Electrolysis Versus Laser Hair Removal

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Electrolysis versus laser hair removal, which is better to remove your facial hair? These are the two best methods for permanently getting rid of hair, or at least reducing the amount.

We know facial hair can be the most annoying of all unwanted hairs because we can’t hide it under clothing if we have to, like on the body. Everyone, but especially females who have struggled with a large amount of facial hair knows how annoying the process can be of constantly worrying about ways to get hairless.


Can I Use Either Method?

  • Laser: The mainstream laser unit can only be used on those with light skin and dark hair. It can burn those with dark skin and not give optimal results for people with light hair because the laser targets pigment (dark color). Advancement is being made in laser technology for those that don’t fit the light skin/dark hair profile using a combination of radio frequency and laser.
  • Electrolysis: Can be used on anyone despite their skin or hair color because it attacks the hair follicle itself, and not the pigment in the hair.

How Long Is a Session, and How Many are Needed?

  • Laser: Facial zones are small, so they aren't that time-consuming. To give you an idea, a treatment for the eyebrows generally takes about 15 minutes. Usually, four to eight treatments are needed, spaced out about a month apart to achieve the best hair reduction results.
  • Electrolysis: Each hair follicle has to be individually treated, and approximate times depend on the type of electrolysis used, as some are more advanced than others (read more). For example, one treatment on the eyebrows may take 15- 30 minutes with an experienced technician. Anywhere from 15 – 30 sessions are needed to get the best results.


    • Laser: Each visit averages $200 - $400, based on the size of the area being treated and the facility. Since the facial zones are fairly small, they will be on the lower end of the price spectrum.
    • Electrolysis: An average 30-minute session is about $45 and will treat a small area, like the eyebrows.

      Pain Factor

      • Laser: It feels like a rubber band ‘snapping’ against your skin and a heat sensation. Everyone has their own tolerance to pain and discomfort. Coarse, dark hair feels more of the burn. So a man’s laser hair removal in the beard and mustache area will feel more painful than a woman’s lip, cheeks or chin.
      • Electrolysis: Everyone has their own tolerance to pain. Electrolysis has been likened to a stinging and pricking sensation, and each follicle has to go through it.

      Possible Side Effects?

      • Laser: Laser hair removal on the eyebrows can be dangerous if the laser light comes into contact with the eyes. Therefore, you need to wear protective eye shields and keep your eyes closed for the entire treatment to avoid any contact. Scarring, although rare, is a possibility. Laser can also stimulate hidden facial hair to grow in women.
      • Electrolysis: Skin can get discolored if it's done improperly.


      • Laser: Approved by the FDA for permanent hair reduction. According to The Mayo Clinic, lasers can reduce hair counts 40% to 80%. Facial hair on women is often lighter and finer than on the body, and this hair may not respond as well to the laser because it targets pigment (color) in the hair follicle.
      • Electrolysis: The only method approved by the FDA for permanent hair removal. It has the best track record but isn’t 100% guaranteed for everyone. For example, hair follicles can be bent or misshapen from previous waxing or tweezing, now making getting the electrolysis needle to the root more difficult to destroy the follicle. However, electrolysis is effective for ridding fine facial hair, whatever the color may be.

      Can I Do Electrolysis or Laser at Home?

      • Laser: Tria Laser Hair Removal Precision and Silk'n SensEpil (IPL) are two home devices cleared by the FDA for permanent hair reduction, and can be used from the cheek down on women.
      • Electrolysis: Sure, electrolysis units are sold for use at home. But just think how electrolysis is performed, by inserting a needle into the follicle. I personally don’t feel electrolysis at home can be done safely or effectively.

        The Bottom Line

        If you have dark skin or light hair, you can’t rely on standard laser hair removal for safety issues or to give you optimal results on your face. A hybrid of laser and radio frequency used for dark skin or light hair may not be available in your area. Electrolysis may then be your only option.

        But if you have light skin and dark facial hair then you can choose between either option. Laser is the generally the less expensive of the two and requires less time and treatments. Laser might be your better choice if you would be happy with most of the hair being removed, or the hair being finer and lighter. If you have a lot of light hair removed or the hair is something that you want the best chances of getting permanent hair removal, then I recommend electrolysis.