Electric Hair Removal - How Many Ways Can You Say "Ouch?"

Electric hair removal comes in two basic types. One (electrolysis) is tried and true. The other (electric tweezers) is commonplace in ads as low cost home electric hair removal, but questioned by many as little more than quackery. What makes the difference?

Electrolysis hair removal has been around for 125 years. Some people call it "electrology." It was originally developed in 1875 by an eye doctor to solve the problem of ingrown eyelashes. Yikes.

It is an electric hair removal procedure in which a thin sterilized needle is inserted into the hair follicle. An electric current is applied. The heat from the electric current damages the hair root, preventing it from growing.

There are three different applications of electricity which can be used for hair removal. The first is called electrolysis, or galvanic. Galvanic refers to the direct current (DC) type of electricity used.

When DC current interacts with the body's sweat and salts it produces a tiny amount of lye. If the operator is skillful, the lye burns away the hair root and does not damage the skin. Eek!

The second kind of electric hair removal treatment uses alternating current (AC). It is also known as high frequency (HF) diathermy. Some people refer to it as radio waves or short-wave.

The AC current agitates the tissue of the hair follicle, producing enough heat to destroy the area. If the operator is skillful, the heat does not burn more tissue than intended. Ouch!

The third kind of electric hair removal is a blend of the previous two. It produces both lye and heat. The goal is to cause faster destruction of the hair producing follicle tissue. Speedy ouch.

For obvious reasons, electrolysis hair removal is a medical procedure requiring a licensed operator. Some electrolysis hair removal is done in a medical setting. Salons and spas who have operators licensed in this Class I medical device also offer electric hair removal with electrolysis.

Advertising sometimes claims electrolysis is painless. People who have experienced the procedure report a different experience. The degree of pain you may experience basically depends on your tolerance for pain. Remember, needles are inserted into each individual hair follicle.

If you have sensitive skin or a low pain thresh hold, you may want to discuss a topical anesthetic with your operator. Some people describe the pain as similar to plucking. Others report a warm or burning sensation. Zing!

Infection is another danger associated with electrical hair removal. The needles and forceps used by the operator must undergo the most rigorous sterilization procedures. Be sure to discuss the sterilization procedures and infection control practices with the operator before allowing any electric hair removal to begin. It's YOUR body.

Redness and swelling are regular side effects of electrical hair removal. Don't plan to get a bikini line electric hair removal done right before going to the beach. The red and swollen tissue may be more embarrassing than the unwanted hair. Good Grief!

There is usually associated tenderness to touch. Always remember to schedule electrical hair removal treatments several days before you or anyone else will be touching the body area. This caution is especially important to remember for hair removal in the pubic area or bikini line. Uh Oh!

Electrolysis is often advertised as "permanent hair removal." The truth is that studies have shown regrowth in the treated area. Repeated treatments are always required over a period of weeks and months, because different hair is in different stages of growth. Hair can only be killed when it is growing, not when it is at rest.

The need for repeated treatments by licensed operators makes electrolysis one of the most expensive of the hair removal procedures. Some people think the pain and cost are worth it since the effects are longer lasting.

Electric tweezers are advertised as "at home electrolysis without the needle." To use one of these electrical hair removal kits, you must take hold of the individual hair with the electric tweezers and hold it for 30 to 60 seconds.

The manufacturers claim that a radio wave travels down the hair, destroying the root, much like the needle destroys it with an electrical current.

In fact, there is no published clinical evidence that hair can even transmit radio waves. There is published clinical evidence that it cannot.

Other electric tweezers hair removal systems add swabs and electrode pads as well as the tweezers themselves. Once again, there have been no published studies showing these techniques work. In fact both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the FDA have reprimanded manufacturers for questionable advertising claims.

Before you spend significant time and money on electrical hair removal approaches you'd better do some homework. You could get burned in more ways than one! Double ouch and yikes!

The good news is if you take a good look around at some of the newer tools for hair removal, you may find you don't have to pay a fortune or have red, swollen tissue for days after what should be a simple removal of unwanted hair. There are answers out there. Do your homework.

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