Is there a permanent hair removal method? Can laser hair removal be considered permanent hair removal?
I’ll provide answers to these questions although things are a bit controversial when it comes the subject of permanent hair removal.
My opinion, after extensive research, is this:
- electrolysis is the only permanent hair removal method (once the treatment is complete, no hairs will ever grow back on the treated area)
- laser hair removal is a permanent hair reduction method (through successful treatments and maintenance sessions in the coming years, a considerable percentage of hairs won’t ever grow back)
When we’re saying permanent hair removal, we’re talking about hair undergoing some kind of treatment and then never growing back again in your lifetime.
It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?
It’s actually not a dream and it can become a reality but is it worth the cost and the effort?
At the end of this post, you’ll have a clear idea on those issues and much more.
Is There a Permanent Hair Removal Method?
Yes, there is.
The clue is already in my title.
There’s only one permanent hair removal method: electrolysis.
In this article by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration), electrolysis is mentioned as the only permanent hair removal method.
Many years ago, I had the impression that there was another one: laser hair removal.
It’s definitely the most popular and most talked about of the two.
While laser hair removal does offer amazing results, it would be improper to call it permanent and it has other drawbacks, as well.
I would call laser hair removal a slightly less permanent hair removal method.
If we were to make a hierarchy of hair removal methods, from the one with the fastest regrowth to the one where no hair grows back anymore, it would look like this:
- depilatory creams
- epilation, waxing, sugaring, and threading – threading only works for facial hair removal
- laser hair removal
- electrolysis – the only permanent hair removal method
I’m going to share with you all these findings about both laser and electrolysis.
I will include laser hair removal in this article, too, because the results are long-lasting even though they’re not entirely permanent and because people are always curious about it and there are plenty of misconceptions regarding this method.
What is the Best Permanent Hair Removal Method?
Since there’s only one permanent hair removal method, automatically we can assume it’s also the best.
Until something better comes along.
After all, laser hair removal has evolved a lot.
There are even at-home laser devices (IPL systems) that offer pretty satisfying results for some people. The trick with at-home IPL systems is that you don’t know if they’re going to work for you or not.
Electrolysis Pros and Cons
When it comes to electrolysis, each follicle is destroyed with electrical impulses.
A metal probe (looks like a very very tiny needle, metal probe sounds scary) is inserted until it reaches the follicle and then electricity is used to permanently destroy the follicle.
After, the hair is removed with tweezers.
According to the American Electrology Association, there are 3 ways to destroy hair growth cells: with chemical energy, heat energy, or both.
These are all things that your electrologist will establish with you.
It’s a very slow process, it can take years until you’re completely done, depending on the size of the area being treated.
Each sessions lasts between 15 minutes up to an hour.
Shaving 1 to 5 days prior to your session increases efficacy but it’s best to consult your electrologist on this matter.
- the biggest pro is definitely the fact that electrolysis is the only permanent hair removal method, the one method that can ensure that no unwanted hair is going to bother you again
- another benefit is that it works on all skin types and hair colors
- not that painful, some describe it as a discomfort or a warming sensation but, in general, it’s considered one of the least painful hair removal methods
- can be done on all areas of the body, including face and even the eyebrows
- it can take many sessions until the treatment is complete since each follicle needs to be targeted with electric current individually
- it can take between 9 and 18 months for a single area
- very expensive
- you need to find a good electrologist, that’s one of the most important and one of the most complicated aspects because they’re not available in many areas around the globe, laser is for sure more easily accessible
- side-effects include redness, swelling or tenderness but they can also be very serious, like infection from an unsterile needle or scarring if performed improperly
Laser Hair Removal Pros and Cons
How does laser hair removal work?
An intense beam of light is sent into the skin, attacking the hair follicle.
The follicle is not permanently destroyed, it’s just made inactive.
It reduces hair growth, the usual you can expect is 70% reduction in hair growth.
Some people even benefit from 90% hair growth reduction, let’s call these the lucky ones.
The hair growth reduction can last between 6 months up to 2 years.
For prolonged results, that quite manage to create the illusion of permanent hair removal, maintenance is needed once or twice a year.
Between sessions, until the treatment is declared complete, you can only shave (no waxing/epilation) because the follicle must be intact. A razor only cuts the hairs at the surface of the skin so it’s perfect.
Multiple hair follicles are treated with pulses of laser light so things move a lot faster than with electrolysis.
Fewer sessions are needed.
It can take about 30 minutes for each leg, under 10 minutes for smaller areas, like the underarms and the bikini area, and about a minute for the upper lip.
- hair regrowth can be slowed down for at least half a year up to a couple of years, it depends from patient to patient
- due to its popularity and increased high demand, laser specialists are pretty easy to find but you still need to make sure that it’s someone with a good reputation
- the whole treatment is not that lengthy, it usually only requires 4-6 sessions, spaced about a month apart
- nowadays, there are some pretty good at-home laser hair removal devices but they won’t offer high results for everyone, they’re a bit expensive, but some customers are satisfied with the results
- can be done on all areas of the body, including face except the area around the eyes
- very expensive
- the ideal candidate is a person with fair skin and dark hair although improvements are made concerning people with darker skin tones
- multiple sessions are needed until the treatment is complete
- quite painful, it depends from person to person, but a topical anesthetic can be used
- side-effects include blistering, swelling, redness, burns, changes in pigmentation (the treated area can become darker for 2 weeks or more), and scarring
- a tan also increases the risk of side-effects
- maintenance needed once a year or once every 6 months but the benefits are worth it because the hair growth reduction that you’ve achieved can be prolonged for as long as you squeeze those maintenance sessions into your schedule and budget
How Much Does Permanent Hair Removal Cost?
That’s a crucial question and this particular answer holds a lot of weight on whether all the info included in this post is of any help to you or not.
I can’t give you fixed prices because there are a lot of factors to consider.
I can say this with certainty: they’re expensive.
- the surprising thing for me was that electrolysis prices don’t follow the formula price per session but price per minutes
- for example, 15 minutes can cost on average $50, while 1 hour can be around $150 but in other areas the average price for 15 minutes can be $30 and $90 for an hour – it varies a lot
- it’s very hard to determine the final price for any area of the body because it depends from person to person how many sessions will be needed – it’s a lengthy process that can span years
- as you undergo more and more sessions, the time needed decreases
Laser Hair Removal Prices
- for the underarms it can be between $75-$150 for each session
- the bikini area is in the same range $75-$200 for each treatment
- removing back hair can be really expensive as it can cost between $250 and $500, depending on height and amount of hair
- the prices vary a lot and it depends on the size of the area that you want to treat, the area where you live, and how many sessions you’re going to end up needing (keep in mind that usually about 6 treatments are needed for a high percentage of hair growth reduction)
- you can easily end up spending thousands of dollars if you want to undergo laser hair removal on just your legs and bikini area
The prices can vary, these are only estimates but they paint a pretty clear picture.
I couldn’t afford it and maybe I’m also a bit scared about finding the right professional and having the confidence that everything will turn out perfect without any incidents.
I now what to expect from my epilator, I’ve been using one for more than a decade. I also know all about waxing and shaving and threading and depilatory creams.
It would be something completely out of my comfort zone, even when the comfort zone signifies removing the hairs from their follicles once every 2 weeks.
I’m not good with change so, I admire those who are always willing to try something different.
It’s still too expensive for me but I enjoy writing and researching these subjects, it’s important to have all the facts even if they won’t lead to anything for now. Maybe in the future.
I would prefer laser hair removal even though it only offers hair growth reduction and not permanent hair removal. But it’s so much faster and it’s much easier to find a good specialist for laser hair removal than it is for electrolysis.
All in all,
Laser hair removal sounds great even though it’s very expensive but if you’re looking for a permanent hair removal option, then electrolysis is the only answer.