The fight against unwanted hair can often seem like a never-ending battle. Waxing and shaving are a great way to get quick results, but they don’t remove hair permanently and have to be redone often to keep up with regrowth. There is, however, a solution that offers permanent hair removal – it’s called electrolysis.

What is electrolysis?

Electrolysis is actually more scientific than it is cosmetic. The dictionary defines it as a “chemical decomposition produced by passing an electric current through a liquid or solution containing ions”. In simpler terms, it is the process of using an electrical current to create a chemical reaction. What does this have to do with hair removal? Electrical currents can also be used to pass energy into our hair follicles through a fine needle. When this happens, heat is generated and the follicle cell that produces the hair is destroyed. Once destroyed, the damage is permanent and the hair will not grow back.

How does it work?

There are currently three different methods of electrolysis on the market:

  1. Galvanic electrolysis – This method of electrolysis works by sending direct current electricity into the skin through a needle. This electricity then chemically alters the salt and water in the skin and creates small amounts of sodium hydroxide. When enough of this is produced, it damages the cells responsible for the growth of hair.
  2. Thermolysis – Also referred to as diathermy or short-wave electrolysis, this method is similar to that of galvanic electrolysis except that, instead of using DC electricity, it uses alternating current electricity. Instead of sodium hydroxide, this type of electricity generates heat. The result is the same – damage to the surrounding hair tissue cells.
  3. Blend electrolysis – This is a combination of the two methods mentioned above. Once sodium hydroxide is produced, it is then heated by electricity, causing damage to the hair tissue cells. All three forms of electrolysis are said to create the same results.

What Should I expect during treatment?

  • Consultation to discuss your expectations and discuss your medical history
  • An anaesthetic cream is applied to the target area to help reduce pain
  • A small needle, also referred to as a probe, is inserted into the hair follicle and electrical current is delivered

How long will it take and how many treatments will I need?

Most treatment sessions will last between 30 minutes and 2 hours. The exact number of treatments needed will vary from person to person and will depend on the area of hair removal. Most people require several electrolysis sessions within a few months before they see permanent results.

Is electrolysis safe? Is it painful?

According to the British Institute and Association of electrolysis, electrolysis is the only permanent form of hair removal that is medically approved. The practitioner administering your treatment should be a qualified professional.

While electrolysis is considered to be relatively safe and very effective, it is also considered to be one of the most painful methods of hair removal. Many people often compare the feeling of electrolysis to that of a bee sting or a zap. Certain areas of the body, such as along the lip or under the nostrils, may be more sensitive than others. Unfortunately, with electrolysis, the higher and more successful treatment levels are also considered to be the most painful. Lower settings may be considered less painful, but will also require more treatment sessions to reach the desired results. Numbing cream may be applied before treatment to dull the discomfort.

After treatment you may experience slight redness or swelling but this will usually disappear within an hour or two. Scabbing can also be a side effect of treatment. If scabbing does happen, do not pick scabs off. If you do, you could run the risk of permanent scarring.


Electrolysis can be a very successful way to remove hair for good – if you are willing to put in the time and endure the discomfort. electrolysis can take several treatment sessions before hair growth is stopped completely, and these sessions can be quite painful. If you do decide to go for electrolysis, the best way is to just grit through it and remember that it will all be over soon and you won’t have to worry about those hairs ever again.

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