Permanent Hair Removal : A Disputed Term

What Is Permanent Hair Removal

The definition of "permanent hair removal" is being able to go a year after your final treatment without having to use another method. It has been established as the complete destruction of a hair follicle's ability to regenerate and grow hair.
However, keep in mind that a year might not be long enough to determine true permanence, but most consumers would be happy to have one treatment a year. The only method of clinically proven really permanent is electrolysis. Some lasers and IPL have been able to achieve permanent hair reduction, as discussed below.

What Is Permanent Hair Reduction

Several lasers have demonstrated permanent hair reduction in clinical studies and are allowed to make this claim by FDA. The word "reduction" adds another term that is vaguely defined. FDA has accepted the definition of reduction as a stable reduction in the number of coarse dark hairs. Some lasers have demonstrated in clinical testing that they can reduce the size of hairs and lighten the color. In some patients, this reduction appears to be permanent.

What Is Long-term Hair Removal

It is an undefined term. Again, it depends on what your definition of "long" is. The definition of "long-term" is being able to go 6 months after your final treatment without having to use another method.

What Is Permanent Hair Reduction

What Is Semi-permanent Hair Removal

This is a marketing term used in the salon industry that some salons have started using to describe laser results. It means "lasting a few weeks."

Permanent Methods


No Method Is 100% Effective In All Clients


All methods have some clients who do not seem to respond to treatment. The reason is unknown, and the exact percentages are not established. Below are some examples that the clinical studies published in medical journals or submitted to FDA and studies lasting 6 months or more. Note that some studies report good results but do not report non-responders.

Method Study In Study  (%) With Significant Change
Hair Inhibitors None -- --
Transdermal None -- --
Transcutaneous None -- --
Photoepilators None -- --
Microwaves None -- --
Electric Tweezers Verdich (1984) 8 0 (0%)
Vaniqa FDA data (2000) 393 228 (58%)
Electrolysis Richards (1986) 281 261 (93%)
IPL Sadick (1999) 67 28 (41%)
Alexandrite Laser Eremia (2001) 89 89
Diode Laser Baumler (2002) 16 4 (25%)
Ruby Laser Liew (1999) 48 17 (35%)
Nd:YAG Laser Nanni (1997) 12 0 (0%)
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