DIY: Permanent Hair Removal

If you've ever been to a salon or day spa for hair removal treatments such as waxing, sugaring or electrolysis, then you know that the cost of these services quickly adds up over time. You can try your own DIY permanent hair removal at home. This is possible as long as you choose the correct methods and tools for home hair removal.

Spending Smart

To avoid wasting hard-earned money on permanent home hair removal products, you have to know what's a gimmick and what really works. For example, electric tweezers, which have been around since the late 1950s, may seem like a tempting proposition. All you do is clasp the offending hair between the tweezers and deliver a small jolt of electricity and then pluck the hair. The problem is that these devices don't work, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which prohibits makers of electric tweezers from promoting their wares as a DIY permanent hair removal tool.

To achieve permanent hair removal, the root of the hair follicle must be physically disabled or destroyed so it doesn't grow back. This requires consumers use their own common sense when it comes to avoiding hair removal hoodoo. It's not likely that a special lotion or cream, vitamin supplement, or holistic or herbal treatment is going to provide the results you want. Currently, there are only two tried and true ways to get long-term or permanent hair removal results at home, and only one of these will get rid of hair for good.

Home Electrolysis

Electrolysis is a permanent form of hair removal in the truest sense of the word. Once the hair follicle is killed, hair won't grow back again and there is no need for retreatment. There are home electrolysis units available for consumer purchase, such as One Touch. These portable devices feature pen-like units with a thin needle, or probe, which is slipped into the skin next to the hair follicle, after which a jolt of electricity is applied to destroy the root.

Home eletrolysis to permanently remove hair is possible, but this method comes with many warnings. Electrolysis done by anyone other than a trained electrologist can result in bleeding, scabbing, infection and even scarring. If you choose this route, practice on a small part of your skin first. Make sure that the probe on your home electrolysis device is sterile and work with clean skin and hands at all times. It's suggested that you see how your skin reacts to home treatment before you undertake large areas of hair. And remember, some hair will grow back and require additional treatments.

Home electrolysis is not advised to remove hair on your face. The reverse hand direction makes facial hair removal particularly cumbersome and even dangerous. Electrolysis ranges in price from $45 to $125 per hour when performed by a professional technician. Small areas of the face, such as the upper lip, can easily be treated in an hour. If you want to remove facial hair, it would behoove you to seek professional services rather than doing this at home.

Home Laser Treatments

Laser treatments reduce the density of hair growth by heating the hair follicles and destroying them during the active stage of growth. In the last part of 2008, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved two home laser hair removal devices for home use. These work in much the same way as laser devices at a dermatologist's office, albeit the lasers themselves are far less powerful and yield less effective results.

According to a late 2008 ABC-TV news report, home laser hair removal purportedly results in 50 to 70 percent hair reduction after five treatments, while professional services can yield up to 80 to 90 percent success after four to seven sessions. So if you purchase one of these home devices, such as the Silk'n or Tria, be aware that you won't get the same results as in professional laser hair removal treatments.

Home laser hair removal devices cover smaller areas of skin and take more time to perform at home. They require multiple self-treatment sessions and ongoing maintenance treatments to see a dramatic decrease in hair regrowth. As with professional treatments, home laser hair removal can cause temporary reddening of the skin after use. According to the FDA, laser hair treatments yield a permanent reduction in hair regrowth over a long period of time. So even if you get the best results from these devices, you will still see some regrowth that requires ongoing treatment. Also, home devices are not approved for use anywhere on the face, while professional laser treatments can treat facial hair as long as it's not near the eyes.

Home laser hair removal devices aren't cheap, costing between $499 and $795 as of September 2009. Before making such a big investment, be aware that just like professional laser hair removal treatments, home laser hair treatments are most effective on those who are good candidates for this method: people with fair skin and dark hair. According to the Mayo Clinic, those with fair, light red or unpigmented (gray or white) hair won't see any results at all with laser hair removal.