Body Care Transition Support

Does the Tria work for beards?

Why yes, yes it does! I was able to basically eliminate the dark beard hairs on my face in about 6 months. But, you have to use it a bit differently than for other types of body hair. I’ll walk you through the process I used.

Lots of people, both cis and trans, would rather do without their beard. There are many options for dealing with facial hair, but laser removal or electrolysis can be expensive (a few thousand dollars) and time consuming (months).

One appealing solution is to use an at home hair removal product, of which there are two types: IPL (or intensely pulsed light) or Laser. Both are similar, in that they use light to kill the cells that build the hair follicle, but Laser removal is much more effective for beards. These products usually run in the low hundreds of dollars, rather than thousands for professional laser treatments.

Besides being cheaper, at home treatment is also a lot more convenient and potentially faster to see results, since you can do more treatment in smaller chunks.

The best at home laser product is the Tria 4x. Unlike other products, this is actually a class 1 laser, similar to what a professional laser hair removal machine will use. But, because it is for home use, it is lower powered in order to improve safety; commercial machines usually run 30-40 joules/cm2, while the Tria maxes out at 20 joules/cm2. Because of this, you need to do a few special things for it to work effectively.

How Laser Hair Removal Works

Laser hair removal works by turning light into heat, which then kills the cells that grow your hair. The laser is specially designed to emit light that is only absorbed by the darker pigment in your hair follicles (the light is around 810 nm, or in the infrared range that is invisible to the eyes). Once it is absorbed, the hair follicle heats up and this heat then spreads to the cells around it, killing them. If you reach a high enough temperature then the hair is prevented from growing back, but too high and you burn the skin around the hair follicle.

This is why laser hair removal generally works best for people with brown or black hair and fair skin; if the skin is too dark, then the laser will heat up skin cells, causing burns. If the hair is too light, the laser light passes right through without being absorbed.

You actually have two types of hair on your body.

  • Vellus hairs: the soft, ‘peach fuzz’ hairs on your arms, legs and rest of your body.
  • Terminal hairs: the thicker, darker hairs on your head, pubic area, armpits and face (in men).

Because Vellus hairs are smaller, and usually grow closer to the surface of the skin, it takes less energy to permanently remove them. Terminal hairs are thicker and grow farther down in the skin, meaning it takes more laser energy to generate the heat necessary to kill the growing cells.

Regardless of the type, you body hairs generally grow for 2-3 weeks then go dormant for 6-8 weeks. They’ll repeat this cycle until they die and fall out, to be replaced by a new follicle. This is why laser treatments usually are staggered over months: you need to do it multiple times to catch the hairs in the process of growth in order to kill them. Each time you do a laser treatment, you’re only catching 10-20% of the hairs in their growth phase.

Using the Tria on Your Face

As mentioned above, the Tria is primarily recommended for Vellus hair removal. But you certainly can use it on your face (or any other part of your body to remove terminal hairs) if you use it slightly differently than recommended for body hair.

To start, you’re going to pick a few square inches of your face to start with. When I started, I focused on the upper lip and chin of the left side of my face so I could see if it was working.

Each day, you will slowly increase the intensity of the laser until you get to the max ‘5’ setting. At that point, you’ll do up to five pulses in the same place in order to get enough energy deep to the hair follicle to kill the cells. Remember, terminal hairs grow deeper than vellus hairs, so require more laser energy.

I generally do 5-10 minutes up to 100 pulses every day until the area is hair free, then move on to another area. You can also rotate each week, but you want to make sure you hit the same area with the highest power pulses for a few days in order to permanently remove the hair.

One thing to note: this hurts. If you’re doing it right, it will feel like a hot needle poking your skin (but only for a fraction of a second). The pain goes away immediately, but I recommend focusing on shorter sessions more frequently in order to reduce discomfort. When the pain at a particular setting decreases, you’ll want to increase the power. If the pain is too intense, you can use a lidocaine spray to help numb the skin. It doesn’t eliminate the pain, but certainly makes it more bearable.

  • Week 1: Setting 2-3, 50-100 pulses per day. Move the laser slightly between each pulse.
  • Week 2: Setting 3-4, 50-100 pulses per day. Move the laser slightly between each pulse.
  • Week 3: Setting 4-5, 50-100 pulses per day. Move the laser slightly between each pulse.
  • Week 4: Setting 5, 50-100 pulses per day. Keep the laser on the same spot for 3-5 consecutive pulses. Each pulse should feel ‘hotter’ than the last and deeper under the skin; it hurts, but means the intensity is high enough to remove the hair.

You’ll want to make sure to come back to areas you’ve already treated every few months, until all the desired hairs are gone.


Here is a picture after the first month or so of my upper lip. I focused more on the right side of the picture, and there is a noticeable reduction in the number of whiskers.

After about 6 months, I was mostly hair free of any dark hairs on my face. I had a naturally splotchy beard though, so if you have more full facial hair, it will take longer.

I can go out in the morning without makeup and have no visible 5 o’clock shadow!

Though the dark hairs are gone, I still have a fair number of lighter colored hairs on my face. Someday, I may get electrolysis to remove those, but since they aren’t really visible I use an electric razor to remove them every few days.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

By Abbey

Investor, technologist, coach.

5 replies on “Does the Tria work for beards?”

as someone who has gone through many Google search results regarding the IPL hair removal method, THANK YOU.

this was very informative, and I learned a fair amount that I didn’t know before.
10/10 (^‿^)

Yup so far I’m noticing progress to. Sadly i have a way stronger beard but it’s gotten a lot lighter after 2 weeks. Already managed to do my upper lip on 5 but my neck hurts like hell and it’s still just on 1. It’s no joke. This thing hurts! But has results!!!!!

How much time between shaving and lasering? Do you shave the day before? The night before? A few hours before? An hour before? Immediately before?

Adding my two cents as someone doing this with olive skin and coarse, black hair. Darker skin tone seems to make it more painful than others I’ve compared notes with, but on the plus side I also seem to get results somewhat sooner. By the time I get up to setting 5 on an area, I’m pretty much down to dusting up the last scattering of stragglers. I also get quite a bit of visible inflammation around hair follicles for 12-24 hours after treatments, so I’ve struck a balance by only treating 4-5 times a week instead of daily.

thinking of getting one for a real concerted effort. I have the philips Lumea which is ok for body hair, but not very effective on the face. I am wondering if is using ice pack for each 5 zap segment would have any effect on efficacy? It certainly reduces the sting for the IPL, but im really not sure if it is somehow having an effect on performance. Obviously, you remove any surface moisture before applying the treatment. Thoughts, anyone?

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