When shopping for the best hair removal methods, you might ask yourself, “Electrolysis vs. laser hair removal: what’s the difference between the two?” Your chosen method depends on the treatment area, your budget, and how long you want your results to last. After completing the process, you should also consider what feels more comfortable for you.
If you have a choice between electrolysis or laser hair removal, you probably want to know the pros and cons of each. Our team of skilled aestheticians at Laserlicious developed a guide to help you decide. Reach out to us for further information about each option.
Electrolysis: Eyelashes and Cosmetic Surgery for Over a Century
In 1869, Dr. Charles Michel practicing ophthalmology in St. Louis used a battery-powered needle epilator to treat trichiasis (ingrown eyelashes). This method is called electrolysis because it employs an electric current which creates a chemical reaction in the process that damages the hair follicles at the root.
Electrolysis is a good option for those who want to remove white hair or facial hair and not just dark body hair. Electrolysis is a popular option when looking into permanent hair removal options and one that many people have used for years without complaint.
Electrolysis has been used for over a century and is approved by the FDA as a permanent hair removal procedure.
The Invention of Lasers in the 1960s
Since the invention of lasers in the 1960s, laser hair removal has been used for a few decades. It is well known as an effective and easy way to remove unwanted body hairs with little pain or downtime.
Laser hair removal technology uses light to penetrate the skin’s surface, targeting dark hairs on light-colored skin. Laser beams work by shooting pulses at a high frequency to disrupt follicular bulb production.
The FDA has approved the method for reducing hair regrowth. But, it is mostly used for complete hair removal.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Laser hair removal involves an aesthetician using a strong laser to sabotage future hair growth. The laser targets the hair follicle, making it less effective at producing hair, and continued treatment typically results in a slower, decreased growth rate.
The most common types of laser used include:
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
- Neodymium YAG
Clients with fair skin and dark hair typically yield more satisfactory results due to decreased hair pigment. However, industry-leading technology has produced lasers that successfully treat darker skin tones with a few side effects.
How Does Electrolysis Work?
Electrolysis involves an aesthetician pushing a tiny needle beneath the skin’s surface. The needle conducts a gentle but effective electrical current through the skin. The current cripples the hair follicle, rendering it incapable of producing future hairs.
The three modalities of electrolysis include:
- Thermolysis which works by removing hairs with heat
- Galvanic which removes hairs via a chemical reaction
- A blend of galvanic and thermolysis
Electrolysis yields satisfactory results for most skin and hair types. You need an experienced professional to conduct the hair removal procedures to minimize discomfort and ensure proper hair removal.
The Difference Between Laser and Electrolysis
The difference between laser and electrolysis involves more than the methodology. During a laser hair removal session, the aesthetician uses a laser for semi-permanent hair removal. With electrolysis, they’ll harness the power of electricity for more permanent results.
But what are the advantages and disadvantages of electrolysis vs. laser hair removal? Dive deeper into the differences below to better understand each method.
People generally aren’t as familiar with electrolysis as laser hair removal. However, electrolysis for dermatological use predates lasers. Electrolysis’s positive aspects include:
- Permanence: The FDA recognizes electrolysis as a permanent treatment method. While other treatments may last a while, few have the staying power of electrolysis.
- Needed treatments: You’ll need fewer, shorter sessions as you continue electrolysis treatment. You’ll get more time with the results you want.
- Areas of the body: While some treatment methods make certain body parts more sensitive, electrolysis works gently. You can even use it on your face.
- Diverse skin types: Some methods have limited success depending on your skin type and colour. Electrolysis is versatile enough to yield results for a more diverse range of skin types.
What might cause you to choose a different method? Electrolysis comes with a few cons. You might reconsider this method for the following reasons:
- Health concerns: If you have a pacemaker or heart condition, consider other treatment options. Electric stimulation can have dangerous consequences for such health issues.
- Cost: Clients who have a set budget might consider a more cost-effective option.
- Discomfort: The use of electrical currents can make you feel uncomfortable and even cause pain. While aestheticians only use a low, harmless current, it can still cause discomfort.
- Time: You may need hair removal treatments for over a year to get permanent results. Plus, early sessions often take more time.
- Downtime: If you have an in-person job, use caution when choosing electrolysis. It can cause short-lived redness, swelling, scabs, and scarring.
How does laser hair removal measure up to electrolysis? Many people are more familiar with it as a treatment option. It’s also widely available.
Some of the advantages that make lasers so popular include the following:
- Health and safety: Laser hair removal is compatible with most health conditions and doesn’t typically cause complications.
- Cost: Laser hair removal often costs less than electrolysis, making it more affordable and accessible to more people.
- Speed of results: You should notice a significant decrease in hair after your initial removal session.
- Versatility: Aestheticians can use lasers on most body parts without irritation concerns.
- Discomfort: Any side effects last three days or less, including mild discomfort and temporary inflammation.
Should you use caution when choosing laser hair removal? Remain wary of the following negative effects:
- Pregnancy: People who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should speak with their doctors before seeking laser treatment.
- Semi-permanence: Unlike electrolysis, laser hair removal doesn’t have permanent results. You’ll need to seek subsequent treatments to maintain results.
- Time: Laser treatments don’t require as much time as electrolysis, but they can take several months.
Choosing Laser vs. Electrolysis
When choosing laser vs. electrolysis, you should consider the following factors. First, check with a doctor to ensure your preferred treatment won’t interfere with your health and goals. Next, consider how each treatment will affect your daily routine.
Will electrolysis negatively impact you at work? Can you commit to semi-permanent results? You should go over these questions and any concerns with your aesthetician.
Finally, consider what your budget allows and what you can manage during aftercare. Some clients struggle to keep freshly treated skin clean and moisturized with healing ingredients, while others should consider sensitivity and discomfort during and after treatments.