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August 11, 2020

Flash & Go Hair Removal Devices by Silk’n Review – 2020 Deep Dive

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Hair removal is very much a cultural phenomenon. In some cultures or time periods, no one would even think of removing their body hair, as it is considered taboo (such as in Sikh religious culture).

In other cultures or time periods, to not remove one’s body hair is deemed unclean and inappropriate (as seen in many ancient Mediterranean cultures). What is the connection between cleanliness and body hair removal?

The origins of hair removal practices are thought to stem from an effective means of delousing the body and keeping it free from lice. For example, hair removal was a common practice in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome and was a mark of cleanliness.

Gradually, hair removal additionally became associated with good health and, by extension, sexual appeal because healthy people are sexy people. Hair removal has basically moved in and out of vogue for close to 4000 years, but really became more of a global cultural norm in the early 20th century when razors and depilatory creams were specifically marketed to women.

In the modern era, hair removal was thrust into the public consciousness through aggressive marketing campaigns directed at women which began to vilify the idea of having body hair. The first company to engage in such an advertising campaign was Hall and Ruckel Inc. with their X-Bazin Depilatory Powder in 1907.

Gillette then jumped on the bandwagon, produced the first razor marketed to women in 1915 (the Milady Decollete), and by 1917, magazine advertisements began showing women with bare armpits. During the second world war, nylon and silk stockings were in short supply so the market for women’s hair removal products skyrocketed.

Remington began producing electric razors in 1940 specifically for women which helped to greatly reduce the onerous task of leg shaving and the rest, as they say, is history.

A Deep Dive into The Flash & Go Hair Removal Product Line
The Flash & Go line of hair removal devices by Silk’n is a set of hand-held wands that use light and heat to stun matrix cells of the hair follicle to prevent hair growth. The procedure is painless and through repeated uses, gradually prevents further hair growth.

Intense pulsed light methods of hair removal and acne treatment have been around for some time and have been relegated to use only by professionals in a dermatology or salon setting. In 2018, Silk’n began producing and releasing products for home use employing this technology, which they term as HPL (Home Pulsed Light) technology.

They currently produce five such devices, four of which fall under the Flash & Go line of products. These include the Flash & Go Jewel, the Flash & Go Compact Glide, the Flash & Go Express, and their newest addition the Flash & Go Pro.

A Deep Dive Into The Flash & Go Hair Removal Device Line by Silk’n

The Flash & Go line of hair removal devices by Silk’n is a set of hand-held wands that use light and heat to stun matrix cells of the hair follicle to prevent hair growth. The procedure is painless and through repeated uses, gradually prevents further hair growth.

Intense pulsed light methods of hair removal and acne treatment have been around for some time and have been relegated to use only by professionals in a dermatology or salon setting. In 2018, Silk’n began producing and releasing products for home use employing this technology, which they term as HPL (Home Pulsed Light) technology.

They currently produce five such devices, four of which fall under the Flash & Go line of products. These include the Flash & Go Jewel, the Flash & Go Compact Glide, the Flash & Go Express, and their newest addition the Flash & Go Pro.

How HPL works
HPL technology uses a quartz bulb to deliver wavelengths of light that are directed at the skin and penetrate down to the level of the hair root, where the matrix cells are located. The wavelengths used are attuned to melanin (eumelanin and pheomelanin) of the hair and do not cause appreciable heating of the surrounding skin.

Absorbed light energy in the hair shaft is transformed into heat, which is conducted down to the matrix cells at the base of the follicle. Matrix cells are the only living portion of hair and are responsible for keratin polymer production and deposition of melanin in the hair shaft.

Light intensity levels are adjustable for optimal performance, with most models requiring manual adjustments after testing on your skin, however, some models feature an auto-sensing and energy gain function to do this automatically. HPL works on hair in one of three particular growth phases: the anagen phase.

Hair growth is a cyclical process and HPL instruments can only target hairs in active growth or anagen phase. The remaining two phases, catagen and telogen phases, are stages of non-growth.

During the catagen phase, the hair follicle tissues undergo temporary involution since the hair has been produced in its mature state. At the telogen phase, hairs are gradually shed, which stimulates the matrix cells to reinitiate hair production and reenter the anagen phase.

For these reasons, HPL technology takes some time to see results, as only anagen phase hairs are affected and skin contains a variety of hairs in the three phases. Anagen phase hairs typically grow at a rate of about 1 cm per month, whereas hairs remain in the catagen phase for about two to three weeks, and telogen phase hairs are usually shed over a three-month period.

Since HPL uses light-based technology, it is necessary to shave prior to using the device to prevent refraction and allow proper detection of the contrast between the hair and the skin by the in-built sensors of the device. These devices are not a substitute for shavers or razors but are a follicle treatment technology to reduce the frequency of shaving by stunting the hair growth cycle.

Typical treatment timelines range from six to eight months with sessions every other week, depending on the thickness of hair and the amount of skin pigmentation. As such, Silk’n provides a scheduling calendar in the product package so that treatment days can be set for optimal results.

Skin pigmentation is an issue since the same hair melanins targeted by the device are also deposited in the epidermis of the skin. HPL technology is most effective when there is sufficient contrast between the hair pigmentation and the skin pigmentation.

This can limit whether the devices are of use for some people, which is a disadvantage of the pulsed light depilatory approach. For example, if you have very dark or tanned skin (Fitzpatrick Skin Tone Classification VI), HPL devices will not work for you, regardless of the darkness of your hair.

HPL technology works on people with skin in the Fitzpatrick Scale range of I to IV, although it can work on people with Fitzpatrick Scale V if they have very dark hair. There are additional considerations if you have very pale or unpigmented hair (white, grey, or blonde) since the device will not be able to distinguish the contrast effectively, which limits its use in these circumstances to people with the Fitzpatrick Scale III skin or lighter.

There are also some use considerations if you have moles (avoid exposing them to the light) or extensive tattoos and Silk’n recommends you avoid treating these areas. There is, however, a safety sensor that prevents the device from flashing on dark pigmented skin areas.

All Flash & Go models are corded devices that work on both 110v and 220v circuits, so they can be used for travel abroad with the appropriate plug adapter (all models come with US and UK/Ireland plug adapters). In our review of the Flash & Go line, we could not find any notable differences between the models with exception to bulb lifespan, whether or not it had a triggerless auto-active sensor, and whether or not the device possessed an auto-gain sensor for adjusting the power level.

Silk’n Flash & Go Express


The Flash & Go Express is a hair removal HPL device that can treat one leg for hair removal in about 10 minutes. Light pulses are produced when the light trigger button is depressed while the device is on.

The device is rated to produce 300,000 light flashes over its useful lifetime.

Silk’n Flash & Go Jewel


The Silk’n Flash & Go Jewel is the smallest HLP device offered by Silk’n and is a portable model intended for travel, but can also be used at home. The Jewel is a triggerless, sensor-driven device that operates automatically as soon as the device is placed on the skin when the device is on.

Total light flashes for the lifetime of the device is set at 150,000 and this version of the Touch & Go line is small, allowing for use in hard-to-reach areas.

Silk’n Flash & Go Compact Glide


The Flash & Go Compact Glide by Silk’n resembles the Express model superficially since they share the same device housing. However, the guts of the Compact Glide are most similar to the Jewel and have the same features (triggerless activation) and estimated use lifespan (150,000 flashes).

Silk’n Flash & Go Pro


The Flash & Go Pro by Silk’n is the newest product in the Flash & Go line and differs from other products in their hair removal device line because it has an in-built skin color sensor that will automatically adjust the power level (and light intensity) based on skin tone. It is also a triggerless device that auto-activates when placed on the skin, so there is no pulse light button.

The estimated lifespan of the bulb is greater than other models in the Flash & Go line (about 450,000-500,000 flashes).

Who’s It For?

All Silk’n Flash & Go devices are ideal for anyone who wants a more permanent and safe means of removing unwanted body hair. Whether you have excess back or facial hair that you want to go or whether you just want to get those bikini lines cleaned up for salon time or summer sunbathing at the beach or pool, there are at least one of these devices that will fit the bill.

The price range for this product line is reasonable and varies based on the convenience features of the device. Some models can be purchased for as little as $200, with top-end models approaching about $400. Different resellers also tend to offer seasonal discounts, so shop around first to get the best deals.

If you have concerns that using a Flash & Go device may be akin to performing brain surgery, have no fears. The procedure for treatment is very easy, produces no discomfort, and works well as verified by clinical trials conducted by dermatologists.

How to Use the Flash & Go

1. Carefully shave the skin area you intend to treat, then wash the areas and dry thoroughly. There should be no soap, powder, or antiperspirant residues.

2. Press the power button briefly (for models that have one). The device will be active at power level 1, signified by the LED display.

3. Energy levels can be adjusted by briefly pressing the power button to cycle the bulb brightness levels (some models have an auto-sensor for energy level).

4. Place the device bulb-down on the skin and press the pulse trigger (some models are auto-active and do not have a pulse trigger). Be certain the skin surface is spread evenly and that the device remains in full contact with the skin.

5. Hold in place during the sensor calibration phase. The ready indicator LED will blink slowly during this step. If the energy level is appropriate, the device will flash and you will hear a soft pop from the bulb.

6. You will feel some warmth produced by the light from the device followed by a bulb recharge interval. When the device is ready for the next application, the ready indicator LED will resume blinking.

7. Move the device to the next treatment area of the skin (each treatment area is approximately 3 cm2). Be sure to not retreat skin areas (one flash per area only); a useful way of keeping track is to note the indent marks left on the skin, outlining the face of the device.

8. Treatments can be performed either by pulse light on a fixed area or by gliding the device across the skin during a pulse. If there is no flash, the ready indicator LED will blink rapidly, indicating that the skin area is too pigmented for safe use of the device.

9. Skin treatments should be performed as recommended every 14 days for the first four or five sessions. Initial results are usually noticed after about three or four sessions.

10. Hairs after this time period will be noticeably thinner and finer. Treatments five to seven should be performed monthly (four weeks apart).

11. A full treatment cycle for best results will take six to eight months. Additional treatments can be performed after this period to maintain hair removal results.

What We Like About Flash & Go Hair Removal Device Line by Silk’n

All of the Flash & Go models we examined are simple devices (all the complex stuff is inside the device, so there is nothing complicated for you to do) that produce no adverse effects on the skin. Their use is so simple, one might be tempted to think they are some kind of scam since hair removal is usually an onerous and uncomfortable process.

We liked the fact that you can perform hair removal in your home. Most permanent hair removal methods, such as laser depilatory treatments, can only be done in a licensed salon or by a dermatologist at considerable cost.

It is also notable that this method of hair removal is pain-free compared with other methods. For example, typical methods of hair removal use chemical agents or waxes, which can cause considerable damage to the skin.

Included in the packaging are power plug adapters so that the devices can be used in the US or in the UK. The DC transformer included also automatically adjusts to the input voltage, 110v or 220v, so they are great devices for travel needs.

If any of you readers are still wondering whether these little flashy-flashy devices actually have any real effects on hair growth, the HPL technology used in the Flash & Go products have been examined in clinical trials and have demonstrated effectiveness. The results of the study were published in Alster TS and Tanzi EL (2009) Effect of a Novel Low-Energy Pulsed-Light Device for Home-Use Hair Removal. Dermatol Surg 35:483.

We provide a summary of the study and an explanation of the methods used below:

Methods. Female patient volunteers with Fitzpatrick Scale I-IV skin tone (n=20) with dark, terminal phase hair in non-facial treatment areas (inclusion criteria) were selected to self-administer three pulse treatments at two-week intervals.

Exclusion criteria for intended treatment areas included: suntan, skin infection, scarring, premalignant pigmented lesions, evidence of photosensitivity, the present use of oral retinoids or anticoagulants, use of waxing, electrolysis, or other photo epilation methods within three months of study treatment initiation.

All patients participated by informed consent under the guidelines of the Declaration of Helsinki. The age range of volunteers was 32 to 56 years of age.

Matched untreated skin sites were monitored for each patient as internal controls. Observations consisted of clinical photographs and hair counts of treated and control skin areas.

Baseline data was collected pre-treatment. Data collected during the experiment in treated and non-treated skin areas at months 1, 3, and 6.

The device used in the study was a Silk’n HPL device delivering pulsed light in the range of 475-1200 nm with a maximum energy yield of 5 J through a 3 cm2 window.

Results. Positive clinical responses to HPL treatment was observed in treated skin areas of all patients compared with matched control skin areas. Observed treatment times varied by treatment area.

Axillary applications required 2-3 minutes of treatment, whereas inguinal, lower leg and forearm treatments typically required 15-20 minutes of treatment. Total hair counts in treated skin areas were significantly reduced at 6-month follow-up after three treatments (Paired t-test: Percent reduction at 6 months, p). Legs: 53.5%, p<0.001; Arms: 48.1%, p=0.004; Axillary: 37.2%, p<0.001; Inguinal: 36.7%, p<0.001).

Hair count reductions were more notable on the lower legs compared with arm hairs and hairs in axillary and inguinal areas. Approximately 25% of patients reported mild transient erythema and transient follicular edema, but no additional side effects were observed.

Outtake surveys indicated that all patients were satisfied with the results.

Conclusions. Light pulse depilatory therapy with the HPL device is safe and effective for home use on non-facial skin areas for individuals with Fitzpatrick Scale I-IV skin tone.

What We Don’t Like About Flash & Go Hair Removal Device Line by Silk’n

We found some complaints by customers that the light from the devices was too bright and hurt their eyes. Keep in mind, the Flash & Go devices are not active unless they are in contact with the skin, so they are seeing the light glowing through their skin (Silk’n recommends looking away or wearing sunglasses if this is an issue).

Also, the results are slow which cannot be helped based on the method the device uses to stun matrix cells (some people may not be patient enough to make use of the treatment method). A few customers surveyed also complained about the device not working after a few weeks of use.

In some cases, this was due to a faulty bulb, which was promptly replaced by the company. In other instances, it was more of a matter of people not understanding how the devices work and lacking the patience required for the HPL hair removal method (HPL only affects anagen phase follicles).

The skin of most people contains a mixture of hairs in different growth phases, most of which rest in the telogen phase and is the reason for 6-8 months of treatment. Since many customers do not fully understand the hair growth process and how the device works, we feel that Silk’n should do a better job at simplifying product manuals.

PROS

  • Clinically-proven results
  • Pain-free
  • Effective hair removal is done at home
  • Permanent results over long-term use

CONS

  • The devices are expensive (but less than laser treatments)
  • The treatment takes patience and time

What’s Included?

  • Flash & Go device
  • Power transformer (AC/DC)
  • US outlet plug converter
  • UK outlet plug converter
  • Treatment calendar
  • Padded carrying case

Overview Of Features

  • Quartz bulb
  • Five power levels
  • Automatic skin tone sensors (on some models)
  • Automatic flash control (on some models)
  • Power button (on some models)
  • Power cord and plug converters
  • 150,000 flashes (300,000 or 500,000 on some models)

 

Review Summary

We find the Flash & Go devices to be quite useful, although they require a modicum of patience to see results. The Flash & Go line allows more affordable access to permanent hair removal.

We also like the departure from the use of chemicals and waxes, which are painful and cause skin damage. This painless treatment system provides an approachable depilatory method that is decidedly more affordable than salon treatments and equally effective.

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