One of the most lucrative beauty treatments in the UK is laser hair removal. That’s why so many of our Beaulaz students take the VTCT Level 4 Certificate in Laser Hair Removal and IPL. They’re opening their own clinics in advanced hair removal or adding this profitable service to their existing salons. In fact, it has become a necessity to install laser hair removal machines for professionals.
When you’re ready to offer laser hair removal, you’ll have to start researching laser equipment and IPL machines. But if you’ve just started, you will find out that there are lots of choices, and it can be confusing as to what is the best machine for your clinic.
As you probably know, in addition to Beaulaz, we own four Colaz Advanced Beauty Salons. Before we purchased the lasers and IPL machines for our salons, we spent considerable time researching suppliers and manufacturers. We wanted to find affordable equipment with good service contracts that would provide the best treatment for our hair removal and skin care clients.
We’d like to share with you some valuable tips from our hands-on experience so as to help you make better decision before you make the purchase. Get the advantage of the questions and answers on this page to help you get on the right track before you make this important investment.
1. Is it true that laser machines are less expensive now than they were in previous years?
Yes, since we started buying our lasers back in 2005, competition has driven the prices down considerably. That means this is a good time to buy. But, it is still a major purchase, and it’s not just the laser hair removal machine cost that you need to take into account. Service, training, and ease of parts replacement are just some of the factors to consider.
2. Why is service after the sale important?
The service after sale is so important because you are purchasing sophisticated technology that is not immune to breaking down. What will you do if your machine has a failure & you have clients booked the next day? The last thing you need is unhappy clients whose appointments you have to cancel because of an equipment breakdown.
And remember, you usually offer your laser hair removal service to clients in multiple sessions. Your clients may have pre-paid for a course, and they could be coming for their second or third session. In that case, it is likely that they have waited 4 to 6 weeks just for this appointment.
You want your company brand to grow; you want your clients to be happy, and feel as though they can rely on you. The last thing you want is to have angry clients demanding refunds. It really is not worth it.
So, be sure that your supplier is an established and reputable business. Look at their service contract. Do they have engineers who provide 24/7 service? Do they have quick access to replacement parts? And, make sure they know what they’re doing when it comes to breakdowns and repairs.
3. Does the manufacturer offer automatic upgrades?
Your service contract should include free upgrades when new technology is available. You want your equipment to be consistently state-of-the-art so you stay ahead of the competition and offer your clients the latest technology. Upgrades are usually available in the service contract. Check for it before you sign.
4. How do I know which laser and IPL machine works best for my salon?
The brand you choose depends on your clients and the treatments you offer. The lighter or darker skin types of your clients, for example, are one of the considerations. And, will you offer skin rejuvenation, tattoo removal, acne treatment, and skin tightening in addition to hair removal? Based on these consideration you will have to buy a laser hair removal machine.
After you've determined the characteristics of your target market and the services you will offer, talk to your supplier about which laser is the perfect one for your company.
Here is a guide to get you on the right track:
5. How much does it cost for an average laser hair removal machine?
Most people are shocked to discover how much a laser machine actually costs. When we tell people we paid around £40,000 to £60,000 each for our machines at Colaz, we have seen many faces droop.
IPL machines are slightly cheaper, but note that you have to pay for the continual replacement of lamps. The number of lamps you use depends on the number of clients you treat. This is usually a monthly expense, but it can cost you over £10,000 per year.
6. Should I finance my new machine?
In our experience, the best way to buy a laser hair removal machine is to finance it. That’s because paying over time frees up money for the other salon essentials such as couches, property refurbishment, and other setup costs.
Consider the option to finance the machine over three years, and at the end of the third year you can pay a month’s premium, and the machine is yours. The interest paid is tax deductible. You can claim the depreciation on your tax returns.
7. Are second hand machines available?
There is a large inventory of second hand machines on the market today. You can find them on websites like eBay and Gumtree. Although you may find the machine you are looking for, there are some issues to consider about second hand equipment.
First, it is crucial that you are covered for servicing and breakdown. Will the original manufacturer offer you a service contract? If so, well and good, but be sure to add this cost into your calculations to make sure you are still getting a bargain with used equipment.
8. Can I buy a good laser or IPL machine cheaper from another country?
We know it’s a temptation to cut out the middle man, and buy the machine directly from abroad. But when things go wrong who will you call? And, although you can buy lasers from the Far East often at far cheaper prices, problems do tend to occur with CE marks, and the need for aftercare service for extra parts and breakdown recovery.
Laser machine manufacturers from other countries always employ overseas distributors. Some have exclusive distribution rights but these distributors are all set up to deal with after sales service.
So, I highly recommend that you buy from the country you live in. I know we all like to buy direct but trust me, you will thank your local distributor if your machines ever break down. The distributor can even ensure you have a replacement on standby.
9. Do I need insurance?
Since you plan to offer laser hair removal treatments to the public, you will definitely want to get insurance, and have the certificate displayed at your premises. Don’t take the risk of ignoring insurance because if you accidentally burn a client, and they decide to sue you without any insurance coverage it could be very costly for you.
10. How can I get insured?
There are a number of reputable insurance companies in the UK. Do a Google search to find one that is suitable for your business. At our Colaz salons, we carry Zurich Insurance through our membership in the British Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology (BABTAC).
The insurance underwriter will also ask you for the laser machine Manufacturer’s Certificate. Be aware that most insurance companies will also ask for evidence of your qualifications, which brings us to the next question.
11. Do I need qualifications to use a laser machine?
Yes, most insurance companies will ask for your qualifications. At the time of this writing in 2014, BABTAC demands a minimum Beauty Therapy NVQ Level 3 Qualification. But don’t worry! You can get your qualifications on a fast track here at Beaulaz.
If you are a doctor or nurse, the above qualifications are not required.
12. Do I need to get registered with a local authority?
Yes, anyone who operates a laser at home or commercial premises needs to notify their local authority. However, each local authority has its own individual regulations & minimum requirements. Most authorities will demand some level Beauty Therapy qualification and a Manufacturer’s Certificate from your laser machine company.
So contact your local council special treatment license department, and find out what is required. For example, for my Colaz Salons the licensing agreement varies:
13. What is a Laser Protection Advisor (LPA) and do I need one?
If you operate a laser on a commercial premises it is legally required that you procure the services of an outside specialist called a laser protection advisor (LPA). The LPA will provide laser safety advice and a risk assessment for your laser services.
14. How do I get trained to use my new laser hair removal machine?
The good thing about buying from a UK distributor is that they will not only sell you a machine that comes with marketing literature, but will also fully train you on the machine, and provide a Manufacturer’s Certificate. You will need this certificate to get insurance, and for your local authority.
This is one of the big problems with purchasing your laser machine abroad. It will not be as easy to get training or the required Manufacturer’s Certificate.
15. Who are the most popular suppliers of laser hair removal machines in the UK?
As you shop around for machines, you will notice there are a variety of suppliers. They range from sole proprietors to established distributors who can offer you a full force of on-call engineers. Though most laser machines are manufactured abroad, they are carried by exclusive distributors here in the UK. Some companies claim to have manufactured the machines in the UK, but they simply order the parts from other nations and assemble them here, though this shouldn’t be a problem.
16. What machines are the high-end salons and clinics using?
The 5 top machines in the UK, as we see it, are the following:
Located in Wales, Candela has offered comprehensive and sophisticated aesthetic laser hair removal machines since 1970.
A leading UK manufacturer and supplier of light based aesthetic and medical treatment systems based in Cheshire.
A global leader in medical and aesthetic lasers and light-based technology, Lumenis is located in London.
Since 1964 Fotona has been a world leader in state-of-the-art laser systems for medical, industrial, and defense applications.
Alma Lasers manufactures the Soprano XL for laser hair removal and skin treatment, distributed by ABC Lasers in Cambridgeshire.
Cynosure is recognised as one of the UK’s leading suppliers of aesthetic lasers with over 15 years experience.
The best value for my money includes reliability and after sales care. These are the most important factors for me while choosing the right laser hair removal provider. To get an idea as to how well a vendor will perform after the sale, ask them these questions.
I hope this page helps you choose the best hair laser removal machine for professional use business. I have learned a lot over the decade, and made many mistakes choosing the wrong suppliers. This page is for you, and it is my way of giving back to our wonderful industry.
Surinder Ahitan, CEO Colaz, Beaulaz, and Colaz Franchise