Choosing a Hair Removal Method

When choosing a method for hair removal, consider:

  • Your hair removal goal

  • Your hair and skin type

  • Whether the method is safe based on your health history and medications
  • What you can afford
  • Your hair removal service provider

The following page provides some tips when choosing the hair removal method that works for you and your needs. Remember a method that works for others might not work for you so be sure to consider your individual needs and preferences, and work with your chosen hair removal service provider to determine what works best for you.

Your hair removal goal

Depending on your hair removal goal (how often/conveniently you want to remove your hair) and purpose (surgery/non-surgical), the options available for you to choose from can vary.

  • Permanent/long term hair removal: Only two methods can achieve long term/permanent results, a requirement for some gender-affirming lower surgeries. They are electrolysis and laser hair removal.
    • Electrolysis is generally the recommended method as it is the only known permanent hair removal option. However, with effectiveness in using laser hair removal now documented (especially for for surgery preparation), laser hair removal method is now considered an option for individuals who are not good candidates for electrolysis.
    • It is important to note that effectiveness for either method is approximately 85-90% due to dependencies on skill and experience of hair removal provider, individual’s hair and skin type, and individual’s ability to follow hair removal plan set up with provider.
    • Due to these reasons, combined method of electrolysis and laser hair removal has also been recommended as offering the best result for most.

Tips for permanent/long term hair removal required for surgery:

  • Make sure you plan ahead. Depending on your hair growth cycle, you will require any where from 9 to 18 months to complete hair removal and ensure no new hair grows back
  • Before starting with hair removal, get confirmation from your surgeon regarding the exact location and dimensions of the area to be made hair-free
  • If your surgeon outlines the area to be made hair-free during your consult, take several photos for reference so that you can ensure the correct area is being targeted with your treatments
  • Short to medium term hair removal: There a number of hair removal methods to choose from if your goal is to achieve short or medium term hair removal.  The page on Hair Removal lists out these methods and summarizes how long the results for each lasts. **Please note these methods should not be used for hair removal required for surgery.

Your hair and skin type

For electrolysis and laser hair removal, your hair colour and skin type will affect the type of hair removal method you can choose from. No restrictions are known for the other types of hair removal methods.

Tip: Be sure to work with your hair removal service provide to see if a patch/site test can be done prior starting your hair removal plan.

The table below illustrates the combination of hair colour and skin type as well as the goal of hair removal that can impact the recommended hair removal method for long term/permanent results.** Light hair refers to hair colour other than dark hair: blonde, strawberry blonde, red, grey, white hair colour.

Hair removal goal Hair colour and skin type ** Recommended type of hair removal method for long term/permanent results
Hair removal for surgery Dark hair with pale to medium tanned skin Laser hair removal + electrolysis
All other hair colours and skin types Electrolysis only
Non-surgical hair removal Dark hair, pale skin Laser hair removal (better results)
Dark hair with easily tanned skin Laser hair removal + electrolysis
Dark hair mixed with other hair colours and pale to medium tanned skin Laser hair removal + electrolysis
Dark hair with brown or dark skin Electrolysis only
Light hair and all skin types Electrolysis only

 

Whether the method is safe based on your health history and medications

Be sure to work with your hair removal service provider in identifying any contraindications from your health history and medications that might impact your ability to select a hair removal method.  Visit the pages for Electrolysis and Laser Hair Removal to review the full lists of restrictions and safety tips as these are the two methods that should be used with highest caution.

What you can afford

What you can afford can impact your ability to achieve the goal you are aiming for in hair removal. Generally, the costs for the short and medium term hair removal methods are low, but can depend if you are using home-based or service-based methods.  Electrolysis and laser hair removal are both costly and can take long period of time and commitment to stay on your hair removal plan to achieve the results you are looking for.

Depending on the provider and individual, costs can range from $55 to $250 per hour for electrolysis in BC; this can become expensive as many as 300 hours may be required to achieve permanent outcome for some individuals. Costs for laser hair removal can range from $125 to $250 per session; this adds up as each area requiring hair removal can take up to 8 sessions.

Tip: know your budget and discuss with your hair removal provider whether you can afford completing the full recommended hours or sessions for your chosen hair removal method. On occasion, hair removal providers may provide a package rates or lowered rates for clients.

Your hair removal service provider

It is crucial to find a hair removal service provider who is experienced, knowledgeable and come recommended in providing gender-affirming service. This is especially important when looking for an electrologist or laser hair removal provider as risks involved in these methods of hair removal are high. Damage that can be done may be permanent (ie skin burn) which can in turn impact your goals for hair removal, especially for hair removal required for surgery.

In BC, hair removal service and providers, even electrologists and laser hair removal providers, are unregulated. Some electrologists and laser hair removal providers may have certifications or designations they may be able to provide to prove their level of competency; however, no specific regulations are set in place for their professions, operations and use in the province.

Tips when choosing your hair removal provider, be sure they:

  • Have experience working with trans clients (using correct pronouns and respectful language) and knowledgeable in the hair removal goals you are looking for
  • Offer a site/patch test to ensure the hair removal method is suitable for you
  • Have a practice that is sanitary – ask about their method of disposal of needles (for electrolysis) or other one-time use supplies as well as the last inspection by a Environmental/Public Health Officer
  • Have a business license (according to municipal requirements) and hold insurance

For additional suggestions when searching for an electrologist, visit Hair Facts: Hair removal facts for consumers.

Other things to consider about hair removal

  • Managing Pain: Electrolysis and laser hair removal feels a bit like getting a tattoo. Most will not require any pain medication but if you are concerned about pain, you can apply a topical anesthetic, after consulting with your primary care provider, like Tetracaine or EMLA cream before your hair removal sessions.
  • Managing Expectation: Results of hair removal can differ by individual as well as the experience and skill of the provider. It is important to keep in mind there will be varying results, side-effects and limitations of the treatment for each individual.

Tip: Attend hair removal treatment sessions as planned and notify your hair removal service provider if any changes that occur in your diet and hormones so your treatment plan may be adjusted.