Razors, epilators, and wax all have one thing in common: they are the tools of choice for several people who wish to remove their body hair. But do you know what else they have in common? No matter what, the hair grows back within a few days, leaving you with prickly stubble and a dire need to remove your hair again.
And that’s not all. Whether it’s shaving, waxing, or epilating, problems like strawberry skin, ingrown hair, or pain are always persistent. If you’re tired of all these issues, it’s time to try something a little more permanent yet doable at home. I’m talking about electrolysis hair removal.
Electrolysis hair removal is a process where a trained electrologist uses a wire to destroy the hair root located at the base of the hair follicle. By doing this, they render the follicle incapable of growing hair back. Electrolysis hair removal is the only permanent method of hair removal approved by the FDA.
Wondering what this procedure is all about? Is it painful? How can you do it at home? Find these and more of your questions about electrolysis answered below.
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Table Of Contents
- 1 Is Electrolysis Hair Removal Painful?
- 2 Best home electrolysis machine
- 3 Which is Better: Electrolysis or Laser Hair Removal?
- 4 Use of Chemicals
- 5 Suitability for Different Skin and Hair Types
- 6 Can Hair Grow Back After Electrolysis?
- 7 Can You Do Electrolysis at Home?
- 8 How Do You Know if Electrolysis is Working?
- 9 Electrolysis FAQs
- 10 Conclusion
Is Electrolysis Hair Removal Painful?
Electrolysis hair removal isn’t excruciating, but it does hurt more than laser hair removal. In electrolysis, the probe wire is inserted into the skin, and the hair is pulled from the root. Removing hair one by one like this can cause pain. Even so, your electrologist can give you a topical analgesic to prevent pain completely.
In modern electrolysis methods, the hair may fall out once the follicle is destroyed, which is less painful. You may still experience a little tingling and redness. But that too is temporary and should go away within a few hours to a few days.
Despite the slight pain or discomfort, electrolysis is arguably much better than painful temporary hair removal methods like epilating or waxing. Waxing can cause much more pain. Moreover, the wax can contain chemicals that can damage or darken your skin over time. While waxing, you also risk the wax being too hot and burning your skin.
Considering all these, electrolysis seems a favorable option over temporary hair loss methods.
Best home electrolysis machine
Which is Better: Electrolysis or Laser Hair Removal?
To understand whether electrolysis or laser hair removal is better for you, consider the following detailed comparison.
I’ve already explained the working of electrolysis hair removal above. So let’s talk about lasers now.
Laser hair removal involves using a high-heat laser to damage the hair follicles to make them grow hair slower. The hair absorbs the laser light, which destroys the follicle later in heat. It can quickly remove hair from smaller areas because it can target multiple follicles at once.
To be clear, while electrolysis prevents hair growth permanently, laser hair removal only slows it down. The hair grown after laser treatments is usually more delicate and lighter in color.
Use of Chemicals
Both electrolysis and laser hair removal does not require the use of any chemicals. But if you opt for a numbing cream to reduce the pain, you will be exposed to topical chemicals in both cases.
Before opting for an analgesic, consult your doctor to understand whether or not it’s suitable for you.
Suitability for Different Skin and Hair Types
Electrolysis works well for all types of skins and hair. Laser is best for lighter skin with dark and coarse hair. This is because the laser targets not just hair growth but also its thickness and color. People with lighter skin colors find the results of lasers more impressive.
Number of Sessions Needed
Laser hair removal treatments may require 4-8 sessions to show their effects fully. Even after these sessions, some people may need additional sessions, especially if they have thicker or denser hair. Since laser hair removal isn’t permanent, you will need annual or biannual sessions, depending on what your esthetician prescribes.
With electrolysis, while the number of initial sessions is much higher than laser hair removal, you don’t need any annual maintenance once you’ve achieved complete hair removal. Initially, you might need 20+ sessions to get the best results. Suppose you’re using electrolysis to eliminate bikini line hair or coarse hair on the leg. In that case, the number of initial sessions will increase.
You need multiple sessions, even with a method like electrolysis, because hair grows through multiple follicles and in cycles. Even if a follicle has been destroyed in one session, the other follicles around it will still produce the hair. So, beginning, you might see hair growth between two weekly sessions.
However, after a few weeks of repeated follow-ups, the hair should completely disappear and stop growing back.
Electrolysis has very few side effects. These include slight redness or tingling post-session, but it’s temporary. However, if the needle used for electrolysis isn’t appropriately sterilized, it can lead to inflammation or infections.
The laser comes with a bunch of side effects. One of the most common is the skin’s vulnerability to the sun. After laser treatment, you’re very prone to sun damage and tanning. So always wear a broad spectrum clean sunscreen after your laser hair removal sessions.
Other side effects of laser hair removal include: =
- increased pigmentation
- scarring of the skin
Depending on how much damage has occurred, these can be temporary or permanent. To be safe from these, it’s best to opt for treatment with a board-certified dermatologist.
Laser hair removal sessions may cost between $200 and $500, depending on your location and chosen dermatologist. Electrolysis sessions can be anywhere between $40-50/per session.
Keep in mind that since laser hair removal requires fewer sessions than electrolysis initially, the actual cost between the two might be very similar. However, the long-term maintenance associated with laser hair removal may make it more expensive.
Despite being the only FDA-approved permanent hair removal method, electrolysis isn’t a popular option in the US. Instead, laser hair removal remains in vogue across the country. It’s one of the most common hair removal procedures in the US.
Can Hair Grow Back After Electrolysis?
I did mention earlier that electrolysis is a permanent hair removal method. Does that mean hair can never grow back after a session?
No, it doesn’t. After the first few electrolysis sessions, you may experience hair regrowth. This is because some dormant follicles that produce the hair may not be destroyed in the first one or two sessions. If this growth occurs, you can simply revisit your dermatologist and schedule more sessions.
Regrowth after electrolysis sessions is more common in body areas that have coarser or denser hair.
You should also remember that not all bodies respond positively to electrolysis. For some people, even multiple sessions might not work. Such people will experience frequent regrowth even after the last session. If that’s the case, you should look for alternate hair removal methods.
Can You Do Electrolysis at Home?
These days, you’ll quickly find several electric tweezers all over amazon and your local cosmetic store. However, most of these at-home methods do not work. There are only a few simple home electrolysis machines that provide results. These usually contain a probe you can insert into a follicle to damage it.
If you’re looking for good-quality home electrolysis machines, check out my recommendations for the best home electrolysis machines of 2023.
Keep in mind that doing electrolysis hair removal at home is risky. You may end up with permanent scarring or burns in your epidermis. Moreover, it can be a tedious process requiring days because doing it untrained will make you speculate and slow down. So if you have the budget, go for a session with a trained dermatologist instead of DIYing this.
How Do You Know if Electrolysis is Working?
Whether or not electrolysis is working will be apparent in your results. If your hair doesn’t regrow after multiple sessions spread out over several months, you can rest assured that it’s working.
Even while the sessions take place, you will see some difference in the speed with which it grows back. And if you’re doing electrolysis hair removal for body areas with more delicate hair, you’ll start noticing the results within just a few weeks. Your hair should be permanently gone within six months to a year if you’ve been taking electrolysis hair removal sessions every week or every two weeks.
When the dermatologist or electrologist performs electrolysis hair removal on you, you should not feel any pain as they pierce the needle into your hair follicle. But when the follicle burns and hair slides out, you might experience a tingling or burning sensation.
1. Do I need to shave before electrolysis?
Absolutely not! Never shave, wax, or use any other hair removal method a few days before your scheduled electrolysis session. If the hair isn’t long enough to allow the dermatologist to use a tweezer to pull on it, you won’t have a fruitful session. If you need to shave, make sure you do it a minimum of 3 days before the electrolysis session day.
2. How often should you get electrolysis?
The number of times you need electrolysis largely depends on your hair’s thickness and how your follicles respond to the sessions. Less than 10-15 sessions may be enough for some people to achieve the desired results. For others, it can even take 30 sessions or more to have complete hair removal. Consult your dermatologist and observe your results to determine how often you need electrolysis.
3. Does electrolysis hair removal leave scars?
If done correctly, electrolysis hair removal should not leave scars on your body. There may be some redness or patchiness right after a session, but it should soon disappear. However, suppose the electrolysis has been done incorrectly. In that case, there may be permanent scars or burn marks all over the area from where the hair has been removed.
Electrolysis hair removal is an excellent choice for people looking to remove body hair permanently and do away with temporary methods like waxing and shaving. Since it’s permanent, it may even be better than laser hair removal and effectively cost lesser. Also, electrolysis is a safe procedure if performed by a trained professional.
So if you’ve had any qualms about getting an electrolysis hair removal, I hope I’ve helped you reach a decision. Have more questions about electrolysis hair removal or how it fares against other hair removal methods? Could you leave them in the comments below for me?