(re)starting my electrolysis journey - any tips?

hi all - I’ve been lurking on this forum for a while now as I tried to decide on what method to go with for long-term hair removal for my face/body. I briefly considered laser for my face but given that I’m a darker skin tone (probably type V, i’m a light-skinned Asian Indian), i didn’t want to run the risk of LHR-induced growth, and I also wanted something actually permanent. About 6 years ago, I had electrolysis done for about a year on my upper lip (which is my most bothersome area) but didn’t see any lasting results (i realize now that may be because of my electrologist’s poor technique, not electrolysis itself, since i remember the plucking sensation for almost every hair).

So, I have an initial appt with a highly-recommended electrologist here in LA tomorrow. I’m going to focus on my upper lip and sideburn area. The good news for my sideburns is that i’ve never done any type of hair removal (besides shaving) on there, so I’m hopeful that the first clearance can get a lot of hairs out permanently. I am concerned that the pain is going to be an issue - any recs for an OTC topical? My upper lip is especially sensitive.

I’ve attached pics to give you an idea of my skin tone/hair - sorry, they are not great (cell phone). Any guesses on how long it might take? thanks in advance :slight_smile:

qwerty Attachments



If your electrologist is skilled and using modern equipment, chances are you will not need a topical anesthetic. Tips: Do your homework and become an educated consumer. Do not try to micromanage every aspect of your treatments. Follow the recommended treatment program and ask questions when and if you have them, but leave the electrologist alone and let them do their job. If you are unhappy, find another electrologist. Good luck!

Well you are on the right track. Your hair doesn’t seem too coarse either, so not great for LHR.

The pics are not clear at all to give you any kind of estimate. But since every electrologist is different, the best person to give you a prediction of how long it will take to ‘clear’ the area is your electrologist.

I had exactly the same areas as you when I started electro; I never achieved a ‘clearance’. I went in for regular sessions and the hair gradually decreased. I’m sure at some point we switched from clearing pre-existing hairs to treating new/re-growth. But I basically just got less hairy over time until I was done.

I don’t think you should have pain issues, I never needed anaesthetic for my face. But some of my friends can’t cope at all without something. EMLA is an option but takes times to kick in (about 1 hr) and also needs occluding to get the most out of it. PFB Numb-it works in 10 mins and is great for small areas to take the edge off.

It seems to me that you do something to your upper lip hair? If so, do note that unless you leave the area alone for about 3 months, you probably don’t have a great idea of the extent of the hair situation. So let’s say you stop doing ‘something’ only a few weeks before you start regular electrolysis, in the beginning weeks of electro, you will continually have hairs appearing that weren’t present when you started. Some people get the impression that it is not working very well because of this.

I always give the example of my friend. Before we started her on electrolysis, I made her leave her eyebrow area alone for almost three months. She was a regular plucker before then and she was truly shocked to see how much hair came through when she stopped tweezing for that period. Then, over a few weeks of regular sessions (she couldn’t cope with more than 15-30mins in one go), the electrologist cleared all these hairs. Then for about 4-8 weeks she was more or less clear and didn’t need much work.

If she had started going for electrolysis after only leaving the area alone for 2 weeks or so, the initial sessions would be short and all the hair would have probably been cleaned up in each session. But for those first few months, every week she’d keep having new hair coming through. All I am saying is that if you do the latter, do be aware about what is going on.

thanks so much, stoppit. I’ve been waxing/threading/using depilatories on my upper lip for the better part of the last 15 years, although i haven’t done any of those for the last six weeks, in anticipation of starting electrolysis. I know it’d be better if I had gone longer, but it’s too embarrassing to go to work with hair there (i understand I’ll have to only shave in between electrolysis appointments, which i’m not thrilled about, but willing to put up with).

how long did it take you to clear those areas (like over a period of months/years) and about how many hours would you estimate? I know every person is different, but I’m trying to get a sense of how much I’ll need to budget for this process. thanks again! :slight_smile:

It would be better not to shave as it may slow progress. Just keep going regularly so your electrologist can deal with those hairs instead. Trimming to a length where he/she can still remove them is an option.

I had very coarse sideburn hair down to my jawline. My electrologist (on my request) was concentrating on these hairs only and removing up to the lower 2/3 of my ear. At this point, I was leaving the downy hair surrounding and mixed in with the coarse area. I was done with this work over about 9 months and total of 6 hrs. I believe my upper lip was close to 10 hours and over about 14 months… although in the last few months I spent no more than a few minutes on the area every 3-4 weeks.

Both areas were untouched prior to electrolysis.

thanks so much. Had my first session yesterday and felt very comfortable w/my electrologist. She uses an apilus and it’s much less painful than whatever my last electrologist was doing/using six years ago. I didn’t get to ice it right away (I live about 20 min away) so there was some slight swelling. This morning I woke up with somewhat angry red skin (applied TTO last night after icing). I was able to cover with concealer/foundation, and it’s now mostly scabbing over into faint red spots. Not ideal, but also not super noticeable w/makeup, so i can go to work and not feel embarrassed. Next session is in 10 days to start working on sideburns (we were only able to do upper lip and b/w eyebrows yday). Will keep posting and update on my progress but overall i’m very excited/hopeful!

The redness usually goes away after a day, but the scabbing takes a few days. The food thing is they’re miniscule on the upper lip. Don’t use TTO in that area, if you can avoid it. I often got whiteheads there, but putting TTO on a whole area isn’t a good idea. Just be hygienic in terms of using a mild antiseptic soap, a washcloth and then something chemical free/natural to moisturise with. That’s all you need. Otherwise, your upper lip will become very dry and make up doesn’t adhere very well to flakey, dry skin which might bring more attention to the area.

If you get flakey dry skin after using Tea Tree Oil, it is a sure sign you have used TOO MUCH. Responsible venders of the product package it with a dropper top dispensor that only lets the product drip out one drop at a time. If you don’t get one of these dispensors, it is best to apply with a moistened cotton swab, like a Q-tip. Applied this way, one could use tea trea oil on an entire upper lip, or entire face for that matter (as many treating acne actually do on a daily or nightly basis).

I used a drop on a cotton bud (Q-tip to you) on a spot at night and for a couple of days only. That was it. It still gets horribly dry and I have dry skin already. Stopped using it altogether and my skin was better post-electrolysis than with it.

If your skin is very dry to begin with, then you would be a candidate to either dilute the TTO with lavender, or olive oil to cut the potency, or increase hydration so the skin is better served with internal moisture. Of course, the easy thing is what you have done, just don’t use it… however, for most it keeps the pustules away.

third session today - worked again on lip/brows. she suggested shaving the area a few days before my session next time. does that mean all the work we did today was for naught? :frowning: it gets me depressed thinking about it. icing the areas now - hopefully no swelling tomorrow.

Some electrologists advise their clients to shave, some say clip the hairs and some say leave the hairs alone. Some clients say they have to shave or they can’t face people at work and play. Clipping is better than shaving. Doing nothing at all shows all the hair in its natural state and can aid in getting more hair treated at one time. You can decide for yourself what option works best for you? Either way, you will get permanent hair removal if the electrologist is skilled and passionate.

If you have swelling and other TEMPORARY SKIN MANIFESTATIONS, such as redness or pin point scabs here and there, please don’t freak out. It will heal, but do communicate well with your electrologist about your concerns. She may want to change the “recipe” next time to see if she can minimize these TEMPORARY, NORMAL skin manifestations. 'kay?

Thanks Dee. I’m not too worried about the redness/scabbing - it’s been fading within a week (tops) so it’s bearable. I was more just worried that the clearance we did yesterday was pointless, because my electrologist kept saying they were “old hairs.” i should have asked what she meant, but i was in too much pain lol. I’ve discontinued using TTO and am just using witch hazel/aloe vera, per the advice from this board. Next session is in a week when we work again on sideburns area (much less painful than upper lip, thankfully).

Yes, the middle upper lip and along the lip line can be more sensitive on many people. Some electrologists believe a hair can only be affected when it is in the growing phase and others disagree. Just keep going for regularly spaced appointments and get cleared of all bothersome hairs each time. You will see the light at the end of the tunnel within a year or so. Take pictures so you don’t forget what you had before you started treatments and BE PATIENT. Even though the hairs being treated are permanently disposed of in good measure, the time, effort and expense part of this is only temporary. Yes, go easy on the TT oil and you should be just fine. It is good stuff, but it is potent.

Thanks again for your help. I noticed today that she didn’t even get to any of the smaller hairs right above my upper lip (only the sides). We spent a full hour yesterday and i’m somewhat disappointed that we got through so little. Is there an estimate of time for most areas that is reasonable? During my one hour session yesterday she did a little bit between my brows, and then i guess only the corners of my upper lip area. I like her for the most part, but this is going a little too slowly for me be to commit to financially (it’s $100/hour). any suggestions?