Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal: What is Better?

electrolysis vs laser hair removal

If you’ve been considering hair removal options, you’re not alone. The quest for smooth, hair-free skin has led many of us down the path of research. And while there’s a sea of information out there, today we’re focusing on two of the most popular methods: electrolysis and laser hair removal

At first glance, both electrolysis and laser hair removal promise the same outcome: reduced hair growth. But the way they achieve this differs. Electrolysis uses an electric current to destroy hair follicle one at a time, while laser hair removal utilizes concentrated light to target and damage multiple follicles in a go. 

The desire for hairless skin isn’t a new trend. Electrolysis, in fact, has been around since the late 1800s. Dr. Charles Michel, originally using it to remove ingrown eyelashes, first introduced this method. Who knew his technique would pave the way for one of the most sought-after hair removal methods?

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On the other hand, laser hair removal is relatively younger, making its debut in the 1960s. But, it wasn’t until the ’90s that it gained FDA approval and truly began its ascent to popularity. 

But, How Do They Work?  

It’s important to understand the science behind these procedures. Not to worry, we’ll break it down in simple terms, so that you can grasp the core concepts. 


Imagine a super-fine needle sliding into each hair follicle. That’s electrolysis for you. This needle delivers minor electric currents to your hair follicles. Now, why does this happen?

Well, the electricity’s job is to damage the follicle, specifically targeting the part that stimulates hair growth. It’s a meticulous process which requires a certain level of precision to ensure each hair is treated. 

Laser Hair Removal 

Now, onto laser hair removal. Instead of electric currents, this method uses lasers. These are beams of concentrated light zooming into your skin. These beams target the melanin which is the scientific term for the pigment responsible for the colour of our hair and skin.

When the melanin in the hair absorbs this light, it gets converted to heat. This heat then damages the hair follicles, reducing hair growth. It’s kind of like when you use a magnifying glass to focus sunlight on a leaf.

The concentrated light creates heat, right? It’s a similar principle, but with cutting-edge technology that ensures safety and precision. 

The Procedure: Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal 

If you’re like most of us, you probably appreciate a clear, step-by-step breakdown before diving into anything, especially when it concerns your body. So, let’s demystify these procedures and walk through them together. 

Procedure Steps  Electrolysis Laser Hair Removal 
Consultation Your journey begins with an expert consultation. During this initial session, the specialist assesses your skin and hair type, answering any questions you might have. Just like with electrolysis, it starts with a conversation with your dermatologist. Here, your skin type, hair color, and density are evaluated to customize the treatment settings. 
Preparation The area to be treated is cleaned, ensuring it’s free from oils and makeup. Sometimes, a numbing cream might be applied for added comfort. The target area is shaved, yes, you read that right. It is done to ensure the laser focuses on the hair roots beneath the skin. The skin is then cleaned and a cooling gel is applied. 
Procedure A sterilized probe, which is essentially a super-fine needle, is gently inserted into an individual hair follicle. This probe then releases a small electric current, damaging the follicle. A hand-held laser device is moved across the skin. As it emits pulses of light, you might feel a sensation similar to a rubber band’s snap. But don’t fret, it’s usually quick and manageable. 
Post Treatment After the follicle is treated, the hair is gently tweezed out. Remember, it’s not the tweezing that removes hair permanently but the electric current. Immediately after the session, the area is cooled to subside any discomfort. You might notice some redness, but this typically fades in a few hours. 
Aftercare  The treated area might be a bit red or swollen, but this usually subsides quickly. Your specialist will advise on post-treatment care to ensure best results and minimal discomfort. Sun protection is crucial after laser treatments. Your specialist will offer guidance on how best to care for your skin in the coming days. 

Both electrolysis and laser hair removal have their own step-by-step procedure, but the end goal remains the same: smoother, hair-free skin. 

Skin Type Suitability of Electrolysis and Laser 

Skin is your body’s largest organ, and is as unique as your personality. From fair to deep tones, oily to dry textures, we’re all wonderfully different. When it comes to hair removal, understanding these differences is important. So, let’s explore which methods best align with specific skin types. 

Electrolysis is Universally Welcoming 

One of the standout perks of electrolysis is its compatibility with all skin colors. Whether you’re porcelain-fair, richly ebony, or any shade in between, electrolysis can definitely work for you. Red hair, blonde hair, grey hair – these are sometimes challenging for other hair removal methods. But with electrolysis? It’s all the same, making it a versatile and suitable choice for all. 

Laser Hair Removal is A Matter of Contrast 

Laser hair removal is all about targeting melanin, the pigment in our skin and hair. This means it’s often most effective on those with light skin and dark hair, as the contrast allows the laser to easily hone in on its target. That said, advances in laser technology have expanded its scope. Newer lasers can now treat a broader spectrum of skin tones, including darker skins.

But it’s important to remember that results might vary, especially if your hair color closely resembles your skin tone. Those with very light hair, like blonde, red, or gray, might find laser hair removal less effective, as there’s minimal melanin for the laser to target. 

Also Read: Laser Hair Removal for Men [A-Z Guide]

What to Expect During the Procedures?  

Stepping into the world of hair removal, it’s natural to wonder about the sensations you’ll experience. Will it hurt? Will there be discomfort afterward? Let’s dive into what you can expect with both electrolysis and laser hair removal. 


1. During the Procedure 

As the tiny electric currents target individual hair follicles, you might feel a slight stinging or tingling sensation. The feeling is often described as a quick pinch, with the discomfort level varying based on your pain thresholds and the area being treated. 

2. Post-Procedure 

Following the treatment, it’s common to experience some redness, swelling, or minor tenderness in the treated area. These reactions are your skin’s way of responding to the procedure, and they usually subside within a few hours to a couple of days. 

Laser Hair Removal 

1. During the Procedure 

Many people describe the sensation of laser hair removal to that of a rubber band snapping against the skin. While there’s a quick zap of heat with each pulse, modern laser devices often come with cooling mechanisms, making the experience more tolerable. 

2. Post-Procedure 

Just as with electrolysis, it’s not uncommon to see some redness or mild swelling after a laser session. Some people also describe a sunburn-like sensation, but these effects generally diminish within a few hours to a day. 

How Can You Minimize Discomfort?  

Preparation can be key for both procedures. Your professional might recommend numbing creams or gels to eliminate potential discomfort. Staying well-hydrated, avoiding caffeine, and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever with your specialist’s approval can also help. 

Effectiveness and Results: Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal 

In your desire for smoother, hair-free skin, understanding the long-term effectiveness of your chosen method is highly important. After all, the results are what we’re all after. So, let’s compare the longevity and outcomes of both electrolysis and laser hair removal. 


Electrolysis is often hyped for its promise of permanent hair removal. As it targets individual hair follicles with an electric current, it disrupts the hair’s growth mechanism, leading to lasting results. 

Given its one-by-one approach, multiple sessions are needed to treat all hairs in a given area, especially since hair grows in different cycles. 

With consistent treatments, many people achieve permanent hair loss in the targeted area. While some may experience occasional regrowth, these hairs are often finer and more sparse than before. Electrolysis is also the only form of hair removal that removes white, grey and blonde hair.  

Laser Hair Removal 

Laser hair removal can drastically reduce hair growth, and it’s often termed as “permanent hair reduction” rather than complete removal. This means that while there’s a significant decrease in the number of hairs, some might eventually return. 

Just like electrolysis, multiple sessions are required due to the different growth stages of hair. Generally, people see noticeable reductions after a few treatments. 

To maintain smooth skin, occasional touch-up sessions might be recommended. Over time, any regrowth becomes finer and lighter in color. 

Risks and Side Effects Of The Treatments 

Anytime you venture into the world of cosmetic treatments, understanding potential risks and side effects should always be on your mind. Ensuring safety while achieving desired results is the golden balance. Let’s delve into the safety aspects of both electrolysis and laser hair removal. 


Temporary Side Effects 

Post-treatment, it’s common to experience minor redness, swelling, or tenderness in the treated area. These are short-lived and can resolve within a few hours to a couple of days. 

Potential Risks 

In rare cases and if not done correctly, electrolysis can lead to scarring or skin discoloration. It’s crucial to ensure that the practitioner is certified and experienced. 


Although uncommon, but there’s a slight risk of infection if aftercare instructions aren’t followed or if the equipment isn’t sterilized properly. 

Laser Hair Removal 

Temporary Side Effects 

Similar to electrolysis, redness and swelling are common immediate responses. Some may also experience a mild sunburn-like sensation, which usually fades in a short period. 

Potential Risks 

There’s a possibility of burns or blisters if the laser is too intense or not used correctly. Skin discoloration, either hyperpigmentation (darkening) or hypopigmentation (lightening), can also occur, especially if post-treatment care isn’t followed, like avoiding sun exposure. 

Eye Safety 

When receiving laser treatments near the eyes, protective eyewear is necessary to prevent potential eye injuries. 

Rare Reactions 

In some isolated cases, people might experience crusting, scarring, or even changes in skin texture. 

Summing it Up  

Choosing between electrolysis and laser hair removal hinges on your unique needs, desired outcome, pain tolerance, and budget. While electrolysis provides a more permanent solution suitable for many of you, laser hair removal offers speed and significant hair reduction with advancements continually expanding its suitability. 

Personal advice? Start with a consultation. Speaking with professionals from both fields will give you a clearer picture related to your specific situation. By doing so, you’ll embark on your hair removal journey well-informed and with confidence. Here’s to your journey towards smoother, more radiant skin! Whatever your choice, may it bring you closer to the results you desire. 

For more information book your consultation at any of our cosmetic clinics in Ontario 

Brantford * Collingwood * Embrun Kincardine * Orillia * Ottawa West * Owen Sound 

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