Electrolysis may seem like a thing of the past, left behind with black & white TV’s, and brick-sized mobile phones. There are SO many permanent hair removal methods now available that offer quicker and more cost effective solutions. With Laser Hair Removal (LHR) and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) around, what use is electrolysis in today’s beauty world? Well actually, it can be very useful… This article will look at electrolysis vs laser and determine the pros, cons, and everything in between!
How Electrolysis Hair Removal Works
Electrolysis is not for the faint hearted. The process involves the therapist inserting a needle into each hair follicle in the area being treated (see image below). Once inserted, a low-level electrical current is triggered which will destroy the follicle. Basically, it works by running an electric current into each hair follicle – heating and destroying the follicle.
Using electrolysis, the therapist can only target one hair at a time. Can you imagine getting a single full leg treatment done? It would literally take hours to get both legs treated. Despite the time disadvantage, you’re also risking hair being missed each session. As you may know if you’ve been treated by me, I am a pedantic laser therapist. However I don’t think even I could guarantee treating a whole area with electrolysis without missing a single hair. Dare I say it’s impossible? My sincerest props to all of you electrolysis therapists out there!
Missing hair is obviously forgivable in this circumstance. However missing hair does unfortunately mean more sessions for you in the long run. It is understandable to note that not all the hair will be removed after one treatment. This isn’t possible even with laser hair removal – I’ll explain why later in this article.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
Now that we’ve grasped how hair removal with electrolysis works, how does laser hair removal work? Lasers used for Laser Hair Removal work by delivering an intense beam of light that is absorbed by the skin. This light is converted to heat and is absorbed by the cells being targeted. The surrounding skin and tissue of the target is unaffected. At CLC, we use CANDELA GentleLase which is the most trusted name in the industry. It includes a patented skin-cooling device which assures more comfort, safety, and better results for our clients.
The aim of LHR is for the laser energy to destroy the follicle to prevent future hair growth. The Alexandrite laser (which is what the Candela GentleLase uses) achieves this by being attracted to the pigment (i.e. colour) of the hair. Through the pigment of the hair itself, the laser is then able to deliver the laser energy down to the follicle in which the hair grows. For this reason, dark hair (particularly against light skin) is essential in order for LHR to work. The more contrast there is between the hair and skin, the better results we can achieve as we are able to use higher settings.
If you have naturally dark hair and skin you can still benefit from laser hair removal treatment. However you will require more laser treatments than usually required to achieve satisfactory results. Unfortunately this also means that any hair that is naturally blonde, red, grey, or white will not work with the alexandrite laser at all.
Unlike electrolysis, we use a gauge which covers an 18mm diameter area per laser shot (see photo below). This allows for a faster treatment time, whilst still effectively destroying the hair-growing follicles in a safe & less-painful way.
The Similarities of Both Electrolysis & LHR
Both Electrolysis and Laser Hair Removal are proven to be effective permanent hair removal methods. Whilst the procedures differ, they both have the same efficacy and treatment outcome. In order for the treatments to work, they must target the hairs at a specific time. As you may or may not know, our hair has a cycle that it constantly goes through. LHR & electrolysis need to target the hair when they have entered the Anagen phase of this cycle to be effective.
Is electrolysis permanent? Yes! Like your laser hair removal results, your hair removal by electrolysis is permanent too. Once you have completed either course of treatments, you should only need a maintenance session 1-2x a year.
The Hair Cycle
The hair cycle is a process that is constantly occurring on every part of the body that produces hair. Irregardless if you remove the hair or not. The phases of the hair cycle are;
- Anagen – growing phase
- Catagen – transitioning phase
- Telegen – resting phase
- Exogen – shedding phase
The anagen phase represents more than 75% of the hair at any particular time. The remaining 25% of hair is in either of the three remaining phases. Unfortunately it’s impossible to know what phase your hairs are in, which is why it is important to attend your appointments regularly. All follow up hair removal sessions are to target the remaining hairs as they enter the growth phase.
Combining Electrolysis & LHR
Whilst it is clear that LHR is a favourable hair removal option due to its affordability, convenience, and efficacy, it’s unfortunately not suitable for everyone. As discussed previously, individual treatments will vary according to your skin and hair colour. The lighter your skin and the darker your hair, the better the results we can achieve. This is because of the lack of pigment in the lighter/thinner hairs. These hair types include anyone with natural blonde, red, grey, white hair, as well as anyone with light brown hair paired with a tanned skin. In these cases, electrolysis is the perfect solution!
As electrolysis targets individual hair follicles, it does not matter what colour the hair (or skin) is. At this stage, if you’re looking for laser hair removal for blonde hair, red hair, white, hair, or grey hair, hair removal with electrolysis is the only permanent solution for you.
Mixture of Dark & Light Hair
If you have a mixture of both dark and light hair, we would highly recommend opting for both Laser Hair Removal AND electrolysis. This is more common than you would think! Many of our clients only realise they have some light coloured hairs once we’ve removed the dark hairs. The best plan of action in this case would be to complete your Laser Hair Removal sessions first to rid the bulk of the hair. With the remaining hairs, you can then have them electrolysised. By completing your LHR sessions first, you will save money in the long term. This is because the electrolysis sessions will not take as long and require less sessions.
If you are unsure of your suitability with Laser Hair Removal treatments, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation with one of our therapists. The consultation is 15mins in duration so that we can explain the treatment process, assess your hair and skin type, as well as answer any questions you may have prior to deciding if LHR is the best treatment option for you.