A woman receives facial electrolysis

Electrolysis: What to Expect

Electrolysis has been a godsend for both men and women. Although it can be expensive, so are razors. Electrolysis can be performed on women’s embarrassing facial hair; many men are turning to it and rocking the bald look instead of fighting it. 

How does it work?

First of all, it’s important to understand how electrolysis works to know if you’ll be a good candidate. While laser hair removal is most effective on dark hair, electrolysis claims to work on nearly every color and type.

The “papilla” provides the blood both hair and its follicles need for growth; electrolysis destroys the papilla in three different options: by directing currents of short-wave heat, by a chemical reaction, or by combining the two to get in the way of the hair’s ability to grow. 

What do you do to prepare?

Preparation for electrolysis is easy—but not always pretty. To be most effective, any hair that is receiving treatment needs to be about an eighth to a quarter of an inch long. The follicles respond better if they’ve been left alone for awhile -- that means no tweezing or waxing for a few hair cycles. Most places that perform electrolysis will offer a pre-electrolysis consultation, which allows you to go over the areas you’d like to have the hair removed from, discuss cost, and any health issues that might be a problem (such as implanted devices or moles in the area of hair removal). 

What should you expect?

Prepare to return to receive electrolysis several times—many places offer package deals depending on the hair removal location. Each cycle of hair growth must be treated separately, which means no waxing or tweezing in between and making sure the hair is at the required length for each visit. The procedure can be a little painful—about the equivalent of being poked in each follicle with a small needle. As treatments progress, it may require a stronger wave. But don’t be frightened! It won’t go on forever. 

After each electrolysis procedure, you should see a notable difference in the density of hair in the treated area. Treatments continue until the hair is gone or at least insignificant enough to no longer be embarrassing or a hassle. 

Are there risks?

Aside from the slight sting of the procedure, there are very few risks associated with electrolysis. There may be a slight redness immediately after. If you have especially sensitive skin, discuss any concerns with your electrologist. If you have rosacea, electrolysis may not be a good option for you. Additionally, some skin pigments may change more noticeably than others, particularly in darker skin shades. Ultimately, everyone is different—thus the importance of consulting with an electrologist before beginning. 

Last Updated: February 01, 2016