What you should know about electrolysis

What you should know about electrolysis

Permanent electroepilation: Choosing the best technique

Associated for a long time with manhood, hairiness is now bothering men and women while hairless skin is getting increasingly popular due to celebrities of all genders showing smooth glabrous skin.

Hair removal has become a fashion thing over the last few years. Due to its affordable cost, electroepilation is considered to be the preferred method for permanent hair removal. Permanent electrical depilation will destroy growing hair no matter the color. This technique is based on inserting a probe into the hair follicle. While the current passes through, it will trigger the coagulation of the follicle. The next step is to remove the hair with tweezers.   While electrolysis requires more time then laser or IPL, it will treat the hair one by one for a perfect outcome.

The four most popular methods for electroepilation are:


While a galvanic current (that is steady and unidirectional with an average intensity of 0.7 mA) passes through the skin tissue, it will trigger an electrolytic reaction by separating the components of the electrolyte. The salt of the tissue (NaCl) will be attracted towards the surface of the skin by the negative electrode. A chemical reaction occurs while it is combined to the fatty acids of the follicle leading to the production of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). Caustic soda will destroy the stem cells of the hair. The inconvenience with this technique is that it takes more time while it destroys the hair one by one, requiring 20 seconds per hair. Thus it is rarely used. It is important to mention that this method does not produce heat.

Thermolysis or thermo-coagulation

Thermolysis uses high frequency current that passes through an electrode. This current generates mechanical friction due to attraction and repulsiveness of the electrons that make water molecules. This phenomenon generates heat without impacting the probe leading to the coagulation of follicle tissue albumin that get dry resulting in the hair being destroyed.

Depending on the hair thickness it is recommended to use:

  • Electrical coagulation:

This technique is meant for medium to thick hair. It is a slow technique that uses weak to average intensity to heat the tissue up to 53°C.

  • Electrical desiccation:

This technique is meant for thinner hair. The temperature raises quickly up to 100° in the tissue. The intensity is high. This technique may be operated either in a Flash or SuperFlash mode.

Combined currents method or Blend

This method combines the benefits of galvanic currents and thermolysis to eradicate hair with no regrowth (depending on the operator’s skills) while stem cells are destroyed on a speed track (thermolysis). The high frequency current will grow the production (and efficiency) of caustic soda by heating it and diffusing it all over the probe. The Blend is a highly effective technique to get rid of thick or faded hair and IPL or Laser resistant hair. As an example, there is the electrolysis device ST 250 from Silhouet-Tone that features both methods: thermolysis and Blend.

Vector depilatory technique

This technique allows to trick the pain by using vector modulations of 2 per a thousand second thus optimizing the transfer of energy with more accurate and steady waves. This technique is the result of prior techniques evolution. This method enables the operator to maximize the energy that is delivered while ensuring more comfort for the client. Current passing time is reduced leading to less pain either for thermolysis or Blend techniques. As an example, there is the Evolution 5HD system that combines the coziness of the vector method to the efficiency of low frequencies.

What about hair regrowth

The ratio for hair regrowth will depend upon the technique that is used (30% for thermolysis versus 20% for Blend) and upon the client (age, type of hair, hair’s life cycle, etc.).

Here are the main reasons for upsetting hair regrowth:

  • Operator’s lack of experience or bad technique: wrong positioning of the probe, insertion that is not following the hair tilt angle, insertion that is not deep enough.
  • It may also be due to wrong settings: intensity that is too low, current passing time that is too short.
  • Hair regrowth may be due to the treatment itself if it was not proceeded at the anagen phase, if hair is distorted or hard to remove due to previous hair removal methods also if there is a big quantity of hair in the follicle.

It is important to mention that hair regrowth is weaker. Regrown hair is usually less strong and lacks pigmentation.

Untimely waxing or depilation with a razor or tweezers between two sessions may alter the treatment results and lead to hair regrowth.

Finally, some drugs or hormones may lead to hair regrowth and make hair stronger or thicker. Many pregnant women see their hair grow stronger.

It is important to mention:

Exposure to the sun or tanning beds should be strictly avoided for at least 24 hours before electric depilation and 48 hours after the session for thermolysis and isolated probe techniques.

These delays might be extended to a week depending on the skin’s sensitivity or if the skin is prone to develop brown spots. Season of the year (very cold weather or winds) and body area may also be key factors to extend this period for a few more days.

During the treatment it is usually recommended to use a 30SPF sunscreen on the areas that are exposed to the sun.


Electrical depilation is an art requiring to master the technique and fundamentals. For a perfect outcome, it is crucial to analyze the skin and hair condition in addition to the client’s medical condition to determine the most appropriate method to get the hair removed. The hair’s life stage is also a key factor. Only then the most convenient method will be selected depending on the client’s lifestyle and skin condition.


– Julie, electrologist

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