Electrolysis: An Overview

6 min read

Electrolysis: An Overview

At ForChics, we like to talk about our favorite methods for growing hair thicker, fuller, and denser, no matter the hair type—on our heads, our brow hair, or our lashes. 

But an intertwined part of electrolysis is hair removal because with hair growth—particularly brow growth—comes new strands growing where you do not want them, such as outside the shape of your brows

Our hair removal options are plentiful, including tweezing, waxing, creams, chemical depilatories, threading, and laser hair devices, but many of these methods aren't great for home use or involve harsh chemicals. 

Thankfully, there is also another option you might not have heard of called electrolysis. It sounds fancy and official and maybe like a term you’d have to study for on your science test, alongside oxidation, anode, and cathodes. 

Don’t worry; we’re going to break down exactly what electrolysis is and how you can use it for hair removal.

What Is Electrolysis?

Is electrolysis some kind of scientific term, or a cool sci-fi weapon? No, but it’s still really cool!

Electrolysis is a permanent, or long-term, hair removal procedure that works much the same as laser hair removal—that is, it targets the hair follicles under the skin and damages them so that they stop growing back. 

Electrolysis treatments use an electric current instead of a laser device. 

According to Randa Thurman, the owner of Pacific Coast Electrology and Skin Care, the way it actually works is “by inserting a fine probe into the skin. It uses shortwave radio or direct current in hair follicles to stop new hair from growing.” 

Unlike temporary hair removal methods, it helps to prevent new hair growth in that spot in the future and makes the current hair there fall out by destroying the growth center of the hair. It can be performed on any skin type, hair type, or hair color.

There are different kinds of electrolysis, but you might not be given the option of choosing your method, as it will depend on what type of electrolysis the salons use. Where you live will probably determine which methods are largely available to you. Although it may take multiple sessions, eventually, you will see more permanent results.

Galvanic Electrolysis

This method inserts electrons into the hair follicles, causing the hair follicles to dissolve due to the chemical reaction created. This process uses electrolysis devices called needles to dissolve up to sixteen hairs at a time, but they’re more like flattened probes. It may take up to 30 seconds per localized area to thoroughly damage the hairs. 

Thermolysis Electrolysis

Not gonna lie, we kind of want this rhyming title to be our superhero name. But actually, thermolysis uses heat to kill the hair follicles rather than a chemical reaction. Thermolysis is faster than galvanic, but because it targets such small areas at a time, the process length is about the same. 

Blend Electrolysis

This mode simply compiles both the galvanic and thermolysis method and uses them together for the same results. 

What Areas Can I Use Electrolysis for Hair Removal?

Electrolysis is one of a few different permanent hair removal methods (unlike shaving, which is so time-consuming), which means that hair regrowth in the locations where it’s done will be significantly reduced and slowed down. However, you may still get some growth there in the future. 

Because it has such effective results, most people elect to get electrolysis done on areas of their body where they know they’re never going to want much, if any, growth. 

The perfect locations are areas of the body where body hair causes embarrassment, discomfort, or just annoyance. Many women elect to have electrolysis done on their faces (such as peach fuzz or a bit of an upper lip mustache), on their brows (like the unwanted hair growth outside of the brow line), on the bikini line, chin, breasts, underarms, arms, abdomen, thighs, or legs. 

Suppose you also have a specific request for a spot you want to remove hair from. In that case, you could explain this to your hair removal practitioner—typically a board-certified dermatologist—during your free consultation. They can make the proper recommendations.

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What Is the Procedure Like?

Before booking your electrolysis appointment, I’m sure you’re dying to know all the details of what to expect in advance––we breakdown exactly what to anticipate.

The Timeline

Electrolysis is not a one-time appointment but rather a series of follow-up treatments over a period of time. The number of sessions necessary will vary from person to person. 

Essentially, you return for follow-up sessions until the hair in your targeted location stops growing back in any significant amount, so you’ll want to leave a week or so between treatments to see how hair growth looks.

Where you remove hair from will determine how long your session lasts, but be prepared for up to an hour for large areas. 

The Discomfort

There are mixed reviews as to whether electrolysis is painful or not. Mainly, electrolysis can cause some discomfort during the session, but many people find the session relaxing. Once again, it depends on the area you choose to remove hair from. 

Understandably, a heat energy process like thermolysis may cause a warming effect as it uses a heat laser over your skin, while otherwise, you may feel a minor pinching sensation. Your dermatologist may apply a topical anesthetic to make the procedure more comfortable.

The Cost

Unfortunately, the answer is not cut and dry because it will largely depend on the span of your chosen area, as well as the professional you go to. The average cost is between $50-$125 per hour. 

This price is highly comparable with other hair removal treatments, considering the results are permanent, but you may want to anticipate the cost and budget for it. 

The Risks

Electrolysis is a pretty non-invasive procedure, so the risks are minimal. However, you could experience some redness immediately afterward, but a slight reddening of the skin or swelling is uncommon. 

There is, again, the risk of the procedure itself causing discomfort, as well as a sensation of heat. 

Choosing a qualified electrolysis practitioner is essential to avoid other side effects, such as changes in skin color of treated skin, infection from unsterile needles, or other easily avoidable complications.

Another risk to consider is that your hair follicles will be permanently damaged to the point where they no longer produce growth in that area. 

Because the results are irreversible, a risk you may want to keep in mind is that should you change your mind in the future, there will be no way to bring back growth on the locations electrolysis was performed. 

Luckily, since most people don’t miss their leg or underarm hair right after they’ve shaved, this risk probably won’t cause you significant grief. 

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Takeaway

There you go, everything you ever wanted to know about electrolysis. And no, although we were all a little disappointed to learn that it doesn’t refer to some magical harnessing of currents like in a sci-fi movie, it does combine science, technology, and the beauty fields in a really remarkable way. The results are shown through all of the estheticians and clients testifying to their personal hair removal.

Maybe you’re considering having electrolysis done on some area of your body where you don’t want to experience hair growth anymore. But we all have other places where we do desire a healthy amount of hair, like our eyebrows and eyelashes. 

Maybe you took hair removal matters into your own hands and went a little too far in removing the hair around your eyebrows. And unfortunately, brow regrowth is a tedious process.

If you’re looking to boost your eyebrow fullness, we have a brow growth serum that you’ll love. It combines powerful active, vegan ingredients to rapidly increase hair growth. 

By rapid, we mean results as early as two weeks!

Sometimes, we all need a little help when it comes to our hair, whether removing it or regrowing it, so thanks for looking to us for your questions!




Sources:

Electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal: Which Is Best For Facial Hair? | Byrdie

How Electrolysis Hair Removal Works | Byrdie

Electrolysis and thermolysis for permanent hair removal | NIH