The Truth About Home Electrolysis Hair Removal

We get many questions about home electrolysis, so in this article we'll talk about the reasons why you should perhaps avoid this method of hair removal.

While professional hair removal treatments such as electrolysis and laser treatments are always going to be the most effective ways to reach some kind of permanent or semi permanent hair removal or reduction, they can be expensive and time consuming.

It may seem easier to just splash out once on a machine that can be used in the comfort of your own home. While the FDA has approved a few home laser treatment devices, there are currently no approved home electrolysis machines on the market. This article will show why electrolysis, an invasive procedure, should only be performed in a professional setting, and what your other options can be.

Close up of hair growth

Professional Electrolysis

​Electrolysis is the only form of permanent hair removal that is approved by the FDA. It is performed by inserting a tiny needle or probe into the hair follicle and “zapping” the follicle with an electrical current, in order to destroy it.

By destroying the follicle the aim is to ensure that it doesn’t grow back. If the hair is caught at the right time of the hair’s life cycle (see our article on the life cycle of a hair), otherwise known as the anagen phase, then the hair may effectively not grow back, or at the very least not grow back for a long time.

As electrolysis attacks one hair at a time it can be a very time consuming procedure, and is better suited to smaller areas, such as the chin or upper lip. As it is also invasive it can be painful, and if not performed correctly can cause infection and/or scarring. While effective, electrolysis can therefore be very time consuming, expensive, and usually requires several treatments to be effective.

Electrolysis at Home

Currently, there are two types of home electrolysis devices on the market, none of which are approved by the FDA. The first type mimics the machines used by electrologists, but on a less powerful level.

Probe Home Electrolysis

They contain a probe that is inserted into the hair follicle and then an electrical current is applied to the follicle to destroy it. These devices come with a high risk of skin damage and scarring if the probe is not inserted correctly.

In order for this procedure to work you need to stick a thin hair-width sized needle into a tiny hole on your skin, without damaging the skin, which is difficult to do if you haven’t actually been trained in the process. While these devices usually come with safeguards, such as a spring so that you cannot insert the probe too deeply and puncture the skin, or a maximum intensity of 9V, there are too many risks and uncertainties surrounding these at-home products for us to be able to recommend their use.

While the first concern is that of causing possibly permanent skin damage if not used correctly, there is also no guarantee that these machines will live up to the expectations of providing permanent hair removal.

With the lower voltage, and the risk of not using the device correctly, or not ensuring that the current is applied directly to the follicle, there is a great possibility that the hair you treat will grow back.

Transdermal Electrolysis

The second type of “home electrolysis” device is marketed as an electrolysis machine, but as reviewed in our article here, this is a scam.

Called Transdermal Electrolysis, this type of machine is non-invasive, and claims to provide permanent hair removal by the aid of an electric current applied to the skin, which is supposed to damage the hair follicle.

As reviewed in our article above there is absolutely no scientific data backing this up, as there is no guarantee the electrical current actually even makes it into the hair follicle to destroy it, and there are no studies that prove that it is in any shape or form effective.

Whether this is performed in a beauty salon (where you will often find this type of electrolysis), or via a machine at home, it is a waste of money that would be better spent on professional invasive electrolysis that has been proven to work, or some form of semi permanent treatment such as laser hair removal.

Example of a scam advertisement - this advert claims a "new radically advanced procedure" and lies by saying that it has been clinically proven to be substantially equivalent to needle electrolysis

Alternative Methods

If your aim is permanent hair removal then your only option is electrolysis provided by a professional. The American Electrology Association sets a very high standard of practice that all physicians must follow with each patient, and currently over 30 states require that electrologists have certain licences or certifications before they can practice.

Silkn SensEpil Device

Home laser / IPL hair removal devices operate at a lower fluence than the equipment that the professionals use.

Professionally-practiced electrolysis is the only way to guarantee safe delivery of the procedure and to ensure that you obtain the results you are looking for. If you are willing to settle for semi permanent to permanent hair removal (in some cases or areas) then there is also the option of laser treatment.

While laser treatment is more effective when performed by a physician in a clinic, there are a few FDA approved laser machines for home use on the market (see our article on laser treatment at home).

While professional laser treatment can be done on any skin tone or type, it is most effective on darker hair. However, at home laser hair removal machines can only be used by people with skin tones ranging between I and VI on the Fitzpatrick scale at this point in time.

Conclusion

We do not recommend the use of any of the current electrolysis machines that are marketed for home use. The ones that are invasive and mimic the professional machines are much less effective and can cause skin damage or even electrocution if used incorrectly.

The other at-home machines that are called “Transdermal Electrolysis” are actually a scam, are ineffective and a waste of money and time. Our advice is to steer clear of any type of home electrolysis device and to have the treatment in a clinic, performed by a professional, if you are looking for permanent hair removal.

If you are looking for hair reduction or semi permanent hair removal, then laser hair treatment is a good way to go, whether it be professional, or by using an FDA approved home device.

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