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Electrolysis - A Choice for Permanent Hair Removal

By Tamra Cantar

First off, this isn't that thing you studied in physics class relating to anodes and cathodes and some guy called Faraday. Here, electrolysis means one of the most popular and effective ways to permanently remove unwanted hair. Electrolysis has an outstanding track record of success and over a century of tested safety and effectiveness.

The reason that it's so popular is that it's fundamental. A hair-thin metal probe is inserted into the hair follicle and an electrical charge is delivered. This damages the follicle and inhibits its ability to produce hairs.

Supervised by a professional (the process is very tricky and there's some pretty serious training involved) electrolysis is almost always successful, and the vast majority of consumers experience permanent results.

However (there's always a however, right?), there are certain disadvantages, and a good deal of myth flying around when it comes to this kind of hair removal. First up, it's not painless. Some customers manage without pain killers, others definitely do not. It's no picnic for your bank balance, either. A simple session can cost $150, and for the more advanced processes, there could be a bill of between $2000 and $20000.

Regulations for electrologists vary by state, so it can be tricky tracking down the right one for the job. Be sure you're confident, because poor application can result in partial-to-full re-growth, a spread of infection, even lasting skin damage. Done properly, electrolysis shouldn't even puncture the skin.

Beyond this, the process can be mind-numbingly tedious, and in some cases, completely ineffective. A large area of hair is tough to treat, and since there are so many variables relating to your personal follicle characteristics and the amount of epilation (hair removal) you seek, accurate re-growth rates are almost impossible to determine. It's true that the vast majority of consumers are happy with their results, but published studies show that around 8% are not satisfied. There's nothing official to guarantee 0% re-growth, so don't trust anyone who claims it.

It's probably worth mentioning that home electrolysis kits, the ones that look like mechanical pencils with a 9-volt battery, are almost never recommended. Put simply, the chances of success are much less, while all the risks are increased. So, while you're searching for a registered, state-licensed hair removal professional, how about a bit of science?

There are actually three types of energy used in electrolysis. Galvanic alters the salt and water in the skin around the probe to produce sodium hydroxide, or lye, which, if there's enough, can damage the cells that cause re-growth. Thermolysis works by vibrating the water in your skin, and heating it until the cell is damaged. Blend is a kind of hybrid of these, which heats the lye to make it more caustic. This is probably the most effective method, and therefore the most deserving of the right professional application.

The bottom line? Electrolysis works, but you have to use your head. St. Louis ophthalmologist Charles Michel was practicing it back in 1875, so it shouldn't be too scary. Take your time, do your research, and check out the big guys:

AEA (American Electrology Association)

IGPE (International Guild of Professional Electrologists)

SCME (Society of Clinical and Medical Electrologists)

ESNE (Electrolysis Society of the Northeast)

IBE (International Board of Electrologists)

COPE (Canadian Organization of Professional Electrologists)

About The Author
Tamra Cantar is a freelance writer on topics of interest and has a website dedicated to providing the visitor with useful information and resources for hair removal.

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