Electrolysis vs. Laser Hair removal

What is the difference between electrolysis and laser hair removal?

Both promise permanent results, so how do you decide which method is the right one for you?

A lot depends on your unique hair removal goals and the time frame you have to achieve them.

How Laser Hair Removal and Electrolysis Work

Laser hair removal works by pulsing concentrated light beams into your hairs’ follicles.

The follicle is responsible for the production of new hair. The laser zeros in on pigment in the hair and heats it up.

You can actually smell burned hair during your laser hair removal session, and there will be small plumes of smoke.

The laser damages the follicle enough so that it stops producing hair.

During electrolysis, a hair-thin needle is inserted into the hair follicle.

The technician performing the procedure, called an electrologist, activates a machine that sends a small pulse of electricity into the follicle.

The electric current interacts with the naturally occurring saline and water there and destroys the follicle’s ability to produce new hair.

Electrolysis that uses an electrical current is the original method that was invented more than 100 years ago.

There’s a variation on electrolysis, called thermolysis, which uses heat to destroy the hair-producing cells in the follicle.

This can be a gentler method for women who are more sensitive to the pain of electrolysis, but it isn’t as effective as the original method and can require repeated treatments before the hair will be permanently gone.

How Long Do the Results Last?

Laser hair removal is approved for permanent hair reduction.

That’s because it hasn’t been demonstrated to remove each and every hair permanently; however, there will be a decrease in the number of hairs.

Laser hair removal can permanently reduce the amount of hair by as much as 90 percent.

In cases where the hair grows back, it’s usually lighter and finer than before. That’s because, unlike electrolysis, lasers damage the hair’s follicle but don’t completely destroy its hair-growing capabilities.

Electrolysis is the only hair removal method that can claim to result in permanent hair removal and has the Food and Drug Administration’s approval to make that claim.

The electrologist applies a current hair by hair so that no hair is overlooked. It can target finer hairs too, unlike laser hair removal.

Several studies on the effectiveness of electrolysis have demonstrated permanent removal of hair. In one study, 93 percent of women reported that they were satisfied with the results.

The skill and experience of the electrologist can make a significant difference in the effectiveness of the treatment. Most studies chose to have electrologists with more than 1,000 hours of experience conduct the hair removal that was part of the study.

How Long It Takes to See Results

The length of time it will take to achieve your desired results depends on a few factors including the amount of hair you have, how large the area is and what is causing the hair growth (hair that’s the result of a hormone imbalance can be tougher to eradicate).

But in any case, you can expect a significant reduction of hair after six to eight laser hair removal treatments. Any regrowth can be managed with a touch-up appointment every six to 12 months.

Studies show that the vast majority of women who undergo electrolysis are happy with their results, but they usually aren’t thrilled about the amount of time it took to achieve those results.

Since electrolysis has to be performed one follicle at a time, it can require a good deal of time for the entire area to be cleared of unwanted hairs.

Anywhere from 15 to 30 treatment sessions are typically needed for the best results.

Best Uses

Laser hair removal is ideal when you need to remove hair from larger areas such as the legs or underarms.

It’s also well suited for dark hair. Since it targets the pigment in the hair follicle, it isn’t effective on light blond or gray hair. Lasers can’t be used underneath the eyebrows due to the risk of having a laser close to the eye.

Electrolysis can remove hair from anywhere on the body or face and is safe to use underneath the eyebrows.

It eliminates fine hair and light hair just as well as coarse, dark hair. And electrolysis works equally well on every skin tone.

Since it's a time-consuming process, many women find it's perfect for removing hair in smaller areas like the upper lip and chin. It's often recommended as a follow-up to laser hair removal to get rid of any remaining hairs.

Both electrolysis and laser hair removal have their pros and cons.

If you’re content with having the amount of hair reduced, laser hair removal might be the right choice for you.

Electrolysis is the hair removal method that can guarantee completely hairless skin at the end of a full course of treatment.

It may be that a combination of laser hair removal and electrolysis is the ultimate solution for getting permanent results in the least amount of time.