Removing unwanted hair can be time consuming and inconvenient. We have all seen advertisements that promise to be permanent hair removal options. It would be a dream come true for myself and many other women to eliminate removing hair from our daily beauty routine and never think about it again. Today I am going to discuss what options exist and how permanent they really are.
What is the difference between permanent hair reduction and permanent hair removal?
This is how the FDA defines these 2 terms:
Permanent hair reduction: hair removal that may be permanent for certain individuals and hair types. Hair growth may still be possible.
Permanent hair removal: treated hair will not grow back if the procedure is performed correctly.
There are basically 2 hair removal methods that are frequently advertised or thought of as being permanent .
- Laser hair removal
What is electrolysis and is it permanent?
Electrolysis is the only method approved by the FDA for permanent hair removal. It works by inserting a thin needle into each individual hair follicle. An electrical current is then applied to destroy the hair growth cell. Multiple treatments will be needed as hair grows in cycles. A stinging sensation is felt when the current is applied. The hair is then pulled out.
The good news:
- It does not require a certain hair color or skin tone to be effective.
- Performed correctly, results are permanent.
- Hormonal issues will not cause the hair to grow back.
The bad news:
- It is not practical for large areas of hair since each hair is removed individually.
- Destruction of the hair follicle is dependent on the skill of the electrologist. Hair shafts can be bent from other hair removal methods such as tweezing or waxing. This makes it difficult to insert the probe correctly.
- It can be very time consuming and expensive.
- Scarring and discoloration of skin can occur if not performed correctly.
I had some electrolysis done when I was in high school. That has been so long ago I don’t remember how many treatments I had. The current was uncomfortable but not unbearable. My epilator hurts more than this did. It was my electrologist that told my mom she should make me an appointment with an endocrinologist. She recognized that I had a lot more hair than I should have. I had to stop my electrolysis sessions because my family could no longer afford it. I had way too much hair to ever effectively get rid of all of it with electrolysis.
What is laser hair removal and is it permanent?
The FDA has approved laser hair removal as an effective method of hair reduction but not as permanent. It works by exposing hair to high heat laser beams that destroy the hair follicle. It is described as the feeling of rubber bands snapping against the skin. Hair will fall out 1-2 weeks after treatment, Multiple treatments are needed and scheduled approx every 6 weeks.
The good news:
- Hair growth is reduced to the point that you will not have to shave for months. Hair will grow back lighter and finer.
- It can be performed on large areas of the body.
- The treatment area is numbed before the procedure so pain is minimal.
The bad news:
- Laser hair removal is most effective and recommended for people with dark hair and light colored skin. The contrast between the pigment of the hair follicle and the skin color is what allows the laser to pick out what to target. Dark skin with dark hair is more likely to get burned or leave scars on the skin.
- It is a long process. After the initial 6-8 treatments every 6 weeks, most people will need maintenance treatments 2-3 times per year.
- It is expensive. Average cost is $200-$400 per session .
- If you have undiagnosed or untreated hormone imbalance it may not work. I have never had this done, but other women in a pcos support group I belong to have. Some of them said it worked well for them. Others said it did not work and the hair grew back thicker and darker.
Home laser hair removal devices. Are they safe and effective?
There are now several home laser hair removal devices that have been approved by the FDA. It is difficult to get the FDA to approve things like this so I think it is pretty safe to say that are effective for reducing hair growth some individuals and safe to use.
The good news:
- The price. Home laser devices are not cheap but they are significantly less expensive than paying for multiple professional sessions. An FDA approved hair laser device will set you back approx. $300-$400. Professional laser sessions cost an average of $200-$400 per session. 6-8 treatments are usually recommended by the pros.
Convenience. Its always a plus to be able to do things at home whenever you feel like it. You also have to have the discipline to perform the required amount of sessions over a long time period to achieve results.
The bad news:
- Home hair removal devices are still most effective on individuals with light skin and dark hair.
They require more time to cover a smaller area than professional lasers. Home lasers operate with less intensity to insure safe use by untrained individuals.
There really is no good news about home electrolysis devices. They do exist but fall into the do not try this at home category. None of them are FDA approved. The high chances of scarring and discoloring your skin are not worth it. Don’t even think about doing this at home. Don’t do it!
There are hair removal methods that can greatly reduce body and facial hair growth. Both professional and home laser devices can achieve results if you have the correct skin tone and hair color for it to be effective. I personally think that laser hair removal is a great option worth trying if you meet the criteria and you can afford it.
Professional sessions are more likely to bring quicker and longer lasting results. Home treatments are less expensive, more convenient but more time consuming.
Electrolysis is effective for all skin tones and may achieve permanent results. It is only practical for small areas and is time consuming. Achieving results is dependent on the skill of the operator and is best left to the professionals.