IPL, Laser or Electrolysis? What is the Best Hair Removal Method?

Smooth and hairless skin

Being a girl can either be enjoyable or annoying, or sometimes, both. I enjoy wearing dresses, short shorts, frilly skirts, bikinis, tank tops and spaghetti strapped tops, but it could be annoying because I often worry about stray or unwanted hair in some parts of my body. It can also be tedious. I always bring depilatory creams and emergency shaving kits whenever I go out of town.

Go ahead and ask. Why would  girls want to go hairless?

Maybe in some cultures, hair in the armpits and legs  may have a different appeal or you may say that the “being hairless is cool” is just a conspiracy of beauty practitioners and  beauty products manufacturers. Terribly so, but I’d still prefer to go bare.  Yes,  and this is despite the mishaps I’ve gone through over the years.

I have been in constant battle with the hair all over my body that I’ve lost count which battles I’ve won and lost.

Depilatory creams? Lost that. I  had the cream shorter than the time specified on the label and the thicker hair weren’t removed. I still needed to shave them. I used the cream exactly at the specified time and I’m still left with the shorter ones. I applied the cream more than the specified time,  and I had all the hair removed but my skin got irritated and I ended up with a darkened patch on one side of my leg. Not to mention the pungent smell I had to endure while using the cream.

Shaving? Don’t get me started. Where do you think I got those scars in my calves?

It’s time I resort to a long-term remedy. And hopefully,not as messy. It’s time I let Science take over.

Currently, there are three medical procedures designed to permanently remove or reduce hair growth. They’re generally safe and if done by licensed and experienced practitioners, the results can be very satisfactory.

Intense Pulse Light (IPL)  and laser hair removaluse energy in the form of light to destroy the hair follicle. The energy emitted by a gun-like device is absorbed by the melanin in the hair follicle, momentarily heating it to around 70 degrees centigrade, killing the follicle and thus preventing further hair growth. Both works better for darker hair and lighter skin, so removal of lighter colored hair (blond) is not 100% guaranteed. Both target multiple follicles in one treatment, so treatment for the underarm can take about a minute or two and half an hour to an hour  for the legs.

Dr. Braun at the Vancouver Laser & Skin Ca...
Doctor uses the latest technology in laser hair removal with the Soprano laser. www.vancouverlaser.com/laser_hair_removal.htm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The IPL uses a much broader spectrum of light than laser and can treat a larger area of skin per light pulse so it will require less sessions and will be more cost effective.

Chances of hair regrowth: Although both claim to have “permanent hair removal” effects, some patients find the hair slowly growing back after several months and  might need to go back to the doctor for subsequent treatments.

Pain factor : A pulsed light from the laser can feel like a rubber band snapping or a needle pricking your skin.  You may feel pain or discomfort during and after the procedure but this can be alleviated by anesthesia as advised by the doctor.

Electrolysis hair removal is the only method approved by the FDA for permanent hair removal.  It involves inserting a needle into the follicle you wish to treat and running an electrical current into it thus destroying the root. Electrolysis has the best over-all result in hair removal although  the procedure can be very painful and  time consuming, as you have to treat each hair individually and it takes a few seconds to  effectively treat each hair.  This method is ideal for brows, upper lip and chin.

Chances of hair regrowth : Once full course of treatment is completed, hair regrowth is very rare with Electrolysis.

Pain factor: The pain felt is like 20 pricks to your one when using IPL or laser hair removal.

The hair isn’t always on the same growth stage at any given time so multiple sessions are needed for all three hair removal hair removal procedures to be most effective and completed. Electrolysis, IPL and  laser hair removal may be a bit pricey but all three have long term effects so you don’t have to spend money on over-the-counter hair removers, shavers and shaving creams, and no more expensive and painful waxing procedures.

Pain during and after the procedure, can be comforted by medications (like anesthesia) prescribed by your doctor.

Temporary side effects like swelling, redness, and  blistering of the skin treated or the areas surrounding it can be treated  by topical ointments and creams recommended by  the doctor.

Smooth and hairless skin; photo credits from http://www.citylaserclinic.com.au/

If hyperpigmentation happens, it will eventually be resolved on its own, although it may take a few days for the temporary darkening to subside.

Permanent risks like burns and  skin discoloration may happen, so ensure that procedures are done  or supervised by licensed  and qualified professionals.

Be wary of cheap clinics that offer huge discounts. A credible, licensed aesthetician will most likely using the best, most up-to-date machines available and will definitely deliver better and safer results.

Of course, like with any medical procedure, consult your doctor first to understand  and know which treatment would be best for you.



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