What is Permanent Hair Removal?

N. Madison

For those who have grown tired of waxing, shaving, and depilating, permanent hair removal may be desirable. However, with so many hair removal products marketed as permanent, consumers may be confused about just what works and what does not. Unfortunately, there are many types of hair removal that lay claim to permanency, yet are anything but permanent.

Electrolysis uses electricity to remove hair permanently.
Electrolysis uses electricity to remove hair permanently.

When considering permanent hair removal, it is important to note that no method is 100% effective for all people, all of the time. Each permanent or semi–permanent hair removal method is ineffective for certain individuals. The reason for these failures is currently unknown.

A woman with hairless legs.
A woman with hairless legs.

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There is only one method that is clinically proven to remove hair permanently. This method is called electrolysis. Electrolysis involves delivering electricity to the hair follicle by using a very thin metal probe. With proper technique, this method of permanent hair removal doesn’t puncture the skin. Instead, it damages the hair root, rendering it incapable of generating new hair.

There are three methods commonly used in electrolysis. Galvanic electrolysis involves the use of chemical action to destroy the hair root. Thermolysis is high frequency and involves the use of heat action to destroy the root. Blend electrolysis involves a combination of the galvanic and thermolysis methods, destroying the hair root through a combination of chemical and heat action.

Electrolysis has a long history of producing satisfactory permanent hair removal. In fact, it has been in use for more than 125 years and is considered both safe and effective. However, there are some drawbacks. Electrolysis can be costly, tedious, and painful. Additionally, it can be difficult when large amounts of hair are involved.

In most cases, electrolysis is performed by trained professionals. However, there are small, personal electrolysis units that are marketed as being easy to use. Most experts recommend against the use of such equipment, as performing the procedure without proper training can be not only difficult, but also ineffective.

Often, discussions of permanent hair removal include laser hair removal as an option. Laser treatments do not provide permanent hair removal. However, they can be used for permanent hair reduction. In laser hair reduction, a laser beam is used to damage the hair follicle, leading to hair loss. Regrowth is typically both shorter and lighter in terms of color. Though not quite effective for permanent hair removal, laser hair reduction is generally considered safe.

Many women remove excess body hair before donning a bikini.
Many women remove excess body hair before donning a bikini.

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