So you’ve had it with razors, waxing, nicks, cuts, burns, and peeling. You want a permanent solution that will leave you with smooth skin that’s inviting to touch. If this sounds like you, then you may be a good candidate for laser hair removal or electrolysis. There is also another method, Shortwave Tweezer Epilation. Shortwave tweezer epilators would be an option for permanent hair removal if you dislike using needles, and/or if you have light colored or grey hair which won't work with laser treatment.
First things first: All of these methods have a degree of pain involved. For that reason most salons will apply a topical anesthetics cream and/or one of the chilling of the skin technologies during the treatment. If you are going to do the treatments yourself from home, you should use one of the topical anesthetics creams available before starting the treatment. Just follow the instructions on the label, as each brand may have different methods of use.
How Laser Permanent Hair Removal and Electrolysis Work
Both laser hair removal and electrolysis work by targeting the hair follicle itself. Laser hair removal uses one color or wavelength of light to target and heat melanin in the hair. Heat is then transferred to the hair’s follicle which destroys or damages the follicle sending it into a dormant (telogen) state. This in turn stops or slows new hair production.
A second type of laser permanent hair removal, known as Intense Pulse Light, or IPL, work slightly differently than traditional lasers in that they employ light across the entire waveband. The principle is the same, with the heat of the pulsed light being transmitted through the hair shaft down to the follicle, disrupting the follicle’s ability to produce new hairs.
Electrolysis uses a very fine needle to deliver an electrical current to each individual hair. The electrical current travels down the hair shaft and once again, destroys or disrupts the hair follicle, impeding new hair growth.
Choosing the Right Hair Removal Method for You
While the basic principle behind hair removal is the same for both types of lasers and electrolysis, they’re not interchangeable. The most effective method for you will depend on personal considerations such as where the hair is located, the size of the area to be treated, the cause of your unwanted hair, and your skin tone and hair color.
Traditional laser removal, for instance, works best on those with dark hair and fair skin because lasers target melanin—or pigment—in the hair. Melanin is also found in the skin, and those with darker skin tones have relatively more melanin in their skin, making selective targeting of melanin in the hair shaft alone more difficult. IPL lasers are more effective than traditional lasers on those with white or blonde hairs. Electrolysis, on the other hand, works well regardless of skin tone or hair color.
IPL laser treatments are often considered a better choice for, say, men looking to rid themselves of unwanted back hair because they can treat a larger area at a time than the more focused beam of the traditional laser, or electrolysis, which targets a single follicle at a time and can be very time consuming.
Another factor to consider is the root cause of your unwanted hair growth. In the case of women experiencing upper lip hair, for instance, if the hair growth is due to a hormonal imbalance, then neither laser removal nor electrolysis may be effective on a long-term basis unless the underlying problem is addressed.
Cost vs. Effectiveness
While both laser hair removal and electrolysis are very effective, either method will require multiple treatments. This is because every hair follicle goes through natural cycles of growth and dormancy, and both methods only work on active hair follicles. If there is no hair in a given follicle at the time of treatment, the follicle will not be affected.
Every person is different, and there are many hereditary factors that influence hair growth. In general, experts suggest that laser hair removal will take from three to five treatments, spaced four to eight weeks apart, with an average cost of about $350 per treatment, for a total of about $1500. After successful treatment, maintenance treatments may be required from time to time.
At an average $60 a session, electrolysis is often far less expensive per treatment, but the number of treatments needed varies by person and the size of the target area, and in general, more treatments will be needed than are required with laser hair removal.
Finally, whether you choose electrolysis, laser hair removal, or shortwave tweezer epilation, always keep safety in mind. Permanent hair removal can produce scarring if done incorrectly, so price should never be your primary consideration.
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