Electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal: Chin, Jaw, Beard, & Sideburns

Get expert advice from our estheticians about which method is the best for excess hair on the chin, jaw, beard, and sideburns.

Electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal: Chin, Jaw, Beard, & Sideburns

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Dealing with Unwanted Facial Hair

Based on the hundreds of hair removal clients I've had over the years, upper lip and chin hair is the #1 most distressing issue women come in for.

It can range from a few strays and patches to full beards that span your jaw and cheeks, up the sideburns, and down the neck.

Whether it's on your chin, jaw, beard, or sideburns, dealing with unwanted hair can be frustrating and embarrassing.

You might feel like you're constantly trying to hide it or cover it up, and it can affect your confidence and self-esteem.

Hair growth in this specific area can have several causes, but they are all challenging and complicated.

As professionals, we understand how difficult it can be to deal with.

It's a common problem that affects many people, and it can be especially frustrating when it seems like nothing you do can get rid of it for good.

Fortunately, there are solutions available that can help you get rid of unwanted facial hair and feel more confident.

In this article, you'll learn about effective hair removal options that are safe, reliable, and tailored to your unique needs.

Ask the Expert: Electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal for the Chin, Jaw, Beard & Sideburns: Which is better?

BY SAMANTHA WELCH, ESTHETICIAN

Unwanted female chin hair is usually a symptom of hormonal imbalance.

This can be caused by normal systemic changes like puberty, pregnancy, or menopause.

It can also be caused by hormone-influencing factors like medication, conditions like PCOS or Cushing's Syndrome, or even stress.

Whatever the cause, the solution remains the same:

  1. Permanent hair removal through electrolysis or high-intensity laser hair removal.
  2. Stopping any temporary hair removal that pulls the roots and stimulates hair growth like plucking, tweezing, threading, or waxing. Shaving is the only neutral method where it doesn't make it worse.
  3. For conditions like hirsutism, concurrent medical management may be needed. You can talk to your doctor about PCOS, adrenal gland issues, or other medications that could be contributing to your excessive hair growth.

When you're ready to commit to long-term hair removal, these are the factors you'll need to take into consideration:

  1. Hair Color: Both can work for dark, terminal hairs. Vellus hairs or “peach fuzz” can only be treated via electrolysis.
  2. Hair Thickness: Both can also work on thick, deep-seated beards. Laser hair removal will be much less effective on wispy, vellus hairs.
  3. Pain: Electrolysis is a much more painful process that involves probing a thin needle into every follicle and using a current to kill the hair. Laser hair removal is an easy and much more comfortable procedure.
  4. Time: Electrolysis is a labor-intensive and time-consuming procedure. It can take 1-5 hours per session, while laser hair removal or IPL takes 15 minutes.
  5. Cost: Electrolysis is charged by the hour, around $100-200 for the chin and beard. Laser hair removal for the chin averages $84, while beards and jaw are $154 per session.
  6. Frequency: Electrolysis can be done once every 4-6 weeks continuously until all your hairs are gone. This can take anywhere between 2-4 years total.

    A course of laser hair removal for the chin takes 8-10 sessions, with bi-annual upkeep. An at-home laser hair removal is convenient and cost-effective to deal with your maintenance.
  7. Efficacy: Electrolysis is the only FDA-approved form of permanent hair removal. Laser hair removal and IPL are laser hair reduction.

The most efficient way to deal with chin hair is to reduce them via professional laser hair removal first, then finish the remaining strays with electrolysis.

If you're going to do at-home laser hair removal, you should opt for the most powerful one on the market today: the Tria Beauty Laser Hair Removal Device 4X. Darker skin types can use the Silk'n Infinity.

The exception to this is those who have hirsutism. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, you are at risk for paradoxical hypertrichosis.

Otherwise, combining the two methods will save you pain, time, and money in the long run.

The Difference Between Electrolysis & Laser Hair Removal for the Chin, Jaw, Sideburns, & Cheeks

Image: The Process of Electrolysis
Image: The Process of Electrolysis

Electrolysis

Electrolysis is a well-established epilation procedure used to achieve long-lasting hair removal.

In fact, it is the only FDA-approved hair removal method allowed to market itself as “permanent hair removal.”

It is effective on all skin tones and hair types, regardless of hair thickness.

How it Works

Your electrologist will insert a tiny needle probe into each hair follicle.

Depending on her preferred technique, she may use heat energy (thermolysis), chemical energy (galvanic), or both.

  1. Thermolysis uses a high-frequency current to heat the water molecules in your follicle. This heat will destroy the roots and other parts of your hair that allow it to re-generate.
  2. Galvanic relies on a chemical reaction instead of heat. You'll be holding a positively charged electrode during your session while your electrologist uses a negatively-charged probe. When these two meet during insertion, the galvanic current causes lye production inside the hair, eventually killing it.
  3. Blend is the combination of both techniques. Once the galvanic current produces lye, thermolysis heats it up, creating faster results.

Blend is the best electrolysis method to use for strong, terminal hairs in the beard, chin, and jaw.

It is also gentler on your skin, so less irritation and swelling should be after your session.

What to Expect

This procedure is honestly one of the most invasive, labor-intensive, time-consuming, and painful hair removal methods you can do.

Your comfort, risk of side effects, and the efficacy of your treatment are heavily reliant on your electrologist's skill.

People do this as a last resort because, despite the arduous process, it is the most effective way to eliminate beard hair for good.

And nothing sells like the dream of a smooth and flawless face forever.

Video: 33 HOURS of Electrolysis facial hair removal | CLOSE UP beard progress | PCOS/Hirsutism

Electrolysis isn't done in one go but in several sessions over multiple hair cycles.

The goal for your first round is to clear all the hair in the active growth phase.

You can have a single 5-hour long visit, for example, or break it up into multiple one-hour sessions.

This depends on the density of your hair and your pain tolerance.

After your current hair cycle is cleared, you'll have to wait for 4-6 weeks until the previously dormant hair becomes active and is now in the active growth phase.

On and on it goes.

As you go through this, your hair will become fewer and thinner until it no longer grows back. This can take anywhere from 2 – 4 years.

Another significant drawback is you have to stop shaving 3-4 days before your treatment. Your electrologist needs to see which hairs are growing or active, so she knows which ones to treat.

This means walking around with stubble for days. Not ideal, but very necessary.

If this isn't for you, you can do both laser and electrolysis to expedite your permanent hair removal journey.

Start with laser to reduce the amount of terminal hairs electrolysis would have to deal with, then cap with a finishing course of electrolysis.


Image: The process of laser hair removal
Image: The process of laser hair removal

Laser Hair Removal

One of the most efficient long-term treatments for excessive hair is laser hair removal.

What was once an expensive procedure that was only available in a few clinics is now one of the most affordable and convenient options for hair removal.

How it Works

Laser hair removal uses light energy to target the melanin in the hair shaft. This causes enough thermal damage that the hair will be unable to regrow normally.

This process happens very quickly, with the chin and jaw area taking 15 minutes at most.

A cooling gel will be applied to make your sessions more comfortable.

Video: Laser Zaps Out Ingrown Hairs

A course of treatments for the chin can take anywhere between 8-10 sessions.

As you progress with your treatments, you'll find that the hair grows thinner, fewer, and grows very slowly.

You'll need to go back for maintenance once or twice a year to keep it tidy.

What to Expect

Laser hair removal is easy, quick, affordable, and convenient.

It is widely accessible in salons, aesthetic centers, and dermatology clinics nationwide.

There are also portable laser devices available to do your treatments at home.

After your session, there might be minor redness and irritation that feels like a slight sunburn.

A soothing ointment or a recovery cream will be applied to aid healing.

You'll also be advised to stay away from the sun for the next 24 hours.

One of the significant disadvantages of laser hair removal to electrolysis is that laser only causes hair reduction, not complete hair loss.

Some people get great results when the laser manages to delay hair growth for years.

However, some people want permanent hair removal, which electrolysis can ultimately only achieve.

The good news is that you don't have to suffer all the setbacks that go along with electrolysis.

You can do both and take advantage of what each method can offer you.

Start with the laser to reduce the amount of terminal hairs, then cap with a finishing course of electrolysis.

Just make sure to take note of the risks if you have been diagnosed with hirsutism.


Pros & Cons: Electrolysis & Laser Hair Removal on the Chin, Sideburns, Cheeks, & Jaw

Electrolysis

Best for: Small areas, Hormone-driven facial hair growth like hirsutism or hypertrichosis.

Pros:

  • Permanent results – Electrolysis is the only FDA-approved method of permanent hair removal. Once the hair follicle has been destroyed, it will not grow back.
  • Suitable for all hair and skin types – Unlike laser hair removal, electrolysis can be used on any hair color or skin tone.
  • Precise targeting – Electrolysis targets individual hair follicles, making it a good option for small, stubborn areas like the chin or upper lip.
  • Safe and low-risk – Electrolysis is a safe procedure with few risks or side effects.
  • Cost-effective over the long term – While the upfront cost of electrolysis may be higher than other hair removal methods, it can be more cost-effective over time since it is a permanent solution.

Cons:

  • Highly technical – Your comfort and risk rely heavily on the skill and experience of your electrologist.
  • Time-consuming – Electrolysis requires multiple sessions, with each session duration depending on the size of the area being treated. The numbing cream is a 30-minute wait; the actual procedure can last anywhere from an hour to 5 hours.
  • Labor-intensive. Treatment is treated one strand at a time.
  • Painful – The process of inserting a fine needle into each hair follicle and applying an electrical current can be uncomfortable and may cause pain or discomfort, especially in sensitive areas. The pain can also build the longer your session.
  • Longer recovery period – It can take 3-5 days before your skin can recover from the procedure.
  • Scarring – In rare cases, electrolysis may cause scarring or skin discoloration. This depends on the procedure and how well your skin recovers.
  • Hair regrowth between sessions – Electrolysis does not immediately stop hair growth, so you may need to wait several days or weeks before seeing a noticeable reduction in hair growth.
  • Upfront cost – Electrolysis can be more expensive than other hair removal methods, especially treating a large or multiple areas.

It's important to consider these pros and cons when deciding if electrolysis is the right hair removal method for you.

It's also good to consult a professional dermatologist or hair removal technician to discuss your options and create a personalized treatment plan that meets your unique needs and preferences.


Laser Hair Removal

Best for: Dark hair, Flexibility, Convenience & Affordability in long-term hair removal

Pros:

  • Quick and efficient – Laser hair removal can treat large areas quickly and efficiently. Each session lasts anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on the area being treated. Treating the chin and jaw takes around 15-20 minutes at most.
  • Little to no recovery time needed – A few minutes of aftercare and post-procedure precautions.
  • Low pain or discomfort – Laser hair removal can cause mild discomfort or a tingling sensation, but it is generally less painful than electrolysis, especially in larger areas.
  • Minimal side-effects – And mostly temporary, like a little redness and tenderness on the area that fades after a few hours.
  • Long-lasting results – Laser hair removal offers long-lasting results, with many patients seeing a significant reduction in hair growth after just a few sessions. Any regrowth also involves finer and fewer hairs.
  • Cost-effective over the long term – While the upfront cost of laser hair removal may be higher than other hair removal methods, it can be more cost-effective over time since it reduces the need for ongoing hair removal treatments.

Cons:

  • Not permanent – While laser hair removal can significantly reduce hair growth, it is not a permanent solution and may require ongoing maintenance treatments.
  • May not work on all hair types – Laser hair removal is most effective on dark, coarse hair, and may not be as effective on lighter or finer hair. It cannot work on light blond, red, white, and grey hairs.
  • Treatment of dark skin needs special equipment – nd:YAG and long-pulsed diode are the only types of laser that can work on dark skin tones, and these may not be available in all clinics. For at-home devices, the Silk'n Infinity is the most effective device we've tested that can successfully treat all skin tones.
  • Skin sensitivity – Laser hair removal can cause skin irritation, redness, or swelling, especially in patients with sensitive skin.
  • Multiple sessions required – Laser hair removal requires multiple sessions, usually spaced several weeks apart, which can be time-consuming and require a long-term commitment.
  • Upfront cost – Laser hair removal can be more expensive than other hair removal methods, especially treating a large or multiple areas.

When deciding on the best hair removal method for you, weighing the pros and cons of options such as laser hair removal or at-home hair removal devices is essential.

Consider your lifestyle, budget, and skin type to determine which approach would be most effective and practical for you.


Compatibility: Are you a good candidate for electrolysis or laser hair removal?

The best hair removal method will depend on your hair color, skin type, and other factors.

Skin & Hair Color Chart: At-Home Laser Hair Removal
Skin & Hair Color Chart: At-Home Laser Hair Removal

Hair Color

Laser hair removal needs a lot of melanin, so the ideal candidates are those with dark hair. It will not work on white, gray, red, and light blond hair.

Electrolysis works on all skin types and hair colors, including blonde, gray, and red, as it targets the hair follicle itself rather than the melanin. However, electrolysis can be more time-consuming and may require more treatments to achieve the desired level of hair reduction.

For individuals with very light or white hair, electrolysis may be the only option for permanent hair removal, as laser hair removal is not effective on these hair colors.

Hair Thickness

Laser hair removal works better on terminal hair than on vellus hair, as thin strands absorb less heat. This means it's generally more effective for individuals with thicker hair, as the laser can target more hair follicles and significantly reduce hair growth.

Laser hair removal can treat larger areas more quickly, making it a more efficient option for individuals with a lot of hair to be treated.

Electrolysis can work on all ranges of hair thickness, including very fine hair, as it targets the hair follicle directly. However, this can be a more time-consuming process, as each hair must be treated individually, making it less practical for larger treatment areas or for individuals with a lot of hair to be treated.

Skin Tone

Electrolysis works on all skin tones.

Laser hair removal is generally most effective for individuals with fair to olive skin tones, as the laser targets the melanin in the hair follicle. Individuals with darker skin tones may experience more side effects from laser hair removal, such as burns, discoloration, or scarring, as the laser may also target the melanin in the surrounding skin.

Laser hair removal can still work for darker skin tones but under certain conditions.

Image: EU Skin tone and hair color guide for Silk’n Infinity, with their corresponding energy level allotment. Most home devices can only treat light to medium skin complexions. Silk’n Infinity is one of only two (2) home devices we’ve tested that cover all skin shades.
Image: EU Skin tone and hair color guide for Silk’n Infinity, with their corresponding energy level allotment. Most home devices can only treat light to medium skin complexions. Silk’n Infinity is one of only two (2) home devices we’ve tested that cover all skin shades.

Professional lasers nd:YAG and long-pulsed diode are more effective for individuals with darker skin tones Fitzpatrick V-VI, as they use longer wavelengths to bypass the melanin in the skin and focus on the hair follicle.

The only at home-laser hair removal we've tested that's safe for dark skin is the Silk'n Infinity.


Efficacy: How effective is electrolysis & laser hair removal on the chin, jaw, sideburns, & cheeks?

Electrolysis is considered to be a more permanent hair removal solution, as it targets the hair follicle directly and can destroy it completely. This means that after several treatments, the hair in the treated area will be permanently removed and not grow back.

For total hair removal, electrolysis is ultimately more effective.

Laser hair removal is considered to be a semi-permanent hair reduction solution. It can delay growth for years and reduce thick hair down to very fine strands, but there will be regrowth. Some hair may grow back over time, but it will generally be lighter, finer, and less noticeable. You will also need to do maintenance on average every few months to once or twice a year.

The number of treatments needed for both electrolysis and laser hair removal can vary depending on the individual's hair type, thickness, and growth patterns. Generally, electrolysis requires more treatments than laser hair removal to achieve the desired level of hair removal.

Both electrolysis and laser hair removal may require touch-up treatments over time to maintain the desired level of hair reduction or removal.


Pain & Discomfort: How painful is electrolysis compared to laser hair removal on the chin, jaw, sideburns, & cheeks?

Electrolysis can be more painful and uncomfortable than laser hair removal, as it involves inserting a fine needle into each hair follicle and applying an electric current to destroy the hair. This can cause a stinging or pricking sensation and may be more uncomfortable in sensitive areas.

Pain sensitivity can vary greatly between people, but continuous probing with an electric current will be painful over long periods.

Numbing creams can help with discomfort, and pain relievers like Advil.

Blend electrolysis is gentler than thermolysis, so take it if you have that option.

Laser hair removal can also cause discomfort during treatment, but it is generally less painful than electrolysis. The laser emits a burst of heat and light that can feel like a rubber band snapping against the skin. 

Laser can also cause discomfort at home if your energy setting is high enough. The skin on your jaw is thick, so it should be manageable.

However, most individuals tolerate the sensation well, and many newer laser technologies have built-in cooling systems that can help minimize discomfort.

Cooling agents are also applied to ease the heat, and it shouldn't be more painful than other epilation methods like waxing.

Both electrolysis and laser hair removal may cause some redness, swelling, or sensitivity in the treated area. Still, these side effects are generally mild and should subside within a few hours to a few days.

Topical numbing creams or other pain relief options may be available to help minimize discomfort during both electrolysis and laser hair removal treatments.

Overall, while electrolysis and laser hair removal can cause some discomfort during treatment, laser hair removal is generally considered less painful and more tolerable than electrolysis. 

However, the degree of discomfort can vary depending on the individual's pain threshold and the area being treated. 

Discussing any concerns or preferences with a professional dermatologist or hair removal technician can help determine the best hair removal method for your unique needs and comfort level.


Cost & Price Comparison: How much will electrolysis & laser hair removal for chin, jaw, sideburns, & cheeks cost?

Electrolysis can be a more expensive hair removal method compared to laser hair removal. This is because electrolysis typically requires more treatments, and each treatment session can take longer than a laser hair removal session.

The cost of electrolysis can vary depending on factors such as the size of the treatment area, the amount of hair to be removed, and the practitioner's experience and location. On average, electrolysis can cost anywhere from $30 to $200 per session, with a full course of treatment ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Electrolysis on the chin and jaw ranges $100-200, and is charged by the hour.

Laser hair removal is generally less expensive than electrolysis, particularly for larger treatment areas like the legs or back. However, the total cost of laser hair removal can also vary depending on factors such as the number of treatments needed and the type of laser used.

On average, laser hair removal can cost anywhere from $50 to $500 per session, with a full course of treatment typically ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Laser hair removal for the chin averages $84, while beards and jaw are $154 per session.

Keep in mind that the cost of hair removal can also depend on factors such as the practitioner's qualifications, the location and quality of the facility, and any additional services or products that may be included.

Depending on the build and overall quality, at-home laser hair removal can range from $100 – $500. This is much more cost-effective as a device can last you for years and countless sessions.

Overall, the cost of hair removal can vary depending on several factors, and it's important to consider both the short-term and long-term costs of each method. 

While electrolysis may be more expensive initially, it may be a more cost-effective solution in the long run if permanent hair removal is the primary goal. Laser hair removal may be a more affordable option for individuals who are seeking semi-permanent hair reduction.


Time & Frequency: How long does it take to remove hair with electrolysis? How many sessions of laser hair removal are needed?

Time

Electrolysis typically requires more time per session compared to laser hair removal. This is because electrolysis involves treating each individual hair follicle, which can be time-consuming.

The duration of each electrolysis session can vary depending on the size of the treatment area. 

The total time required for electrolysis treatments can also depend on several factors, such as the size of the treatment area, the amount of hair to be removed, and the individual's hair growth patterns. 

Electrolysis can take an hour to 5 hours, depending on how much you want to tackle your chin hair or beard in one sitting.

A full course of electrolysis treatment can take several months to a year or more, and may require weekly or bi-weekly sessions.

On the other hand, laser hair removal typically requires less time per session than electrolysis. The duration of each laser hair removal session can vary depending on the size of the treatment area but typically lasts between 15 to 60 minutes per session.

The total time required for laser hair removal treatments can also vary depending on several factors, such as the size of the treatment area, the individual's hair growth patterns, and the type of laser used. 

Laser hair removal takes 15 minutes per session for the entire jaw.

Most individuals require between 6 and 8 laser hair removal sessions to achieve optimal results, with sessions spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart.

Overall, electrolysis may require more time per session and a longer total treatment time than laser hair removal. 

However, the time required for each treatment can depend on several factors, and it's important to consult a professional dermatologist or hair removal technician to determine the best treatment plan for your unique needs and hair growth patterns.

Frequency

Electrolysis treatments are typically performed every 2-4 weeks depending on the size of the treatment area and the amount of hair to be removed. This is because electrolysis involves treating each individual hair follicle, which can be time-consuming and require multiple sessions to achieve desired results.

The frequency of electrolysis treatments may also depend on the individual's hair growth patterns and the location of the treatment area. For example, facial hair may require more frequent treatments compared to body hair.

A full course of electrolysis treatment can take several months to a year or more, depending on the individual's hair growth patterns and the size of the treatment area.

Laser hair removal typically requires fewer treatments compared to electrolysis, with most individuals requiring between 6 and 8 sessions to achieve optimal results.

Laser hair removal treatments are typically spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart to allow the hair to cycle through its growth stages.

The frequency of laser hair removal treatments may also depend on the individual's hair growth patterns and the type of laser used. For example, individuals with coarse, dark hair may require fewer treatments compared to those with fine, light hair.

We're looking at 18-24 months of regular visits for both electrolysis and laser hair removal. The frequency is between 4-8 weeks, determined by your severity.

At-home laser hair removal is a more convenient option for those with busy schedules, as it allows individuals to perform the treatment at their own pace and on their own time. At-home devices typically require less time per session than in-office treatments, meaning individuals can perform the treatment quickly and easily without having to carve out a large chunk of time from their day.

Additionally, the frequency of at-home laser hair removal treatments can be more flexible, as individuals can perform treatments on a schedule that suits their needs. This can be especially helpful for those with irregular schedules or who cannot make regular appointments at a dermatologist or hair removal clinic.


Contraindications or Safety Considerations: Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal for the chin, jaw, sideburns, & cheeks

Both electrolysis and laser hair removal have potential contraindications that individuals should be aware of before beginning treatment. 

Here are some of the differences between the two methods:

Electrolysis:

  • Pregnancy – Pregnant individuals are generally advised to avoid electrolysis due to the potential risks to the developing fetus.
  • Heart conditions – Individuals with pacemakers or other heart conditions may not be candidates for electrolysis, as the electrical current used in the treatment could interfere with these devices.
  • Skin conditions – Individuals with certain skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, may not be able to tolerate electrolysis due to the potential for skin irritation or damage.
  • History of keloid scarring – Individuals with a history of keloid scarring may be at higher risk of developing scars or hyperpigmentation following electrolysis.
  • Sunburn – Treatment should be postponed until the sunburn has fully healed to prevent further skin irritation.
  • Diabetes – Individuals with diabetes may have impaired healing and may be more prone to infection following electrolysis.

While electrolysis can actually relieve ingrowns and folliculitis, acne vulgaris has a high presence of bacteria and can be painful.

Laser Hair Removal:

  • Certain medications – Some medications, such as antibiotics and acne medications, can increase the skin's sensitivity to light and may make it more prone to adverse effects from laser hair removal.
  • Moles or tattoos – Laser hair removal should not be performed on areas with moles or tattoos, as the laser can damage or discolor these areas.
  • Hormonal imbalances – Individuals with hormonal imbalances, such as those caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), may require additional treatments or have a lower success rate with laser hair removal.
  • Pregnancy – Pregnant individuals are generally advised to avoid laser hair removal due to the potential risks to the developing fetus.
  • Acne vulgaris – Treatment should be postponed until the acne has fully healed to prevent further skin irritation or scarring.

As with any medical treatment, it's important to discuss potential contraindications with a professional dermatologist or hair removal technician to determine if electrolysis or laser hair removal is a safe and appropriate option for your individual needs and health history.


Risks & Side Effects: Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal for the chin, jaw, sideburns, & cheeks

Electrolysis:

The primary side effects of electrolysis are pain and discomfort for long periods, swelling, and pinprick scabbing afterwards.

  • Pain and discomfort – Electrolysis can be a painful and uncomfortable process, as a small needle is inserted into each hair follicle to deliver the electrical current. The procedure can cause permanent scarring and discoloration if the energy is too high.
  • Skin irritation – Some individuals may experience redness, swelling, or skin irritation following electrolysis.
  • Infection – Improper sterilization techniques or unsterile equipment can increase the risk of infection following electrolysis.
  • Scarring – In rare cases, electrolysis can cause scarring or hyperpigmentation.
  • Hair regrowth – Electrolysis may not permanently remove all hair, and regrowth can occur over time.

Laser Hair Removal:

The most common immediate side effects of laser hair removal are redness, swelling, and irritation. 

  • Pain and discomfort – Laser hair removal can also be uncomfortable, with some individuals describing the sensation as a rubber band snapping against the skin. 
  • Skin irritation – Redness, swelling, and skin irritation can occur following laser hair removal. This should feel like a minor sunburn.
  • Changes in skin color – Laser hair removal can cause changes in skin pigmentation, particularly in individuals with darker skin tones.
  • Burns – The laser used in hair removal can cause burns or blistering if not used properly. There could be more severe side effects if the energy used is mismatched with skin tone. This includes inflammation, burns, blistering, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, and scarring. A licensed laser technician would know how to use the right setting to avoid such incidents.
  • Hair regrowth – Like electrolysis, laser hair removal may not permanently remove all hair, and regrowth can occur over time. A dreaded side-effect of laser hair removal for those with hormonal irregularities is a phenomenon known as paradoxical hypertrichosis. This is where the laser triggers vellus hairs on the cheeks and chin to turn into terminal hairs.

    Whatever you do: DO NOT PLUCK, TWEEZE, THREAD, OR WAX. It has been scientifically proven that this type of mechanical stimulation can trigger regeneration in your hair growth cells up to 5x in the surrounding area. This means that when hairs are plucked in a certain pattern, your follicles can signal the surrounding area, leading to even more hairs growing back.

    We want the complete opposite: to destroy your hair roots, including any hair growth cells that could trigger this biological regeneration response. Paradoxical hypertrichosis has been reported to happen more frequently in women of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and South Asian or Indian descent. This manifests mainly on the upper lip, jaw, chin, sideburns, and chest.

    In this case, it would be best to skip other methods of hair removal and go straight to electrolysis if you fit this category.

As with any medical treatment, there are potential risks and side effects associated with both electrolysis and laser hair removal. 

Discussing these risks with a professional dermatologist or hair removal technician and carefully considering your individual needs and preferences before deciding on a hair removal method is important.


Operators and Home Use: Who can do electrolysis and laser hair removal?

Laser hair removal can be performed by licensed laser technicians, and dermatologists.

Electrolysis:

  1. Operator expertise – A trained professional, such as a licensed electrologist or dermatologist, must perform electrolysis. Licenses vary from state to state.
  2. Home useElectrolysis devices for home use are available, but they may not be as effective as professional treatments and can be difficult to use.

Laser Hair Removal:

  1. Operator expertise – A trained professional, such as a licensed laser technician, esthetician, or dermatologist, must perform professional laser hair removal.
  2. Home use – Several FDA-approved at-home laser hair removal devices are now available on the market. While these devices may not be as powerful as professional treatments, they can be convenient for home use and are generally less expensive than professional treatments.

In summary, electrolysis and laser hair removal both require a trained professional to perform the treatment. 

While electrolysis can be done at home with a personal device, it may not be as effective as professional treatments. 

Laser hair removal is generally faster than electrolysis, but it can be more expensive and must be done by a trained professional. However, there are now several FDA-approved at-home laser hair removal devices that offer a convenient and cost-effective alternative for individuals looking to remove hair at home.


References:

  1. Organ-Level Quorum Sensing Directs Regeneration in Hair Stem Cell Populations. Chen, Chih-Chiang et al.Cell, Volume 161, Issue 2, 277 – 290
  2. Kang CN, Shah M, Lynde C, Fleming P. Hair Removal Practices: A Literature Review. Skin Therapy Lett. 2021 Sep;26(5):6-11. PMID: 34524781.
  3. Matheson E, Bain J. Hirsutism in Women. Am Fam Physician. 2019 Aug 1;100(3):168-175. PMID: 31361105.
  4. Lizneva D, Gavrilova-Jordan L, Walker W, Azziz R. Androgen excess: Investigations and management. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2016 Nov;37:98-118. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2016.05.003. Epub 2016 May 19. PMID: 27387253.

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Michelle Evans
Michelle Evans is an esthetician specializing in skincare and hair removal. Her battle with acne throughout her 20's has fueled a lifelong passion for health & beauty. “Knowledge is a gift and you have the opportunity to educate and empower with it.” Michelle believes that everyone should be able to look and feel their best.