Body hair, facial hair…men, women…keeping it under control is an issue for most people in many countries. Although in China body hair is accepted as normal and natural, most of the rest of us use some kind of regular hair removal treatment.
A survey conducted by American Laser Centers reported some interesting findings. More than 99 percent of people regularly practice hair removal.
The results suggest many women shave more than seven thousand times in a lifetime, and spend up to $10,000 on treatments and products related to hair removal.
So hair removal isn’t just an issue personally and socially, it also can also have a big impact on our time and money. Salon hair removal treatments costs can really add up, and it can be annoying to have to wait for regrowth before another treatment. This is perhaps why home hair removal methods are so popular.
Electrolysis is one possible way of achieving permanent hair removal results. But what actually is electrolysis? Does it work, how does it work, and which are the best home electrolysis devices?
Find all your electrolysis questions answered right here…
Permanent Hair RemovalClick for price
- Electrical Output Range: 300K to 22,000K ?V (10V-6).
- Fully-Programmable No-Needle System.
- Solid Performance!
ePen SystemClick for price
- Needle-free electrolysis pen removes unwanted hair permanently
- Easy and comfortable to use; automatic timer/buzzer
- Self-adhesive pads for multiple treatments
Electrolysis MachineClick for price
- Highly Effective Electrolysis!
- Quality Starter Kit.
- The most effect permanent hair removal available.
eSmooth Roller PenClick for price
- PERMANENT, CONVENIENT HAIR REMOVAL: Enjoy the ultimate convenience when it comes to hair removal. Our hair removal tool can...
- SAFE AND EASY TO USE: Using this body groomer is fast and easy. It is the perfect facial hair remover that can be used for...
- PAINLESS, CHEAPER ALTERNATIVE: The hair removal process is absolutely painless, it passes a small electrical current through...
What Is Electrolysis?
Electrolysis is a method of hair removal which can, over time, result in permanent hair removal. It’s not a new technology; it was first used to remove ingrown eyelashes by Dr. Charles Michel in 1875.
Electrolysis is effective and appropriate for all skin types. This treatment targets the base of the hair follicle, it’s safe and unlike laser hair removal, it works on all hair colors.
Traditional electrolysis involves placing a fine needle into the hair follicle to deliver an electrical charge. More recently, electrolysis machines have appeared on the market that use different, needle-free methods of supplying the electrical charge.
How It Works
To permanently stop hair growth, what needs to happen is the fledgling cells which are responsible for producing a new hair deep in the hair follicle have to be killed off.
Here’s the physics and chemistry bit. Electrolysis does this by directing a small electric current deep into the hair follicle, where there’s a small reservoir of salt water, made up of sodium and chlorine ions.
The electric current causes chemical changes in the salt water, and produces sodium hydroxide. The sodium hydroxide damages the root deep inside the hair follicle. Every time treatment is repeated, the damage in the hair follicle is reinforced.
Different Types of Electrolysis
There are three different types of electrolysis. Each one uses a different method, but achieves the same outcome to a greater or lesser degree.
The three different methods are:
This was the original method used in 1875. It involves inserting a needle into the hair follicle to cause a chemical reaction in the root cells to damage them.
The chemical reaction continues for some time after the needle is removed. The galvanic method is considered a very effective form of electrolysis.
In addition, no heat is involved, so there’s much less chance of the damage spreading too wide and affecting the surrounding tissue.
People report minimal regrowth with regular treatment. It does take time, however, at least three minutes for each hair follicle.
A result of more recent electrolysis technology developed in the early 1920s. Thermolysis uses high frequency radio waves to vibrate the hair follicle, causing the fluid inside it to thicken and destroy the surrounding cells.
At just a few seconds for each follicle, this method is faster than galvanic electrolysis, but generally considered not as effective. It can work well on fine hair, but isn’t so great on thicker, coarser hair, and doesn’t work well on curved hair follicles.
Regrowth rate is higher with this method compared to galvanic electrolysis, and the surrounding tissue can be affected. Thermolysis only works on hair which is in the growth phase of its life cycle, so it isn’t effective on all hairs.
A double-action approach, this method is a combination of the two other types of electrolysis. The galvanic component targets the hair root cells in the follicle and causes them to heat up. The surrounding cells absorb the heat and sustain damage.
The blend method takes over seven seconds per hair, so it’s faster than galvanic and slower but more effective than thermolysis alone. It can work well on fine and coarse hair.
The speed of regrowth when using blend electrolysis is lower than for galvanic and thermolysis, so it’s the most effective type of electrolysis but it can cause extensive damage.
This method produces hydrogen gas as a by-product of the chemical reaction. The gas can cause a blowout, which happens if the electric current is too strong, or the treatment time is too long.
The fluid inside the cells boils, producing steam. The steam can cause the electric current to be redirected to the surface of the skin, causing visible damage.
The Effects of Electrolysis
Over time, the damage to the hair root cells becomes more extensive. Depending on your hair type, and how strong and stubborn the hairs are, electrolysis can slow or prevent hair growth.
If the hairs in the treatment areas are on the finer side, electrolysis can permanently deactivate hair growth. With regular treatments, people often report that they notice slower and sparser regrowth.
Most people who consistently use electrolysis can expect to notice a difference within two or three months.
Advantages of Electrolysis
Compared to all of the other hair removal methods, electrolysis has some pretty impressive advantages:
Access All Areas
Various different hair removal methods may not be appropriate, or be able to be tolerated by everyone. This isn’t the case for electrolysis. It can be used on any area of the body, from eyebrows to lip and chin, any torso hair, the entire bikini area, legs, feet and toes.
So electrolysis can be a complete one-stop hair removal shop, and you won’t have to worry about buying razors, plus shaving cream and after-shave balm, and buying depilatory cream or getting waxing done in other areas.
This is always a good thing, right? The cost of having regular laser treatments, waxing or threading can really mount up over time.
We tend not to notice the cost of shaving; it’s often just a small percentage of the monthly budget. If we add up the cost of, say $12 a year for a new razor, plus the price of blades at one blade per week, the annual total cost can amount to around $140.
For ten years of shaving, that’s $1400! Electrolysis machines can be as expensive as a few hundred dollars, but especially if hair regrowth stops completely, even the most expensive electrolysis machine can prove to be a wise investment.
To begin with, electrolysis does take a little more time than shaving or waxing. As the hair regrowth slows down and you get used to using the electrolysis device, treatments take less time.
In the long term, if regular electrolysis damages the hair follicles enough to stop hair growth completely, using this hair removal method can be a real time saver. Eventually, you might end up not having to give hair a second thought!
It Can Really Work!
Electrolysis is one hair removal method that does what it says on the tin. It can significantly reduce or stop hair growth for some users. Many people report that with regular electrolysis, they achieve a noticeable difference in hair growth.
In addition to personal experience, there are good-quality clinical research trials which report that electrolysis is an effective method of reducing and preventing hair regrowth.
Electrolysis is approved by the FDA for permanent hair removal. So we have evidence that suggests electrolysis is highly effective for the majority of people.
For some people, electrolysis can be pain free. There can be some sensation, however, which can range from a low level of discomfort to mild pain or stinging at worst.
Certainly, the level of pain experienced by the majority of people pales into insignificance when compared to methods like waxing, which can be incredibly painful for some people, especially on more sensitive areas of the body.
All hair removal methods have their disadvantages. The various negatives can be painful treatments, non-permanent results, leaving chemical residue on the skin, causing skin irritation and high cost.
Electrolysis does have a few drawbacks:
An ingrown hair is a newly formed hair which curls back into the skin, and grows within the layers of skin rather than growing straight up and out of the hair follicle. They can be painful and cause swelling and inflammation.
Ingrown hairs can also cause infection. The immune system perceives the hair as a foreign body and tries to attack it. They can also become infected, resulting in inflamed pockets of pus around the hair.
So when using electrolysis, it’s important to keep a close eye on the condition of your skin, and watch out for any ingrown hairs. They often look like pimples; red, raised spots. Sometimes it’s possible to see the hair trapped under the surface of the skin.
If you see an ingrown hair, the best thing to do is to leave it alone, but keep the skin clean. Gentle exfoliation and a hot compress can help encourage the hair to break through to the surface.
If you can see the hair and it’s very close to the surface, you can use sterile tweezers or a needle to gently coax the hair out, but avoid digging into the skin—this can cause damage and infection.
Electrolysis can also cause other kinds of problems with the skin if the machine is not operated correctly.
Electrolysis can cause some minor, non-permanent skin damage. People commonly experience skin redness immediately after treatment. It can last for as long as 24 hours, but can be soothed by applying preparations with witch hazel, Aloe vera or calendula.
Swelling can be another immediate side effect, as well as raised bumps or welts. Over-treating a hair follicle can make a real oozing, crusty mess that scabs over and needs time to heal, which may result in permanent scarring and an increase in skin pigmentation.
Electrolysis can also cause breakouts, and small blisters which sometimes appear in a cluster, similar to acne. If you experience this it’s best to leave them alone to heal, other than keeping the areas clean and dry. A warm compress may help them to clear up faster.
Dryness, itching, flaking skin and bruising can be other side effects. Many people find these symptoms reduce with continued treatment, and can be managed by keeping the skin moisturized with products containing ingredients such as Aloe vera, coconut oil or olive oil.
Getting the Awkward Bits
As with any home hair removal treatment, using electrolysis on those areas which can’t be seen can present a problem. You can, however, get assistance from a close friend or family member—as long as you both don’t mind them sharing your personal care!
Initial Time Commitment
The treatment carried out for the first few months do require a considerable amount of time. One person reported doing 2000 hours of treatments within the first year of use.
With continued treatment, though, gradually an increasing proportion of the hair cells die off, and the time needed for each treatment decreases. In the long term, some areas may well no longer need treatment. In other areas, however, the hairs can be more stubborn, and require continued treatment.
How to Use an Electrolysis Machine
To get the best results with electrolysis, it’s important to know how to use it correctly. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them exactly.
One great way of checking out good technique is to book one session with a professional to see how it’s done. In general, the steps to follow look something like this:
Prepare Yourself for Treatment
Depending on how fast your hairs grow, shave the treatment area five to seven days before treatment; electrolysis works best on short hair. As the effectiveness of electrolysis acts on the water in the hair follicle cells, drink plenty of water every day.
On the day of treatment, get everything you’re going to need to hand. It’s a good idea to get a good magnifying and illuminating mirror; preferably free-standing.
If you find treatment painful, take some painkillers a couple of hours beforehand. Don’t use any deodorants, lotions or creams on the day of treatment, or for the day afterwards.
Make sure you’ve allowed yourself plenty of time. Consider doing treatments before bedtime to give the skin time to recover overnight.
Select a Small Test Patch Area
It can be anywhere on the body or face. Contrary to the opinions of some people, the face is a good choice. It’s easily accessible, and the hairs are relatively easy to treat.
Get Ready to Zap Hair
Clean and dry the skin thoroughly and note that numbing creams and gels are available to apply to the face before treatment to reduce pain. Depending on the type of machine you have, you may need to apply a conductive gel to the treatment area.
The needle, pad or probe of your machine is placed either on the skin, or inserted into the hair follicle. The electric charge or other energy source is applied for the recommended amount of time.
And that’s basically it! The treatment process is actually quite easy once you get the hang of directing the electric current. It’s just that treatment can take a long time if you’re treating larger areas. So make sure you set yourself up somewhere comfortable for your treatment sessions!
Precautions for Use
The most important thing when it comes to using electrolysis machines is to follow the manufacturer’s directions to the letter. If you’re unsure about any aspect, contact the company for support, or look for information on the internet.
With some machines, it’s possible to over treat, which can damage the skin, causing scarring and increased skin pigmentation.
Never expose any part of the electrolysis machine to water.
Wash and sterilize your electrolysis machine before and after every use. This keeps any bacteria in check and reduces the risk of infection.
After electrolysis, the pores are open and the skin is prone to bacteria. Keep the area clean and dry; don’t apply any perfumed products, astringents, heat or friction for the first two days.
Also avoid using swimming pools, jacuzzis, saunas and going to the gym for the first two days. It’s a good idea to stay out of the sun, too.
Treatment can result in small scabs; and can be itchy and uncomfortable. Try to avoid scratching, rubbing and touching the treatment area.
What Is the Best Home Electrolysis?
When it comes to finding a machine for doing electrolysis at home, it does take a bit of searching, and not everyone finds every machine that works well on them.
Nevertheless, we’ve identified five different electrolysis products and reviewed them to highlight all their good and bad points. Some are intended to be used solely in the home; others are more compact and convenient when space is at a premium, or you travel frequently. This is a professional, salon-quality electrolysis machine, but people found the treatment programs made it easy to use, and lowered the risk of over treating any particular area. Users were impressed with the results they achieved, especially after several regular treatments. This electrolysis machine was regarded as very high quality by most users, but it comes with one big drawback—the price tag. It’s a considerable investment, and in general people thought it was worth the cost if hair removal is a big deal for you. This machine is very compact and ergonomically designed. Most people reported a major difference and less regrowth within a few months of regular use, but other users found it didn’t work on thick hair, and a few said it was painful and damaged the skin. People commented that this machine was worth the lengthy treatment times considering the results, and found treatment time decreased as regrowth slowed and stopped in some cases. The other upside for this machine is the price; the value for money is hard to beat. This needle-free electrolysis pen is nicely designed for ergonomic use. All users said this machine was easy to use. One person reported it didn’t work on grey hair, and many said treatment took a long time, but the majority of users noticed significantly reduced and slower hair regrowth. People found it easy to treat various body parts; some people reported needing to carry out regular treatments for many months before they achieved a significant difference. Compared to some other products we reviewed, this machine is a much more affordable option. Users were impressed with the results achieved with this machine. Many reported that it’s easy to use, and found all the manufacturer’s online directions and instructional videos very helpful. This machine works using the galvanic method; users reported a very low regrowth rate and a high level of hair growth termination. In general, people found treatments painless, but some found it uncomfortable and a little too powerful for facial hair. The only other drawback for this machine is the price; it’s a considerable investment, but most people thought it was worth it considering the excellent results. This seems to be a ‘love it or hate it’ product. While most users found it worked really well, a few people didn’t think it worked for them. People liked the compact size and ease of use; shaped like a pen, users commented on the ergonomic design. People liked the fact that this epilator doesn’t require recharging, as it runs on batteries. It can be used for large and small areas, and many people noticed a reduction in the overall amount of hair with regular treatments. A small number of users said this epilator didn’t work for them, and one or two people experienced technical problems, but the majority thought it was worth the cost.
Electrical output range: 300K to 22,000K µV.
No needle technology.
Compatible with foot switch.
120-volt US plug.
Tip designed to not pierce the skin.
Compact and portable.
Comfortable to use.
Operated by 9-volt battery.
1-year limited warranty.
Ineffective, painful or caused skin damage for a small number of people.
Includes conductive pads for larger areas.
Comes with two jars of conductive gel.
Easy to use.
Storage pouch included.
Some users reported this was ineffective for them.
Long treatment times.
Galvanic electrolysis method.
Online customer support—detailed usage instructions and videos.
May be too powerful for facial hair.
Safe for all skin types.
Safe on all areas of the body.
Easy to use.
Works on stubborn hairs.
Includes pre-cleanser and conductive gels.
Comes with soft carrying pouch.
This product didn’t work for some people.
A small minority had technical problems.
This is a professional, salon-quality electrolysis machine, but people found the treatment programs made it easy to use, and lowered the risk of over treating any particular area. Users were impressed with the results they achieved, especially after several regular treatments.
This electrolysis machine was regarded as very high quality by most users, but it comes with one big drawback—the price tag. It’s a considerable investment, and in general people thought it was worth the cost if hair removal is a big deal for you.
This machine is very compact and ergonomically designed. Most people reported a major difference and less regrowth within a few months of regular use, but other users found it didn’t work on thick hair, and a few said it was painful and damaged the skin.
People commented that this machine was worth the lengthy treatment times considering the results, and found treatment time decreased as regrowth slowed and stopped in some cases. The other upside for this machine is the price; the value for money is hard to beat.
This needle-free electrolysis pen is nicely designed for ergonomic use. All users said this machine was easy to use. One person reported it didn’t work on grey hair, and many said treatment took a long time, but the majority of users noticed significantly reduced and slower hair regrowth.
People found it easy to treat various body parts; some people reported needing to carry out regular treatments for many months before they achieved a significant difference. Compared to some other products we reviewed, this machine is a much more affordable option.
Users were impressed with the results achieved with this machine. Many reported that it’s easy to use, and found all the manufacturer’s online directions and instructional videos very helpful. This machine works using the galvanic method; users reported a very low regrowth rate and a high level of hair growth termination.
In general, people found treatments painless, but some found it uncomfortable and a little too powerful for facial hair. The only other drawback for this machine is the price; it’s a considerable investment, but most people thought it was worth it considering the excellent results.
This seems to be a ‘love it or hate it’ product. While most users found it worked really well, a few people didn’t think it worked for them. People liked the compact size and ease of use; shaped like a pen, users commented on the ergonomic design.
People liked the fact that this epilator doesn’t require recharging, as it runs on batteries. It can be used for large and small areas, and many people noticed a reduction in the overall amount of hair with regular treatments.
A small number of users said this epilator didn’t work for them, and one or two people experienced technical problems, but the majority thought it was worth the cost.
When it came down to choosing the best home electrolysis machine, the AVX400 Salon-Quality Permanent Hair Removal Transdermal Electrolysis System was the one to pip the others at the post for the top spot.
There’s no getting away from the reasonably large investment, but what you’re getting is a good-quality, professional standard machine.
Even if it’s something some people might need to save for, most users honestly thought it was worth the money. Where some of the other models we reviewed disappointed some users with poor results, this machine really delivered the goods for many people.
The no-needle technology, automatic programs and the option of a foot switch to facilitate hands-free operation makes this product all the more appealing.
When considering buying your own machine, the best plan is to go for a high-quality machine rather than a low price. After all, the ultimate objective is to stop hair growth permanently, and a professional-quality model is the best home electrolysis option.