Electrology is a practice which permanently removes human hair through electrical depilation. The actual procedure by which hair is removed is called electrolysis, where a trained practitioner slides a thin metal probe into each hair follicle. This probe delivers electricity into the follicle, causing localized damage to the part of the follicle that generates hairs, either through the galvanic method, the thermolysis method, or a combination of both called the blend method.
Charles Michel, a St. Louis ophthalmologist, was one of the first to discover and write about permanent hair removal results using an electrified needle. He began experimenting with this procedure in 1869, whilst treating trichiasis (ingrown eyelashes) using a battery powered needle epilator which caused the hair follicle to produce sodium hydroxide, and permanently damage that part of the follicle that generates hairs.
Electrolysis continued to develop and gain popularity during the early part of the 20th century. In 1916, with the use of AC electricity and multiple needles, Paul Kree developed thermolysis, a practice which causes thermal damage within the follicles. Through World War 2, further developments on electrolysis were made when Henri St. Pierre and Arthur Hinkel applied for a patent for a blend method they had been experimenting with. Twenty years after they received this patent they published the innovative book Electrolysis, Thermolysis and the Blend, discussing the scientific techniques they had used to improve Electrolysis.
The second half of the century saw a major improvement in the equipment and technology used in Electrolysis. Nonetheless, the success of the procedure still remains highly dependent on the skills of the practitioner.
Three methods are used in electrology: galvanic, thermolysis, and blend. These three modalities all have their own particular merits, are equal in effectiveness, and may sometimes be used together to thoroughly destroy the hair matrix cells, and permanently leave the follicles incapable of regenerating hair.
This method, named after Luigi Galvani, uses a person’s body as an electrolytic cell. A galvanic epilator, essentially a ground power supply that sends 0-3 milliamperes through the body, is utilized in this modality. It works by stimulating sodium hydroxide to be formed at the cathode, which in turn destroys the hair matrix cells.
Thermolysis, was first developed in the 1920s, and was subsequently reported in medical literature by Henri Bordier. A thermolytic epilator, with an output of approximately 0-8 watts at a frequency of 13.56 MHz. RF energy, is used in this procedure. It works by heating the hair matrix cells to about 48°C, causing a process called electrocoagulation to take place.
The Blend method combines both the Galvanic and Thermolysis method, in effect combining their advantages.
It is important for a patient seeking to undergo Electrolysis to choose a professional practitioner in order to avoid unnecessary discomfort as well as costs. Firstly, they should begin by ensuring that the practitioner they choose is licensed and certified. Secondly, the patient should ask for a consultation in which they can ask questions about the procedure, as well as questions regarding the practitioner’s experience. And finally the patient should make sure that during the procedure, the practitioner is using the right technique, and that he/she is using needle electrolysis and not any other instrument.