Electrolysis Epilator

Galvanic, Thermolysis Blend Methods


The modern electrolysis epilator uses the time-tested method of electrolysis. These hair removal systems are basically still the same as the first galvanic hair removal epilator built in 1875!

An electrolysis epilator is used to destroy one hair follicle at a time.

The treatment is quite expensive, because it is very time-intensive.

The three modern methods are galvanic, thermolysis and a blend of the two methods.

The galvanic and thermolysis methods both have its own strong and weak points. By blending the two methods, the best of both are used, while the negatives are lessened.




The photograph below shows the licensed Electrologist Elise Wisehart performing electrolysis in her studio called Dwell Sanctuary in San Diego, California. To make an appointment phone her at 760-672-2002 or contact her by e-mail at ewisehart7@yahoo.com.


How does an electrolysis epilator work?

Galvanic electrolytic cells (a battery) are used as power source with an anode (-) and cathode(+) to form a direct current inside the electrolysis epilator.

Direct current always takes the shortest route possible. When direct current is applied to a water and salt solution, a chemical process is the result.

Sodium hydroxide (lye), hydrogen gas, and chlorine gas are formed. This process is called electrolysis.

This process was first reported in medical literature in 1875 when opthalmologist Charles Michel used it to remove ingrown eyelashes in patients.

Galvanic electrolysis hair removal

Water and tissue salts are naturally present in the human body. Their concentration is highest deep inside the hair follicle. The battery is the electrolysis-epilator, the cathode is the probe and the anode is normally a wand held in the client’s hand.

When the direct current is applied from the electrolytic cell, or the electrolysis epilator, to the probe inserted in the follicle, caustic lye is formed in the follicle during the chemical process.

This causes a softening of the surrounding tissue and chemical decomposition (dissolving) of the dermal papilla and tiny blood capillaries that supplies nourishment to it. The result is permanent elimination of the regenerative ability of about 80% of the treated hair follicles.


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Why is the process called galvanic?

The process was named after Luigi Galvani. Due to the slowness of this process, the single needle galvanic system is no longer used as electrolysis epilator.

However, modern electronic design allows the multiple needle galvanic method (12 to 16 hair treated simultaneously) to work very effectively.

It comes as no surprise that this electrolysis method is also called: sodium electrolysis, salt electrolysis, current electrolysis and chemistry electrolysis.

Because lye is a fluid, it is very effective to destroy distorted follicles. A probe has difficulty reaching the correct spot when the follicle is distorted.


Thermolysis electrolysis hair removal

The method was developed in the 1920s because the galvanic method was too slow. Dr Bordier of Paris, France, first introduced it as a hair removal method in 1923. Henri Bordier was the first who reported this method in medical literature.

Thermolysis only became popular amongst electrologists during the 1940s. The electrolysis epilator uses an oscillating, high frequency current and is also known as RF, shortwave or diathermy.

The electrolysis epilator is used as a radio transmitter to produce high frequency energy when the current move back and forth extremely quickly to produce enough heat to electro-coagulate the dermal papilla. It operates at a specific radio frequency approved by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission).

This method is exceptionally fast and very effective for fine, thin, straight hair with shallow follicles, but not very effective for the destruction of coarser hair. This lead to the development of the electrolysis blend method.


Galvanic and thermolysis blend

The blend or dual method was patented in 1945 by Henri St Pierre and Arthur Hinkel. Both the galvanic and thermolysis methods have their limitations. The blend method maximizes the advantages, and minimizes the shortcomings, of both methods.

This technique is based on the theory that lye is more caustic when it is heated. The heat makes the tissue surrounding the dermal papilla more porous, and easier for the lye to diffuse into it.

By combining the two methods into the same electrolysis epilator, the chemical reaction occurred quicker in galvanic at higher temperatures. The dermal papilla, as well as the tiny blood vessels that supply nourishment to the follicle, are dissolved by the hot caustic lye.

The blend method is very successful with coarse, curly hair or distorted hair follicles. Very good results are achieved with beard removal of transgender clients.


Who may perform these treatments?

Only highly trained electrolygists, who have passed the national board certification credential of Certified Professional Electrologis (CPE) and who is preferably registered with the American Electrology Association (AEA).

In order to maintain the prestigious CPE status, the electrologist must either keep up to date by means of continuous education.

Electrolygists are re-tested now and then to ensure they are keeping current with this field.


How does an electrolysis epilator work?

Even though the above three electrolysis-epilators differ, they all eventually work in the same way.

A hair-thin metal probe (not a needle) is inserted into a hair follicle and electricity is delivered to the follicle through the probe.

The dermal papilla and tiny blood vessels are the target. The blood vessels nourishes the dermal papilla, which is attached to the follicle, where the hair is is produced. If the procedure was performed correctly, the result will be permanent hair removal.


How safe is electrolysis?

Electrolysis epilator used to treat upper lip

It is so safe a pregnant woman can have the treatment without fear of harming her baby.

Take your time and look around for a clean electrolysis salon or clinic with highly trained personnel.

The American Electrology Association has written Standards for Infection Control following the most recent recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Association for Practitioners in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).


What influences the treatment time?

  • Hair growth stage – Only hair in the anagen growth phase of the hair growth cycle can be treated. Please follow this link to read why.

  • Skin protection – The electric current must be low enough to do damage to the dermal papilla without destroying the surrounding skin cells also.

  • Hormone imbalance – Adolescence and middle years are both hair growth spurt times for men. Any hormone imbalance resulting in abnormal hair growth must first be treated by a physician. An example of this is female hirsutism

  • Follicle density – The amount of hair with which you start the treatment, eg sparse vs dense growth, will directly impact on the length of the treatment time.

  • Previous removal methods – All hair removal methods can lead to distorted follicles that might have ingrown hair as the result. Success rate with virgin hair is very high.

  • People taking certain medication, have certain medical conditions or who are under a lot of stress should preferably avoid electrolysis, or they must be handled with care.


Who can receive electrolysis?

  • Skin type – The treatment can be done on all skin types classed according to the Fitzpatrick system. Even tanned, Indian and dark African-American skins can receive the treatment.

  • Gender – Both males and females. It can even remove the fine vellus body hair of women. Normally the body hair of men are thicker, denser and darker.

  • Hair type – Coarse, fine, shallow, deep, ingrown, kinky etc. No problem with grey, red or blond hair, because it doesn’t work with the melanin (pigment) in the hair.

  • Heredity – Hairy grandparents and parents on both sides of the family will mean that you might be hairy too.

  • Body area – The follicle depth, follicle density and hair diameter differ from one body area to the next. Works fantastic to destroy any unibrow.


FDA only recognises electrolysis

Electrolysis epilator probe destroys dermal papilla

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes electrology as the only hair removal method providing permanent results.

The FDA identification in Title 21, CFR, Sec. 878.5350 for needle-type epilators is:

“a device intended to remove the hair by destroying the dermal papilla of a hair”.

No other device for hair removal has the unique identification of “destroying the dermal papilla of a hair”.

Only electrologists are allowed to claim permanent hair removal with their electrolysis epilators.

Image is by Pureelectrolysis.info



Photo epilation treatments

No other hair removal devices, including lasers, have been able to achieve this definition. Photo epilation devices like laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) work with the dark melanin (pigment) in the hair.

That is why grey, blond and red hair cannot be treated successfully by photo epilation.

Although quite a number of laser and IPL device owners claim their treatments give permanent hair removal results, by law they may not claim it.

If you are really struggling with ingrown hair you should consider having them removed permanently with an electrolysis epilator. How little or how much you want removed, is your personal choice.

It is important to make sure you aren’t just following the current fashion fad of manscaping, because electrolysed hair will never grow again.


Which body areas can be treated?

Most body areas such as: hairline, neckline, eyebrows, upper lip, sideburns, beard, chin, neck, ears, nose, breast, tummy, bikini line, pubic area, legs, arms, hands, fingers, back, shoulders, underarms, and toes. In very rare cases some people do not respond to the treatment.

Normally it works fantastic on all skin colours, even tanned skin. Even fine vellus, grey, blond and red hair can be treated very successfully. Get rid of your unibrow or permanently shape your brows and never give it a second thought again.

If in doubt, discuss it with the electrologist of your choice during your private and confidential consultation with her. You will need written permission from your doctor before they will treat hair growing from birthmarks and moles.

Hair on the outside of the ear can be removed with an electrolysis epilator, but normally they won’t touch the inside of the ear or nose. It is very successful on normal pubic hair as well as ingrown pubic hair or razor bumps on the pubic area.




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