It’s very hard to separate the facts from the quacks, so I recommend relying on published, peer-reviewed medical literature for the most reliable information. I’ve listed a handful of websites which have compiled reliable information, and I’ve also listed some of the worst offenders for spreading misinformation.
The “A” List
The following websites provide what I consider the best and most accurate information.
- National Institute of Health (PubMed): Published medical articles on hair removal.
- US Food and Drug Administration: The primary federal regulator of hair removal products. Specifically:
- Electric tweezer reclassification: “FDA acknowledges that the published literature contains no evidence of statistically significant data showing that the device is effective in achieving permanent removal of hair.”
- Laser Facts: “Several manufacturers received FDA permission to claim, ‘permanent reduction,’ NOT ‘permanent removal’ for their lasers. This means that although laser treatments with these devices will permanently reduce the total number of body hairs, they will not result in a permanent removal of all hair.”
- Removing Hair Safely
- Federal Trade Commission. It has limited hair removal information.
- American Association of Family Physicians: This trade group has published a brief but balanced handout on managing excessive hair (hirsutism).
- Laser Hair Removal: A three-section overview by American Academy of Dermatology.
- Good Housekeeping
- laserhairremovalreview.com. Older sales site run by IPL/flashlamps Dr. Harvey Jay, who advocates IPL/flash lamps
- American Electrology Association: This trade group has an excellent electrolysis overview.
Non-recommended hair removal information sources
Because it’s so hard to verify the identity or truthfulness of those posting to internet forums, I do not recommend relying on these for accurate information.
Signs of a quack hair removal product
- Infomercials: nearly every hair removal product or device sold via direct response advertising is overhyping the effectiveness of the product.
- Too good to be true: Permanent hair removal methods requiring no skill and causing no pain or side effects simply do not exist at this time.
- No published clinical data
- “Before and after” pictures: These usually do not include enough data to determine your own results.
- Marketing ploys: “Exclusive” methods only available at special outlets and coined words like “transdermolysis” and “lasertrolysis.”
- Testimonials: “Satisfied customers” with no contact information to verify their testimonials.
- High prices: Some promoters set a high price, because it makes some consumers assume it must work if it costs so much.
- Guaranteed 100% results: No method can unconditionally guarantee satisfactory hair removal in all consumers.
Manufacturer sites that contain misinformation
- Please see my section on hair removal products and services to avoid.