At-Home Laser Hair Removal versus Electrolysis
The Truth About At-Home Laser Hair Removal vs. Electrolysis
You have unwanted hair. And you want it gone. Not shaven. Not hidden. Not temporarily removed. Gone. Gone for good.
In that case, you have two options, everything else is simply temporary hair removal. Shaving. Tweezing. Waxing. Threading. Creams. Bleaching. All quick fixes, but you’re looking for permanent hair removal, the real deal.
So, what’s it going to be: laser hair removal or electrolysis?
Laser hair removal and electrolysis are the only methods available that can destroy a hair follicle and stop it from re-growing more hair in the future. They both help you reach the same goal, but each one reaches that end by wildly different means.
At-home laser hair removal
Laser hair removal first hit the market in the 1990s. The technology uses light energy to damage follicles and prevent future hair growth.
At-home laser hair removal refers to treatments you can do yourself in the privacy of your own home. The process is still called laser hair removal even though there’s no laser involved.
Although the light is less intense, a 2006 article in the journal Lasers in Medical Science found home personal hair removal devices to be almost as effective as spa laser treatments with fewer side effects than you might experience with diode lasers.
More recently, several journals have found at-home laser hair removal to be even more effective than spa laser hair removal treatments.
Electrolysis has been around a little longer than laser hair removal. Over a hundred years longer, in fact. It first gets mentioned in medical literature in 1875 when an ophthalmologist named Charles Michel successfully used galvanic electrolysis to remove an ingrown eyelash.
The process involves inserting a very thin needle into a hair shaft and then sending a jolt of electricity down into the hair follicle to destroy it.
Electrolysis is a treatment usually done by a professional due to the accuracy required in targeting hairs one at a time. There are some at-home options available, though they aren’t as successful as the do-it-yourself laser hair removal devices. More on this later.
The pros and cons of each method
Both of these hair removal techniques have pros and cons. Things that make you want to invest in that method immediately. And things that might give you cause to pause and reconsider. Let’s weigh out the benefits and drawbacks of each to help you get a better idea of what might work best for you.
The pros of at-home laser hair removal
Since we can only recommend professional-level electrolysis, at-home laser hair removal becomes the much more affordable option. Buying a hair removal device is typically a one-and-done expenditure. And depending on your choice, you’ll likely only spend the equivalent of what you’d pay for three to five electrolysis sessions. If you buy a home laser device that comes preloaded with several hundred thousand pulses, you’ll never need to spend another cent.
Whether you choose to do laser treatments at home or at a spa, you’ll likely require fewer treatments than you would with electrolysis. This is because laser treatments can target several hairs in a treatment area at once. If you’re treating a large area — such as your legs and arms — and your hair removal device has a glide mode, you can treat hundreds if not thousands of hairs in the time it would take electrolysis to target only a few strands.
There is some mild discomfort reported by users of laser hair removal devices. But you should note that most of this is reported by patients undergoing professional treatments. The lights used in home devices are much gentler. The discomfort some feel is like an elastic band snapping against the skin. Compared to electrolysis, it’s much more bearable. See below.
Every skin treatment has the possibility of side effects. Laser hair removal also has its risks, but again, these are mostly associated with professional-grade lasers. At-home devices, using gentler lights, have milder side effects. And none of them are permanent. Any irritation caused by an at-home laser hair removal treatment is only temporary, usually requiring no more attention than an Advil or two at most.
The pros of electrolysis hair removal
The big plus of electrolysis is that it can target pretty much any hair you can see. Laser devices, even the pro units, are limited by what each machine’s unique optics can see, which sometimes means certain devices can’t remove some hairs.
And because no lights are involved in electrolysis, it’s perfectly safe to use around the eyes. Remember that first treatment in the 19th century? Right on the eyelid. Something you should never attempt with a light-based device.
Another advantage of electrolysis hair removal is that there are fewer restrictions on where it can be used in general. Laser treatments are best done on relatively flat areas where the device’s treatment window can press right up against the skin. But given the pinpoint accuracy of electrolysis, you can pretty much target any hair, anywhere. Even in hard to get nooks and crannies like ears and noses. If you can tolerate that little zap of electricity up your nose, that is.
The cons of at-home laser hair removal
There are only a few drawbacks to using at-home laser hair removal devices, most of which we alluded to in the previous section.
The big one is that there’s no safe way to use a laser device near your eyes. Not even your eyebrows. We get it. Permanently shaping the brow is a big priority for some, but it’s not worth the risk. Don’t even consider it.
Light-based hair removal devices also fall short when it comes to treating uneven areas. Some devices even come with safety sensors that won’t permit the unit to flash if all sides of the treatment window aren’t in direct contact with your skin.
And some devices can’t remove all hairs for all people. This has to do with optical contrast sensitivity. Certain hair removal products have a hard time distinguishing hair from skin in certain situations, and therefore can’t target it very well. It’s a problem that even some professional units have. But it’s something the whole industry is working on. Newer hair removal devices are more likely to address this issue, making personal hair removal more effective for more people.
The cons of electrolysis
The biggest thing electrolysis has going against it is that it’s time consuming. Although it was brilliant for what it did way back over 140 years ago, we’ve developed significant workarounds to the problem of permanently removing unwanted hair since then. Workarounds that bypass that whole need to target rouge hairs strand-by-strand. Yes, for what it does, electrolysis is effective. But there’s only so much work you can have done in a single sitting. And it’s significantly less than you can achieve during a session with an at-home laser hair removal device.
To significantly reduce the hair on your body would require multiple sessions. For a woman looking to do arms, legs, armpits, and bikini line, this could mean going back up to 30 times. The price for the entire course of treatment could easily be a few thousand dollars, not something most of us can afford to even consider.
Also factor in that electrolysis involves a bit of pain. Each hair removed involves zapping a hair follicle with an electric current. The result is often described as a stinging sensation somewhat akin to plucking.
Electrolysis is not without its potential side effects. It could lead to redness, swelling, or ingrown hairs. But worst of all, it might lead to scarring.
Since there’s a risk of permanent skin damage — even when electrolysis is performed by a professional — at-home electrolysis treatments are not something we recommend. Although there are devices you can buy for at-home use — such as the Clean and Easy Deluxe, Verseo eGlide, Electrolysis Automatic Standard, and the Aavexx 600 — we strongly suggest that if you choose electrolysis for your hair removal needs that you put yourself in the trusted hands of an experienced professional.
The bottom line
You can achieve great results with either at-home laser hair removal or electrolysis. It’s a question, really, of what’s going to work best for your personal needs and preferences.
Both techniques have areas where they shine. Therefore, we recommend tailoring your unwanted hair management program to take advantage of their respective strengths.
If you have some delicate detail work to do in areas that are either hard to treat or around your eyes, such as eyebrows, then electrolysis is your best bet.
If you’re looking to do some extensive bodywork, there’s no doubt that you should try at-home laser hair removal.
And if you’re looking to do both, by all means, do both. For example, if you want brow shaping and smooth legs, go to a spa for electrolysis on the brow and do the legs yourself in the privacy of your own home.
At-home laser hair removal made easy with Silk’n
If you’re looking for the best in at-home laser hair removal, Silk’n has a full line of hair removal devices to choose from.
Our devices — which never require replacement cartridges — can help you address facial issues from upper lip to sideburns and almost all instances of unwanted body hair.
With free shipping within the USA, our exclusive double warranty, and our 60-day money-back guarantee, there’s never been a better time to investigate your at-home laser hair removal options.
Silk’n has a blog and resource center full of information to help you decide if our hair removal devices will work for you, and our customer service team is available toll free at 1-877-367-4556 if you have questions or concerns. Get started today!