What's the difference between electrolysis and laser hair removal, and how do you choose the best one for you?

Most people have heard of laser hair removal, but electrolysis tends to be less familiar. You might be aware that it is also a form of hair removal, but what is the difference between electrolysis and laser, and how do you choose the right one for you? The answers come from the how and the for how long.

How Does Laser Hair Removal work?

Laser hair removal uses a device that treats an area of the skin using a laser targeting the melanin - or dark pigment - in the hair follicle. Once the laser penetrates the skin, it turns into heat and that heat will then damage the follicle. Multiple treatments over the same area of hair and skin are required before the hair eventually falls out on its own due to the follicle damage.

How Does Electrolysis Hair Removal Work?

Electrolysis is done with a small needle the width of a single human hair, and is preformed one hair at a time using heat, electricity, or a combination of both. The heat and/or electricity targets the hair follicle specifically, and effectively kills it. The hair is then removed with tweezers (there may be a small tugging, but it shouldn't feel like a pluck). Once that single hair has been removed, it doesn't need to be re-treated, and it will not grow back.

How long does laser hair removal last?

According to the FDA, laser hair removal can only be described as permanent reduction of the hair as opposed to full permanent hair removal. Some clients notice some hair regrowth months or years after their final treatment. 

How long does electrolysis hair removal last?

Electrolysis on the other hand is truly 100% permanent removal of the hair. When the heat/electricity attack the follicle, the hair is truly dead and will not grow back. And since electrolysis treats each hair individually, it can reach that 100%.

How to choose between electrolysis and laser hair removal

What is your skin tone?

Because the lasers used in laser hair removal treatments target the melanin (or color) in the hair, it isn't always suitable for clients with darker skin tones. The laser can't tell the difference between the melanin in the hair and the melanin in the skin. So those with darker complexions could experience burning on their skin.

Darker skin tones --> Electrolysis
Lighter skin tones --> Laser or Electrolysis

What color is the hair you want to remove?

This again comes back to laser hair removal targeting melanin. Blonde, white, or grey hair does not have much - if any - melanin. This makes it difficult or impossible for lasers to find the hair and therefore remove it. 

Darker hair color --> Laser or Electrolysis
Lighter hair color --> Electrolysis

There have been advancements in the world of lasers, and there are some new machines that claim they can perform laser hair removal on all skin tones or on all hair colors, but make sure to do your research and ask for testimonials from people with similar characteristics as you. The laser hair removal treatment specialist will also do a test patch on your skin.

Where do you want the hair removal performed?

Laser hair removal treats multiple hairs at once and can cover larger areas in a short amount of time, but can be less precise. And since it uses lasers that our eyes are very sensitive to, it's not recommended for eyebrows. With electrolysis treating one single hair at a time, it can be used to treat small detail areas of the face, including the eyebrows. You of course could also use electrolysis to treat large areas of the body; you would just need to be prepared for a longer commitment.

Large areas (eg. legs, arms, back) --> Laser or Electrolysis
Detail areas, including eyebrows --> Electrolysis

What level of permanence are you looking for?

As stated above, laser offers permanent reduction of hair growth, with some clients experiencing grow back even after their final treatment. Electrolysis, however, gives truly permanent hair removal. Some clients are still satisfied with significant reduction of the hair and 100% removal isn't as important to them. Electrolysis can also be an option post laser hair removal to remove those hairs regrowing.

Permanent reduction --> Laser
Permanent removal --> Electrolysis


We hope laying out these questions help you to decide if laser hair removal or electrolysis hair removal is the best choice for you. And of course, you could always do a combination of the two. Electrolysis for your eyebrows and chin, while using laser for your legs. To receive a free consultation, call or email us, or submit an appointment request from our website.