Suggestions for a better electrolysis treatment

From a reader:

Hi Andrea,

I have just finished reading your web page on electrolysis and found it to be a very good source of information on the topic. However, there are things that the client can do prior to and after treatment to get a better treatment and have fewer problems after a treatment. As an electrology student about ready to take the California State Board of Cosmetology Examination for Electrology, and being in the early stages of my own male-to-female transition, I would like to pass some of this information along. Going in for a treatment properly prepared will make the treatment more efficient, saving the client money over the course as they will have more hairs removed in the same amount of time.


Electrolysis, thermolysis, and blend all require the presence of water for the process to work. I am frequently working on clients that are not properly hydrated. When clients come to me in this condition, the only way to properly destroy the hair papilla and associated hair germ cells in this condition is to increase the power levels on the epilator. This increases the possibility of damage to the upper layers of the skin, slows down the process, and essentially wastes both the electrologists time and the client’s money.

When skin is properly hydrated, lower power levels and shorter individual hair treatment times may be used with better efficiency, allowing the electrologist to remove more hair in the same amount of time. Also, with the lower power and treatment times per hair, less total energy is used allowing the heat and lye effected areas to remain deeper in the skin, virtually eliminating damage to the vi sable upper layers of the skin. For this reason, electrology clients should strive to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day for at least two days before their treatment.

Remove makeup!

Another thing that I see frequently are clients that come in with makeup applied. As a lot of makeups have oil bases, besides being a good trap for bacteria, this usually requires that I use either isopropyl alcohol or some other oil removing cleansing product to remove the makeup from the areas that I am going to treat. This delays my start on actual hair removal and leaves the upper layers of the skin dry. This makes it more difficult to epilate the treated hairs and will sometimes cause the root sheath and soft bulb tissue to be pulled off from the hair shaft at the horny outer layer of the epidermis. This is not a serious condition and the follicle sheath and bulb tissues will come out in a few days with normal skin cleansing. However, it will leave the appearance of a blackhead until it does come out. Before coming in for a treatment, it would be a good idea for the client to cleanse the areas to be treated with a mild soap and use a non-oil-based skin moisturizer. Please refrain from applying any form of makeup, even foundation, prior to treatment.

Stop tweezing and waxing!

Perhaps the most difficult thing for an electrologist to get across to a client is the need to stop tweezing or waxing when they begin a series of electrology treatments. Despite conventional wisdom, tweezing and waxing will make any hair problem greater. One of hair’s natural functions is to protect the skin from damage. When a hair is tweezed, the lower portion of the hair papilla is torn apart and requires the body to increase the blood supply to the area for healing. In response to the injury, a new and greater quantity of blood vessels will develop at the site. Increased blood supply will not only increase the thickness of the replacement hair, which will take 6 to 8 weeks to reach the skin surface, but will stimulate adjacent follicles to be stimulated to anagen growth. For this reason, a client is better off clipping off the individual hairs, shaving the area or, if you skin is not too sens
tive, using a depilatory between treatments.

As none of these methods remove hair by disruption of the cellular structure, they will not aggravate hair growth. If none of these options are agreeable to the client, the other alternative would be to bleach the hairs in the areas to be treated several days prior to the next visit. As the anagen hairs exhibit the most growth, the bleached hairs will have a length of pigmented shaft below the bleached areas, allowing the electrologist to identify and treat the anagen hairs, giving the best results for the next treatment.

Post-treatment care

Finally we come to the area of post treatment care. As electrologist are trained to spot skin conditions that are present - and are not allowed to work on clients that show signs of infectious disease - if the treatment was properly performed and sterilized equipment and disposable needles were used for the procedure, most post treatment problems are traceable to improper care of the treated areas by the client. As clients it is absolutely essential that we follow our electrologist’s instructions for after care for the treated areas.

Most electrologists are very conscientious about how they perform their work and really want to see us get the best possible results. For this reason follow their instructions to the letter. Doing this will minimize the possibility of localized pustules and pitting when the area heals. I can not stress enough how much you have to resist the temptation to feel, touch, or pick at newly treated areas. Do not pick off any crusts that form. These are a natural part of the healing process. Resist the use of antibiotic ointments unless specifically prescribed by your dermatologist. Simply keeping the area clean and dry (no scrubbing until the area heals -please!) will be your best way towards normal scar-free healing.

Speaking both as a client and a soon to be registered electrologist, I hope that others can find this information useful. Electrology is one of the safest and the only FDA approved method of permanent hair removal. But we still need to do our part as clients to get the best results - and the most for our money!

These comments are very much appreciated and can’t be said enough. I internally get very frustrated with clients who do everything they can to make their electrolysis sessions a living hell when it could be so much easier. Two days ago, I worked on a lady’s chin and she was very uncomfortable, but made it through for the second full clearance. This was her 4th appointment with me and she was advised in the beginning, at the consult, what to do to prepare herself pre-electrolysis. I smelt cigarette odor on her clothes, and she admitted that she had several cups of coffee and a Mountain Dew before coming. In addition to this, I was forever cleaning the thick makeup off her chin before starting and could still see the stuff in the crevices. Her skin was very flakey because she uses alcohol to cleanse her chin, a practice she said she will stop doing. I patiently and lovingly repeated all that was said in the first consultation about pre-care behavior so I wouldn’t have to increase the intensity. She already knows this as she is a very smart lady, but chooses not to comply because she said it’s too hard to give those things. It was a difficult session for me as I worked through the flakes and the wiggles, but it was more difficult for her, which I always feel sorry about.

At the end of the session she asked how soon she could get in the tanning bed after electrolysis,since she was going on vacation soon! I think I crossed my eyes and said, “what?”.

Can someone explain what’s wrong with antibiotic ointment?


The oil base traps in the bacteria the body is trying to secrete, and collects bacteria from the surrounding air as well.