Confused by all the hype around body hair removal methods?
Let’s do a comparison of the two most popular methods: electrolysis versus laser hair removal.
I’ll start with the one with the longest history of permanent hair removal...
Everyone and anyone who has unwanted body hair is an excellent candidate for permanent hair removal by electrolysis. It works for any area of the body, even the finest of facial hair.
Facial hair removal especially can often be a source of anguish for many women since it can prevent make-up from going on smoothly.
Fine facial hair removal is a great example of the superiority of the electrolysis hair removal method. Facial hair is easily and permanently removed with electrolysis, with very little, if any, regrowth.
However, with electrolysis, any type of hair - any coarseness, any colour, straight, wavy or curly - can be removed permanently regardless of your skin type!
That kind of flexibility just isn't available with laser hair removal.
Instead, the ability to remove hair using laser depends on the combination of features for each person - the hair colour and skin type in particular.
Even after all the different types of laser that have been developed, it still is true that the best candidates for laser would be females with pale skin, dark hair, without excess testosterone and even then, only on certain areas.
Even then, quality of hair removal will depend on the right type of laser being applied. The skill of the person operating the laser hair removal machine is very important.
Not just because you want to have a good job done, but because there is a real risk of laser hair removal burns and long term scars. Nobody wants that.
You will never have that kind of worry from an electrolysis machine because it only targets one hair at a time, not a whole patch of skin, like the laser hair removal machine does.
If you are going to spend your time and money on hair removal, doesn't it make sense to make it permanent?
According to the Mayo Clinic, laser hair removal can reduce hair count but isn't totally permanent.
It also depends on where you want to remove the hair. Even if you've have more success on your legs doesn't mean you will have any success on your face.
We've seen many people in our clinic who have actually had excess facial hair growth after having gone for laser hair treatment.
We've also seen the hair return up to 5 years later after spending thousands on the laser hair removal treatment. We know this does not happen with electrolysis.
When going for electrolysis, each individual hair is targeted for removal. In my Toronto electrolysis clinic, we use a microscope that magnifies the hair up to 18 times.
Having such a precise, accurate view of each hair is part of what makes the process of electrolysis work so well.
The energy from the electrolysis needle destroys the growing cells, and no hair can regrow because there are no longer any cells left to create one even if male hormones are targeting the area.
By comparison, laser is done by casting over an area of skin with a cluster of hair. The laser light is more easily absorbed by dark colors, which includes dark hair contrasted against the skin.
When all goes well, the light is absorbed by the pigment of the hair follicles. As more light is absorbed, the light converts to heat and the heat damages the hair follicle.
In order to get the best results, the laser hair removal treatment must be applied at the optimum point in the growth cycle (anagen - new growth part of cycle) for each hair follicle, so that the ability for re-growth is also damaged.
Laser treatments during the dormant cycle of hair follicle growth (catagen) or the shedding cycle (tenagen) are nowhere near as effective. As a result, numerous treatments are needed in order to "catch" the right cycle for different hair follicles.
By comparison, electrolysis hair removal works equally well at all stages of hair growth, since it is targeting the source of hair growth.
When it comes to sensitivity both methods can cause discomfort - but the degree depends on the individual.
There are a couple of creams, topical anesthetics that can be used to decrease this. We use Emla and find it works quite well.
With laser hair removal, you can feel a burning sensation on the skin, which increases as the hair follicle absorbs the laser light. It can then feel like a sun burn for days later.
With electrolysis hair removal, you feel a momentary heat prick that resembles a rubber band flicked on the skin. For sensitive people or areas, the intensity can often be reduced.
In both cases, a topical anesthetic can help relieve any sensation to make the process quite comfortable and in some cases quite relaxing.
Electrolysis has been around since 1875 and has been tried, tested and proven to be an effective method for permanent hair removal.
Over time, the electrolysis machine has become a very precise instrument in the removal of facial hair and body hair.
When you work with a trained hair removal specialist, there are virtually no risks involved with electrolysis. Typically, the most that occurs is redness right after the treatment. Depending on your skin type and the area involved, it may take overnight to clear, but in most cases it is gone in a few hours.
Rarely, there may be very small scabs, but if this occurs they heal up quickly, without scarring. In this case, the settings can be adjusted accordingly to avoid problems in future treatments. The skin then becomes smooth and clear.
With laser hair removal machines, the hair removal specialist must also have a good understanding of their equipment and how it needs to be adjusted for each person's skin and hair type.
If it is not used precisely then there could be side effects that include darker and lighter marks, especially when the skin is dark or tanned. You can also experience burns and blistering.
Lasers risks impact the whole of the skin, whereas electrolysis targets each individual pore and the papilla or growing cells at the bottom of the follicle.
Want more personal advice on the best body hair removal for you?