To Zap or To Flash: Electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal

To Zap or To Flash: Electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal

Sam Garst Sam Garst
9 minute read

Electrolysis and laser hair removal both have the same endgame in mind: permanent hair removal

The method you choose to get there can depend on all kinds of things, like the body part you want hair-free, how much time you have on your hands, even your budget.

What is the difference between electrolysis and laser hair removal? The main difference between electrolysis and laser hair removal is that electrolysis uses electric currents, while laser hair removal uses light.

We’re all about transparency and we know laser hair removal isn’t the best option for everyone. Let’s dig into the details of electrolysis vs. laser hair removal to aid you on your personal quest for permanent hair removal.

How Electrolysis Works

Electrolysis works by sending electric currents through a fine probe into individual hair follicles. The probe damages hair follicles at the root to prevent hair regrowth. There are 3 types of electrolysis: galvanic, thermolysis, and a blend of both. 

Is electrolysis more effective than laser hair removal for dark skin? Electrolysis is more effective than laser hair removal for dark skin. It doesn’t require high pigment contrast between your hair and your skin like laser hair removal. 


  • It works for all types of hair, skin colors, and skin types.
  • It’s FDA-approved as the only true permanent solution for hair regrowth. (Laser hair removal and IPL can lead to long-term, even permanent hair reduction for many users.) 
  • Targeted treatments work well and are more popular for small areas like the upper lip and chin hair. 


  • This isn’t a DIY cosmetic procedure. You need to see a board-certified dermatologist or electrologist for treatments.
  • Electrolysis can be painful, although some fans say it’s not that bad.
  • It’s time-consuming. Remember that bit about targeting individual hair follicles? That takes a while, so it’s not great for large areas.
  • You may be able to shave in between laser hair removal sessions, but electrolysis requires at least 1/8th of an inch of hair regrowth before each session. 
  • It’s expensive. You’ll likely pay by the hour, so smaller treatment areas are ideal.

How Laser Hair Removal Works

Laser hair removal works by targeting pigment, or melanin, at the hair follicle with a heated laser. IPL works in a similar way, just with a broadband pulsed light instead of a single laser. That focus on melanin is why it works best with light skin tones and dark hair.


  • You’ll see results faster with fewer treatments.
  • Laser hair removal sessions are shorter. If you’re targeting a small area, you could be done in minutes.
  • It works well for larger areas. You’re covering more ground instead of a follicle at a time.
  • It’s less painful than electrolysis. If you choose IPL treatment, you probably won’t feel any discomfort at all.


  • You need to shave before each treatment. The good news is, new hair growth becomes less obvious after each session.
  • Professional treatments can get expensive. (An at-home device is a more budget-friendly option!)
  • It doesn’t work with all skin and hair colors. Many devices can’t pick up the pigment in red, grey, or blonde hair or hair growing on very dark skin. However, newer laser technology is working toward better laser treatment options for everyone, so talk to your dermatologist about your options.

Let’s talk results.

Is electrolysis better than laser hair removal? Electrolysis is better than laser hair removal treatments for anyone with darker skin tones or lighter hair. 

Electrolysis is the only guaranteed hair removal method for 100% permanent results.

That doesn’t mean laser hair removal is some slouch in that department. Both laser and IPL treatments can get you to an 85% reduction in unwanted hair in targeted areas. 

It really depends on the areas of the body you want to target. Electrolysis may be the most permanent, but laser hair removal can get you pretty darn close with less discomfort and fewer sessions on large areas.

Both are popular with women who have PCOS, too, although laser hair removal is less effective if you don’t treat the underlying hormonal imbalance causing excessive hair growth.

What are sessions like?

Electrolysis and laser hair removal both aim to damage the hair follices in targeted areas, but the similarities end there when it comes to treatment sessions.


Electrolysis treatments are more precise because you’re targeting each individual hair follicle. You read the description earlier right — a fine probe is inserted into each hair follicle to give it a little zap. Then the hair from the follicle is removed with tweezers.

That means you need to set aside a decent amount of time for each session. Expect to spend at least 15 minutes for the smallest area and up to an hour for large areas.

You may also feel more pain with electrolysis vs. laser hair removal. Your provider can talk to you about pain reduction techniques and topical creams to reduce your discomfort. 

Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is more efficient than electrolysis, especially for larger areas. Small areas like the underarms may only take a few minutes per session. During laser hair removal sessions, a technician — or you, if you’re using a home device — will pass a device over the treatment area, flashing a few times per section.

What you feel during your session can depend on your own pain threshold and the treatment area, but it’s not as painful as electrolysis. If you’re worried about potential discomfort, talk to your provider about topical creams.

Follow-Up & Maintenance

One of the major pluses of electrolysis is that once you’re done with your treatment plan, you’re done. You won’t need any maintenance sessions. It can take a while to get there, though. Expect to sit for 10-14 sessions — every 2-4 weeks to get permanent results. 

With laser hair removal, most users need 6-8 treatment sessions — every 4-6 weeks — to get to a desired level of hair removal and reduction. From there, you’ll likely need touchup sessions every few months, although some enjoy a lack of hair regrowth for years after those initial rounds.

You can expect the same with IPL, just in a cozier way. Any maintenance sessions are handled from the comfort of your own home.

Electrolysis Laser Hair Removal At-Home IPL Device
Sessions Required 10-14 6-8 initial; touch ups as needed 16 initial; touch ups as needed
Time Per Session 15-60 minutes 15-60 minutes 5-30 minutes
Time for Permanent Reduction 6-12 months 6-12 months Many see results after 2 months
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What is the best hair removal method for MTF? The best hair removal method MTF depends on your goals for hair growth and removal. Electrolysis is the only way to ensure permanent removal of facial hair and elsewhere, but laser hair removal may support a more positive transition.

The need to shave before laser hair removal sessions means you don’t have to wait for obvious hair regrowth before your next electrolysis session. That can remove triggers for some. 

Potential Side Effects

Both laser hair removal and electrolysis are safe hair removal procedures. The vast majority of potential side effects for both are mild, but include redness, skin irritation, and swelling.

You’re much less likely to see ingrown hairs with both methods vs. waxing for hair removal, but an exfoliant like The Revealer is a great way to prep your skin pre-treatment. If you need skin soothing after treatments, a cooling aloe gel like The Reviver can do wonders for irritated skin. 

The Revealer

The Revealer


The Revealer Daily Exfoliating Cleanser with resveratrol, papaya enzymes, biodegradable exfoliating beads, and botanical extracts is a deep cleansing and skin resurfacing treatment packed with powerful antioxidants for brighter, smoother, and softer skin. Reduce irritation and ingrown hairs while revealing… read more

The Reviver

The Reviver


The reviver contains our custom formulation of aloe vera, lavender, azulene, and green tea extract to soothe and protect your skin after your IPL treatment. Aloe and Azulene soothe and reduce irritation due from sunburn, chemical peels and IPL treatments. Lavender essential oils… read more

Severe side effects with both are even more rare, but there is some risk of pigmentation changes or discoloration around treatment areas. Hyperpigmentation is more common with laser hair removal when the wrong wavelengths are used on darker skin tones.

Excessive sun exposure, harsh skincare products, and certain medications can complicate aftercare and make skin more prone to potential side effects. It pays to be risk-averse and treat your skin with some extra love before and after your sessions.

Cost Comparison

Electrolysis and professional laser hair removal are both pretty expensive. Most electrologists charge anywhere from $75-$200 per hour. The total cost of electrolysis depends on the size of the treatment area and the number of treatments you need to get hair-free. 

The cost of laser hair removal depends on parts of the body targeted and how many treatment sessions you’ll need for the desired results. Costs can also vary based on where you live, but expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $900 per session. (That big number reflects a full-body treatment.)

If you’re feeling some sticker shock, an at-home IPL device like The Flasher 2.0 can ease that pain. Pay a one-time cost as low as $189 and that’s all you’re on the hook for no matter how many sessions you need. That’s more taco money, people.  

Electrolysis Laser Hair Removal The Flasher 2.0
Sessions Required 10-16 6-8 initial; touch ups as needed 16 initial; touch ups as needed
Cost Per Session $50-$125 per hour $50-$600 based on treatment area $299 one-time payment
Cost for Permanent Reduction $500-$2,000 $300-$4,800 $299

Choosing the Right Treatment for Your Needs

If you’ve been struggling with excessive hair in small areas or you’re not a good candidate for lasers, electrolysis may be the right option for you. If you want to defuzz a larger area or love the idea of more efficient results, try laser hair removal.

Good candidates for laser hair removal can also try at-home IPL from Nood. The Flasher 2.0 works anywhere hair grows (seriously, we mean anywhere) with results in just a few weeks. Want to learn more? Follow us on Instagram.

The Flasher™ 2.0

The Flasher™ 2.0

$169.00 $270.00

Safely remove unwanted hair with The Flasher 2.0 by Nood. Works everywhere that hair grows, including bikini, Brazilian, underarms, legs, and face. Start seeing results in 2-3 weeks and permanent hair removal in 6-8 weeks. … read more


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