I was informed over a year ago that if I was truly interested in permanent hair removal that electrolysis was really the only way to go. I did listen, but I also received a Groupon for 6 sessions of laser hair removal, so I thought I would give that a shot first. After all, what could it hurt? It did hurt, lots, and although the initial results were pretty good, not only didn’t they last terribly long, but the laser is finicky and won’t touch the grey ones, of which I have an abundance. I’m not that old, but they started coming in at 25.
Local word of mouth directed me to Executive Clearance run by James Walker, a highly experienced electrologist. His work with the trans community and provision of low pain, highly effective beard removal was already well established in the Buffalo community. Let’s be honest, we are a niche market and it’s not so easy to find a specialist who is both geared toward trans needs and provides top quality service.
I booked a consultation and was sold. James took the time to explain the history and process of his methods and provided a sample. The sample patches he removed were on my cheek (low pain), chin (moderate discomfort), and upper lip (a bit more discomfort). He explained that removing the hair from the lip was the most painful and that he liked to include this in the consult to avoid any appearance of cherry picking while giving the customer a good idea of what to expect when it came to the most sensitive area. I was sold.
I booked a real appointment and showed up on Monday. James was meticulous in getting ready and scrubbed down well and brushed his teeth, something we all appreciate when someone is working close for many hours. As he did, I took a look around. His location and décor can only be described as ‘low overhead’; a business strategy he is comfortable explaining. The money went into the equipment and not the local, with a strategic goal of providing the lowest discomfort service possible. Instead of the usual life size framed prints of hairless softcore models, the walls are adorned with wrestling toys. I would be shocked if one was ever manufactured that he doesn’t own. I also noted an extensive video collection proudly displayed. My only concern with this is that he boasted not only ‘Mannequin’, but ‘Mannequin 2’ as well. If he had plans to show them, it could be a much longer day than I anticipated.
The keys to an extended electrolysis session are comfort and distraction. After all, no one wants to spend 9 hours having their face zapped while also getting leg cramps and staring at a crack in the ceiling. To offset this, James provides a comfortable gurney style table, with a large flat screen monitor directly above. For those who are interested, he has a whole transgender film lineup in the queue, of which I took advantage. I lay back and enjoyed ‘Transamerica’ as he began work.
While I don’t think there is any way of making electrolysis exactly comfortable or pain free, this was about as close as anyone is going to get. He kept up a steady rhythm of zap, zap, pluck, pluck over and over. The nice part about this is that the pain of the zaps never got intense enough to cause a reaction, even when he moved to the upper lip. By interspersing the zaps with plucking out the hairs, it was only a few seconds of shock to deal with at a time, which is more than bearable. The movie was enough of a distraction that for long periods I could forget what he was doing all together.
As I understand from other trans folks in the same boat, most electrolysis sessions range from 45 minutes to 2 hours max at a time. This seems to be what people can typically endure for the day. James was able to go for 7 hours on my face and could have kept going had I not run out of time. I was there for 9 hours, but he only billed me for the time working and not bathroom breaks, leg stretches, or lunch. All said and done, in that first session he managed to remove 3500 hairs, which covered my upper lip, chin, the sides of the muzzle area, and most of my cheeks. Not bad for one marathon appointment! At the end though, I experienced some heavy swelling, which is to be expected. He applied some tree oil before I left, which provided immediate relief. While I’m not exactly excited to be going back to continue on, I will and am not considering other alternatives. The results speak for themselves.
Who James is good for: Anyone transgender or otherwise who is looking for the low pain, high performance option for hair removal. Professionalism, attention to detail, good humor, and excellent results are all the order of the day. When your electrologist makes it on to your Christmas list after causing so many hours of discomfort, you can’t argue that you are getting that personal touch and that a real level of trust has been established.
Who James is not good for: Anyone who has the expectation that their electrolysis should take place in a setting similar to the Palace of Versailles and values form over function. If you want a posh address and marble floors, this probably isn’t right for you. The same can be said if you are a dedicated masochist or believe that ‘close enough’ is going to get the job done.
Overall rating: 5 Stars and My Highest Recommendation