From Botox to liposuction, people will go to great lengths to become beautiful. Some will even allow themselves to be electrocuted. As in electrolysis, that is–the hair removal process involving mild doses of electrical current used to kill hair follicles. During electrolysis, a technician inserts a needle into a hair follicle and zaps it with electricity. Once zapped, the follicle won’t produce more hair.
There are three types of electrolysis. The Galvanic Method uses a needle conducting DC current that triggers a chemical reaction in the hair follicle. The reaction produces sodium hydroxide, or lye, which kills the follicle. The Thermolysis Method uses an AC current and causes water molecules surrounding the follicle to vibrate, producing heat much like a microwave oven to kill the follicle. Combining the Galvanic and Thermolysis techniques, the Blend Method runs both AC and DC currents to kill the follicle more quickly.
Although touted by infomercials as “pain free,” electrolysis can produce anywhere from mild irritation to sharp pain since pain-sensitive nerve endings are right next to hair follicles. Furthermore, since electrolysis only destroys one follicle at a time, it can be a slow process. Electrolysizing an upper lip, for instance, can take anywhere from four to ten hours.
For many, the discomfort and wait are well worth the removal of unsightly hairs. But in the wrong hands an electrolysis needle can permanently damage skin around the follicles. So, despite the abundance of home products, it’s best to visit a professional electrologist.