Newbie here.....Test Patch?

Hi everyone,
I recently decided to remove the unwanted hair on my upper lip and chin, possibly full face. I’m leaning more towards laser and have been to a few consultations. I printed out the list of questions from hair facts. In conducting my research on the internet, I learned that I should have a test patch done prior to treatment. I had one office tell me they would do a test patch on the back of the neck!?! Is this normal for a test patch area? And shouldn’t the hair removal center perform a test patch on the area that you are seeking treatment?
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what is your skin and hair type? coarse or fine hair? yes, they should do a test patch on the area you want treated. please give us more information to determine if laser is right for you, and if yes, which one.

The face is way too visible an area for experimentation. A test patch on the face is downright reckless. A test patch on the back of the neck would be difficult/impossible for you to evaluate closely. You would not be able to see fine regrowth as well using mirrors to allow veiwing. Franky, I would be suspicious.

Seriously, seriously consider electrolysis on that area, as lasers can promote more active growth of fine hairs and can backfire on even the most ideal candidates. You don’t want to do anything you would regret for years.


My skin type is fair complextion and hair type is course, light brown, mostly dark colored. I am seeking laser because I was told the electrolisis is mostly for fine hair. In which mine isn’t, nor it it minimal. I have a lot, mostly course under the chin. There are so many different lasers and I am confused as which one should be used on me.

I had one consult tell me they wouldn’t perform a test patch because I would be a good candidate. Is that normal practices?

Also, would I be considered as Type III?


Mantaray- Im a little confused, are you saying I should use electrolysis on my face with course hair?

Should the test patch be done on the area to be lasered or not?

you will be getting different opinions here based on various personal experiences. generally, if you don’t have a lot of hair on your face (like man’s type of beard growth), electrolysis is a safer choice for women because the face is an area that is hard to treat, especially if the hair is not particularly coarse. technically, as long as the skin is the same color, a test patch can be done anywhere. but sometimes you face can be more sensitive than another area, so it’s not really indicative. in general, if you’re really a type III and they know what they’re doing, you don’t need a test patch. this is more necessary for people with skin types IV and over in order to decide which laser to use.

Electrolysis is NOT just for fine hair; I think the laser people made that up to sell you something. I had a full, coarse beard removed with excellent results. I wouldn’t ever do laser on my face, but would get the electrolysis done.

electrolysis is good for any type of hair. it does take a bit longer to remove the most coarse hair as coarse hair usually requires several zaps (i.e. the hair may come back finer after the first zap, but will be killed completely on the second zap). Laser is the option that works best on coarse hair. Wereyounotafraid, I’m not sure what you’re referring to. The fact is that laser works best on coarse hair, however as I said above, for women’s faces, if there isn’t a full beard of hair on a woman, electrolysis is still the preferred option in my opinion, as this area is hard to treat with laser, even if the hair is coarse. But most importantly, it’s hard to treat just the small areas with coarse hair on the face, as most women have a combination of both coarse and finer hair there.

Definitely go with electrolysis on the face. Avoid any use of a laser anywhere around your face at all. You will get far better results with electrolysis. Electrolysis will most likely wipe out coarse hairs on the first hit. You will get more scarce regrowth in the area afterwards due to new hair cycles coming in, but surely the hair will be diminished, then gone. Coarse hairs are easy to insert the needle into and the power used will still be low, but will be for a longer duration. Electrolysis on the face has been proven for 125 years. The face is what electrolysis was first developed to treat. Electrology hits everything with far more pinpoint accuracy. You want to just kill the hair, you don’t want to risk skin damage. Your skin will be far healthier afterwards.

An electrology test patch on the face is fine. Usually an electrologist will give you 5 or fifteen minutes to see how the whole process works. There is no risk with this as the techniques are very proven and standardized.

But do not get a laser test patch. For one thing, they will keep the power low, and with lasers, this can be a bad thing. Too low of laser power can actually stimulate hair growth, that test patch area can end up hairier. -If they turn the power up too high, then you can burned, get shedding, but still will have those hairs regrow in their next hair cycle. Laser is very decieving, like the above poster WereNotAfraid says, there’s a lot of money driven treatments that go on. They’re hoping to treat you on the back of the neck so hairs can shed, and before they regrow, you have already started treatments, then it always appears you have hair loss. Stop the treatments for a few months, and all that hair may return. Money, time, and skin health wasted. Laser is not permanent. electrology is permanent.

I’m verbal about this because I don’t want you to go through what myself, others here, and someone I have just recently met in my electrologist’s waiting room have all experienced. Trust me, I speak from a medical background, years of experience, and proven results. Don’t take risks with your face.


Laser is not permanent. electrology is permanent.

As “unbiased” Mantaray tries to be, unfortunately it just doesn’t come through sometimes due to his bad experience with a certain laser and clinic, as witnessed above. Laser IS permanent, it’s just not the best option for a woman’s face because the hair that most women have on that area is not the type of hair the laser works best on. I have had great success with laser on other areas, and electrolysis on many others myself.

If you do decide to go with electrolysis, please read the electrolysis portion of this forum and do proper research. It is not true that there is no risk associated. There is risk with any type of hair removal procedure. However, it can be minimized and eliminated by doing your research and sampling several electrologists before starting your treatments. Get 3-4 consultations and sample treatments with various electrologists and compare before you commit.

You really aren’t going to be able to get a test patch done on that area of your skin. For this reason you really have to be sure that you choose someone that you’re extremely comfortable working with.

~ Megan @ Hair Removal [hair-removal-options dot com] A Guide to find the best hair removal option for you

First of all, I wouldn’t ever get laser on my face. Second of all, if you get laser at all, I would get it done somewhere it won’t show until you see how you will react. I got my underarms done first, since the area was small, cheap, and if I burned up or got skin damage it wouldn’t show and wouldn’t be really life-shattering. So far, so good. But I recommend electrolysis only on the face.

I had planned to stay out of this “conversation” but I think there is too much stuff being said that needs to be put into perspective. Just so everyone is clear on who I am, and of what I speak. I do not do electrolysis. I’ve thought about it but it takes time to be good at something and we are still working on being good at lasers. But I work with electrologists and respect their skills.

But when it comes to hair removal, if we aren’t the best, we are in the top echelon. We have been doing laser hair removal since 1997 and have used every technology. Finally, we have done over 350,000 treatments on something like 40,000+ clients. Treating faces is one of our most requested and performed sites. Upper lips are our #1 site. So I believe that we’ve done enough to be able to comment on treating faces with lasers. So let’s put things in perspective.

Starting with the easy stuff first. Test patches. There is nothing wrong with doing them. But I will tell you that they can also be quite deceiving. If done for safety reasons, they don’t tell you how the skin will react to much of the complications that we see. For example, there is a relatively common side effect related to the destruction of cells that mimics hives. You don’t see this in a test patch. Even with crusting and burning, those never occur uniformly across a site. So depending on where you do the test patch, the results may or may not reflect the final results. We were “burned” by this occurence several times in the past when we use to routinely do test patches. We still do them rarely, but only in unusual circumstances. And finally, they are worthless for determining if you will get results, unless you do a number of them in the same area over a period of months.

Now on to faces. Faces are tough to treat. Even on women. (Interestingly, upper lips are quite easy to treat). I think the reason is multifactorial, but I relate it more to the depth of the hair than to hormonal issues. But electrolysis is no pancea either. I have seen many clients who have come to us after electrolysis who were having poor results and acne-like scarring (something that is very rarely seen with lasers) after electrolysis. But this sort of blind belief that faces should not be treated with lasers is hogwash. Both lasers and electrolysis have their place and their limitation and their risks.

So what’s the bottom line. First, the most important thing is the quality and expertise of the person or place doing the treatment. Even among electrologists there is variation in technology and skill. And it gets worse with lasers. Many of the lasers being used are not very effective and the place it becomes most noticable is on the face. But even with good people, bad things can happen. If a laser person or electrologist tells you there is no risk, go somewhere else.

Assuming good experience and good equipment, then what can you reasonably expect. Coarse to fine hair can be treated with the laser. It becomes more difficult to treat fine hair and you do reach a point were very fine and light hair can not be treated. A good operator will be honest about that. In most cases, facial hair can be removed in 5-6 treatments, but I have seen situations where it can take 10, 12, 15 treatments to get great results. Especially on fine hair and darker skin. And there is a value to switching to electrolysis to remove the final hairs.

There is no question that in a percentage (approximately 10-20% of women), they can develop more growing hair than they began with, but that can eventually be removed and is a by product of what is happening at the follicular level. But it doesn’t happen as much as one would believe reading these forums. Part of that reason is that there is a selection bias here. People who have good results don’t normally spend the time to post. They move on.

Finally, I will let the electrologists comment on the relative success rates of electrolysis on the face (not compared to laser but just in general). I don’t know enough to make that comment. But I know that it isn’t perfect and that there are significant complications with electrolysis. To say otherwise belies the facts.

So what would I do if I had significant facial hair. I would prefer to go to an experienced laser center that has the right lasers and is honest and reputable and have my hair removed. Assuming I am a candidate. If after a certain point, I still had hairs remaining, I would seriously consider switching to electrolysis. But I would also be prepared to temporarily have more hair for a period of time.

If on the other hand, there wasn’t a good, reputable, experienced laser center, then I would good to an experienced electrologists. But I would expect that it may take quite a bit of time, it would probably end up being more in the long run, and that my risk would be just as high, if not higher, for skin damage.

And if there were no reputable, honest laser or electrologists around where I lived, I would either move or live with the hair. Going to someone who doesn’t know what they are doing or are only in it for the money is more risk than not doing it at all.

Finally, I will let the electrologists comment on the relative success rates of electrolysis on the face (not compared to laser but just in general). I don’t know enough to make that comment. But I know that it isn’t perfect and that there are significant complications with electrolysis. To say otherwise belies the facts.

Something that is said repeatedly here on hairtell and can’t be reiterated enough is: Electrolysis can treat hair anywhere, on any hair color, on every thickness of hair, from very fine to very coarse. The success rate is 100% for all areas from the face to the toes. Success depends on certain variables that are relevant to laser as well. We need growing hairs and client compliance to show up for their appointments at the properly spaced times. We need quality tools, meaning, magnification, light source and epilator,(I personally prefer a high-ended computerized brand epilators). These are some of the basic ingredients to do this right. Practitioner knowledge and skill will always remain number one, hands down, for getting permanent results without skin damage whether it be for electrolysis or laser.

There is no mystery here. Electrolysis works 100% of the time. I have had the priveledge to see the process work from the very beginning to the very end many times, on the most horrendous cases of female facial hair, caused by years of hard core waxing/tweezing or induced by medical conditions, etc. The clients that stick close to me for a year of treatments are re-born, so to speak, when this comes to an end. When we first start, there are all sizes of hair, all colors of hair in all stages of growth. We battle through the beginning clearance together and keep punching it until there is nothing to left to punch.

Electrolysis has the advantage to treat all those different colored hairs, and there are many gray hairs and light colored hairs mixed in with dark hairs on a face. We all know that laser can’t affect gray hair, so why not start with electrolysis for the facial stuff right off? One will still need to go on the hunt for a competent electrologist eventually to get the gray or light hairs.

Success rates for electrolysis, including the face, including leaving the skin in beautiful condition when all is finished, is 100%. Success rates for finding someone who is skilled because they invest in their continuing education and invest in quailty up-to-date equipment, and just plain care about their clients outcome is much lower, I believe. Also true for laser,as you have commented. We are on the same page here. There are many variables that need to click together for permanent hair removal to take place with both modalities.

By the way,sslr, I really like reading your posts. They are very informative and I thank you for taking your limited spare time to share your laser insights with all of us. You are very qualified and honestly logical with your information. It’s great to have your expertise to clear up the little mysteries that pop up here and there about laser.


Dee. I don’t disagree with your comments about hair color and fine velus hair, but I have trouble with the 100% assertion. Given what I have seen and my dealing with numerous electrolysis societies, I just don’t think that is a statement that can be made with that level of certainty.

For example, has every client that has ever started with you completed all their treatments and removed all the hair (didn’t move away, decided that they couldn’t afford it anymore, or went somewhere else)? Yet, to me your statements imply that. Yet, given the way people are, it would be hard to believe that.

I am willing to buy the fact that when you consider all the various hair types (and do not include cost and time) that electrolysis is more effective than lasers. How much more depends; and in many cases, is very little, if any. On the other hand, in some cases it is much more effective. The big advantage to lasers is cost and time.

Now when we talk about complications. That is a much different story. Electrolysis complications, that I have seen, are far worse in the long run. That’s not to say that an incompetent can’t do serious long term damage to someone with a laser. But the same is true for a electrologist. Unfortunately, the incompetent laser tech is going to cover much more ground in a session than the electrologist. But those are the exceptions.

I don’t want to make this a pointed argument. Ultimately, I think that both electrolysis and laser have legitimate places at the hair removal table (as do non-permanent modalities). I just hate to see laser people make extravagent claims and feel the same about electrolysis (though I am not as knowledgeable about it).

Let me try to be more helpful here.

If a woman presents with 10 gray,coarse chin hairs and they are all in the anagen phase of growth AND I introduce a probe equal to the diameter of the hair into each individual follicle AND I deliver enough energy to the target for enough time to the bottom of that hair follicle, I’m going to destroy the source of nourishment for that hair. It will cease to be. The hair follicle will die. It will be permanently gone. There is nothing the body can do to make it alive again. If it is a really big hair, it may need to be broken down over 1 or 2 more hair growth cycles before it is completely destroyed, but it too will be completely, permanently eliminated, gone forever. If I do this correctly to affect permanence for 1 coarse, gray chin hair, I can repeat this for 10 hairs, 100 hairs, 1,000 hairs or 10,000 hairs! It’s a hair by hair process. It is not unreasonable to say with certainty that electrolysis will permanently remove any growing hair from anywhere, 100% of the time. It works on a small scale. It works on a large scale.

I have done many cases of facial hair. Electrolysis does work with 100% certainty on any ANAGEN hair that is properly treated. This is all very basic, straight forward and provable. Where things get muddled, is when one of the many variables that will get one to 100% permanent removal is missing. Electrolysis is not going to work 100% if the practitioner uses a size 2 probe on a very coarse hair. Electrolysis is not going to work 100% if the client doesn’t show up on schedule for treatments to catch growing hairs. Electrolysis is not going to work 100% if the internal medical condition causing the hair growth is not treated. Electrolysis is not going to work if the client sneaks in some tweezing here and there. Electrolysis is not going to work 100% if the electrologist’s insertions are off or if the energy and timing is all wrong for a particular hair. I could gone on…with more variables. Feedback you hear or cases you see are only presenting you with half of the story. If the truth were known about their electrolysis experience, you would understand where or why the failure occurred to 100% affect the hair they had treated (or not treated).

I have followed many facial clients from the beginning to the end and I can honestly and proudly assert that they are 100% successful, hands down, no doubt. If someone moves, quits, runs out of money, then it only reasonable to assume they are not going to be in the 100% catagory. AND, you know as well as I know, that if certain hair follicles decide to wake up and grow five years after successful electrolysis is achieved, they are not the same follicles that were treated successfully five years ago.

This is not an extravagant claim. You see, electrologists worldwide have been repeating this process for 130 years with simple basic principles that really do work. Skin damage is not inevitable and never has to be. The consumer has to observe the healing of their skin and take charge from the beginning by communicating with their electrologist. If communication doesn’t help, then they are obligated to sample other electrologists who take measures and use special techniques that will not damage their skin.

I do hope this has been helpful for you. If not, I’ll be glad to try to comment again. I can’t expect you to know that I would never make an extravagent claim here or anywhere. I stand by what I have written with all honesty based on experience and outcome of many, many clients. By the way, before I became an electrologist, I was a client who had a lot of of electrolysis done. The hair I wanted gone is still 100% gone 30 years later.

One other thing, I completed a hair removal survey tonight that was sent to me by a group in Canada about a new ultrasonic device they are working on or perhaps are about to market for “permanent hair removal”. Do you have any idea how an ultrasonic device could affect permanent hair removal on any hair color or skin color with no pain??? Do you know what this means? They were talking about treatment for individual hairs. I could send you the e-mail if you’d like.


As far as your comments concerning electrolysis, I would have to say the same thing about laser hair removal killing specific hairs, when appropriate. But I don’t disagree with your basic premise. I just think that removing hair is a lot harder than people think, whether you are an electrologist or laser hair removal practitioner. Though I tend to believe that the laser hair removal practitioners are more “all over the map.” In other words they are more inconsistent, with good and bad practitioners. My sense is that electrologists tend to be more consistently trained and to try to maintain their training than many of the people who do laser hair removal.

As far as the ultrasonic hair removal, I can’t think of a way that ultrasound could provide a means of killing hair. I would be happy to look at what they sent you.

sslhr, I have just PM’D you to send the survey information your way.