Electrolysis and Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (LASER) are two methods of hair removal. Electrolysis is the term used to describe the thermal and/or chemical decomposition of hair follicles using radio waves and/or direct electrical currents. Radio waves and direct currents are introduced into hair follicles by very fine, sterile needles. Laser hair removal creates a photothermic effect on hair follicles by passing a pulsating beam of light through the skin. The dark hair roots absorb the laser light and create heat rendering the hair follicles inactive.
The effectiveness of laser hair removal depends on factors such as hair color, skin tone, and treatment area(s). Dark objects absorb light and radiate heat so lasers target the dark hair roots under the surface of the skin. If hair is white, grey, red, blond or very light brown the laser light is not absorbed by the hair root. Laser is most effective on people with very light skin and very dark hair. Electrolysis is not dependent on the presence of melanin in the hair and absence of melanin in the skin so it works on all hair color and all skin tones.
Laser has the advantage of speed (per treatment session) over electrolysis so it may be the preferred method of hair removal from large areas of the body such as legs and back. Multiple hairs can be treated with one pulse of light while electrolysis treats one hair follicle at a time. Electrolysis offers more targeted, individual hair removal and is an ideal method for defining eyebrows, straightening hairlines, shaping beards, and treating lip lines. Electrolysis is also the recommended method of hair removal for clients with darker skin tones due to laser’s paradoxical side effect.
A paradoxical side effect of laser hair removal has been noted in people with darker skin tones. Middle Eastern, Hispanic, Indian, African American, and Mediterranean individuals whose skin was exposed to laser light during the normal coarse of laser hair removal treatment, started growing excessive amounts of hair. The phenomenon is known as Laser-Induced Hypertrichosis and appears to have the most profound effect on the face and neck. Research continues into the cause of this phenomenon.
A combination of laser hair removal and electrolysis works well for many people. Laser is a fast method for removing dark body hair from lighter skin toned people. Electrolysis is the recommended method of hair removal from the face and neck and is often used as a follow-up treatment to laser hair removal on the body. Laser treatments can reduce the strength of body hair and render the follicles inactive for long periods of time. Electrolysis is the only method of permanent hair removal.