Unwanted hair can be extremely uncomfortable and tedious for both men and women. Shaving and waxing are popular ways to remove unwanted hair, but can be very time consuming and offers only a temporary solution for removing unwanted hair from the face and body. However, there are several options for removing hair permanently.
Laser and electrolysis are two methods that are increasing in popularity that effectively remove hair permanently. But before you choose one or the other, there are several things you need to consider before deciding between electrolysis vs laser hair removal. Here is how they compare:
- Laser Hair Removal
- Which is best?
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal works by utilizing mild radiation with high heat lasers with intense pulsed light (IPL).
The laser targets hair follicles and slows down hair growth. When hair on your body is growing, there are typically two phases: an active growing phase and a resting phase.
It is important to note that laser hair removal only works during the growing phase. Although it can target large areas such arms and legs, multiple treatment rounds are needed. In order for the results to become permanent, you need to receive multiple treatments for the hair to stop growing back. Hair might also grow back lighter and finer but will require several months of treatments before hair growth arrests.
There are several benefits to using laser hair removal as an option for unwanted hair.
A major side effect on darker skin is that IPL hair removal can cause skin discoloration. Therefore, those with darker skin tones should not use it and those with medium skin tones should proceed with warning. It is also important to note that this type of treatment does not work on body hair that is white or blonde as melanin, the compound that gives hair and skin color, is required to absorb the emitted intense pulsed light.
Potential Side Effects
Side effects of laser hair removal treatment may include:
Minor side effects can occur with treatment depending on your own sensitivities to each treatment. It is important to use a board-certified dermatologist because they can monitor the procedure meticulously and are clinically trained to perform the procedure and deal with any potential side effects.
Some people have reported experiencing pain during or after the procedure. Before the procedure, an analgesic ointment can be used to minimize pain.
A steroid cream can also be prescribed for severe pain after treatment. Some useover the counter pain relievers such as Ibuprofen, which is enough to manage mild pain after treatment.
Other minor and common symptoms can be relieved by using a cold compress on the affected areas. It is also recommended to avoid the sun and to use sunscreen to prevent skin damage.
Laser hair removal only works to prevent hair that is in the growing phase, so you’ll need several follow-up treatments in order get permanent hair reduction results. Regular maintenance treatments will also extend the results.
You’ll also want to minimize your sun exposure after each laser hair removal and wear sunscreen as the UV rays can further exacerbate skin irritation. Usually, follow-up treatments are scheduled every 4-6 weeks as determined by a professional.
Laser hair removal can be very costly because it isn’t covered by insurance. The overall cost will vary based on each individual and are typically determined by the area of treatment and the number of follow up treatments required.
Many offices offer payment plans so that cost is can easily be paid in time. There are at home laser removal devices, but a licensed professional is a better option as they can monitor your progress and are trained to handle any complications.
Electrolysis is another option for long term hair removal. Electrolysis treatment removes hair permanently and is typically done by a licensed dermatologist trained to perform the treatment. The process works by using shortwave radio frequencies to prevent new hair growth in the hair follicles.
This not only damages your hair follicles and prevents growth but causes existing hairs to fall out. Multiple follow up treatments are usually needed. This procedure is approved by the FDA and has been determined as a safe and permanent method to remove unwanted hair. This is ideal for smaller, more targeted areas and can require several treatments for larger areas such legs, backs and bikini areas.
Electrolysis is extremely versatile. It can be used on every part of the body including eyebrows with minimal adverse side effects.
It can also be used on hair that is lighter in color or on darker skin tones as it does not lead to discoloration so it is appropriate for almost everyone and almost every area of the body.
When you look at the electrolysis hair removal before and after photos, you will see a significant difference compared to laser hair removal, which cannot permanently arrest hair growth. There is also less of a chance for ingrown hairs to develop.
Side Effects and Risks
The most common side effect is redness and skin irritation in the treatment site. Pain and swelling are rare and do not occur frequently unlike with laser hair removal.
There is a risk of infection from not having sterile equipment, so it is important to choose a reputable licensed clinic where you can have the procedure done.
In order for the results to be permanent, most people need several treatment especially if the area is larger or the hair is thicker like on the legs, back, or pubic areas.
Most follow up sessions are scheduled every 1-2 weeks. No maintenance is required with electrolysis once the hair is gone since the results are permanent. Larger areas such as arms, legs, or the back may require several treatments in order for hair to be permanently removed.
Like laser hair removal, electrolysis can be costly and typically isn’t covered by insurance. The cost is based on the areas treated, the number of treatments, and the number of follow-ups required. There are several epilators that are on the market and available to use at home but usually aren’t as effective as professional electrologists. Also, these cosmetics devices aren't regulated by the FDA for safety.
Which is best?
While laser therapy and electrolysis both produce long term results compared to shaving, electrolysis seems to work the best.
However, it depends on the area you want treated, the hair type, and the cost of the clinic that will perform the procedure.
Electrolysis hair removal costs are typically higher compared to laser hair removal. Electrolysis also carries fewer risks and side effects, and you don’t need the maintenance treatments required with laser treatments. For instance, electrolysis can be used on even sensitive areas like the upper lip, eyebrows and bikini areas.
It can also be used on blonde or lighter hair color or on darker skin tones in contrast to laser hair reduction that is only limited to those with darker hair and fairer skin tones. The downside is that electrolysis requires more sessions. It cannot treat large areas at once like laser hair removal can. Your choice might depend on how quickly you want or need results. The pain of electrolysis vs laser hair removal is also considered to be lower when choosing electrolysis.
Also, doing both procedures is not recommended as electrolysis done after laser hair removal disrupts the effects of the first procedure.
Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal for a Brazilian
While both methods can be effective, laser hair removal is able to target a larger area but electrolysis is less painful. However, electrolysis on a bikini area can be costly, as the Brazilian electrolysis costs as much as $1000. It is ultimately up to you and how much you are willing to spend.
ELECTROLYSIS VS LASER HAIR REMOVAL FOR THE UPPER LIP
Electrolysis is optimal for treating the upper lip and eyebrows as these areas are smaller and ideal for electrolysis. Since laser hair removal is ideal for darker hair, it might not be effective on facial hair that is lighter in color.
If you are considering electrolysis vs laser hair removal for the face, electrolysis is certainly a better option for treating hair on the face.
Should I choose laser hair removal or electrolysis for underarms?
Since underarms are concentrated areas you can use both methods. However, electrolysis can be more costly and may need more treatments. Laser hair treatments can produce faster results compared to electrolysis, but will keep requiring treatments as hair follicles cycle between the growing and resting phases.
Overall, electrolysis and laser hair removal are long term solutions to removing unwanted hair. Electrolysis is the permanent hair removal solution and in most cases a better choice as it has fewer side effects.
It can also be used on various hair colors and will not cause skin discoloration on darker skin types and skin tones unlike with laser hair removal. It can be more costly and require more time and sessions for larger areas, but it is worth it if you want to remove the hair permanently.
It is also safe on more sensitive areas and can be used on eye brows. If you have darker skin tones or blonde hair, your obvious choice is electrolysis. Do your homework and discuss your options with a professional. Ultimately the choice is yours and dependent on the area you need treated and the time and money you are willing to spend.