Electrolysis for hair removal - what it is and how it works
While laser’s status as the most popular permanent hair removal seems uncontested for now, the argument for electrolysis is a strong one.
For one, it’s more ‘permanent’ than laser and can be suitable for anyone who has unwanted hair and wants to make an investment in its elimination.
But how does electrolysis hair removal work, what parts of the body can it be used on, and how much is it?
In this article:
8 to 12 sessions
Duration of results
Back to work
Full recovery time
15 minutes to 1 hour
OTC pain relief
What is electrolysis?
Electrolysis is a scientific process that creates a chemical change by sending an electric current through something. It’s not confined to hair removal alone and is a very basic but important process that is used to extract hydrogen from water and has many other industrial uses.
Unlike laser hair removal, electrolysis is the only FDA-approved method of permanent hair removal.
How does electrolysis for hair removal work?
Electrolysis hair removal targets individual hair follicles and is the most successful hair removal method currently on the market.
It can be effective anywhere on your body but is most popular for treating smaller areas such as the upper lips, eyebrows, hairline, or abdomen below the navel.
The science behind it
Electrolysis is a straightforward process in which an electric current passes through a needle inserted into a hair follicle and chemically changes the salt and water in the skin to produce sodium hydroxide. This chemical is caustic enough to kill the cells that generate hair growth.
The process destroys hairs in one of three ways:
- Galvanic electrolysis, which creates a chemical reaction.
- Thermolysis, which generates heat.
- Blend, which combines both approaches.
Before the treatment
Electrolysis hair removal cost isn’t the only thing to consider when finding a clinician.
Ensure you’re working with a qualified, approved practitioner who offers you a consultation first. Use this time to clarify any preparation needed.
Shaving and waxing are often not recommended in the days leading up to a treatment. You may also be told to avoid things like chemical peels and intense sunlight.
Consider booking the treatment at a particular time in your cycle, so your skin is less sensitive. Ask your clinician if they offer anaesthetic cream if you’re nervous about any pain.
During the treatment
Each practitioner will have their own electrolysis routines, but they’ll likely follow these steps:
- A very thin probe will be inserted into your skin.
- The device disrupts each follicle in a target area using an electrical current or shortwave radio frequencies.
- Follicles will be treated one by one, with the probe working its magic all the way down to the root.
- As a final step, each hair will be removed with the help of tweezers.
An electrolysis hair removal session can take as little as 15 minutes to half an hour, making the treatment easy to fit into a busy day.
Serious pain and side effects post-treatment are rare, but to help prevent irritation, refrain from washing the treated area for at least 24 hours. You will have some redness at the site for up to a couple of days though, so if it’s your face that has been treated, take this into consideration.
You will need to book further sessions which can take place every week or every other week depending on your needs.
Is electrolysis permanent? Plus, other things you need to know
If electrolysis for hair removal sounds appealing, here are some things to consider before you book a treatment.
Is electrolysis permanent?
There are no truly permanent hair removal techniques. However, electrolysis is considered the most permanent way to remove hair yielding the best results (93 per cent success rate) compared to any other method.
Does electrolysis work for everyone?
Yes. Unlike laser treatment, electrolysis doesn’t target hair pigment, instead, it attacks the follicle itself. Therefore, it’s suitable for all skin tones and hair types. It can also be used anywhere on the body, including the eyebrows.
How many electrolysis sessions will I need?
Usually, several sessions of electrolysis are needed for noticeable results. Only hair that is growing can be successfully treated and dormant follicles may surface after a few weeks. Also, bent follicles from previous waxing or tweezing may make getting to the root more difficult. It also depends on the amount of unwanted hair you are treating.
Be prepared for sessions to extend over a few months, sometimes longer.
How much does electrolysis hair removal cost?
The cost of electrolysis hair removal varies depending on your city, country, and the clinic you use. In Saudi Arabia, you can expect to pay around 190 SAR per session. Depending on how many sessions you require, electrolysis can become expensive. So, budget accordingly and confirm costs with your clinic ahead of starting a treatment plan.
Is electrolysis painful?
Pain is totally subjective, so this is hard to predict. Some patients describe a scratch and mild tingling, others have experienced pain that has required a topical anaesthetic. Discuss your concerns at your consultation. A good practitioner will stop treatment and find a solution to your discomfort before continuing.
How can I find electrolysis hair removal near me?
Finding a local clinic that offers electrolysis treatments is easy with selfologi. Find a local clinic here.
- Electrolysis can trace its roots back to 1875, when a doctor called Charles Michel used the process to get rid of ingrown eyelashes.
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