The hashtag #electrolysis on TikTok has drawn over 48.3 million views (and continues to grow). The short videos show trained electrologists removing unwanted hair with an electrical device and tweezers. Perhaps viewers are finding these electrolysis hair removal treatments satisfying to watch, like the pimple popping videos.
And although this technique is trending with the Millennials and Gen Z crowd, it’s actually not new to the hair removal game. Electrolysis hair removal has been around for decades and is the only FDA-approved method to remove hair permanently.
So, let’s get reacquainted with this retro hair removal treatment that is gaining popularity again. We share how electrolysis works, the benefits, and how it differs from the other popular hair removal treatment using lasers.
Electrolysis is a type of hair removal technique that uses short-wave radio frequencies to help zap away new growth of the hair follicles. The procedure involves treating each hair follicle individually by inserting a high-energy probe into the skin to release the strand of hair while damaging the follicle to prevent future hair growth.
There are three methods of electrolysis hair removal:
The method used for an electrolysis treatment is determined by the shape of the hairs being removed. Hair that grows straight typically uses the thermolysis method, while hair that grows in an “S” shape might use the galvanic or blend approach.
A trained electrologist or dermatologist inserts a thin needle called an epilator into the hair follicle. The device sends electric currents down the needle to the bottom of the follicle, destroying the root of the hair. The electrologist then removes the hair with a tweezer.
Electrolysis treats each hair follicle individually, which can take as long as 60 minutes to complete one session. But over the series of treatments, the length of time to treat follicles becomes shorter because there are fewer hairs.
On average, it could take 8-10 sessions to remove the hairs by electrolysis permanently. The whole process can take a year to complete, but you will never have to deal with hair in the treated areas again.
Electrolysis has been around for over 100 years and is the only permanent hair removal technique approved by the FDA. The use of radio frequencies as the electrical heat source is safe to use on any skin type or hair color. Two factors that make it limiting with laser treatment (we explain the difference between electrolysis and laser hair removal below).
Electrolysis hair removal can treat any body part that grows hair:
Laser hair removal uses a concentrated beam of light called selective photothermolysis to burn the follicle that creates hair. The pigment from the hair absorbs the light beams, and the energy from the light converts into heat, which damages the strands of hair and follicles. The damage delays future hair growth but does not permanently stop hair growth.
Both hair removal techniques use a source of heat to damage the hair follicle, but with electrolysis, the heat from the probe cuts off the blood supply to the hair follicle to permanently stop hair growth.
With laser hair removal, the light beams cover a wider area but don’t treat each follicle at the root level, and the beams target the pigments of the hair, making it ideal for lighter skin tones with darker hair pigment. However, laser hair removal is not as effective for gray, blonde, red, or white hair colors because they don’t absorb light well. And people with darker skin tones may encounter some challenges with this procedure due to the lack of contrast between skin tone and hair color.
There are really no restrictions on who can have an electrolysis hair removal treatment. The treatment treats each follicle one by one, not limited to the color of the hair. So, any color hair or skin tone is safe to use electrolysis.
However, due to the precise nature of the treatment, the only drawback is the time it takes for each season and the commitment to the number of appointments. It could take up to a year to see the final results, but you will never have to deal with hair in the treated area for a lifetime.
If you are looking for a quick fix for hair removal, electrolysis would not be a solution. But if you are looking for a permanent hair removal solution and willing to wait for the final results, electrolysis is the procedure for you.
Find a certified and trained electrolysis or dermatologist in your local area by using our “Find a Doctor” navigation tool.