Pain-free laser hair removal is arguably one of the best things to happen to the beauty world since the invention of waterproof mascara. But, as wonderful as it is, laser technology will always have some limitations when it comes to hair removal as lasers will not be able to reach blonde, ginger, grey, or white hair. The lack of pigment in these hairs makes it difficult for the laser to target. So, while laser is better suited to darker hair types, people like me, with auburn hair and white roots are left with very little hair removal alternatives to waxing or shaving. But now, a new-age version of electrolysis is giving pigment-challenged folks like me hope in the permanent hair removal game.
Electrolysis isn’t exactly a new idea. The treatment has been around for a number of years, but is known for being extremely painful and time-consuming. It’s often not used as a hair removal solution unless the area you are looking to treat is extremely small. A few years ago I foolishly attempted to go the electrolysis route to permanently remove my underarm hair. I booked a 15-minute session and after an excruciating 2 minutes, I had no choice but to cut the treatment short. Never again.
Fast forward a few years, and I was invited to try out the all-new Apilus electrolysis system at The Laser Beautique. I was a little apprehensive at first but after the team at The Laser Beautique reassured me that this new form of electrolysis is relatively pain-free I decided to book a consultation to test it out. Dectro International, the manufacturers of the Apilus electrolysis system, claims to have been focused on perfecting their electrolysis technology over the years to permanently, effectively and virtually painlessly remove little to non-pigmented hair (such as grey, blonde or ginger hair).
How does it work?
To reduce pain and increase efficacy, the state-of-the-art Apilus touch screen electrolysis machine limits the level of destruction within the hair follicle, targeting only germinative cells. According to The Laser Beautique, the new Apilus system has a greater power and operates on a frequency of up to 6 times faster than any other electrolysis epilators on the market and the treatment is executed so rapidly that the sensation is barely perceptible.
Each follicle is treated using a faster and more sophisticated treatment technique and flash thermolysis technology. In contrast to older technology, the Apilus focuses heat energy on the root of the follicle. Some areas will be more sensitive than others but the treatment of each follicle is much faster using thermolysis rather than galvanic electrolysis, and this is what makes it virtually painless. The treatment is so fast that the body doesn’t have time to register any pain.
While laser hair removal is extremely effective, electrolysis remains the only 100% permanent hair removal method recognised by government regulatory agencies across the globe. Electrolysis permanently destroys germ cells responsible for hair growth by way of insertion of a fine probe in the hair follicle and the application of a current adjusted to each hair type and treatment area. In this way, the treatment protects the skin while also preventing new hair growth. The treatment is also safe on sensitive skins and can be used to target any hair colour – including light hair.
What does it feel like?
According to The Laser Beautique, the Apilus electrolysis system offers a relatively pain-free treatment experience. When I first heard the claims I was super sceptical but decided to pop to The Laser Beautique in Sea Point Cape Town to try it out before permanently writing it off.
After a quick consultation with the beauty therapist, I was ready to hop onto the treatment bed and test out the machine. This time around I decided to go for a smaller area and target a strip of dark brown hairs on my upper thighs. This strip of hair had plagued me my entire adult life, at first glance this area looked to be the perfect candidate for laser hair removal but after finding out that these hairs had white roots, laser was ruled out as a treatment method.
While traditional electrolysis treatments can feel like you’re piercing your skin with a fine red hot needle, sending a painful stinging sensation down your follicle, the Apilus feels like a short, sharp heat is being sent down your follicle. The sensation is relatively pain-free and feels a lot like a quick, warm (not overly hot) pinprick. The heat and prick is there one second, and the next it’s gone. It’s so quick you barely have time to register any pain.
I just had a quick 5-minute test patch done on one leg, so I can’t comment on what it would feel like to endure an entire 15-minute session of the treatment but judging from my quick experience I am confident I would be able to sit for an entire session without flinching. My skin was still a little red for about an hour after the test patch treatment but I didn’t have any sensitivity on the area. You can see the size of the patch and the redness from after my treatment in the image below.
How many sessions do you need?
You can use electrolysis to treat all areas of the body, but it’s best suited to smaller areas mostly because it can still be quite a time-consuming treatment. Even though this new Apilus version of the treatment is a lot quicker than traditional electrolysis treatments, the beauty therapist still has to treat each hair one at a time during a session.
The most popular and effective treatment areas for Apilus electrolysis is facial areas such are monobrow, upper lip, chin, sideburns, ears and nose. It can also be used to have the eyebrows permanently shaped. Other popular areas are fingers, toes, underarms and bikini line.
Another thing to consider is that the hair must be visible to be able to treat and remove it. Hair grows at different rates all over the body so the amount of treatments you will need depends on not only the speed of hair growth in a certain area but also on the stage of hair growth. Apilus electrolysis will be most effective at treating hair in the Anagen (active growth) phase. While the hair on your scalp stays in this active phase of growth for 2–7 years before falling out, the hair on your legs may only last 12 weeks.
The number of electrolysis sessions required will depend on many factors; for example, whether the hair is hormonal, if it has previously been waxed or plucked, the area of the body that needs treatment, and the growth phase of the hair at treatment.
I only had one test patch consultation, so I can’t comment on the efficacy and results of the treatment, but according to The Laser Beautique, as a general rule, you can expect to be hair free in treated areas after 12-18 months assuming that the suggested treatment program has been followed.
How much does it cost?
With electrolysis treatments you pay for the time spent using the tool, so the longer it takes to treat each area the more it will cost. At The Laser Beautique you’ll pay R150 for your initial Apilus electrolysis consultation session. This involves a test patch and full consultation on the best way forward on your hair removal journey. Thereafter you’ll pay R330 for a 15-minute session, R550 for a 30-minute session, and R1,050 for 60 minutes.
The treatment is quite cost-effective for smaller areas that only take about 15-minutes to treat at a time. But, for slightly larger areas, like the strip of hair on my upper thigh, it can become quite costly. The therapist advised that I would need a 90-minute session at R1,500 per session.
Find out more about the Apilus electrolysis treatments on The Laser Beautique website. The Laser Beautique is also the South African distributor of the Apilus electrolysis machine in South Africa. Find out more about the machine and training through The Beautique Academy here.
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After years of working as an Editor and writer for popular websites like Joburg’s Darling, Cape Town’s Darling and Joburg.co.za, Crystal left her sanity and an established career in lifestyle journalism behind to follow her dream of creating a website for the intellectual and discerning woman. Today she spends her time chasing the thrill of being the first to know about ‘the next big thing’. She’ll try anything once and has been known to put her body, hair and health on the line – all in the name of research.