I'm an electrolysis dropout. After a couple months of going to treat the hair on my upper lip, I decided I could no longer take the pain and never went back. That was a few years ago and I wondered if my experiences were unique. I decided to revisit the electrolysis topic and contacted Jeannie Bush, a Certified Professional Electrologist to ask some basic electrolysis questions.
What exactly is the practice of electrolysis? Electrolysis is performed by specialists commonly referred to as electrologists. Electrologists are trained to insert a very fine needle into the natural opening of the hair, alongside the hair shaft, to deliver a micro pulse of electricity to the base of the follicle. The regenerative ability of the hair growth material is eliminated through the process of electrolysis to deliver today’s only option for permanent hair removal.
Who is electrolysis best suited for? Electrolysis safely removes all types of hair from all skin tones. Treatment can be applied to most facial and body parts including eyebrows, chin, upper and lower lip, jaw line, sides of the face, breasts, underarms, abdomen, bikini line, fingers and toes, legs and back.
Are there any rules on types of skin color and hair color like there is with laser hair removal? Unlike laser, electrolysis works on all skin colors, all hair colors including white hair.
Can you explain the different electrolysis methods? There are three modalities used in the practice of electrology:
- Galvanic current, also called direct current.
- Thermolysis, also called alternating or short wave current.
- The Blend, which is a combination of alternating and direct current delivered in sequence or simultaneously.
How painful is electrolysis? Many people report little to no discomfort while others experience a slight warming sensation. Many clients are able to sleep through treatments. Modern technology and standards established by the American Electrology Association continue to advance the profession so many adjustments can be made for comfort.
Is one method more painful than another? Every individual perceives stimulation from each modality differently. The amount of current and type of current can be adjusted to deliver the most effective current, yet the least discomfort for each individual.
Is electrolysis always successful? I wish I could say yes, but so much depends upon the reason the hair is present, temporary hair removal methods used, medications that the client is taking, how well the client follows the treatment plan, and how the body responds to the current.
Compare electrolysis to orthodontics: one patient keeps all of her appointments, wears her rubber bands, brushes her teeth, etc. The second patient doesn’t keep her appointments, has broken wires often, and does not care for her teeth. Both were projected to have a two year projected treatment time, but the outcome is not the same! The same can be said for electrolysis treatments.
If someone wants to treat one area like the upper lip or chin, how long do you think it would take for treatment? The most efficient way to treat any part of the body is to plan an amount of time for that area so that the electrologist can clear that area of all the unwanted hair every one to two weeks. You will work at that interval until there is not enough hair to work with. At that time, we will stretch the appointments to three-four weeks, still allowing enough time to clear the area. We will work at that interval until there is not enough hair to work with, then stretch out the interval to five-six weeks, and so on. Getting the hair in the earliest growing phase is the best possible scenario. A case with “peach fuzz” hairs is totally different that a case with very coarse, deep, terminal hairs.
What should we look for in an electrolysis clinic? In 33 states, one should look for a licensed electrologist who also has the Certified Professional Electrologist (CPE) credential. The CPE credential signifies that an electrologist’s knowledge has been tested and measured against a national standard of excellence. In states that do not have the licensure requirement, look for the CPE credential.
Before calling for a consultation and demonstration, view the electrolgist’s website, ask friends and family for a referral, check for appropriate licensing, search to see if she or he is a member of their state and national associations. When making the phone call, does the electrologist answer the phone in a professional manner and answer your questions?
When entering the electrologist’s clinic or office, is it clean? Does she go through a thorough general and health history? Does she explain the types of electrolysis and the hair growth cycles? Does she listen to your concerns? Does she use single use, pre-sterilized, pre-packaged probes, sterile tweezers, and wear disposable gloves? Does she offer appropriate medical referrals if needed? Does she offer to do a demonstration? Provide post treatment skin care instructions? Does she allow you the opportunity to ask questions?
What are red flags that we should pay attention to when it comes to a clinic or a technician? If your gut tells you something doesn’t feel right, trust it! If vague answers are given, and the infection prevention measures listed above are not followed, walk out. If the electrologist has not done any continuing education through state and national organizations, she may not be up to date on the best possible treatment options.
Would you ever recommend someone choose another hair removal option? Yes, I have recommended other hair removal methods. I will always do whatever is best for my clients, and sometimes that means delaying their electrolysis treatments.
As a professional, can you sell us on electrolysis for hair removal? Electrolysis is the only option for permanent hair removal. Period. Much like having braces, put your time in, get it done right the first time, and benefit the rest of your life. The best investment you can make is in yourself. The confidence that we gain through getting rid of unwanted hair is immeasurable.
Is there anything else you want to share about electrolysis? Electrolysis is a fabulous career. Most of us are second or third career women (there are a few men.) Almost all of us have spent a great amount of time in the chair before we became electrologists. We have an intimate knowledge of the journey that our client’s are traveling. We become more than their electrologist. We become a place of comfort, a place of building confidence, and a place where our clients become as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside. It is all about how we feel.
On a totally different note, one of the significant populations that electrologists serve is the transgender-male to female. By the Harry Benjamin Standards, they must receive a year of electrolysis as part of their journey toward changing their gender. Our offices are the safe place for these women to practice who they believe they are becoming. We are their resource center for “safe” providers in other professions: doctors, exercise trainers, dieticians, hair stylists, makeup artists, etc.
Curious about my experience with electrolysis? Here are my reviews.
- Electrology Review #1
- Electrology Review #2
- Electrology Review #3
- Electrology Review #4
- Electrology Review #5
- Electrology Review #6
Jeannie M. Bush, RDH, RE, CPE, Li, is a life-long learner. Her first career was dental hygiene (RDH)for over 25 years; next came a career as a registered electrologist (RE); then she achieved the Certified Professional Electrologist (CPE)credential; and lastly (to date), she obtained her instructor’s license (LI) in electrology. Amenity Electrolysis, LLC, owned by Bush, provides permanent hair removal for women, men, young adults, and transgenders. Please feel free to contact Ms. Bush at contact@AmenityElectrolysis.com She welcomes your questions and comments. (She can also provide you with info on the 33 states.)