Electrology is the practice of electrical hair removal to permanently remove human hair from the body. Electrolysis is the actual process of removing hair using electricity. In electrolysis, a qualified professional called an electrologist slides a hair-thin, solid metal probe into each
hair follicle The hair follicle is an organ found in mammalian skin. It resides in the dermal layer of the skin and is made up of 20 different cell types, each with distinct functions. The hair follicle regulates hair growth via a complex interaction between ...
without puncturing the skin (when inserted properly). Electricity is delivered to the follicle through the probe, which causes localized damage to the areas that generate hairs, either through the formation of caustic
sodium hydroxide Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye and caustic soda, is an inorganic compound with the formula NaOH. It is a white solid ionic compound consisting of sodium cations and hydroxide anions . Sodium hydroxide is a highly caustic base and alkal ...
(the galvanic method), overheating (
thermolysis Thermal decomposition, or thermolysis, is a chemical decomposition caused by heat. The decomposition temperature of a substance is the temperature at which the substance chemically decomposes. The reaction is usually endothermic as heat is re ...
), or both (the blend method).


All three methods (galvanic, thermolysis, and blend) have their own merits, and one method is not better than another. The success depends on the skill of the electrologist, the type of hair being removed, the condition of the skin and the pain threshold of the client. All three methods, when properly performed, can be thorough at destroying the hair matrix cells, and leaving follicles incapable of regrowing hair.

Galvanic method

This method is named after
Luigi Galvani Luigi Galvani (, also ; ; la, Aloysius Galvanus; 9 September 1737 – 4 December 1798) was an Italian physician, physicist, biologist and philosopher, who studied animal electricity. In 1780, he discovered that the muscles of dead frogs' legs ...
and uses a person's body as an
electrolytic cell An electrolytic cell is an electrochemical cell that utilizes an external source of electrical energy to force a chemical reaction that would not otherwise occur. The external energy source is a voltage applied between the cell′s two electrode ...
. Galvanic electrolysis was first reported in medical literature in 1875 by
ophthalmologist Ophthalmology ( ) is a surgical subspecialty within medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. An ophthalmologist is a physician who undergoes subspecialty training in medical and surgical eye care. Following a medic ...
Charles Michel Charles Michel (; born 21 December 1975) is a Belgian politician serving as the president of the European Council since 2019. He previously served as the prime minister of Belgium between 2014 and 2019. Michel became the minister of Develop ...
as a method for removing ingrown eyelashes. A galvanic hair remover is essentially a positive ground power supply that delivers 0-3 milliamperes through the body. The follicular probe is the cathode of an electrolytic cell.
Sodium hydroxide Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye and caustic soda, is an inorganic compound with the formula NaOH. It is a white solid ionic compound consisting of sodium cations and hydroxide anions . Sodium hydroxide is a highly caustic base and alkal ...
formed at the cathode by the process of chemical
electrolysis In chemistry and manufacturing, electrolysis is a technique that uses direct electric current (DC) to drive an otherwise non-spontaneous chemical reaction. Electrolysis is commercially important as a stage in the separation of elements from n ...
kills the hair matrix cells. Modern galvanic hair removers automatically adjust the voltage to maintain constant current.


Another method is known as thermolysis, also called radio frequency (RF), shortwave or
diathermy Diathermy is electrically induced heat or the use of high-frequency electromagnetic currents as a form of physical therapy and in surgical procedures. The earliest observations on the reactions of high-frequency electromagnetic currents upon the ...
. Thermolysis was developed in the 1920s and first reported in medical literature by Henri Bordier.Bordier H. Nouveau traitment de l'hypertrichose par la diathermie. Vie Med., 1924, 5:561 A thermolytic hair remover is essentially a
radio transmitter In electronics and telecommunications, a radio transmitter or just transmitter is an electronic device which produces radio waves with an antenna. The transmitter itself generates a radio frequency alternating current, which is applied to t ...
, usually with an output of about 0-8 watts at a frequency of 13.56 . RF energy emanates from the probe tip to tissue within about a millimeter. Thermolysis works by heating the hair matrix cells to about , causing
electrocoagulation Electrocoagulation (EC) is a technique used for wastewater treatment, wash water treatment, industrially processed water, and medical treatment. Electrocoagulation has become a rapidly growing area of wastewater treatment due to its ability to remo ...

Blend method

The galvanic method and thermolysis are often combined in the blend method, developed by Arthur Hinkel in 1948, which uses both RF and direct current, combining many of the advantages of both methods.Hinkel AR, Lind RW (1968). ''Electrolysis, Thermolysis and the Blend: the principles and practice of permanent hair removal. ''Los Angeles, CA: Arroway Publishers,


The practitioner selects a metal probe that slides easily into the hair follicle, usually the same diameter as the hair shaft or smaller. The probe is typically 50 to 150 µm (0.002 to 0.006 inches) for all three modalities. Care is needed to insert the probe at the same angle as the hair is growing out of the skin. The probe is inserted to the depth of the hair matrix, the site where hair is formed. The power and duration of the electricity are started at the lowest setting, then gradually increased until the hair comes out as easily as possible. If the patient experiences significant discomfort, the settings can be lowered.

Treatment duration

Most practitioners will advise that complete removal of male pattern facial hair takes between 1 and 4 years, with an average treatment length of 2 years in case of one session per week, one hour per session. Removal of body hair works considerably faster.

Status of profession

In the United States, electrolysis is regulated in many states, requiring training and licensing. Electrolysis as a profession faced new competition in the 1990s after laser hair removal was developed and promoted as a quicker and easier way to remove hair. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared laser can only claim to reduce hair growth, not permanently remove it.

See also

Hair removal Hair removal, also known as epilation or depilation, is the deliberate removal of body hair or head hair. Hair typically grows all over the human body and can vary in thickness and length across human populations. Hair can become more visible d ...
Intense pulsed light Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a technology used by cosmetic and medical practitioners to perform various skin treatments for aesthetic and therapeutic purposes, including hair removal, photorejuvenation (e.g. the treatment of skin pigmentation, ...


External links

American Electrology Association

British Institute and Association of Electrolysis

The Society for Clinical & Medical Hair Removal, Inc.
{{Electrolysis Electrology