Today we are pitting two of the most popular hair removal methods against each other: laser hair removal vs waxing. Both can be ideal under different circumstances. Read on to see which one is best for you.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Did you know that LASER is an acronym that stands for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”?
The definition of a laser is “ a device that stimulates atoms or molecules to emit light at particular wavelengths and amplifies that light, typically producing a very narrow beam of radiation. The emission generally covers an extremely limited range of visible, infrared, or ultraviolet wavelengths.”
Laser beams can travel vast distances without dispersion and can carry enormous amounts of energy. This is why they are used in a wide range of applications such as communications, mapping and medicine. Laser hair removal relies on specially designed lasers that are safe to use on human skin.
During the procedure, the technician uses a medical-grade laser machine that emits a concentrated beam of light (laser). The light penetrates through the skin and selectively targets the melanin pigment in the hair follicles. The pigment absorbs the light energy, converting it into heat energy, consequently damaging the hair follicle and hair bulb. In the process, the stem cells responsible for hair regeneration are destroyed.
How Does Waxing Work?
Waxing is a semi-permanent technique of hair removal that removes the hair by pulling it out from the root. There are mainly two types of wax removal techniques: soft waxing and hard waxing.
Soft waxing is also known as strip waxing, involves applying a thin layer of body wax on the hair. Then a strip of fabric is put over it and pulled off, removing hair. On the other hand, hard waxing involves applying warm synthetic wax directly onto the skin. It is then given time to cool and harden, after which it’s then pulled off in the opposite direction of the hair growth. If pulled in the wrong direction, the hair will not come off, and the process must be repeated to remove the hair.
Other popular waxing methods include sugar wax (typically made from sugar, lemon and hot water and has been around for centuries) and elastic wax.
Laser Hair Removal vs Waxing: Which One is better?
It really depends on a couple of factors, such as your end goal, budget and general health.
The table below will help you better decide which treatment is ideal for you.
Criteria Waxing Laser
|Frequency||Depending on the body part, the average time to go between appointments is three to five weeks.||Most patients can have laser hair removal once every 4 to 6 weeks for an average total of 6-8 sessions.|
|Cost||For a single session, waxing is much less expensive than laser hair removal.||Multiple sessions of waxing over the years can end up costing you even more than laser treatment in the long run.|
|Time||Those with coarser hair may find that several swipes are necessary to achieve optimal results.||A relatively quick process as modern lasers can treat a large area of the body at a go|
|Training||Often carried out at spas, where most wax specialists are not required to have formal training.||Laser technicians have to be certified to do the procedure. If done by an untrained technician, laser hair removal could leave burns or scars on the skin.|
|Ingrown Hairs||Requires you to wait for the hair to grow at least a quarter-inch before the next session. This increases the risk of ingrown hair.||Once the hair follicle is destroyed, the hair doesn’t grow back, minimising the risk of ingrown hair.|
|Pain||Anatomically, the hair root is close to the nerve root. Since it involves the hair being pulled from the root, it can be very painful.||Doesn’t hurt nearly as much as waxing. Most people say that the pulse of the laser feels like a rubber band snapping on the skin|
|Speed of Results||Provides instant results and leaves the skin feeling smooth, making it a better option for those looking for a quick short term fix.||You won’t see instant results, but the results are long-lasting. Hair becomes progressively thinner and finer.|
|At-home Treatments||There are many waxing home kits available today. However, it is always best to have a professional do it for you to minimize risks such as removing skin with the hair.||At-home devices for hair removal are less powerful than the ones you’ll find at the dermatologist or aesthetics clinic. Also only work for people with light skin and dark hair.|
|Hair & Skin Tones||Works on all hair types and skin tones. Regardless of the colour or texture of your skin or hair.||Laser is not a one size fits all. That said, some notable technological advances in the last decade now allow safe treatment of all skin tones when the right laser is used.|
|Medication||Not recommended for clients taking Retin A or other types of skin thinning acne medications. These increase risk of skin lifting, also known as a wax burn. Doctors recommend steering clear of waxing if you’ve taken Accutane within the past year.||Shouldn’t be carried out on clients taking antibiotics or other photo-sensitising drugs. Can cause hyperpigmentation, blisters or mild burns and, in severe cases, a phototoxic reaction.|
With this information, you should be able to decide which route is best for you. Laser hair removal or waxing?
If you’re interested in laser hair removal, a consultation with a certified laser technician is the first step you should take. During the consultation, we will discuss what goals you would like to achieve, the areas you‘d like to target, and how many treatments you may need to achieve your desired results.