What Happened To Electrolysis?

Back in the '80s and early '90s, electrolysis was the preferred method of permanent hair removal. But unlike the lasers used today, which treat large areas of hair, electrolysis treats each hair individually with an electric current, making it more painful and costly. And even though electrolysis can be used to permanently treat all hair colors, it requires many more sessions to get completely hair-free.

Today, depending on your skin type and the color of your hair, intense pulsed light (IPL) or alexandrite/ruby, diode or Nd:YAG lasers can rid you of unwanted hair. The bulb at the end of the follicle picks up heat from the laser, which is absorbed into the stem cells to kill the hair. These options-which are somewhat painful, though not as much as electrolysis-can be used anywhere on the body (except near the eyes), with the number of sessions depending on which area is being treated. (The larger the area, the longer it takes.)

Although laser hair removal requires fewer treatments than electrolysis, you can expect to need three to six sessions-sometimes more. Annual maintenance is almost always recommended, as well.

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