The roots of human hairs of a patient are devitalized using high intensity, short duration pulses of light having wavelengths with respect to which the skin of the patient is non-absorbative and the hair of the patient is relatively absorbative. A narrow, focused beam of the light is aimed at the epidermis of the patient adjacent the hair such that an extension of the beam intersects the hair root at an angle relative to the skin surface. A short pulse passes through the skin and is absorbed in the hair root, destroying its blood supply. Apparatus for practicing the method employs a manually controlled two-axis positioning system supporting the focusing system that is connected to a laser light source by a flexible fiber optic bundle. A shutter selectively positionable in the optical path allows a low intensity beam to be produced for aiming and the shutter is removed from the optical path for the pulse period to produce the high energy beam.