What it is
Electrolysis is a method of permanent hair removal that works by passing a small current along a very fine sterilised needle into the hair follicle, killing the hair at the root. There are three types:
ē galvanic, a thorough but slow method that creates a chemical reaction at its root to destroy the hair. It is rarely used these days in salons.
ē short-wave diathermy, using heat. While faster, it isnít quite so thorough.
ē blend electrolysis, which - as the name suggests - combines the benefits of the two currents and is now the most popular method of electrolysis.
What it does
Electrolysis cuts off the blood and nutrition supply to the hair at the root with a localised current, thus weakening it so it can be removed, and eventually killing it altogether. An average treatment lasts between five and 30 minutes. The number of sessions needed to permanently remove hair will vary - an electrologist will only be able to offer a guideline. Weekly or fortnightly sessions are usually necessary at the start, with times between appointments lengthening and the duration of sessions shortening as hair regrowth begins to slow down.
How you feel
You will feel some discomfort; exactly how much depends on the area of the body, the strength of the hair, and your pain threshold. You wonít physically feel the needle in the hair follicle, but the sensation of the electric current passing down the needle is much like a light sting. Topical anaesthetic creams or a couple of Ibuprofen tablets taken before the session may help dull the sensation. Donít plan to go out straight afterwards - your skin will be pink, and if you have a treatment on your face, itís best not to put any make-up over it until the irritation has settled.
What you should know
An electrologist should give you a consultation before beginning any course of treatment. She should determine your state of health and any contra-indications, and discuss where you want haired removed from, the length of your treatment, and aftercare.
To be successful (ie hair removed permanently), youíll need to be patient and committed. Electrolysis takes considerably longer than other epilation methods but the results are thorough and permanent.
Electrolysis can be used to remove hair from all over the body, apart from the nostrils and inner ears. But because treating one hair at a time is so painstaking, it works best on relatively small areas such as the upper lip, chin and neck. Itís suitable for both men and women, and unlike laser hair removal, puts no restrictions on certain hair types and skin colours. When performed by a qualified professional, electrolysis is safe and effective - check the qualifications of your therapist before committing to a treatment.
Blend and short-wave diathermy electrolysis start from around £10 for a five to 10 minute session.
Electrolysis is widely available in beauty salons Ė the most common places to have a treatment because theyíre easy to go back to again and again, as required. Itís also offered by some spas.