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Thinking About Permanent Hair Removal? Here’s What You Should Know

Experts get bare about what you can expect with permanent hair removal.

<p>Jacoblund/Getty Images</p>

Jacoblund/Getty Images

The idea of permanent hair removal is super enticing. No more unruly hair popping up within hours of shaving? A cease and desist letter sent to your toasty canister of melted wax or epilator? Being a few zaps away from hair-free skin sounds great, but you might be wondering if there’s a catch. Turns out, permanent hair removal is pretty legit, though there are still some things you should know before diving into the process. We spoke with a handful of experts who gladly shared their insights.

RELATED: Should You Shave, Wax, Sugar, or Laser Away Unwanted Hair? A Breakdown of All Your Hair Removal Options

Meet the Experts

  • Evelyn Ramirez, a licensed medical aesthetician and founder of Evelyn Aesthetics in New York City

  • Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City

  • Lauren Penzi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City

1. It’s Not a One and Done Situation

Unlike some treatments that involve a singular appointment, permanent hair removal is a weeks or months-long process that involves multiple sessions spread out. The number of sessions recommended varies according to each individual.


“For example, it can depend on how course or fine the hair to determine if the individual needs three sessions or 12 sessions,” says Evelyn Ramirez, a licensed medical aesthetician and founder of Evelyn Aesthetics in New York City. “Sessions are spaced apart to target hair growth cycles effectively.”

In some cases, the process may take six months. Ramirez notes that a quick consult with a reputable professional can give you a better idea of how many sessions you’ll need and how long the process will take.

2. You Can Easily Spend Several Thousand Dollars

Because there are multiple sessions required for permanent hair removal, the cost can add up pretty quickly. Ramirez says that how much you’ll spend depends on the method, treatment area, treatment provider, and number of sessions required for optimal results.

“Prices can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars,” she says. “Laser hair removal and electrolysis tend to be more expensive, but offer long-term results. It’s crucial to consult with providers for specific pricing tailored to your needs.”

3. Results Vary—And Aren’t Always Permanent

The term “permanent hair removal” is a bit of a misnomer. While it’s an effective way to nix unwanted hair, results aren’t always so picture-perfect.

“It is important to know there is no such thing as permanent hair removal, but rather hair reduction,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. “Although you will notice an improvement after your laser hair removal sessions, you may still notice some hairs present that don't go away right away.”

She adds that it’s also possible for hair to come back years later due to hormone fluctuations and other factors. This is particularly common on the face, notes board-certified dermatologist Lauren Penzi. Periodic maintenance sessions are often recommended and helpful.

4. There’s Some Discomfort Involved

Any treatment that involves removing hair at the root source is going to come with a bit of discomfort. The amount of pain or discomfort involved depends on the method used. It’s a good idea to discuss pain management with your provider prior to your treatments.

“Laser hair removal may cause a mild stinging sensation, though topical numbing creams are sometimes used to minimize discomfort,” Ramirez says. “Most lasers also have a frozen tip and it helps with the continuous heat build up while getting treated.”

5. It Works Better on Certain Areas of the Body

Technically speaking, Dr. Penzi says that permanent hair removal is an option for anywhere on the body. However, it’s more effective in some areas compared to others. “Common and ideal areas are those with terminal hairs, which are darker thicker hairs that grow on the armpits, face, and pubic region,” Dr. Ponzi says.

6. Some Treatment Providers Are Better Than Others

As is the case with any sort of aesthetic treatment, there are naturally some providers who are more experienced compared to others. It’s important to seek someone who’s very familiar with the removal method and machinery involved and has experience across a wide spectrum of hair types and complexions.

“When performed by a board-certified dermatologist or other trained medical professional, laser hair removal is safe and effective, and potential side effects are rare,” says Dr. Ponzi. “However, a common misconception is that anyone can perform laser hair removal—even those without a medical degree. As a result, dermatologists are seeing more and more patients visit them with complications, including burns, blisters, infections and skin lightening or darkening, after having their laser hair removal performed by an inexperienced provider.”

Sadly, some of these unwanted complications can result in permanent scarring. To prevent complications, Dr. Ponzi strongly advises working with a board-certified dermatologist or other trained medical professional who has the education, training and experience needed to provide the best cosmetic treatment available.

7. Not Everyone is Considered an “Ideal Candidate”

If you’ve made it this far and are wondering whether permanent hair removal is worth it, the last question you should ask yourself is whether you’re considered an ideal candidate for the treatment.

“In general, in order for laser hair removal to be effective the hair needs to be dark in order to be recognized by the laser,” Dr. Garshick says. That said, it’s not going to work as well on blonde, white, gray, or red hair due to the lack of dark pigment in the follicle.

Additionally, while those with darker skin can undergo laser hair removal, Dr. Garshick says “it’s crucial to use a laser that is specifically designed to be safe for those with darker skin.” This is because people with dark complexions have an increased risk for burns and hyperpigmentation—which is sometimes permanent. For this reason, she says that those with darker skin types should be especially cautious when vetting potential providers.

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