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Electrolysis vs Laser hair removal: What is the difference and which is better for you?

By Viktoria
August 9, 2023
8 minutes

Like the majority of the people, unwanted body hair has been pestering me for a long time. My quest for painless and comfortable hair removal continued until I figured out two effective methods – Electrolysis and laser hair removal.

I did thorough research on both methods and figured out that both electrolysis and laser hair removal offer long-term solutions to unwanted hair. But before finalizing on any particular method, I felt that I should clearly understand their differences and benefits, which will help me make a wise decision.

In this blog post, I will explain what electrolysis and laser hair removal are, the key distinctions between both and the pros and cons of the treatment. I also explain the factors to consider when choosing between the two.

What is Electrolysis?

In this method, a fine needle is inserted into the hair follicle and electric current is passed. This current can either be chemical or heat based. When this is done, the hair follicle gets damaged and prevents further hair growth. The treated hair can then be removed using a tweezer or it falls off.

As you can see, electrolysis treats individual hair follicles instead of a large area. Just imagine removing the entire hair on your legs with this method!! It is next to impossible. Thus, electrolysis is mostly done to remove hair from a limited area, like your chin or upper lip.

Now you might ask, “Is electrolysis safe?” Yes, electrolysis is absolutely safe, provided you get it done from a certified professional. Moreover, electrolysis permanent nature makes it a favorite with many.

The only risk while undergoing electrolysis is infection from unsterilized needles. As long as you get the treatment from a certified professional, you need not worry about infection and scarring.

Pros

  • Electrolysis is a permanent solution to remove unwanted hair.

  • You can use it for all hair and skin types, whether dark or blonde.

  • Electrolysis is more effective in removing hair from small body areas. You can undergo electrolysis to remove facial hair like the eyebrows and chin.

Cons

  • You need to undergo more sessions of electrolysis than laser treatment. Thus, the total cost of electrolysis can be high.

  • Since electrolysis involves pricking individual hair follicles, it can cause slight pain.

  • You might experience slight redness and swelling after the treatment.

  • If unsterilized needles are used for the treatment, there is the possibility of infection.

What is laser hair removal?

If you ask me, “Which is the most popular and advanced method of reducing unwanted hair growth?” the answer would be laser hair removal. The popularity of this method is evident from the number of skin clinics offering this facility.

What exactly is laser hair removal? Laser hair removal is a permanent hair removal method that utilizes concentrated beams of light to remove hair. Like electrolysis, this method also targets hair follicles, leading to the inhibition of future hair growth in the treated areas. But unlike electrolysis, this method uses a beam of laser for treatment.

Laser hair removal involves directing the laser energy towards the pigmented melanin within the hair follicles. This heats and destroys the hair follicles while leaving the surrounding skin unharmed.

As you can see, laser hair removal targets the melanin in the hair follicle and not the hair follicle. Thus, I would say that this method is more effective on dark, coarse hair as the melanin in the hair absorbs the light effectively.

Pros

  • Laser hair removal is a painless method to remove unwanted hair.

  • You can use this method to remove hair from any part of the body including face.

  • The recovery time for this method is minimal. You can resume your normal activities immediately after the treatment.

Cons

  • Laser is effective mostly for removing dark hair as it acts on the melanin of the hair follicle. Thus, if you have blonde hair, this method may not be effective.

  • You need to undergo multiple sessions to get the desired result.

  • Laser hair removal is costly when compared to electrolysis.

What is the difference between electrolysis and laser hair removal?

  1. Method

The first major difference I find is in the method of treatment. As mentioned earlier, electrolysis makes use of heat and chemical energy to remove hair. Whereas laser uses laser beams for hair removal. While electrolysis targets the hair follicles, laser targets the melanin in the follicle.

  1. Process

When I first checked the pictures of electrolysis and laser hair removal, both appeared to be the same. I could see a person holding a device and performing the procedures. But on checking more videos, I came to know that the processes in both methods are different.

In laser, a device with a laser beam is used to target the hair follicles. Whereas in the case of electrolysis, a fine needle is inserted into every hair follicle to remove it.

  1. Number of sessions

As mentioned earlier, electrolysis targets individual hair follicle for hair removal. Laser, on the other hand, targets a large area for removing hair. Thus, electrolysis is time consuming and requires more number of sessions than laser treatment.

  1. Aftercare

Like most of you, I was also under the impression that the aftercare in both cases would be the same. But I was wrong!!

Since electrolysis involves pricking the skin to reach the hair follicle, antibacterial cream should be applied to prevent infection. Moreover, you should be careful not to scratch the skin after the treatment. Laser, on the other hand, requires minimal aftercare. All you have to do is apply sunscreen as directed by the doctor.

  1. Suitable areas

Electrolysis involves pricking the hair follicles one by one. Thus, I would not recommend doing electrolysis in large areas like the leg and hands. Electrolysis is best suited for facial hair removal on the chin, upper lips and eyebrows.

If you want to remove hair from large areas like hands, legs, or back, I would suggest a laser as it can remove hair fast from a large area.

  1. Cost

For all of us, cost is a major consideration while selecting a method. In both methods of hair removal, the cost depends on several factors. The area to be covered and the reputation of the clinic affect the cost of the treatment.

But in general, I figured out that electrolysis is more costly as you need to undergo multiple sessions of treatment. I did some research and figured out the cost of electrolysis.

For smaller areas like the face, the cost would be around $100 to $500. For larger areas, the cost can go up to $2000 to $10000. For a single session, the rate can be anywhere between $50 to $200.

This might appear to be less. But there is a catch!! You need to undergo multiple sessions to get the desired result.

In the case of laser treatment, a single session can cause anywhere between $200 to $400. Thus, in my opinion if you are particular about cost, it is best to go for laser treatment.

Laser

Electrolysis

Method

Uses laser beam.

Uses heat and chemical energy.

Process

Device with a laser beam is used to remove hair follicle.

Fine needle is used to remove hair follicle.

Number of sessions

Less number of sessions as it covers a large area.

More number of sessions as it covers a small area.

Aftercare

Only sunscreen is required to protect against UV rays.

Antibacterial cream is required to prevent infection.

Suitable areas

All over the body.

Small areas like chin and eyebrows.

Cost

$200-$400 for a single session.

$50-$200 for a single session.

Electrolysis vs laser hair removal – Which is better?

Now that you have understood the procedure of both methods, the inevitable question pops up. Which is better? Electrolysis or Laser.

According to Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali and Dr. Sheila Farhang, board-certified dermatologists, “Laser hair removal is more common and practical”. Considering the ease of treatment and comfort level, they recommend laser treatment.

As per Zain Hussain, another board-certified dermatologist, the type of treatment to follow depends on the skin tone and what type of permanent result you are looking for. If you are a person with light skin and dark hair, Dr Hussain recommends laser treatment. On the other hand, electrolysis is suitable for anyone irrespective of their skin and hair tone.

In addition to skin and hair tone, there are certain other factors as well that you should consider

1. Treatment area

You should consider the area of the body where you want to remove the hair. Do you want to get rid of that unnecessary hair on your face? Or do you want silky soft skin on your hands and legs?

The sensitivity and thickness of the hair in that area may affect your choice of treatment. For example, electrolysis is often recommended for smaller areas, while laser hair removal may be more suitable for larger areas.

2. Time commitment

As you all know, electrolysis is a time-consuming process as each hair follicle needs to be treated individually. It may require multiple sessions, with each session lasting from a few minutes to over an hour, depending on the area being treated.

Laser hair removal typically requires multiple sessions as well, but each session is generally faster than electrolysis. How much time you can spare for each session? Do you have the patience to stick to the schedule? This is another thing that you should consider.

3. Budget

The cost of electrolysis and laser hair removal can vary. As stated earlier, the cost of electrolysis for a single session is priced at $50 to $200. As for laser, it is priced at $200 to $400.

However, electrolysis may be more expensive overall. This is because it requires multiple sessions. But the main advantage you will find is that it offers permanent results.

Laser hair removal may be more cost-effective in the short term. But maintenance sessions may be needed to maintain hair reduction.

4. Practitioner’s expertise

I am of the view that whatever cosmetic procedure you undergo, it should be done under a qualified and experienced practitioner. The same applies to electrolysis and laser hair removal as well. A skilled professional will assess your specific needs, provide proper guidance, and perform the treatment safely and effectively.

It’s crucial to consult with a professional who can evaluate your individual circumstances and recommend the most suitable option based on factors such as your skin and hair type, treatment goals, and preferences.

FAQ 1- Which is better for blonde hair?

Electrolysis is better for blonde hair as it targets the hair follicle. Laser hair removal, on the other hand, targets the melanin in the hair follicle. Since there is less melanin present in blonde hair, laser treatment may not be effective in removing it.

However, advancements in laser technology have made it possible to treat a wider range of hair colors and skin tones with varying degrees of success.

However, you should note that electrolysis can be a time-consuming process, particularly for larger areas, as each hair follicle needs to be treated individually. It may require multiple sessions and can be more expensive compared to laser hair removal. Despite these potential drawbacks, electrolysis remains a reliable option for individuals with blonde hair who are seeking long-term hair removal.

FAQ2: Which is safe for facial hair removal?

Electrolysis involves inserting a tiny needle into the skin to remove hair follicles. It is a permanent hair solution and can be applied on all skin and hair types.

As mentioned earlier, laser uses laser beams to target melanin in the hair follicle and remove it. It is best suited for those with dark colored hair and light skin.

Both electrolysis and laser treatment are safe for facial hair removal. But electrolysis is considered better as it is more permanent in nature. Besides, electrolysis does not call for maintenance treatment as is required in case of laser treatment.

FAQ3: Is electrolysis more painful than laser?

The perception of pain can vary from one person to another. If something is painful for me does not mean that it causes pain to you as well.

Electrolysis causes a pricking sensation than pain. This is because in this process, tiny needles are inserted into the skin to reach the hair follicles. The amount of discomfort a person feels depends on your pain threshold, the area that is treated and the expertise of the dermatologist. If the sensation is unbearable and causes too much discomfort, you can ask the dermatologist to apply a numbing cream.

 

Viktoria
Viktoria
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