, I haven’t really found any with the actual device. Maybe it could be a little smaller, it is a bit cumbersome to maneuver around your face.
My only real complaint is the case that it comes with is a bit small, and is soft – I would have expected a hard case to protect such an investment.
As a bonus, it looks like a hairdryer, so it was easier to tell my 4 year old that it was a hairdryer then to explain hair removal!
I have mid colored olive skin and my hair color is dark brown, so I have good contrast between the two. I have tried professional hair removal treatments in the past, with good success, but they were very expensive. Also they would not continue to see me when I was breastfeeding, when I had lots of unwanted hair growth.
Using the Philips Lumea for Home Hair Removal
With its four detachable specially shaped heads for specific areas, Philips’ IPL device is ideal for anyone planning to use it on multiple parts of the body.
Each head has a chip in it that adjusts the machines programming to suit the specified areas.
It’s very simple to use; the “smart skin” sensor will identify which of the five power settings is right for your skin tone, or you can manually adjust it if you prefer. Reassuringly, it will lock itself if skin is too dark or hair is too light.
To remove hair simply hold the device at a 90-degree angle on the skin and the device will emit light once you press the flash button.
For smaller areas, press the flash button, wait for the flash and remove from skin.
For larger areas like legs, hold down the flash button and keep moving slowly over the legs as the flashes are emitted from the device.
If skin is too dark or hair too light, the machine will flash orange-red and will not emit any pulses of light. We liked the fact you can use it plugged in for larger areas or cordless on smaller patches.
Philips Lumea Results for a Woman with PCOS
Well, I am honestly impressed.
I used the Lumea Prestige weekly for the first 4 weeks, and at the end of the first month, my facial hair had gone from Santa-beard mode to only having about 20-30 strays around my chin and upper lip.
The snail trail that I had on my belly was almost totally gone.
I then swapped to fortnightly use, and within another month my face was as smooth as it has ever been.
The BEST things I have found:
I don’t have to keep paying for upkeep at a salon, it is buy once and it lasts over 300,000 flashes (like basically a lifetime).
The dark follicles are GONE, no more looking like I have a man face.
It works FAST, 4 weeks and I was impressed
It doesn’t hurt. I have had laser before at a salon, and winced every time she pulled the trigger, home IPL just feels warm
No after burn – I don’t feel like I am glowing and red after a session
The whole session is quick and easy – simply shave and dry the area, and zap with the right attachment. Now I save hours per week not having to pluck and shave.
The Lumea Prestige is effective at removing facial hair in this PCOS woman with substantial hair growth.
It is not cheap, but for me, it is worth the convenience of doing this at home – it takes me less than 10 minutes, as apposed to going in to town to a salon, paying for parking, getting baby sitters, plus the massive salon cost! It is also painless, whereas I was dreading going to the salon.
Now before you think, “oh, she has had salon treatment before, and I haven’t so this might not work for me” Just be assured, the salon treatment was 18 months and a very-hairy-pregnancy ago. So, this is a fair trial, I was as Santa-looking as I have ever been.
Who is Home IPL NOT for?
There are some people that home IPL is not ideal for – if you have VERY dark skin, or if the hair you are targeting is red, white, grey or blonde then you are not going to get good results with the Lumea Prestige , you would be better off talking to a beautician for advice.
PCOS hair is notorious for being difficult to remove, so for best results, adopt a lower carbohydrate diet to start addressing the underlying hormonal issues causing the hair growth, and at the same time, use this to zap the hairs away!