If you have unwanted hair on your face, you’ve probably dreamed of getting rid of it forever. You may have tried other treatments, including creams or laser hair removal, only to be disappointed when you discovered they are not permanent. The only FDA-approved treatment for permanent hair removal is electrolysis, which uses shortwave radio frequencies to destroy the hair follicle. Even with electrolysis, some hair regrowth may occur after a few years. If you’re interested in trying electrolysis, research and consult with different electrologists and be sure to protect your skin before and after treatment.
EditChoosing an Electrologist
- Search online to find electrologists in your area. An electrologist is a person who has gone through special training to perform the electrolysis procedure. Research different electrologists in your area and make a list of the ones you think are most qualified. Try to find at least 3-4 electrologists to start with.
- Look for electrologists with at least 5 years of experience in the field, with positive reviews on their business page and social media and a professional-looking website.
- Many cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists offer electrolysis in their offices, so you might want to start by searching for these.
- Ask your family and friends for recommendations.
- Read online reviews to get a good idea of an electrologist’s previous work.
- Check the credentials of the electrologists on your list. In many states, electrologists must be licensed or certified in order to practice. If you live in a state with these requirements, make sure that the electrologist’s license is on display when you visit the office. If your state doesn’t require licensure, choose an electrologist who has obtained certification from an accredited electrology school.
- Even if your electrologist is licensed, check to see if they are registered with a professional organization, such as the American Electrology Association (AEA) in the U.S. This indicates a commitment to ongoing education in their field.
- Do not undergo a procedure from someone who is not certified.
- Attend several consultations before you make a decision. Write down any questions you have before your consultations and make sure you feel that they have been answered fully. Be sure to ask whether the electrologist uses needle electrolysis, as this is the only kind approved by the FDA and American Medical Association (AMA).
- Some of the questions you might ask could include the length of each session, how many sessions the electrologist estimates you will need, and the cost of each session. You may also want to ask about how the procedure will feel and how long the clinic has been in business.
- Make sure you talk to the electrologist about the results you hope to achieve. Show them where unwanted hair on your face is located, as this might affect the final results.
- Ask about sanitary procedures. Since electrolysis leaves your skin vulnerable to infection, ask the electrologist what procedures the clinic practices to protect its patients. Do they wear gloves? Do they use proper sterilization procedures, such as wiping down all equipment with sanitizer or using individual needles for each client?
- Look around while you’re in the office. Ask yourself if the office and exam rooms seem neat and clean. Do the technicians and staff seem to be practicing sanitary methods? Check to see if the technician washes their hands before examining your skin. Most importantly, ask yourself if you feel comfortable. If the answer is no, keep looking.
EditPreparing for Electrolysis
- Be prepared for several sessions. Each individual treatment session may take only a few minutes or up to an hour, depending on how many individual follicles must be treated, but electrolysis often requires 10-12 treatments over a period of several months for desired results to be achieved. The appointments should be scheduled no closer than 1-2 weeks apart so that your skin has time to recover.
- Do not shave or pluck the hair on your face for 3 days prior to treatment. The technician has to be able to grab the hair with a pair of tweezers in order for the electrolysis treatment to be effective. Refrain from shaving or tweezing before your appointment as you prepare for electrolysis.
- Drink 8 glasses of water the day before your appointment. Dehydrated skin is more difficult to treat with electrolysis, so make sure you drink a full 8 glasses of water the day before your appointment. Hydration will help your skin to heal more quickly, as well, so keep hydrating after treatment.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks the day of your appointment as they can increase your skin’s sensitivity.
- Wash your face with a gentle cleanser prior to treatment. Electrolysis can leave your skin vulnerable to infection as you recover, so it’s important to make sure to thoroughly wash your face before treatment. Use a gentle cleanser and a light moisturizer.
- Avoid harsh skin care treatments prior to electrolysis. Chemical peels, waxes, and other facial treatments can leave your skin feeling sensitive. This can lead to an uncomfortable reaction to the electrolysis treatment, so avoid these treatments for about a week prior your first treatment. Since your followup appointments will probably only be 1-2 weeks apart, wait until you have finished electrolysis completely before resuming these treatments.
- Take deep breaths and listen to music to stay calm. To stay calm during the procedure, take deep breaths and focus on the results you hope to achieve. You can also bring headphones and listen to your favorite music.
- During the procedure, the electrologist will insert a very thin needle into the hair root, then remove the hair using tweezers. This process takes about 15 seconds per hair follicle. You may be given a topical numbing cream, or you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever prior to your appointment if you are concerned about discomfort.
EditCaring for Your Skin after Treatment
- Moisturize your skin after your appointment. The best way to treat your skin after electrolysis is to behave as though you have a mild sunburn. Use a lightweight lotion to make sure your skin gets plenty of moisture. This will help it to heal faster, help prevent scabbing and will relieve discomfort.
- Do not touch or scratch your skin after treatment. Electrolysis leaves the hair follicle exposed for a short time after treatment. Touching or scratching your face can transfer bacteria to your vulnerable skin, leading to breakouts and infection. Try not to touch your face for the first 1-2 days after treatment. If you do need to touch your face, wash your hands first.
- If scabs form, allow them to fall off naturally. Picking at them can lead to scarring.
- Do not wear makeup for 1-2 days after electrolysis. If makeup gets into the hair follicle while it is healing, it can lead to irritation and possibly infection. Translucent powder is okay, but avoid all other forms of makeup for a day or two so your skin can heal.
- Wear a hat and SPF 15 sunscreen if you will be in the sun. Make sure to protect your face from exposure to UVA and UVB rays after you undergo electrolysis. Sun exposure on recently treated skin can lead to a form of discoloration known as hyperpigmentation. You should always wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 when you will be out in the sun, but it’s especially important for the first 1-2 days after electrolysis,
- Avoid strenuous exercise for 1-2 days. Sweating shortly after electrolysis can cause skin irritation and clogged pores, which can lead to an infection. Take a day or two off from the gym after your electrolysis treatment to ensure you get the best results.