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This Device Promises To Make My Underarm Hair Disappear—And I’m Ready For It

By Polly Blitzer / November 13, 2020

So here we are, mid-pandemic. Late one night, I ordered an at-home hair-removal laser to take on my underarm stubble once and for all. If you're like me, then you've been wondering whether at-home laser hair removal works, and if home-based laser hair removal is safe. The Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X sounds promising: it features the same diode laser technology that dermatologists use to zap away hair. It was the first FDA-approved hair-removal laser for home use. I'm psyched to try it but worried that it'll be tricky to use. It was simple to figure out: first, you unlock the device by placing a sensor on any exposed patch of skin. Then, you select the power level you can tolerate—there are five levels. The higher the level, the more painful and powerful. You have to move the laser head in small increments to ensure that you reach every hair follicle, so each armpit takes about five minutes to complete. I recruited Mark to administer treatments after watching a YouTube review from a derm, who said it was easier that way. 

The Tria isn’t cheap—full price, it’s $449. But over the years, I probably spent at least that much in over-the-counter treatments that didn’t work. And the confidence boost alone made this purchase worth every single penny.


Pros of Home Laser Hair Removal

1. It's powerful. It's the only FDA-cleared at-home hair removal laser. The company claims it "delivers up to 70% hair count reduction in just two treatments. It was proven to be safe and effective during dermatologist-led clinical studies.
2. It's cost-effective. Dermatologists use the same laser technology during in-office treatments. But at a fraction of the cost.Tria Beauty Company points out that it's capable of delivering up to 90,000 pulses. When it runs out, you'll need to buy another device.
3. Easy to use. The cordless feature does allow you to twist and turn the device as easily as you want. This device is cordless, hand-held and rechargeable with five adjustable power settings. And it automatically calibrates to your skintone.
4. It's safe. Tria has a built-in skin sensor that checks skin tone, and it'll unlock for use if it's within the right range.

Cons of Home Laser Hair Removal

1. Pain. I don't think it has to hurt to be beautiful -- or bare. If you're a wuss like me, this is a huge drawback. Everyone has their own tolerance to pain and discomfort. Add anxiety and sensitive skin. This could be a disaster. 
2. Time. The round head of the Tria is fairly small—the diameter is a little under a 1/2". As you can imagine, each use can take a decent amount of time depending on the area you're working on.
I first noticed dark, coarse hairs growing under my arms in middle school. I was the first of my friends to reach this milestone. My first encounter with body-shaming followed shortly thereafter. I was at Jordy’s swim party, and Cyndi yelled “Eww, Polly!” in a derisive Alexis Rose tenor that reverbed throughout the indoor pool echo chamber. Until then, the idea of unwanted hair hasn't occurred to me. I wept to my mom that night. She bought Nair, and so began my depilatory Odyssey.

My quest for hairless armits included various forms of torment. I once grabbed a pair of tweezers from my mom’s makeup bag to pluck the hairs one by one and prayed they’d never come back. But within days, they re-sprouted with great vigor. I had brief stints with an Epilady (basically dozens of simul-tweezes, ouch!); waxing (tried once after seeing my college roommate's furry pits go bare for two weeks with a couple of quick rips); depilation sponges (imagine scrubbing off hair with sandpaper); and topical creams that claimed to be "haior-growth inhibitors." When I was a beauty editor at InStyle, I tested IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) treatments at a spa. But even with numbing creams, the zaps felt like mini defibrillators. I dreaded the next appointment and never went back. 

So I just spent $449 on the Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X hair removal system, to conquer armpit stubble once and for all. I’m hopeful. And these days, I’ll take hope in any form. I'm ready to embark on my Bare Armpit Odyssey. Every week for three months, or until I am satisfied with the results. Stay tuned for my recap of the first treatment. Coming soon!
(Cautionary note: The Tria isn’t safe to use on dark skin tones. It can cause scarring. The device targets melanin (or color), so dark hair benefits the most because it has the most color to absorb the heat to impair the hair follicle. However, this also means that people with darker skin tones can't safely use either system because the melanin in the skin can also be attacked resulting in burns, scars, or blistering. Those with light to medium skin tones (white, ivory, beige, and light brown) and dark hair. It won't work on white, gray, blonde, or red hair.)