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Last updated on: February 7th, 2020
Laser hair removal at home and electrolysis are both very popular choices for getting rid of unwanted body and facial hair. There is a great deal of debate over which method is better. If you’ve been researching each method, you’ve likely found contradictory information about which process is the best, and what is involved in each case.
Here is everything you need to know about how these methods work, what the pros and cons are, and what to expect in terms of side effects so you can decide for yourself which method is the best for you.
How Do These Methods Work?
In order to compare laser hair removal and electrolysis, you need to know what each of these hair removal methods entails. Here is an explanation of how each process works to destroy the hair and prevent it from growing back.
This is the only method that is approved by the FDA as a permanent solution to hair removal. The process is incredibly simple, considering it has such significant results.
To start, an extremely thin needle is inserted into the hair follicle. This needle is thinner than the hair itself, so the process is relatively painless. Once the needle has been inserted, the technician sends a tiny electrical current through the needle. This current is what destroys the hair. It also prevents a new hair from growing out of that follicle.
Since not every hair is at the same stage of growth at the same time, you’ll need several sessions of electrolysis for the results to be permanent. The electricity destroys the hair instantly. The following sessions are to remove the hairs that were in earlier growth stages.
Laser Hair Removal
Removing hair with a laser is similar to electrolysis, although it isn’t as invasive. This process relies on highly concentrated beams of light to destroy the hair. The technician aims the light at each hair. The pigment in the hair absorbs the light, which is what destroys the hair. Since the light is only destructive when it is absorbed by the hair’s pigment, the skin surrounding the hair isn’t affected.
Over the month following treatment, the hair will fall out. During this month, the pigment in the hair is breaking down due to the light it absorbed.
Which Method is the Best?
To determine which hair removal treatment is the best option, we need to look at the pros and cons of each process. The number of pros and cons gives a good indication of which method is better, however, your personal circumstances will impact which method is most appropriate for you.
1) The results are permanent.
The major benefit of this method is that the results last forever. This means that once your sessions are complete, you never need to worry about taking care of hair removal in that area again.You’ll save both time and money.
2) It can be used on any area of the body.
This is a huge plus for anybody who has hair in an area that isn’t suitable for other types of removal. It’s also great for areas that are particularly sensitive, such as the bikini line and the eye area.
3) It can be used to remove any type of hair.
This method is only effective on dark hair, and waxing only works on hair that is at least one-quarter inch long. Electrolysis works on all kinds of hair, including thin and light-coloured. Anyone with blonde, red, or grey hair is not a good candidate for laser hair removal, but will likely have success trying electrolysis.
4) It is almost completely painless.
Most people who have undergone electrolysis report that they experience a slight prickling feeling, but nothing close to pain. By comparison, anybody that has tried waxing knows how incredibly painful it is. Also, electrolysis is less painful than laser removal. The feeling of laser removal is similar to a rubber band repeatedly snapping against the skin. There is little to no pain after an electrolysis session.
1) It can be expensive.
Since several sessions are needed, the cost adds up. However, since the results last forever you won’t need to pay for hair removal in the future. On average, one session costs between $25 and $150, and multiple treatments are needed to completely eliminate the hair.
2) If you have bent hairs, it can be more difficult to remove them.
Bent hairs are caused by waxing and tweezing. Not everyone who has tried these methods will develop bent hairs, but it is more common than in people who have not tried waxing or tweezing. Since it is more difficult to get to the root of bent hairs, more sessions will be needed to permanently remove these hairs.
3) The treatments take a long time.
Not only do you need to go for multiple sessions, each session can last as long as an hour. The specific amount of time depends on the type hair and skin and how large the area is that you are having treated. These hours quickly compound over the course of all of your sessions.
Laser Hair Removal
1) Stubborn, dark hairs are the most responsive.
Laser treatment is most effective on thick, dark hairs. These types of hairs are the most stubborn and are often the hardest to remove using other methods. Laser removal is so effective on these hairs because they have the most pigment, which is what responds to the light.
2) It is a fast procedure.
Unlike electrolysis which takes a lot of time, laser removal is extremely quick. The beam of light is able to target more than one hair at once, which speeds up the treatment. Also, each beam of light takes less than one second to destroy a hair. Each second, the technician can treat an area approximately the size of a quarter.
3) The results are long lasting.
While the results are not permanent, they last much longer than other methods like waxing or using a depilatory cream. The results of this method can last anywhere from several months to a couple years. The way each person reacts is different, but it will take multiple sessions to see this kind of result.
4) Regrowth isn’t an issue.
With waxing, you have to leave the hair alone in between sessions. This means no shaving or any other kind of hair removal. With laser treatments, you don’t have to worry about growing out the hair in between sessions. Letting the hair grow when you want it gone forever it is incredibly frustrating, so this is a major benefit.
1) You have to wait a minimum of four weeks in between sessions.
Unfortunately, you need to wait at least one month between every session. This is to ensure the skin isn’t damaged. Skin care is essential for this month. Be sure to wear sunscreen, and keep a close eye on the treated area so you can immediately spot any changes in your skin.
2) Exposure to the sun can decrease the effectiveness of the procedure.
After every treatment, you need make sure to keep the area out of the sun. This can be difficult if you have gotten an area of your face treated, especially in the summer.
3) It is painful.
In cases where extreme pain is felt during the procedure, the technician may apply an anti-inflammatory lotion or cold water. For 24 to 48 hours after your treatment, the area that was treated will feel like it has been sunburned. Refrigerated moisturizers can help relieve this feeling. Ice packs can also be helpful.
4) It is very expensive.
One session of laser treatment can cost up to $200. Once you consider that you will need several sessions for each area you want to treat, the total cost adds up quickly.
What Are the Side Effects of These Methods?
Every hair removal process comes with side effects. Which side effects, and the severity of them, varies from method to method.
The most common side effects of electrolysis are very mild. The area that has been treated will likely be red and swollen, and tender to the touch. These symptoms are temporary and will go away without medical attention. If the swelling persists, it can safely be treated with a cold compress.
There are also less common side effects, including a change in skin colour and keloid scars. This type of scar develops over the treated area, and tend to get progressively larger.
For laser hair removal, the most common side effect is irritated skin. It usually goes away within a few hours of the session. Another common side effect is a change in the pigment of the skin, either lighter or darker. Fortunately, this is also temporary.
Individuals who have sensitive skin will also likely experience blisters. The blisters are unlikely to cause any permanent damage as long as they are treated properly.
In very rare cases, hair will grow at an excessive rate in the area that has been treated.
Both methods have the potential to cause permanent scarring. It’s important to choose a qualified technician to perform either method to ensure that there are no unnecessary side effects.