Confused about electrolysis vs. laser

After reading a lot of posts about the problems with laser hair removal, I made my first appointment for electrolysis. Then I went to a women’s life expo and there were so many laser hair removal booths, I got lured in by the “easy” quick laser route. So I came back and read more posts, and I’m wondering if I’m doing the right thing.

I thought James Walker said electrolysis was the proven gold standard for permanent removal, but reading some posts on the “laser” board, sounds like some people are having great results with laser, or laser followed by electrolysis.

Can laser give permanenet results? It sounds like some people get laser-triggered growth and other bad side effects, so is it just a crapshoot, works for some and not others?

I plan to go through with my first appointment with electrolysis Monday. Need to see results soon.

Each person experiences something different with laser hair removal. Some get all the hairs removed permanently. Some get the number hairs reduced. Some get thinner hairs. Some experience no change with the hair. Some get induced hair growth where there was no or little hair before. Some experience a comibination of things mentioned above.

Laser is best for people who have light skin and dark hair while electrolysis is good for any type of skin or hair.

Laser has been around for barely a decade so it’s not known how long the results will last. Electrolysis has been around for over a century so it’s known that the hair will permanently not come back.

I’ve had one laser treatment 8 weeks ago, and there is less hair while the hair that is there is much thinner. If all the hair isn’t gone after 6 treatments then I plan on finishing up with electrolysis.

What area on your body do you want to remove the hair from? Is your skin light or dark? Is the hair you want to remove light or dark hair?

whether it’s best for you to do one or the other depends on the amount to treat, skin and hair type, and hair texture, and area treated. induced growth from laser is rare and only a problem when treating with low settings on women’s faces and men’s upper arms/shoulders. if you have a lot of hair to treat, you have light skin, and dark coarse hair, it is more cost-effective to start with laser and finish with electrolysis. laser won’t get every single hair, so electrolysis is required for any area you want 100% hairfree after laser treatments.

read the FAQs on the laser portion, it explains this.

I have some medium to fine hair on lip. I use skin bleaching cream, so the hair is not dark enough, I don’t think. Thanks for your help.

Thanks for pointing me to the FAQ section. Very informative. I guess it’s electrolysis for me.

Yes, for an upper lip electrolysis is the best way to go, for eyebrows electrolysis is the ONLY way to go.

You remind me of a little spot in history. When Frank Sinatra died, and the world was looking for interviews with Nancy Sinatra, she was freash from some LASER treatments on her upper lip and every video interview looks way weird because her upper lip is so obviously a different color and texture compared to the rest of her body. It did not look good, and she could not put make-up over it.

Hi James:

Somehow I can’t picture Nancy Sinatra with a hairy upper lip. Her version of Jackson with Lee Hazelwood is far superior to that lame version from “Walk The Line”.

Then of course there was Something Stupid with the chairman of the board Frank.


Ah yes, the so-called “incest song”. I Love it, but by far my favorite N-Sin song is Phaedra.

Good thing dad was still alive when she did the Playboy spread. When he found out, he called them up after the deal was done, and made them double their offer <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

The thing of it is, I bet she got into hair removal big time with that spread, and what ever insignificant hair she had she kept at it with “the latest spa technology” (code words for most expensive) instead of getting the better, more gentle alternative. At the very least, I can say that if I had bared her whole upper lip the day before her dad died, people would not have noticed anything unusual watching the interviews the next day.

Hi James:

I still have a vintage LP of Nancy featuring the song Boots with a very nice cover photo.

Here is the song you mention with the title
Some Velvet Morning-written by Lee Hazlewood:

Some velvet mornin when Im straight
Im gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you bout Phaedra
And how she gave me life
And how she made it end
Some velvet mornin when Im straight

Flowers growing on a hill, dragonflies and daffodils
Learn from us very much, look at us but do not touch
Phaedra is my name

Some velvet mornin when Im straight
Im gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you bout Phaedra
And how she gave me life
And how she made it end
Some velvet mornin when Im straight

Flowers are the things we know, secrets are the things we grow
Learn from us very much, look at us but do not touch
Phaedra is my name

Some velvet mornin when Im straight
Flowers growing on a hill
Im gonna open up your gate
dragonflies and daffodils
And maybe tell you bout Phaedra
Learn from us very much
And how she gave me life
look at us but do not touch
And how she made it end

TRANSCRIBERS NOTE: In Greek mythology, Phaedra was a daughter of Minos
who married Theseus and fell in love with her

Im currently a student of electrolysis/blend and while you might think that makes my opinion bias, I have done both laser and electrolysis on myself for hair problems and only electrolysis worked. They say idealy you should be fair skinned (Im a strawberry blonde) and have dark hair (and I do because I waxed my bikini line… trust me, dark haired people know its dark!) and I have no freckles (laser can be confused bt hyper pigmentation)perfect candidate… so they said…it wasnt working- so they put me at the highest setting that they said scarred some clients (I have sensitive skin and I was fine…"?") and I was complaining to the point that they used multiple passings over the same area and finally discounted my “future” visitsto come. It fell out like dry pine needles and after 1200 dollars it was reduced enough that I didnt mind a 3 swipes of a razor… it stayed that way 3 months, then it started growing back and they said that there were millions of follicles and new ones can grow, “they were not the same hairs” they wanted another 120 dollars to kill them… I decided I had had it- I wanted to see how many new follicles would “activate” themselves… guess what- I have a full bush once again! Its amazing that 2 years after electrolysis my face never did that! So, thats why Im in school for electrolysis! but the thing you have to bear in mind, is that there is a specific technic to electrolysis and if the permanence is based on proper technic. Make sure your electrologist is a member of the AEA (American Electrolysis Association) and know that if you feel the hair being “pulled” or “tweezed” then it was not epilated properly and it will grow back. It may be finer, but if not re-treated it will restrengthen full force with time. The hair has to be treated with proper high frequency (Thermolysis) or Galvanic current (electrolysis) or both combined (“blend”) for more thorough destruction. (Be sure they are an L.E.) R.E’s are L.E’s but because it is required in CA to be Licensed not “registered” the fact that they use old terminology may reflect their current education (most AEA members know they should say L.E not R.E) If you can see a CPE that is even better because they require continued education to hold that title. I will be a CPE upon finish of my studies. Oh, and if you get any scarring (welts should dissapear in a few hours) you should question their technic. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

Thanks for the Nancy… and now back to the post string.

Keep in mind that if an electrologist chooses to pluck the shedding hairs while they are plucking the treated hairs, one would feel nothing on the treated section, but when the shedders are plucked, one would THINK the treatment failed.

It should also be noted that not everyone lives in a state with Licensed, or Registered electrologists, and in that case, CPE’s are all one could get, unless someone went and got a license from a state that one did not live in, and then travel back home, and practice in a state outside the jurisdiction of the state where the license is in effect.

Lots of people do this as a marketing point, but seriously, none of that person’s work is subject to the licensing board from which their license originates. Just think of it as a World Champion who only fights non-title exhibition bouts after winning the title, and retires “the undefeated champion”.

armedwithshoes (great name btw),
there are many variables that you might not be taking into account as to why laser didn’t work on you. the fact that you don’t mention what type of laser was used, your skin type, and the settings already tells me that you probably didn’t do enough research before starting laser to dismiss it. at the same time, you don’t mention how many treatments you’ve had, how far apart, if you saw shedding every time, etc. in addition, what do you mean by you wax so you know the hair is black? you mean you see the roots when it’s waxed and even though it’s blond above the skin’s surface, the roots are black? it’s pretty rare for strawberry blond people to have jet black hair…maybe light brown. And you say you’re a redhead in the other post…so which is it? laser doesn’t work on red or blond hair.

anyways, you can check out the laser portion of this forum for more information. especially, check out the FAQs. i think it’s unfair to scare people away from laser, especially if you didn’t do enough research to make sure you got the best results possible. there are benefits to both laser and electrolysis. just depends on each person’s particular situation. there are plenty of us getting results with laser, and for longer than 3 months.

Well, I had 15 treatments the last 7 were done by doing 3 passings,and some were redo’s because I called them on some wrong facts that are very detailed. It was done at nuvo international. I have strawberry blond hair on my head (changes with sun exposure) if its not black its coffee bean brown (root to tip- the entire follicle) on my bikini (i stopped waxing 5 months prior to laser and normal hair growth cycle is 16 weeks even though most laser bases research on 12 weeks according to the FDA) So Im sure all the hair was present for treatment aside from undergrowth and shedding hair (roughly 20%)my arm hair is blond and some are red and my legs are a light to medium brown.I am between a type 1 and 2 on the fitzpatrick-pathak skin chart. type 1 because I burn in 3 minutes direct sunlight and have sun allergies and slightly red hair with some freckled areas that are reducing due to vampirism. (lack of sun). Type 2 because I have some blonde, but dont tan at all. Im Irish, german and french. Its possible I misjudge laser, but if you consider that the FDA WILL NOT ALLOW laser to be called “permanent” and only allows them to say “permanent hair reduction” (key word Reduction: meaning 3% is acceptable… or 50% I maybe had 3%) that should tell you something. Also, laser is in a testing phase… IT IS radiation and in areas with Lymph nodes or reproductive organs (throat, bikini) no one method or machine has been used over a long enough time to know its long term health effects. the older machines were stopped for causing lymphnodic cancer. But somebody had to wait until later to find that out… Im not saying they are all bad and will do this, just that many lack the history to assure your protection and the FDA will not “dissaprove” until theres a case against it… I hope its not me. Its all testing… electrologysts will own and operate them once they are permenant- the medical industry is testing them because they want the money, people will pay for it and lets face it, they are big- they have malpractice insurance up the wazoo… whereas a single electrologyst couldnt take that risk. Not just that… but permenant cleared cases satisfy a client not just a “reduction”. All laser adds that claim “painless” and “permenant” instead of saying “permenant reduction” are supposed to be reported to the FDA because they arent legally allowed to advertise that (at least not in CA).
note 69% saw no reduction and the ones that saw any reduction it was in Terminal hairs only! this is not where I got my info though… most of its from boring myself on the FDA sight with alot of patience trying to find what would work. Note also that if you read enough or ask the right questions they will admit it is RESEARCH and your a guinea pig. ask how long any machine has been used and how for out their follow up goes as far as health concerns… not just permanence. Its radiation… a dental Xray (depending on the machine) is equivilent to roughly 3-6 minutes of direct sunlight radiation note that for even one press of that button and maybe the few seconds it takes for 1 pariapical Xray (single film) they cover your lymph nodes with that “apron” how do they protect you from treatment on a bikini line over your lymphs and near your reproductive organs? where is the proof that youre safe 20, 30, 50 years from now…? Im not saying it cant work for definite- what I am saying is should you risk it? but I have heard good results of laser and electrolysis combined… but its expensive and… the laser is still research. electrolysis is over 100 years old… thats history and I dont have a beard thats all we hairy people care about… I care too much to risk cancer though…even if it was permanent… they put you on hormones to fight cancer and hey- that grows beards on ladies too! So you could be right back where you started from… but with cancer. To each their own everyones entitled to their opinion and I hate hair- so I hope it is permanent… but if no body says the things that scare you (right or wrong) you may not think enough… you only have one life. I know nothing is discovered without research and somebody has got to try it… I just think they shouldnt sugar coat it so much that you have to look so closely to protect you… they are doctors and RN’s, they should be on your side. As far as Electrology- Im not saying R.E’s, L.E’s or C.P.E’s are better or worse that another or available in every area. Effectiveness is based on technic, you cant argue that there are electrologysts out there that you shouldnt let touch you regardless of certification- IM SCARRED and I never knew it was wrong or knew to question… I thought I had acne- I DONT! in some places my skin is overtreated and curdled to looking like an orange peel and Im only 24 ( she was an L.E 7 years in practice, no continued education and not an AEA member. would you go to a dentist that wasnt a member of the American Dental Association?). This is your body we are talking about- question everything! My new electrologyst leaves no ingrowns, i havent has any “tombstones” and no scabs, eschars or inflammation… Im not saying her electrologyst is wrong but if she doesnt understand why there is still so much hair she has a right to ask questions, know what to look for and ask, and to know that the person she trusts her face to can re-assure her.

well, first, the place you mention is a mall chain with horrible reviews AND they use an IPL, not a true hair removal laser, which in general is not very effective for hair removal. especially since your hair is not black, you should have used an alexandrite laser like GentleLASE or Apogee. second, hair removal lasers do NOT produce any type of unhealthy radiation. it’s a completely different light that is not harmful to the skin. third, there are tons of discussion regarding permanency and the reason it’s approved for ‘permanent reduction’ is because it works in varying degrees depending on many factors with each person and it usually won’t achieve 100% removal. most need to finish with electrolysis because hair gets too fine and doesn’t have enough pigment for laser to target. and that’s besides the point, but electrolysis hasn’t been approved for permanency because of any tests or studies. it was grandfathered in for the same reasons that it’s hard to determine one single result for everyone since everyone is different. in addition, it’s hard to tell if underlying medical conditions are preventing good results because noone is forced to get tested or report what they have. once again, hard to make conclusions. finally, there are tons of places out there who are just in it for the “easy” money, like the place you went to, where customers are treated as subjects and they SELL you packages with hard-sales tactics while they have huge employee turnovers (so techs who don’t know what they’re doing) and bad machines.

anyways, i think it would be helpful for you to do some research and read some posts and FAQs on the laser portion of this forum at least to get more informed on lasers in general. if you decide to dismiss it, that’s fine. but you should do the research first. i’m not advocating one of the other. i am doing both myself. it just makes sense to do laser for some financially and with certain types of hair on certain areas. and it does work as you can read from others’ experiences on this and other forums.…7bd4800222a9d4e

here’s a good post from someone who has been running a clinic for over 8 years that should explain your permanency concerns:

"All the laser manufacturers have created a series of charts for their lasers. This is what they use to teach new people what settings to use. Most of this training is through preceptorships, either at someone’s office or a nurse will come to your office. These last a day or so and it really is impossible to go through a lot of clients at that time. So it only teaches the bare minimum. Plus they also have to teach the mechanics of how to use their machine (ie, where is the on/off switch, how you calibrate, etc).

Now there are two things that can go wrong when you pick a setting.

  1. You will cause a complication.
  2. You will not effectively treat the hair.

Of the two, #1 happens immediately and can make the client very unhappy. #2 will only be apparent after many treatments and can be caused for a number of reasons that are not related to the settings. But this can make the client equally unhappy.

Now an unhappy client, may go and talk to a lawyer, who will happily take the case. The lawyer, will of course, sue the operator. But will also sue the manufacturer of the machine (deep pockets).

So you are a manufacturer and you want to limit your exposure to liability. Your best bet is to make sure that you never get sued for #1 above. In other words, you don’t want someone to burn a client using a setting that you gave. That is hard to defend, whereas it is easy to defend that it is not your fault that the person was not successfully treated with your laser. (which by the way is one of the reasons why laser manufacturers haven’t really tried to get the FDA to promote laser hair removal as permanent. Rather they are happy with “permanent reduction” because it decreases their legal exposure for clients who don’t have good results).

Basically, the settings that the laser manufacturers provide (and in some cases are chosen through some sort of computer system) are incredibly conservative and designed to protect the manufacturers from lawsuits.

Now realizing that there is a balance between great results and complications, you have to decide if you want to work with a operation that weighs that balance away from great results in an effort to eliminate complications."

the above can be found at:

Brava Ms. Armed With Shoes!

My only other comment at this time is that I am really sick and tired of people repeating the LASER-serving lie that Electrolysis was “grandfathered in” and never tested. Electrolysis was not introduced to the world until AFTER testing by its originator, Dr. Michelle. It survived scrutiny from the American Medical Association. Electrolysis devices had to prove themselves to the FDA. The French and British governments vetted the procedure as well. Between 1860 and 1920 electrolysis had proved that it did what it advertised to everyone who bothered to test it properly. (Interestingly, in France, to this day, L’electrolysists must be doctors, or work for a doctor, in the actual doctor’s office.)

The obfuscation that the grandfathering lie relies on is the fact that electrolysis predates most of our current regulatory organizations, and so, as Vermont, the latest state to adopt Electrolysis licensing, undertakes the regulation of this industry in its state, it does NOT waste money doing new research to prove what they have already seen, and can be proven as far back as 1860. Grandfathering in without study you say, or is it just not paying extra money one clearly doesn’t need to waste?

Furthermore, there have been many studies over the years on electrolysis, and it always proves that it can provide 100% permanent hair removal in treated follicles, as long as the researcher has a way to mark specific follicles to show that they are studying the exact follicles treated, and not just the treatment area. (Electrolysis can permanently remove hair you already have, it can’t retard new growth pre-emptively.)

Lastly, a research college in Quebec Canada recently concluded study on both electrolysis and LASER about a year ago and reconfirmed what has been proven time and again in electrolysis treatment chairs all over the world for almost 150 years – Electrolysis works. Incidentally, that same study also gave some interesting explanations as to why LASER has such trouble getting anything to happen at all for some people, and why the results are so unpredictable. It even looked at the skin changes LASER exposure creates.
If it is worth the risk to you, considering the results one can get, be my guest.

Laser doesn’t cause any skin changes. That’s like saying electrolysis causes skin changes. Sure, if either a laser operator or an electrologist doesn’t know what they’re doing, then they can cause issues. If a waxing lady doesn’t know what she’s doing, she will cause burns and bruising too. Noone says waxing causes skin changes. If you’re looking at 2 professionals who know what they’re doing, neither will cause any issues with the skin.

And the reason there aren’t enough studies for either is usually because of like you say “Electrolysis can permanently remove hair you already have, it can’t retard new growth pre-emptively.” This “new growth” you’re talking about is a very subjective thing. There is no real absolutely certain way to tell if the hair is “new” or “old” growth most of the time. So, the fact that underlying medical conditions will prevent either from working is an important issue here when testing.

The studies that looked at efficacy marked the actual follicles either radioactively, or with implants. They knew what was treated and what was not.

“Laser doesn’t cause any skin changes. That’s like saying electrolysis causes skin changes.”

Im sorry… what? they both cause skin changes… thats why certain lasers are used to treat SKIN CONDITIONS. What degree of change and where it is located is the difference. Electolysis kills hair with the treatment starting BELOW the epidermis. You feel the current gradually rise from the inside of the follicle and if done properly the entire follicle is coagulated completely below the surface without the heat pattern damaging the surface and affecting the skin… Laser impulse starts above the skin and branches down any thing “dark” that it can pick up (thats why freckles or dark pigment interferes with treatment) It hits the skin, hair and any pigment flaws it encounters. Yes it treats them, but there is ALOT OF NEEDLESS EXPOSURE going on above the hair (which is all you are really wanting treated.) You get more skin damage and exposure that way. waxing also effects the skin… It makes it wrinkly. Also… If you are a woman with an unsightly beard… you want it REMOVED. all you can do with laser is shave and wait for it to fall out and until it does, you still have hair or a 5 o’clock shadow. I want that hair off! I want to remove the most troublesome hairs to my clients- not just wait to see “what is picked up by the laser” and what is not. Oh… and yes, I know that a laser is a light… and light (sunlight, UV, laser whatever) does affect the skin… and can cause cancer. Electrolysis can be 100% effective and can also cater exactly to what hair is of menace to the client which is what the client is REALLY looking for. 100% of what is bothering them- gone. permanently. what kind of operator are you James? Thermolysis, Electrolysis, Blend or Flash?

I am trained in all three, and use them all where there is a need, or desire.

Im supposed to primarily focus on blend, but my instructor does say that there are times and places for all three and that I should know and use all of them when needed. She did also say that some operators are loyal to only one method, and I was just curious which you used