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Permanent Hair Removal - Questions & Answers

  1. A lot of things claim to offer permanent hair removal – which really work? 

Electrolysis is the only method recognized and approved for permanent hair removal claims. Laser Hair Removal is classified and approved for permanent reduction by Health Canada. The reason for the difference is that laser hair removal is not effective for light or white hairs and results can be limited or not effective at all for tanned or darker pigmented skin, deeply rooted hairs, eyebrows or other structural challenges with the hair. The current challenge today with laser hair removal is that they may not even be lasers used for “laser hair removal” but IPL (Intense Pulse Light) devices which technically is not a laser and not as effective for permanent hair removal. At the Summit we have an IPL but only use it for pigment and vascular treatments not hair removal – we just can’t get the same results with our IPL that we can with our Light Sheer Diode Laser. The Light Sheer Diode Laser is still the gold standard when it comes to lasers for permanent hair removal.

2. What is the difference between electrolysis and laser? 

They are similar in many ways – they both use heat to destroy hair growing cells and the papilla or food supply to the hair. Electrolysis uses electrical energy to heat up a fine wire filament inserted into the hair follicle to target the cells. Laser uses laser energy which is like a beam of light that attaches to the pigment in the hair bulb which then becomes hot and destroys surrounding hair growing cells and papilla. With electrolysis we can treat any area of the body and any skin and hair colour making it the gold standard for permanent hair removal. With laser the skin cannot be too dark yet the hair must be dark for the laser to “see” it. With electrolysis we target each hair individually and with laser we shoot a beam of laser energy at an area that captures many hairs at one time. For this reason the individual laser treatment is faster than electrolysis making it ideal for larger body areas if the hair and skin colour are appropriate for treatment. They both take the same length of time to achieve permanency in an area – which ranges from approximately 6 months to a year and a half. The discomfort and skins reaction is about the same for both methods. With laser you must shave the area before treatment and with electrolysis there is no prep needed before treatment.


  1. Which is better?

If the area is larger we try to start with laser for quicker appointment times. Sometimes this is not possible because the hair is too light, fine or the skin colour is too dark. With electrolysis, as soon as the hair grows above the skin it is ideal to treat and is removed right away. This can be ideal for clients that are used to tweezing the area almost every day as the hairs are removed as soon as they are bothersome. With laser the area must be shaved within 24 hours of appointments and treatments are between every 3 – 8 weeks. For some, not removing the hairs as soon as they appear can feel distressing even though you can shave the area between treatments. If that is the case then electrolysis would be the best.

  1. Does one hurt more than the other?

They are about equal in discomfort but a lot depends on the area being treated and the individual. Some people are naturally more sensitive than others. Certain areas of the body are also more sensitive than others.

We carry a great topical numbing cream called Zensa Cream which is excellent for all areas. This is applied 30-40 minutes prior to your treatments. We recommend, for most clients, to try their first treatment without numbing the area as many people find the treatment very tolerable.

  1. How many treatments before it is permanent?

On average, it can take between 6 months and a year and a half to complete most areas with regular treatments. Each person has a different amount of hair, sensitivity levels and schedules making addressing the exact number of treatments difficult. A consultation is necessary to narrow down the number of treatments, how long each treatment would take and the cost per treatment.

  1. I have heard that some people that have had electrolysis or laser found that it didn’t work – why?

During our Permanent Hair Removal Consultations at The Summit Spa, we learn that 1 of 4 things have happened to make it “not work”. The first and biggest is that clients did not fully understand the process so only had a few months worth of treatments, didn’t see enough change and gave up. The second that people have chosen laser and continued for many treatments when their hair colour or texture did not support permanency. After two treatments with laser we know if it is not working and switch clients to electrolysis at no cost to them. The third is the client has an on-going hormonal imbalance that is causing fine hairs to continuously develop into coarser hairs. As we are making the coarse hairs permanent the client’s fine hairs are becoming coarser, making the treatments take much longer than planned.  At The Summit we achieve great success with hormonally- driven areas of the body, such as chin, upper lip, sides of face and breasts, but it means that clients need a bit more patience. Although it is a bit frustrating at the beginning seeing the results for these clients is the most satisfying in the end! Lastly, the client has not been compliant with a proper treatment schedule –having treatments too far apart causes the hair to be captured in a stage of growth that cannot achieve permanency.

  1. Which is more popular, laser or electrolysis?

Although most would expect to hear laser is the most popular, electrolysis takes the lead. The reason is electrolysis can be done on any skin colour, hair colour and area (such as eyebrows) making it the gold standard for permanent hair removal. When possible, we often start larger areas with laser for speed and near the end of treatments finish with electrolysis. This allows us to get the hairs that the laser can’t “see” because of lightness and when there are only a few hairs left it is more targeted and cost effective for the client to switch to electrolysis.

Have more questions that we did not answer here or are you ready to start your own journey to permanent hair removal? Call to book our Permanent Hair Removal Consultation - 902.423.3888.