Hair is a completely normal part of our bodies, but for those who seek to be rid of it, you’re not short on options. Between shaving, waxing, sugaring, threading, electrolysis, and laser, we’re often stuck facing a sea of options to choose from. And to be honest, it can get real confusing, real fast.
Whether you’re a waxer, tweezer, or shaver looking for a more permanent solution or you’re a huge fan of laser hair removal or electrolysis, we’re breaking down the most popular methods to remove unwanted hair that are known to last longer than your usual shave. So if you ever find yourself asking, “What is the best permanent hair removal?” - keep reading!
Is Permanent Hair Removal Possible?
Sorry friends, but unfortunately, permanent hair removal - whether it be on the face or body - isn’t really possible. There is no single method of hair removal that will just completely zap unwanted hair permanently. Rather, the correct term is permanent hair reduction. The majority of hair growth is driven by hormones, so if your balance of hormones change within your body, this can stimulate your hair follicles resulting in new hair growth. That being said, methods like electrolysis, laser hair removal, and IPL are the next best solutions to achieving silky-smooth, ‘semi-permanent’ hair-free skin.
Types of Long-Term Hair Removal
Below you'll find everything you need to know about long-term hair removal methods: electrolysis, laser hair removal, and IPL.
Electrolysis. Electrolysis uses a thin metal probe and an electrical current to heat up individual hair follicles. This tends to be a time-consuming procedure as each follicle is treated individually, but what makes electrolysis so popular is that it is suitable for all hair colors - unlike laser hair removal. This popular method of hair removal can get rid of hair for long periods of time or even a lifetime. However, it's important to keep in mind that everyone is different and electrolysis doesn’t give everyone these permanent results.
In terms of “ouch-factor”, electrolysis is known for being the most painful method of hair removal. In addition, it takes roughly 15 - 30 sessions spaced one month apart for the best results. Electrolysis may provide great results, but it definitely will take some time.
Laser hair removal. Unlike electrolysis, laser hair removal treatment uses specific wavelengths of light to target the pigment (melanin) in dark hair follicles in the desired area. It does not target individual hair follicles as electrolysis does, and it uses light energy instead of electrical currents. While laser hair removal treatment is a safe option for most people, those with light skin and blonde hair might not see the greatest results. Back in the day, this treatment was not ideal for those with dark skin tones either, but with the advancements in laser technology, darker skin tones or people of color can now have effective laser hair removal or reduction too.
Like electrolysis, laser hair removal does require several sessions to achieve hair-free skin, but not as many. Again, everyone is different, but most people can get away with 6 - 8 sessions. As far as pain, laser hair removal is said to be less painful than waxing and feels similar to getting snapped by a warm rubber band.
IPL, also known as intense pulsed light, uses a high-powered controlled handpiece to deliver an intense, visible, broad-spectrum pulse of light. This light is specially controlled to remove shorter wavelengths and devised to target specific structures. In hair removal, IPL is designed to target the melanin pigment in the hairs, while in other uses like the treatment of spider veins, target the hemoglobin in the blood. When it comes to unwanted hair, the light energy is absorbed, transferring as heat energy, which warms the hair, causing damage to the follicle preventing future hair growth to occur. Unlike the other two methods of hair removal - electrolysis and laser - IPL is not as concentrated and can be used to treat several conditions without damaging the skin.
IPL can improve the appearance of:
- Acne scars
- Dark spots
- Enlarged pores
- Fine lines
- Unwanted hair
When using electrolysis or light-based systems such as IPL or laser, it’s important to keep in mind that these methods only affect hair when in the anagen phase of hair growth (the active growth cycle). This is why it's necessary to have a series of treatments done in order to permanently reduce the growth of hair. Different areas of the body have a different percentage of anagen hair. For instance, the percentage is much higher in the bikini area or underarms while it is much lower on the legs. This means that the time between electrolysis treatments are shorter for the bikini area and underarms while it is longer on the legs.
What About At-Home Hair Removal Options?
There are a ton of gadgets, machines, and treatments that all promise to permanently remove unwanted hair. However, the results can differ from treatments done by a professional vs. treatments done at-home. The most popular at-home devices are IPL, which are considered safe and effective, but not all devices are created equal. When looking for an at-home IPL device to effectively get rid of hair, look for an honest and reputable company like Glowyskin.Care that backs their product with a warranty. Here are a few other things to consider:
The number of flashes. This is the number of times that the device can emit a flash. Most have a minimum of 100,000. Once the bulb runs out of flashes, a replacement bulb will be needed. However, you can’t get replacement bulbs for all devices, meaning you would have to purchase a new IPL device altogether.
The number of treatment heads. If you plan to use the IPL device on smaller areas like your upper lip or chin, a head that comes with a smaller treatment window is more efficient.
The level of intensities. This impacts how often you’ll need to use the device and whether you can adapt the level of intensity to suit more sensitive areas like your bikini line.
Speed. The shorter the time is between each flash, the quicker the treatment process will be.
Automatic skin tone sensor. Some at-home IPL devices detect the optimum intensity and safe settings for your skin tone. If you want to purchase a device that does not have this, just be sure to check that it will work effectively on your specific skin tone before adding it to your shopping cart.
So, what is the best permanent hair removal method, you might ask? The answer is: it depends.
Electrolysis, laser, and IPL all come with different pros and cons. While electrolysis may offer great results, it can be quite painful and takes many sessions which can take close to two years to achieve hair-free skin.
Laser hair removal treatment is a great choice, as it is not as painful and doesn’t take as long to see results, but it is not as effective on certain hair colors or skin tones.
IPL on the other hand, may not deliver hair-free results as fast as electrolysis or laser, but it does offer the reduction of hair growth over time and is used to treat many other skin issues like acne and sunspots.
In addition, IPL devices like The Glowyskin.Care IPL Hair Removal Handset are now available for use in the comfort of your very own home, making it easier than ever to achieve flawless skin, so what are you waiting for?