Electrolysis may be cheaper per treatment - $60 to $150 or more per hour - but it may take two to 10 hours, or up to 20, to complete an upper lip.
"Many people think they can have one or two treatments and the hair doesn't grow back," says Kathleen Silvassy of Washington, D.C.. "Not so, especially with the thicker varieties found in eyebrows, which I've been working on for at least a couple years now."
Tammy Hammarstedt of suburban Chicago says she's "pretty happy" with the light-pulsed system treatments of her brow, lip, underarm and bikini areas but "it's taking more treatments than they said."
Removing Hair Safety
Get referrals from your physician and friends, check the location and remember: The government regulates electrolysis and laser machines, but not their operators.
Lasers must be used under a licensed practitioner's "direction." Depending on the state, the operator could be a doctor, registered nurse or esthetician. Ask about experience. Also, lasers owned outright or under long-term lease indicate commitment and experience.
For electrolysis, make sure one disposable needle is used per patient, and other tools are sterilized by dry heat or autoclave.
"The thing you have to be concerned about today is infection," says Teresa Petricca, The American Electrology Association's executive director. "You dig with forceps for imbedded hairs. Those instruments have got to be sterilized; they are going to get blood on them, otherwise you can transmit a blood-borne disease."
Also, check for an electrology or cosmetology school diploma, a license (required by 32 states) and industry group membership (indicating commitment to national standards).