If you want to remove some or all of your hair, researching your options is worthwhile. Two of the most common hair removal options are laser hair removal and waxing. But which is better?
While waxing has a lower up-front cost, it also requires frequent upkeep, which can be quite painful for most people. On the other hand, laser hair removal is a long-term hair removal solution and is painless. However, it’s a much bigger investment.
In the end, this decision truly comes down to personal preference, but it’s good to have all the information you need to make that choice.
We’ll cover these points and more to help you decide whether laser hair removal vs. waxing is right for you.
Laser Hair Removal vs. Waxing: How They Work
Both laser hair removal and waxing are popular methods used by people regardless of gender to get rid of unwanted body hair. They offer temporary or semi-permanent results, depending on the technique used, and both can remove hair in a variety of different areas.
To give you a better understanding of how these treatment options work, we’ve outlined each below:
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal works by targeting the pigment in your hair to damage the follicle, reducing its ability to produce new hair growth.
During your appointment, the technician will use a handheld laser device to deliver pulses of light to the treatment area, moving across the skin until the entire area has been treated. Because the laser targets the pigment in each strand of hair, the skin and tissue surrounding the follicle are generally unharmed by the procedure.
Multiple sessions are needed because your hair goes through three stages of growth:
- Anagen (active growth)
- Catagen (transition)
- Telogen (resting)
The follicle contains the most melanin during the anagen phase, so laser hair removal is typically the most effective on hairs in this stage of growth. Because each follicle is on its own cycle and at any given time, you’ll have follicles in all three stages, several carefully-timed sessions of laser hair removal are required in order to ensure most or all follicles have been treated while in the active growth stage.
Waxing is a common method of hair removal that involves applying warm or cold wax to the surface of the skin and then quickly removing it, effectively removing unwanted hair at the same time. This treatment works by tearing the hair from the follicle.
Waxing provides several benefits over shaving, including longer-lasting results, smooth skin, and thinner regrowth, making it a treatment of choice for many people who are slowly moving away from the daily-maintenance cycle.
Waxing can be done at home or the salon and can be used for unwanted hair almost anywhere on your face or body.
Which Is More Effective? Waxing vs. Laser Hair Removal
Both laser hair removal and waxing are effective ways to remove unwanted hair, but laser hair removal provides longer-lasting results. There are other key differences that might help you make an informed decision about your next steps.
Laser Hair Removal
While laser hair removal doesn’t offer immediate results like waxing, most patients experience a noticeable decrease in the amount and thickness of hair growth after they complete their series of treatment sessions.
Waxing must be done routinely and indefinitely, but with laser hair removal, once you achieve your desired results through your initial treatment sessions, you can usually maintain those results with just the occasional maintenance appointment.
Traditionally, laser hair removal has typically been most effective on those with light skin and dark, coarser hair. However, with technological advancements, laser hair removal has become more accessible for patients with dark skin and lighter shades of hair.
That said, it’s important to note that laser hair removal may not be an option for those with white, grey, light blonde, very light red, or peach fuzz hair.
Laser hair removal is often the best solution for those looking for long-term, low-maintenance hair removal.
If you have an upcoming event that’s the catalyst for your interest in laser hair removal, you may want to set a schedule for laser hair removal sessions well in advance to ensure you’ve achieved your desired results by the time the big day arrives.
Waxing provides immediate results, meaning you’ll leave your waxing appointment with no hair remaining in the treatment area. However, you’ll typically leave with some redness and swelling–so be sure to schedule at least a day in advance if you’re getting it done for an event.
About three to six weeks later, the hair will regrow, and you’ll be ready to schedule your next waxing appointment.
Waxing is typically the best solution for those looking for immediate hair removal, while laser hair removal is suitable for those looking to reduce the upkeep and maintenance with a more permanent solution.
Side Effects: Laser Hair Removal vs. Waxing
As with virtually any treatment, both laser hair removal and waxing have potential side effects. However, it’s worth mentioning that side effects are generally minor with these types of treatments.
The first step in preventing unwanted side effects is understanding what they are and what causes them. Below, we’ll give an overview of the side effects that can happen with each of these hair removal methods.
Laser Hair Removal
- Mild redness and swelling at the treatment site
- Some sensitivity or discomfort in the treatment area
- Temporary skin pigment changes, like lightening or darkening of the skin
In rare cases, laser hair removal can lead to long-term side effects, including:
- Changes in pigmentation, like lightening or darkening of the skin
- Blisters or scarring in the treatment area
You can reduce the risk of side effects by choosing a trusted practice, ensuring the provider you select is experienced in laser hair removal, following all pre-treatment instructions, and adhering to after-care instructions carefully.
Like laser hair removal, many patients don’t experience side effects after waxing, but some do. Those side effects, when they occur, can include:
- Redness and inflammation
- Rashes and allergic reactions
- Minor bleeding
If you wax at home, you’re at higher risk of getting burned from hot wax or experiencing other unwanted side effects. For your safety and the best results, it’s generally recommended to have a qualified esthetician perform waxing.
Laser Hair Removal vs. Waxing Cost
When comparing the cost of wax vs. laser hair removal, it’s important to consider both short-term, one-time expenses and long-term, ongoing expenses.
Laser Hair Removal
Before you elect to move forward with laser hair removal, you’ll schedule a consultation to review your hair removal goals with the provider and better understand what to expect in terms of treatment plan, results, and cost.
While the average cost for a laser hair removal session is approximately $389, that number can be significantly more or less depending on the size of the treatment area, the number of sessions needed, and your hair type. For example, full-body laser hair removal requires a more substantial investment than hair removal on your upper lip or your underarms.
It’s important to compare apples to apples when you think about the cost of laser hair removal; although you’ll spend more up-front, you’ll transition to infrequent touch-up appointments, doing away with the need for waxing appointments every three to six weeks.
Waxing prices range drastically, anywhere from less than $20 up to hundreds. Costs of waxing typically include the actual treatment as well as tips. And then there’s the gas and time costs. Add that up several times a year over decades, and you’re looking at a pretty hefty price tag that’s likely on par with your laser hair removal treatment cost, if not more expensive.
Waxing is often the obvious choice because the immediate investment is substantially less; it’s hard to compare the two when you’re thinking in those terms. Most patients are surprised to find that waxing is far more expensive than laser hair removal when you add up those little investments over time, leading them to rethink the cost component of the decision matrix.
Which Is Right for Me? Waxing vs. Laser Hair Removal
The choice between laser hair removal and waxing ultimately depends on individual preferences, budget, and specific needs. Consulting with a professional can help you determine which hair removal method is most suitable for you.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal might be the best option for you if:
- You’re looking for long-term, semi-permanent hair removal.
- You’re hoping for the convenience of fewer appointments and less upkeep.
- You can afford to make a larger initial investment to save money long-term.
- A qualified professional has indicated that you would be a good candidate for laser hair removal.
Scheduling a consultation is the first step.
Waxing might be the best option for you if:
- You’ve been told you aren’t a good candidate for laser hair removal (although it’s good to seek a second opinion, as some medical spas have more advanced lasers).
- You can’t afford to make the initial investment in laser hair removal.
- You’re looking for a solution that can be done from home.
Sometimes waxing may be the best or only solution, depending on individual needs.
Achieve Long-Lasting Hair Removal
Ready to explore laser hair removal for smooth, hair-free skin? Say goodbye to the hassle of waxing and shaving with the advanced laser technology available at LivSmooth, where treatment is customized for your specific needs. Schedule a complimentary consultation today to take the first step toward smooth, low-maintenance skin.