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Electrology is the practice of electrical epilation to permanently remove human hair. The actual process of removing the hair is referred to as electrolysis. The practitioner slides a solid hair-thin metal probe into each hair follicle. Proper insertion does not puncture the skin. Electricity is delivered to the follicle through the probe, which causes localized damage to the areas that generate hairs, either through the formation of caustic lye (galvanic method), overheating (thermolysis method), or both (blend method).



Three methods or "modalities" are used in electrology. Galvanic, thermolysis, and blend all have their own merits, and one method is not better than another. The success depends on the skill of the electrologist, the type of hair being removed, the condition of the skin and the pain threshold of the client. All three methods, when properly performed, can be thorough at destroying the hair matrix cells, and leaving follicles incapable of regrowing hair.


This modality is named after Luigi Galvani and uses a person's body as an electrolytic cell. Galvanic electrolysis was first reported in the medical literature by ophthalmologist Charles Michel in 1875 to remove ingrown eyelashes in patients with trichiasis.[1] A galvanic epilator is essentially a positive ground power supply that delivers 0-3 milliamperes through the body. The follicular probe is the cathode of an electrolytic cell. Sodium hydroxide formed at the cathode by the process of chemical electrolysis kills the hair matrix cells. Modern galvanic epilators automatically adjust the voltage to maintain constant current.


Another method is known as thermolysis, RF, shortwave or diathermy. Thermolysis was developed in the 1920s and first reported in medical literature by Henri Bordier.[2] A thermolytic epilator is essentially a radio transmitter, usually with an output of about 0-8 watts at a frequency of 13.56 MHz. RF energy emanates from the probe tip to tissue within about a millimeter. Thermolysis works by heating the hair matrix cells to about 48°C (118°F), causing electrocoagulation.


Galvanic and thermolysis are often combined in a method known as blend, developed by Arthur Hinkel in 1948, which uses both RF and direct current, combining many of the advantages of galvanic and thermolysis.[3] All three of these methods use a metal probe 50 to 150 µm (0.002 to 0.006 inches) in diameter which is inserted into the hair follicle to the depth of the dermal papilla or hair matrix, which is the site of formation of hair from highly mitotic and keratinized cells.


The practitioner selects a probe that slides easily into the hair follicle, usually the same diameter as the hair shaft or smaller. Care is given to insert the probe at the same angle as the hair is growing out of the skin. The power and duration of the electricity are started at the lowest setting, then titrated up until the hair comes out as easily as possible. If the patient experiences significant discomfort, the settings can be lowered.

Treatment duration

Most practitioners will advise that complete removal of facial hair takes between 1 and 4 years, with an average treatment length of 2 years.[4]

Status of profession

In the United States, electrolysis is regulated in many states, requiring training and licensure.

Electrolysis as a profession faced new competition in the 1990s after laser hair removal was developed and promoted as a quicker and easier way to remove hair. The Food and Drug Administration declared laser and similar devices can only claim to reduce hair growth, not permanently remove it.[5] Many who have had laser surgery have noted that it seems to only shock the hair follicles into a temporary state of "hibernation," without permanently destroying them. Some laser or light treatments can permanently bleach the skin.

See also


  1. ^ Michel CE. Trichiasis and distichiasis; with an improved method for radical treatment. St. Louis Clinical Record, 1875 Oct; 2:145-148
  2. ^ Bordier H. Noveau traitment de l'hypertrichose par la diathermie. Vie Med., 1924, 5:561
  3. ^ Hinkel AR, Lind RW (1968). Electrolysis, Thermolysis and the Blend: the principles and practice of permanent hair removal.Los Angeles, CA: Arroway Publishers, ISBN 0-9600284-1-2
  4. ^ Transsexual road map - How long will electrolysis take?
  5. ^ U.S. Food and Drug Administration (May 17, 2002). Laser Facts.

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Simple English

Electrology is an electrical process to remove human hair so that it does not grow back. An electrologist is sometimes called an electrolysist in the United Kingdom. The process of removing the hair is referred to as electrolysis. The electrolysist slides a thin metal probe into each hair follicle. This, if done the right way, does not hurt the skin. Electricity flows to the follicle through the probe. This causes damage to the areas that grow hair so that it does not grow back.

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