What is Electrolysis?

Electrolysis is the science of permanent hair removal utilizing a probe device. A fine, sterile probe is inserted into the hair follicle. Then a small amount of current or heat, depending on the modality used, is discharged. This destroys the hair follicle and prevents it from producing another hair.

Modern Electrology began in 1875 through the efforts of Ophthalmologist, Dr. Charles Michel. He accidentally discovered electrolysis while removing an ingrown eyelash from one of his patients. Through his initial efforts and continued research, permanent hair removal through Electrolysis is a reliable and safe method for halting excess hair. For the last 100+ years the medical community has recognized the three methods of electrolysis as the only process for permanent hair removal. They are Galvanic, Thermolysis and Blend.

A. GALVANIC: A DC (direct) current passes through the needle. It charges the moisture (H2O) and salt (NaCl) naturally found in the follicle, causing a chemical reaction. Sodium hydroxide (lye) is produced. The lye destroys the hair follicle by chemical decomposition. This method precedes Thermolysis and is generally somewhat less effective and more uncomfortable for patient, requiring higher voltages.

B. THERMOLYSIS: An AC (alternating) current passing through the needle causes vibration in the water molecules surrounding the hair follicle which produces heat. The heat damages the hair follicle. This is the quickest method, but areas will need to be covered more times than with Galvanic or Blend.

C. BLEND: This method combines the benefits of galvanic and thermolysis. It passes a DC current through the needle, producing lye, which is then heated up by the AC current. The heat spreads the lye around the follicle, ensuring proper damage to the hair follicle tissue. This is faster than Galvanic alone, but still more time consuming than Thermolysis.

At The Vertical Wellness Spa, we use the proven Thermolysis method. After analyzing the skin, texture, moisture gradient (dry or moist), hair type, and client sensitivity our electrologists the appropriate current for the client. Thus, your electrolysis treatment can be customized for maximum comfort, swiftness, and most importantly, permanency.


What parts of the body can electrolysis treat?

Electrolysis can treat most areas of the body, including the:

  • Back
  • Bikini line, thighs and lower legs.
  • Breasts and abdomen.
  • Face, including lip, chin and eyebrows.
  • Fingers and toes.
  • Underarms.

Why should I choose electrolysis over other hair removal methods?

Electrolysis is the only method approved by the FDA for the permanent removal of unwanted hair. As the hair is treated, regrowth is prevented rather than just removed temporarily. Only electrolysis provides both hair removal and hair elimination. Electrolysis is effective for all skin types, hair types, skin colors, hair colors, and areas of the body. Electrolysis is safe, with very minimal temporary side effects.


What causes excess hair?

According to current medical science, excessive hair growth is primarily caused by three factors: Normal Systemic Changes, Heredity and Glandular Disturbances.

  1. Normal Systemic Changes can be caused by puberty, pregnancy, menopause and hysterectomy. Puberty stimulates change in both the body and hair-growth patterns. Common pattern changes include an increase in hair follicle activity and an overall darkening/thickening of the hair shaft. The diminished hormonal levels in a woman¹s body following menopause and/or a hysterectomy can promote new hair growth on the face and body.
  2. Glandular Disturbances originate in the endocrine system, which is responsible for our physical development. Certain specific medications, such as male hormones, birth control pills, and even pregnancy can disrupt the delicate endocrine balance and produce unwanted hair.
  3. Hereditary Hirsutism, excessive and abnormal growth of hair, is found in all nationalities, some more than others. Electrolysis can permanently solve this problem regardless of nationality or the amount of hair. However, many cases of “excessive” hair growth are actually normal in relation to the physiological changes the client may be going through, just as it is normal for many men to go bald. Most instances of baldness are cause by heredity and are considered normal.

It is worth noting that stress, both emotional and physical, can stimulate the adrenal glands to initiate a hormonal reaction that can cause finer hairs to become more coarse and noticeable. Increased blood supply can also stimulate hair to grow thicker and darker. Waxing and tweezing can cause an increase in blood supply in many clients while others experience reduction of hair growth.


What is a normal hair growth cycle?

All hair, regardless of the area of the body, has a different hair growth cycle. Eyelashes and eyebrows, for instance, grow for about four months and then are shed. The life span of a human scalp hair is from two to four years. After the hair is sloughed off, the follicle becomes dormant for a period varying from a few weeks to several months. Then it begins once again to produce hair. Since only visible hair can be treated, the initial treatment period for any given area is four months.

Much of the perceived “re-growth” that occurs during treatment is really hair emerging from dormancy. Once this hair becomes visible, it can be treated for the first time.


How long does electrolysis hair removal take?

The number of electrolysis treatments required for permanent hair removal varies with each client. That said, those that adhere to the recommended treatment schedule usually accomplish their goal between 12-18 months. Some improvement should be observed within several months after initiating treatment, provided the client adheres to the recommended treatment schedule.

There are many factors that may influence the treatment program. Hair growth cycles, the quantity and structure of the hair presented, previous uses of temporary hair removal methods, heredity, hormone function, normal physiologic changes, certain medications and stress. Hairs that have been tweezed, waxed or are very curly often have a good chance of coming back as a finer hair. It can then be epilated for good. This is due to the follicle distortion, which means it is not growing straight under the surface of the skin. Since the probe is straight, with a bent root, only part of the hair (and germinative cells) is treated on the first treatment.


Are all hairs eliminated in one electrolysis treatment?

Deep, coarse hairs cannot always be eliminated with one treatment; breaking down the hair germ cells may require additional treatments. Due to the cyclical nature of hair growth, new hair as well as hairs emerging from a dormant phase will be treated. They may be visible at the same time as finer regrowth hairs. We can work with you on a treatment plan that will make the follicles completely inert. Together we can remove unwanted hair entirely and permanently!


What are the side effects of electrolysis?

You may be concerned about the possible side effects of electrolysis, and how to prevent or minimize them. Immediately following treatment, there may be a slight redness and/or swelling which usually disappears within a few hours. Occasionally, small whiteheads or tiny scabs may occur. Whiteheads usually are indicative of bacteria entering the follicle after treatment. Remember to keep the area as clean as possible for the 24 hours immediately following treatment. Scabs are part of the normal healing process and will not cause any permanent damage if they are not picked off. Trauma to the underlying tissue will sometimes cause lymph fluid to seep from the follicle. The lymph fluid seeps to the top of the skin and in a dry environment will harden forming a scab. Applying anti-bacterial ointment on the treated area will often deter the scabs from forming. When electrolysis is correctly administered there should be no permanent skin damage. That’s why we recommend going to an experienced professional.


How much does electrolysis cost?

Going to an electrolysis clinic is an investment. It is more expensive than threading, waxing, or shaving. The benefit becomes clearer once you understand the reality of what you are paying a premium for. Simply, the peace of mind of never having to worry about hair removal for that area of your body ever again. Imagine paying for a year’s worth of threading up front, and getting a lifetime free into the bargain. 

Electrolysis prices vary depending on the size of the area being treated. For small areas like eyebrows, upper lip, or chin, you may only need a 15 or 30 minute session. For larger areas like legs, chest, back, or armpits, it may take longer. A 45 minute or hour long session may be sufficient for an initial pass. Further sessions may be required to render the area completely hair free. For specifics on price, you should contact Alison.


Is electrolysis painful?

Electrolysis is a procedure comparable to laser therapy (although electrolysis differs in that it is a method of permanent hair removal). The level of pain or discomfort people experience differs. Factors include the individual’s overall sensitivity, the sensitivity of the area being treated, and the amount of hair growing in that area. Generally any discomfort that is felt during the procedure fades quickly. It is significantly less painful than the pain felt during waxing. The area can also be treated with numbing cream prior to the procedure, which can make a substantial difference.


What about Laser?

Some laser promoters compare laser to electrology and some laser devices have been cleared for permanent reduction. However, laser assisted hair removal is considered a temporary method of hair removal. Additionally, laser hair removal has not been evaluated for long-term safety of the patient’s skin and health. For more information on lasers and the effects of high energy on varying skin types, visit: the FDA Website.


How does Electrolysis using the Thermolysis method work for persons with darker skin?

Unlike Laser treatment, electrolysis is compatible with all skin types and hair types. For laser hair removal to work, there needs to be a substantial contrast between the color of the skin and the color of the hair. Electrolysis solves this problem and works on all dark skin.

Our clients with darker skin hail from a variety of backgrounds, including:

  • African American
  • Latinx / Hispanic
  • Asian
  • Indian and Southeast Asian
  • Pacific Islander
  • Native American
  • Middle Eastern

as well as clients from mixed race backgrounds.

Learn more about Electrolysis for darker skin.


Does shaving make more hair grow?

No, it does not – it is a myth that has been around for a very long time. Your hair cycles stay the same. When we begin electrolysis with a shaved area, your hairs die faster than if you had previously done anything else. Waxing, threading, laser, or tweezing are less effective.

Areas of your face and body that have been shaved  require less time for the electrolysis treatment. If you shave before the electrolysis process, the hairs will die faster.

You may have certain hair types on your face such as vellus, light or dark coarse hairs. We recommended that you shave these first for faster electrolysis treatment results.


What is the difference between waxing and shaving?

Waxing stimulates your hair roots and creates a new hair root to grow each time you wax an area. So your hairs multiply and may also grow back thicker and coarser than what you had prior to waxing. Also waxing can be hard on the skin, while shaving is usually not. Breaking the skin in multiple places can happen with relative frequency while removing your own wax. It is much worse for the skin than the slight and superficial cuts that may occur during shaving.

Each time you shave, the hair stays the same and it does not get stimulated. It is the same root, and not a new hair, but shaving may change the stage of the hair from telogen to anagen.


What is the difference between threading and shaving?

Threading achieves the same goal as waxing by stimulating hair growth. There is a new hair each time it is pulled out, but threading is easier on the skin. Shaving does not stimulate the growth of hair.


Does electrolysis work on men?

Men definitely benefit from electrolysis. The most common areas of male electrolysis are the chest, arm, upper shoulder, back, chin, sideburns, face, eyebrows, ears, neck, fingers and toes, and hands. We are also able to assist with several other areas, should treatment be desired.

Electrolysis is the preferred method for ingrown neck or beard hairs to achieve smooth, attractive skin. Learn more about electrolysis for men.


What do I need to do before my electrolysis appointment?

There are a number of things that you can do prior to your appointment at Electrolysis by Alison. These will help achieve optimal results and keep you comfortable:

• Drink lots of water the day before and the day of the electrolysis session. Stay hydrated and do not drink caffeine the day of the electrolysis session. The better hydrated and more supple your skin is, the better the treatment will work.

• Eat a meal before the electrolysis session – Do not come hungry.

• Apply numbing cream (Dr. Numb, lidocaine, procaine, or EMLA) onto the treatment area 45 minutes to an hour before the electrolysis session. Apply thick layer and do not rub it in and apply cellophane or plastic wrap to treatment area. This assists the electrolysis treatment.

• Do not work out or go to the gym or exercise within two hours of your appointment at Electrolysis by Alison. Excess sweat can interfere with the treatment. It is best if the skin is not coated in anything, including deodorants, antiperspirants, or sweat.

• Any skin treatments including facials, microdermabrasion, skin rejuvenation treatments, or peels should not be performed within one week of the electrolysis session.

• Do not use Retin-A or any acne cream 3-5 days before the electrolysis session.

• Do not wear make-up, foundation or sun block to the electrolysis session.

• Skin should be cleansed the day of the electrolysis session. Loofah or lightly scrub the skin a few days before the electrolysis session.

• Do not pick at your skin before your treatment.


What do I need to do after my electrolysis appointment?

To maintain comfort and promote the best results, here are some aftercare recommendations:

• Ice the treated are for two minutes or less each time for as many times as you can within 12 hours after the electrolysis treatment.
• Lightly apply Neosporin or polysporin if you have dry or combination skin. Acne-prone or oily skin should not use Neosporin or polysporin. Another option is aloe vera directly from the plant or organic, all natural aloe vera gel. Bacitracin and hydrocortizone can be applied if you know you’re are not allergic to its contents.
• Drinks lots of water to stay hydrated.
• Eat within one hour after the electrolysis. This will keep you grounded and the nervous system will balance itself automatically.

Following your treatment, there is a possibility of redness in the treated area. This is both normal and temporary and is part of the electrolysis process. Different body and face hairs have different frequency levels. Redness will depend on your skin type and on the areas of your body that have higher or lower frequency to remove the hairs. For relief, you can ice the area and/or apply aloe vera gel or Neosporin.


What causes ingrown hairs?

Irritating, sometimes painful ingrown hairs can occur after waxing, laser treatments or even shaving.  Ingrown hairs can occur in the bikini area, inner thigh, upper leg (front or back), knee, lower leg, chin, and neck. An ingrown hair can cause tiny, swollen bumps on the skin that may hurt. Ingrown hair occurs when a hair that’s been removed starts to grow back and curves into the skin.


How can I get rid of ingrown hair?

An occasional ingrown hair isn’t cause for alarm. However, if you want to get rid of ingrown hairs, electrolysis is the way to go. Electrolysis for ingrown hair is completely safe and effective for all hair and skin types. During the treatments, electrolysis restricts the follicle from growing another unwanted hair.

Electrolysis can eliminate ingrown hairs and the skin returns to a healthier look without all the irritation from temporary hair removal methods. It is effective for anyone regardless of skin and hair types and colors.


Does electrolysis really work on ingrown hair?

Ingrown hair sometimes goes away without treatment, however, ingrown hair has the potential to be a serious health hazard. If not properly treated or removed, ingrown hair can become infected and may require medical care. Without proper attention, ingrown hair can lead to scarring or “razor bumps.” The infection can spread and turn into nonhealing, crusty sores.

Recurring incidents of ingrown hair is often called folliculitis. This condition occurs when new hair fails repeatedly to grow straight out of your follicles. It instead grows curly or crooked just under the skin before it emerges. Though ingrown hair could affect anyone, people with coarse or curly hair are more apt to suffer from ingrown hair or folliculitis. The condition isn’t life-threatening, but it can be itchy, sore and embarrassing. Severe infections can cause permanent hair loss and scarring.

Though it has since been used to treat all unwanted hair, electrolysis was originally developed to remove ingrown hair. It is a very effective solution. In fact, electrolysis is is the only hair removal technique approved by both the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association (AMA).

We want you to experience the freedom that comes from permanently removing ingrown hair. We are confident it can help you maintain good health and feel more confident about your appearance.

For more information about how electrolysis can help remove your ingrown hair, feel free to schedule an initial consultation for first-time electrolysis clients. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you take your first step towards actualizing your beauty goals. We hope our hair removal by electrolysis FAQs were helpful.


What types of skin are prone to ingrown hair?

Anyone can get an ingrown hair. But the problem is more common in people who have very curly or coarse hair. Curly hair is more likely to bend back and re-enter your skin, especially after it’s been shaved or cut.

Some skin types are more likely to get ingrown hair than others. These include:

• African American
• Olive skin or darker
• Indian


What areas are more likely to have ingrown hair?

Though ingrown hair can happen anywhere, it is more likely to occur on:
• Male beard
• Male jaw line
• Male neck

• Female chin
• Female neck
• Female jaw line
• Female bikini area
• Female inner thigh
• Female upper or lower legs


Can hairs be removed from tattooed skin?

Yes, electrolysis works on tattooed skin. Professional electrologists are very unlikely to have any unwanted effects on tattoos, as unlike laser tattoo removal, electrolysis does not affect the layer of skin in which the ink of a tattoo is found. It penetrates to a deeper layer, where it disables the growth cells at the base of the hair follicle. This is a much more precise and predictable approach than bathing a section of skin in laser light.