For D.I.Y. home beauty treatments, there's the good (masks, pedicures), the risky (bang trimming, waxing) and the really risky (anything else hair-related, like cutting or highlighting). So it's hard not to be skeptical about the TRIA Hair Removal Laser, which claims to leave you hair-free after six months of use. TRIA first launched a few years ago as a late-night infomercial product before gaining mainstream popularity and is now sold at the likes of Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom. The handheld laser uses the same diode technology that you'd normally find in professional lasers but is adapted to be used safely at home. Here's how it works: Hair follicles absorb energy from the laser, which is then converted to heat by the dark pigment found in hair. The heat eventually destroys the follicle and prevents it from producing any new hair growth. So while the technology won't work on anyone with darker skin tones or light hair, the TRIA is ideal (or so the manufacturers claim) for light to medium skin and dark hair. There are five settings: Users are recommended to start at the lowest and build up tolerance with each biweekly use. At $395, the TRIA isn't cheap, but could it mean no more time wasted on waxes and shaving, especially crucial now that we're in bikini season? And more important, will it hurt like hell when you start zapping away? Two intrepid volunteers gave us their testimonials.
Volunteer 1: The Self-Described Wimp
Length of Use: 1 month
Pros: Our first tester found the TRIA easy and quick to use it only covers a small skin area, but the time spent on each is minimal, so a section can be finished very quickly. At setting one, the pain was nonexistent and seemingly ineffective, but after accidentally going over the same patch of skin several times, the area turned red.
Cons: Moving on up to setting two was a little more painful: In some skin areas, no sensation was felt, while in others, the TRIA literally felt like an electric shock. At the third setting, the shocks were constant and too much to bear.
Final Thoughts: After one and a half months of use, hair did start to grow back more finely, but the pain of the zaps outweighed any desire to continue.
Volunteer 2: The Brave Soul
Length of use: 6 months
Pros: After six months of use at level five on her bikini area, where tester two compares growth to that of a man's beard, she was down to a few stray hairs, the follicles of which can't be seen after shaving. On her thighs, it's as if dark hairs have never existed.
Cons: After repeated use, there was minimal pain on the arms and legs, but level five in the underarm and bikini areas is not a pleasant experience. A glass of wine or an aspirin is in order since it burns painfully.
Final Thoughts: From the underarms to a lady treasure trail, this tester noticed major changes after using the TRIA where her body hair was thickest and darkest, it's now either nonexistent or extra-fine. There's no need to worry about ingrown hairs or scarring from waxing, but she's still not brave enough to attempt a Brazilian with the TRIA.
TRIA Hair Removal Laser, $395 online