Waxing vs Laser Hair Removal: The Difference

Waxing vs Laser Hair Removal: The Difference

Ah… hair removal. We love it. We hate it. We deal with it nearly every day. But do we actually know the best way to do it?

If you’re like most of us, you probably started shaving at an early age — and you’re finally about to hit your breaking point. We’re talking about years of expensive razor repurchases, annoying nicks and cuts, and performing circus-level body contortions trying to get every piece of hair gone before that big 4th of July weekend pool party. And all that for minimal, short-term results!

If that sounds like you, you’ve probably already started looking into hair removal alternatives. Let us tell you, there are tons to sort through. Given all the options the market has available, it can be hard to decide just which method of hair removal is right for you, let alone make sense of what every method even is.

Today, we are breaking down two of the most popular long(er) term hair removal methods to help you obtain skin that is smooth like butter without all the hassle of shaving (or skip straight to the end to learn about our favorite personal hair removal device that combines the best parts of waxing and laser hair removal).

 Wax On, Wax Off

If you haven’t entered the world of waxing yet, let us give you the rundown (so you can run in the other direction). 

Wax is applied on top of the skin, then a disposable strip is laid on top of the wax. Once the wax is cooled and slightly hardened, the strip is removed (let’s call it what it is — ripped off) and the wax and hair come with it. Ouch!

Most often, hot wax is used because the heat helps to open up the pores, making it easier to get all hairs out in one try. 

Though it may seem simple, hot wax does come with some risks and is best done by a trained professional. However, there are at-home waxing options including “cold waxing” wax strips.


What About At-Home Waxing?

Cold wax strips are disposable wax strips with the wax already on them. They’re usually pre-shaped to fit different areas of the body: upper lip, legs, armpits… you get the idea. You simply take them out of the package, lay them straight onto the target area, flatten it down and pull — no heat required. 

A simple internet search can show how easily these are used (and YouTubers have been using them for views for years, thanks to how much they hurt coming off). These can be purchased at most convenience stores and are pretty user-friendly. At the very least, they’re much safer than using hot wax at home. 

We won’t sugar coat it for you (although some waxing methods do involve melted sugar): waxing is not known as the most comfortablehair removal method. Those with a low tolerance for pain may find waxing too uncomfortable to commit to it routinely especially in… sensitive areas. 

Girlies with sensitive or acne-prone skin should aware of the potential side effects of facial waxing while using acne treatments or retinoid-based products — these three don’t mix and can cause irritation.


Major Laser

Very different from waxing, laser hair removal does not remove the hair from the follicle but instead shoots a highly concentrated beam of light down into the hair follicle. The pigment in the hair absorbs this light and converts it to heat, then burns and blocks the hair follicles, leaving you with long-term hair removal. 

Unlike waxing, which only takes one session to achieve results, laser hair removal requires repeated sessions of treatment by your doctor to complete the process and reach long-term hair removal. We’re talking multiple trips to the doctor’s office, sitting in traffic, wishing you were literally anywhere else.

However, your patience and repetition are rewarded, since laser hair removal can give you several months (even up to a year) of no regrowth before needing a maintenance treatment.

However, since we just talked about waxing and you may be considering switching up your previous methods, remember that you should not wax before a laser hair removal treatment. Laser hair removal requires hair in the follicle in order to work since the light of the laser needs to detect the color contrast between the hair and skin.

Another great benefit to laser hair removal is that it is relatively fast and pain-free. You may experience a tingling sensation or a low warmth as the laser is passed along the skin. Overall, the procedure is relatively quick and easy since the laser only has to pass over the treatment area once per session. 

Head to Head (Or Should We Say…Hair to Hair)

We know it’s a lot of info to take in all at once, and you may still be on the fence on which of these methods you are ready to commit your mind and body to trying. 

One distinct between waxing and shaving or laser hair removal is that it works by removing the hair from the follicle completely, earning you a much longer regrowth period (three to six weeks depending on the area of the body) since your skin has to regrow the entire hair from the root. 

Bikini line waxes tend to have two to three weeks of results, but leg waxes could leave you with flawlessly smooth legs for up to six weeks. Meanwhile, shaving simply cuts the hair at the surface of the skin, with results lasting only a few days.


Still, there are plenty of other considerations in the great waxing vs. laser hair removal debate. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each hair removal method:

Pros of Waxing

  • Can have exfoliating benefits
  • Results last between three to six weeks (depending on the area of the body)
  • Offers several safe at-home options
  • Cheaper than laser hair removal (even if done professionally)

Cons of Waxing

  • Can be an uncomfortable or even slightly painful experience depending on each user’s pain tolerance and skin sensitivity
  • Risk of skin redness, irritation, inflammation, and ingrown hairs
  • Potential for poor reactions on facial waxing for those using acne-targeting or retinoid anti-aging products 
  • Hair must be grown out to between ¼ inch and ½ inch to be waxed

Pros of Laser Hair Removal

  • Only risk of mild discomfort when compared to waxing
  • Extremely long term results (months to years)
  • Safe to use on almost any part of the body
  • Prevents ingrown hairs
  • Very precise and quick procedure

Cons of Laser Hair Removal

  • Must be provided by a professional at a doctor’s office
  • More expensive to have professionally done than waxing
  • Limitations on which color hair and skin type will provide optimal results
  • Multiple rounds of treatment are required to achieve desired long term results

The Best of Both Worlds

Miss Hannah Montana knew what she was talking about! What if we told you there was a way to get all the benefits of both waxing and laser hair removal with an extremely effective alternative hair removal method? We see we’ve got your attention now. 

A method you may not have heard of before (but that is sometimes accidentally grouped under laser hair removal) is the intense pulsed light (IPL) system. 

IPL systems are offered as an alternative to laser hair removal and similarly can be performed in a doctor’s office but can also be done from the comfort of your own home! (Take that, laser hair removal!) 

VivaLaJolie offers painless personal IPL devices that will give you all the long-term results of laser hair removal without the hassle of repeat doctor’s visits (and most importantly, it can save you cash money). They can even help you make the switch seamlessly from whichever method of hair removal you’ve been using whether it be waxing, shaving, or laser hair removal. 

So, What’s the Verdict?

With all the options out there, there is a perfect hair removal method for you. Researching is the best first step and there is a TON of information floating around. We’ve laid out the pros and cons of two of the most popular hair removal methods on the market today. But with the best combination of convenience, comfort, and cost, our vote is for IPL.



Shaving vs Waxing What’s Better For Your Skin | Cleveland Clinic

Laser Hair Removal: Overview | American Academy of Dermatology

Waxing | DermNet

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