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Electrolysis Hair Removal

Electrolysis (or electrology as it is sometimes called) is the only proven method of permanent hair removal. Other methods (such as laser hair removal) may offer a permanent reduction but for removal electrolysis is the answer especially as it works on all skin and hair types.

Electrolysis was first used successfully back in 1875 on ingrown eyelashes so it has a long track record. It fell out of fashion with the introduction of laser and intense pulsed light forms of hair removal as it was assumed that they were both quicker, easier and more effective than electrolysis.

As it has been discovered that this is not the case and that according to the FDA laser hair removal offers only limited permanent hair reduction rather than removal of unwanted hair, electrolysis has enjoyed renewed popularity.

Electrolysis works as an effective and permanent hair remover because once active hair follicles have been treated by the process they are permanently destroyed. Each hair is treated by passing a small amount of energy into the follicle via a very small fine needle. This destroys the follicle provided it is the active phase of the hair growth cycle.

As the electrologist is not able to detect which hairs are in that phase of growth several treatments may be needed to permanently destroy a hair.

Types of Electrolysis

There are three different types of electrolysis used for epilation.

  • Galvanic electrolysis uses a chemical reaction to destroy the hair follicle. It is very effective but slow.
  • Shortwave diathermy (radio frequency) destroys the hair quickly by means of heat but is not as effective as galvanic electrolysis
  • Blend - a combination of both methods

Each method aims to coagulate the base of the growing hair cutting off blood and nutrition supplies so that the hair "dies" - that is why it only works on actively growing hair.

A qualified therapist will advise on the right type of electrolysis for you. This depends on your skin type and tolerance, the strength and density of your hair and the area of unwanted hair to be treated

Which Areas of the Body can be Treated?

All areas on the body can be treated by electrolysis except the inner ear and inside the nostril of the nose. It is most popular for facial hair removal probably because of the expense of removing larger areas of excess hair. But men and women have treatment also at the hairline, rim of ears, toes, nipples, fingers, bikini line, legs - in fact anywhere that superfluous hair grows. Treatment for ingrowing eyelashes may also be available under medical supervision.

Advantages of Electrolysis

  • the only safe and proven method of permanently removing hair (provided a qualified therapist is used)
  • freedom from repeating temporary treatments and few regrowth problems once the full course of treatment is finished
  • no restriction to particular hair or skin types

Disadvantages of Electrolysis

  • Expensive and time consuming if treating a large area
  • Several treatments will be needed to achieve permanent hair removal
  • Painful sensation as each hair is treated
  • Must be treated by a qualified therapist to be effective
  • reddening of the skin, sore for some hours after treatment

Safety standards for Electrolysis

  • Always use a qualified electrologist
  • Ensure that modern equipment is in use
  • Check that disposable needles are used for each session
  • Look for a clean hygienic environment
  • Must be in compliance with Local authority, National and professional membership registration (where applicable)

What to expect from Electrolysis treatment

When you first visit an electrologist they should offer you a consultation which is often free of charge. You will be asked about the area to be treated and about your medical history to ensure that the treatment is suitable. Although no electrologist can tell you exactly what your particular requirements will be (it all depends on how your body and hair reacts), you should also discuss the likely frequency and length of treatment (including costs) and be given advice about caring for your skin after treatment.

You may be worried about the pain involved. It is usually less painful than you think as the needle is so fine that you do not feel the insertion. You also do not feel the hair being removed after destruction. But you do feel a stinging sensation as each hair is treated. You can use topical anaesthetic creams to reduce pain but most people do not need these.

Treatment causes skin to redden and be a bit sore for a few hours so it is best not to have a treatment before a social or business engagement.

The length of treatment varies from 5 minutes to more than an hour depending on the area to be treated and is priced according to treatment length. Most people have between 10 minutes and half an hour to begin with and book sessions weekly or once every two weeks until hair growth slows when sessions become more spaced out until eventually they can be stopped altogether.


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