At PEACH CLINICS we frequently see ingrown and damaged hair caused by desperate measures our clients have used to keep unwanted hair at bay.
A healthy hair grows straight out from the follicle. If anything such as oil, dead skin cells or even a scar blocks part of the follicle, the hair can bend and begin to grow downward eventually becoming completely trapped underneath the skin. Follicle excretions, which normally come out on the surface of the skin, become trapped and form a cyst around the ingrown hair. Depending on the rate of growth of the affected hair, the cyst can range from a small lump in the skin to a quite a large growth. Pain from the ingrown hair can range from mildly annoying to very painful.
What is ingrown hair?
Ingrown hair cysts that form near the surface of the skin can form a white or yellow head. Cysts forming deeper under the skin can present as a swollen red area. They can easily become infected and itchy.
What does ingrown hair look and feel like?
Ingrown hairs commonly occur where hair is closely shaved, waxed, or frequently plucked. These actions give the hair shaft greater opportunity to become distorted as it attempts to grow especially if it encounters debris left in the follicle by these methods of hair removal. Ingrown hairs are also more common in people with coarse or curly hair.
What causes ingrown hair?
The best treatment for ingrown hair is to permanently remove it. To release the hair and drain the cyst, the top of the cyst needs to be cut open, not squeezed in order to allow the hair to uncurl and come to the surface. An antiseptic is applied on the area to prevent infection and to encourage the cyst to drain. All this needs to be done with care to avoid the potential for scarring, hyperpigmentation and keloids.
How is ingrown hair treated?
Using galvanic electrolysis, PEACH CLINICS. can then permanently remove these hairs and ensure the problem never returns. So, don’t put up with ingrown hair. Come in and see us for a discreet and confidential discussion about these annoying hairs. Call us on (02) 8239 9300 or book on this website.
When clients come into PEACH CLINICS, they often say, “You’ll never guess where I have hair growing”. Well, in all honesty, there’s almost nowhere that would surprise us. However, one of the least talked about areas where hair often grows, is around the nipple – actually around the ‘areola’ to be precise. This is also known as nipple-hair.
Not many women will share the fact that they have nipple-hair. It’s rarely something you read about in the mainstream media.
However hairs random, or otherwise around the areola and on the breast itself, are more common than you might think. Just like other skin surfaces on the body, the breast contains hair follicles. So, hair on the nipple or breast is completely natural.
Nipple-hair can vary in size and texture. From small, downy hairs too long, wiry hairs. Interestingly, the hair may be completely different in nature and colour from any other body hair you have.
Like most of our body hair, hair on the nipple is most likely a transfer over from the times when it was most useful to have hair on our bodies to keep warm, as hair once helped regulate body temperature. So, don’t feel like it’s something to be embarrassed about – it’s all apart of our genetics and ancestry.
Why do we have nipple-hair?
Excessive hair growth anywhere on your body can be due to hormonal changes. Such as pregnancy, puberty or menopause. Women often report that they first notice ‘nipple-hair’ when they start taking oral contraceptives.
What causes nipple-hair growth?
Other medication, such as glucocorticosteroids or immunosuppressants, can also cause excessive hair growth in unwanted places on your body. Other causes of excessive nipple-hair growth can include Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Nipple-hair growth can be a sign of PCOS where there are elevated levels of testosterone in your body. This can cause excessive hair growth in areas usually associated with male hair growth patterns (chin, breasts, stomach, thighs). PCOS is a very common condition, affecting almost 1 in 10 women across the world. Ask your doctor for a blood test if you think this affects you.
If you are bothered by hair on your nipples, think very carefully about which hair removal method to use.
How do you get rid of nipple-hair?
So, what about hair removal creams? The skin around the nipple and on your breast is very sensitive and application of a chemicals here can be very painful and lead to irritation. Waxing? The same can be said for waxing. Both methods need to be repeated time after time after time.
Shaving around the nipple, especially if you are breastfeeding, can lead to open cuts susceptible to infection. Plucking hairs here can also cause irritated hair follicles which can be very uncomfortable.
Laser hair removal can cause hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation (skin discolouration) on delicate breast tissue. It’s mode of operation requires a bigger area than a single hair to be exposed to the light source.
Let’s face it. Any hair removal on the breast is going to be painful. Consider if you want to do it once or every month for the rest of your life…
How can you permanently get rid of nipple-hair?
Galvanic electrolysis is the only truly permanent method to get rid of nipple-hair. Here at PEACH CLINICS we have a lot of experience in breast hair removal. Our clients are very impressed with the permanent hair removal results achieved at PEACH CLINICS.
So, don’t be embarrassed. Come in and see us at PEACH CLINICS. Call (02) 8239 9300 for a discreet and confidential discussion about these annoying hairs.
At Peach Clinics, we love redheads! There is, of course, our lovely Georgia Peach and a few others in our own lives who are blessed with red hair (yes, Liz, Sam and Ethan!)
If you’re red you’re rare! Red hair is seen on little more than one in every hundred people worldwide so we set out to find out why redheads are special.
- On average, adults have 120,000 hairs on their head, but redheads have fewer, blondes have more and brunettes have the most. So why does red hair look so luxurious? It’s because red hair is thicker than any other.
- Redheads can age gracefully: their hair becomes sandy-coloured and then goes white. No grey hairs for them!
- Red hair has been around a long time and not just in northern Europe. Even centuries ago there were redheads in Asia (think Genghis Khan) and even in Africa.
- The highest percentage of redheads in the world live in Scotland (13%), followed closely by Ireland (10%). In the USA, about 2% of the population are redheads but, in the rest of the world, little more than 1% are red-haired.
- Redheads punch above their weight – there are many famous redheads: van Gogh, Nicole Kidman, Rose Leslie, Shaun White, Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale, Mark Twain, Henry VIII, Prince Harry…the list goes on.
- There are actually two kinds of redheads according Mary Spillane, managing director of British image consultants Colour Me Beautiful. There is the “autumn type with hazel eyes” and the “Celtic type with translucent skin and light eyes”.
- In Denmark, to have a red-haired baby is regarded as an honour.
- In Poland, people see redheads as a “good luck charm”: if you see three of them at once, you should win the lottery!
- In September, the Netherlands celebrates redheads with a special festival called the Roodharigendag.
- What causes red hair? It is a recessive gene, the MC1R mutation. Two copies of the gene are required, so it has to come from both sides of the family.
- Redheads are more likely to burn in the sun and have a higher risk of skin cancer.
- On the other hand, redheads are more efficient at making Vitamin D. They have low levels of eumelanin in their bodies and compensate for this by creating their Vitamin D when in low-light conditions.
- Studies show red-haired men are 54% less likely to develop prostate cancer.
- Redheads get colder faster, bruise more easily and feel more pain. Why? Because the MC1R mutation causes an excess release of pheomelanin, which interrupts the brain’s ability to regulate pain. It also means that it takes more anaesthesia to sedate a redhead. In a recent article, Jenna Pincott reports on studies that have shown that the MC1R mutation directly affects hormones that stimulate pain receptors in the brain. In a 2011 study researchers found that red-haired subjects needed about 20% more anaesthetic to relieve pain when compared with other subjects.
Redheads’ sensitive skin and translucent hair make them unsuitable candidates for laser hair removal. Galvanic electrolysis will work where laser and IPL can’t. Talk to PEACH CLINICS about how we can help you or your red-haired friends.
We live in an age where there is huge pressure for instant results and success over a long-term investment. Humans are hardwired to want things – now! It’s called instant gratification, and it’s a powerful force.
Many people look to hair removal methods which can deliver immediate and cheap results, but the downside to them is that don’t permanently remove hair, the best they can do is to reduce the rate of hair growth. You need to repeat them, year, after year, after year…
How much is your time worth?
With electrolysis, the initial upfront investment may be greater, but it pays off as your unwanted hair is gone, forever. Have a look at the graph above which shows you how amazingly cost-effective electrolysis is over time.
This is the story of Dominique whose life changed when she discovered how effective electrolysis is at removing facial hair. This is a true story. I met Dominique in New York in 2017 and I can tell you her skin looks great! This article was written by Hilary Sheinbaum and first published on popsugar.com.au
Dominique Holder of Brooklyn, NY, tells POPSUGAR about her electrolysis experience.
Before electrolysis, I was self-conscience, antisocial, depressed, and hated my facial hair that I was plagued with. I feared that my facial hair was obvious and everyone could see it, despite my efforts to conceal it. I would get my chin and neck waxed or threaded weekly and pluck any hairs that showed up in between. After my threading and waxing appointments, I would go straight home because those areas would be red and irritated, and I didn’t want anyone to see.
Flash forward 18 months: the only hair removal method deemed “permanent” by the FDA has changed my appearance, my demeanour, and even my career.
My Struggle With Facial Hair
Very few people knew about my daily struggle with facial hair. It was my biggest, darkest secret. There were mornings that I would look in the mirror at my face and start crying because I was so unhappy with my skin’s appearance. On top of the facial hair, I had caused other problems: ingrown hairs and acne that stemmed from hairs not being removed properly. Additionally, I had severe hyperpigmentation on my neck and chin from picking at the skin to remove the painful ingrown hairs.
“Examining my face for hair became part of my daily routine. I carried a set of tweezers in all of my purses, just in case.”
Some days I felt so awful that I would call out of work and stay home in bed all day. Other days, I would relentlessly dig into my flesh to remove the ingrown hairs that were bothering me. In turn, this left the areas red, bleeding, agitated, and extremely tender. I would cancel whatever plans I had until my skin cleared up. My social life was nearly non-existent. I wouldn’t go out spontaneously when friends or co-workers would ask.
The hair on my face controlled my life and kept me from enjoying it. I didn’t like to have conversations in close proximity to other people because I feared they would notice my hair growth and pass judgment. Examining my face for hair became part of my daily routine. I carried a set of tweezers in all of my purses, just in case.
I would pluck, wax, and thread my lip, chin, and neck weekly. Every time I went to the bathroom, I would check to see if there were any visible hairs. Before I went anywhere, I would check my face thoroughly. I was tired emotionally from dealing with my unwanted facial hair. It was taking up too much time and money to deal with every week or couple of days. At that time, I was in a relationship with someone, and he was very supportive, but I still thought that it was the worst thing ever.
My Electrolysis Journey
I first started receiving electrolysis in midtown Manhattan with Emily Limoges at Limoges Beauty in June of 2016. I was 28 years old.
I had heard about the process after expressing to a colleague who was receiving treatment my struggle with facial hair and my search for a permanent solution. Having heard so many horror stories about laser hair removal and the mixed effects on darker skin types, I didn’t want to risk damaging my skin more than it already was and possibly stimulating more growth. After talking to her and doing a bit of research, I was willing to try it.
My first electrolysis consultation was very emotional. I was scared that the treatment wasn’t going to work. I was also a little anxious about what to expect. I learned that the treatment uses a tiny needle, inserted into the hair follicle. I was told that plucking hairs just made it worse, as what were once a few hairs were now hundreds. Several areas of my face were severely damaged and hyper-pigmented from picking at ingrown hairs.
My journey took patience, time, and reinforcement. My hair growth was most prominent on my chin and neck, so those were my main areas of focus. When the hair growth decreased in those areas, I started to work on my upper lip and sideburns. I felt uncomfortable for the first couple of months during my treatments. It was difficult to see the difference because my hair was so hormonal and tough. Emily kept reassuring me my hair was getting a little thinner and a little less dense each time.
It is kind of like watching paint dry, or watching grass grow. You don’t see the change right away. In theory, you know the change is happening. In my particular case, it was a slow process because of my hair type. We live in a world of immediacy, and electrolysis is not an instantaneous process for most people.
My Life Now
Over the course of 18 months, I invested approximately 40 to 50 hours in electrolysis. For the first two months of treatment, I would go once a week for one to one-and-a-half hours, then every 10 to 12 days for 30 to 45 minutes.
“I don’t try to angle my face anymore like I used to, to disguise the hair. I don’t look in the mirror and cry anymore about how I look.”
I no longer plan my social schedule around my facial hair. I am confident when I talk to people I just meet, or even just walking down the street. I don’t try to angle my face anymore like I used to, to disguise the hair. I don’t look in the mirror and cry anymore about how I look. I feel emotionally lighter and happier in my everyday life. My family has told me I seem to have this glow about me now. I no longer have to wear so much makeup and can show off my skin to the world without the embarrassment I used to feel.
I decided to change careers after seeing that the treatment really worked. I went to school to become certified and graduated at the top of my class. I learned about the different types of electrolysis treatments, which method is best to use in what circumstances, and how to properly insert the probe and determine the pitch and depth. I studied skin and hair follicles and factors that contribute to hair growth in detail. I am also currently studying to become a licensed esthetician.
I’m happy to be helping others gain confidence and achieve the looks that they want. It means so much to me, especially since I come from a long hair journey. I’m extremely passionate about what I do and take pride in my work.
Today, I see myself as a beautiful woman who is more emotionally and physically confident. My outlook on life has become more positive. Being able to conquer my facial hair has taught me that difficult challenges in life can be very fulfilling and internally rewarding. The journey was long, with lots of emotions along the way. I feel I came out on the other side stronger mentally, hair-free, and more prepared for other challenges that life might have in store for me.
Just once a year my bosses let me share my own thoughts with the world. So, while their spirit of generosity still abounds in this festive season, let me give you some ideas on how to make the most of 2018 and be the best you can be. It’s never too late to start. Remember: the New Year is a perfect time to clear the slate!
- Get rid of distractions in your life If there are things stopping you doing something important or something you’ve always wanted to do because they are consuming all of your time, then deal with them! Sometimes this means finishing a task that you have been putting off or getting rid of excuses for not doing it. Promise yourself in the New Year that you will focus on what makes you happy, healthy and productive. If anything else distracts you from that path, deal with it!
- Simplify your life Along the same lines: if, like me, you try to do a million things at once (ok, so I exaggerate) you will never get to the important ones. Work out what you really have to do and who you have to be. Ask yourself the question, “Will the world stop turning on its axis if don’t do this task?” You know the answer.
- You don’t have to be everything for everybody If you try to do this you are bound to fail. Your happiness is not dependent on sorting out everyone else’s problems, saving them from themselves or “being there” for them. Work out what makes you happy: often that will be focussing on the lives and needs of those who you love the most and watching from afar everyone else with interest, love and support. As long as you can do the best you can for yourself and show people that you care, you’re a winner.
- Success is achievable The problem is in knowing or defining what success is for you. Ask yourself, “What does success look like?” Discover the answer to that question and you have something to aim for. Success is different for everyone. Have something to aim for that is yours alone. Remember, if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. – Zig Ziglar
- Set yourself achievable goals On the same thought, be kind to yourself and don’t set yourself unachievable goals. If dropping your weight by 10 kilos is an achievable goal, then make that your target. Once you’ve got there, recalibrate your expectations and see if you can tackle a further goal. Creighton Abrams is often quoted as saying that the only way a tiger can eat an elephant is to take one bite at a time. If you tackle too big a task, you’re likely to be defeated by its scale. Bite slowly, arrive safely.
- Back yourself Because if you aren’t confident in what you are doing in life, how can you expect others to back you? Unleash your inner diva!
Well, you thought electrolysis was old, but we use something much older every day.
PEACH CLINICS uses alcohol-free witch hazel to help soothe and cleanse skin before and after electrolysis. Witch hazel is one of the oldest and most effective beauty products still in use. Native Americans used extracts of witch hazel extensively for medicinal purposes. The Potawatomi used it in their sweat lodges to soothe sore bodies, the Osage wrapped sores with witch hazel bark and the Iroquois made a medicinal tea from it.
It has, as John-Manuel Androte writes, been “pressed, boiled, and steamed into the service of human health for centuries”. He also claims that it is “One of the few products that’s both FDA-approved and endorsed by real witches”. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved witch hazel distillate as safe for external use. This is a rarity among herbal treatments. And apparently it is believed by modern day witches to be a magical herb, capable of keeping away evil and mending broken hearts!
The early Puritan settlers adopted these adopted this remedy from the Native Americans, and its use became widely established in the United States. A missionary, Dr. Charles Hawes, learned of the preparation’s therapeutic properties, and determined that the product of distillation (through steam) of the plant’s twigs was even more effective. “Hawes Extract” was first produced and sold in Essex Connecticut in 1846. Commercial production of witch hazel extract was started by Thomas Newton Dickinson, Senior. The company bearing his name is still in existence today.
The word “witch” in the name of the herb is actually a derivative from the Anglo-Saxon word “wych” meaning flexible. The word described the flexibility of the branches that Native Americans used to make bows.
Witch hazel contains active compounds such as flavonoids, tannins and volatile oil that give it astringent action to stop bleeding. It is also used to reduce the pain and itching of haemorrhoids. Its astringent and soothing qualities mean that it also used as a base in many commercial beauty products, such as make-up removers. Witch hazel is often used for soothing puffy eyes, as it acts to constrict the skin’s tissues and blood vessels and restores the skin’s pH balance. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities making it gentle enough to use on irritated skin such as rosacea outbreaks.
Many witch hazel products available are alcohol-based. We add a note of caution here. Alcohol-based witch hazel can dry out your skin or cause irritation. At PEACH CLINICS, we only use 100% natural, alcohol-free witch hazel extract from Leonardi Laboratories and are proud to offer it for purchase as an aftercare product.
From magnifying mirrors to HD cameras and the selfie culture, peach fuzz can become a source of anxiety. Here’s how to remove it if you want to and a case for leaving yours be.
Peach fuzz: it sounds cute and friendly, but can be a pain in the butt if you’ve got a lot of it, particularly on your face. The better cameras get and the more Insta obsessed we become, the more we perceive fine, downy hair on the face as noticeable and troublesome. But, just to preface this article with a self-acceptance pep talk, we’ve all got it, and unless you’re zooming in during selfie mode in full sunlight or face-planting the mirror, we promise we can’t see it. For some, it is admittedly a legitimate problem and confidence sucker, but if you’ve never thought about it before, or are suddenly gripped with peach fuzz paranoia, please don’t leap to drastic measures to mow it off your lovely visage. If it is a beauty issue for you, here are a few peach fuzz facts, along with some “dos” and “don’ts”.
What is peach fuzz?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines it like this:
- “The down on the chin of an adolescent boy whose beard has not yet developed.”
- “Some people are just hairier than others- no different from the hair on our head or our eyebrows, we all have different amounts and thicknesses of facial and body hair. Women are simply not hairless! We all have hair in places we wish we didn’t, it’s just that it may vary in amount and thickness.”
- “Sometimes the best ‘treatment’ is to simply accept what we have and try not to feel in any way ashamed or embarrassed. It’s vital to remember that many pictures online and on the pages of glossy magazine are not real. Clients always think they are the only one with the problem, but when I tell them that I perform electrolysis all day long it reassures them. My advice to young girls in particular is to leave hair alone if possible, as you could regret harsh or extreme treatments years down the line. If they do want to pursue a treatment, then I urge them to look for a reputable clinic.”
We’re going in with the big guns here, but this treatment has stood the test of time in the sense that everyone from Cleopatra to Marilyn Monroe to Elizabeth Taylor has partaken in a version of dermaplaning to achieve a polished complexion. In short, they shaved their faces, and while that’s most definitely a ‘thing’ on the Internet, we’d advise professional dermaplaning over taking your Venus to your face any day (on NO day use your body razor to shave your face…bacteria and…just no).
Dermaplaning is not actually a hair-removal treatment, but rather a dermatological one that has the side-effect of ridding your skin of peach fuzz for quite some time. Cosmetic doctor Dr Rabia Malik explains what you’re in for:
- “Dermaplaning is an effective method of exfoliation. Using a scalpel blade, dead skin cells are removed from the epidermis (top layer of the skin). Along with exfoliating, dermaplaning also helps remove the unwanted vellus hairs from the face.”
- “Usually, you can see a difference after the first treatment. Not only will you achieve smoother, brighter skin but you’ll be free of peach fuzz and despite popular belief, the hair will not grow back thicker.”
All-over facial threading is offered by professional brow bars up and down the land and an expert threading specialist can nix peach fuzz in no time, although be prepared for a lot of eye watering. A little redness and irritation can occur post-treatment, and it can take up to three days for this to subside. Avoid harsh treatments, retinol and exfoliating acids both beforehand and during recovery time, and avoid heavy and perfumed creams, as these could provoke flare-ups and breakouts. As peach fuzz eliminators go, this is also one with heritage- both women and men have been threading their faces for centuries.
Hair removal creams
The sensitive facial variety is best, but even these can cause irritation and burns if not used correctly. Stick strictly to the development time on the packet and patch test before you go all in.
If your peach fuzz is on the thicker side, this approach will work for you and it’s the only method of permanent hair removal for this type of hair currently available. Electrolysis expert Rachel gives us the lowdown:
- “Electrolysis uses a very fine needle that is inserted into the opening in the skin that the hair grows from (the follicle). It must be noted that electrolysis is only as good as the therapist performing it. It’s a very skilled treatment and will only achieve permanent results if performed correctly.”
This can work well, but your skin may pay. It’s an aggressive hair removal solution for your full face and definitely isn’t to be recommended for sensitive, acne or rosacea prone skin. It’s vital to go gentle on the aftercare too: aloe vera all the way, ditch the acids, avoid sun exposure and ramp up the SPF. Ripping, tugging and ingrown hairs could all be part and parcel of a full facial wax. You’d have to be really peeved with your peach fuzz to go here.
While bleach won’t zap hairs, if your peach fuzz is on the darker side this will lighten it so that it’s less noticeable, although it won’t escape the glare of sunlight or zoomed camera lenses. Then again, no one wants to live their life under a lens. In reality it’s probably far less noticeable than you think.
Shaving your face
As popularised by the likes of beauty blogger Huda Kattan, shaving your face at home isn’t something we’d recommend, and here’s why: It might have worked for Huda, Monroe and other blogging and Hollywood heavyweights, but the risk of infection, nicks and rashes outweigh the obvious time and money benefits.
Don’t go there if your peach fuzz is light in colour! Laser will do more damage than good as laser hair removal works by targeting the pigment in the hair. You could end up with burns, permanent hyperpigmentation or scarring, with no reduction in peach fuzz. Laser is normally not the one, but if you’re peach fuzz is veering into full facial hair territory, it could work for you. Book a consultation with an expert to discuss your options.
Rachel slaps this one down:
- “Plucking is possibly one of the worst things a client could do in this case as over time this will stimulate the blood supply to the follicles, resulting in thicker and stronger hairs.”
Nineteenth century physicians knew that hair grew from a ‘pulp’ at the base of the hair follicle and that eliminating it would permanently remove the hair. However, the methods they had at their disposal to destroy the ‘germinal papilla’ were crude at best and generally accompanied by noticeable scarring. These included inserting unsterile needles into the hair follicles, hypodermically injecting carbolic acid, twisting barbed needles and heating inserted needles with red-hot curling irons.
A new treatment
Ophthalmologists of the 19th century were also interested in removing hair permanently. Ingrown and other aberrant eyelashes could irritate the eye, resulting in chronic inflammation and even blindness. Dr Charles Michel was one such ophthalmologist trying to remove aberrant eyelashes. He tried heated needles, surgery and twisting needles but found that all produced unsuitable body reactions and scarring. Eventually, he modified a process which had been previously used in general surgery – chemical decomposition through electricity – known as electrolysis. He connected a gilt needle to the negative electrode of a battery, inserted the needle into the hair follicle of the eyelash, applied a current for a few minutes and then removed the hair with a pair of tweezers. The germinal papilla of the eyelash follicle was destroyed because sodium hydroxide (lye/caustic soda) was produced at the negative electrode.
“The agent employed is electricity, (a constant current battery of 8 to 20 medium sized cells is all-sufficient) the form, electrolysis. I simply pass a fine, gilt needle into the hair follicle and allow the current to produce the electrochemical decomposition of it and its papillae.”
After his success with eyelashes Michel also used the technique to permanently remove eyebrow hair.
Michel published a report detailing his electrochemical decomposition of hair follicles in the St. Louis Clinical Record in 1875. The editor, William Hardaway, was a dermatologist and decided to try Michel’s technique in his own practice. He successfully treated patients with excess body hair and presented his results at the second meeting of the American Dermatological Association. After this, other dermatologists took up the practice and the treatment spread. For example, in 1889 a Detroit physician reported he had treated over fifteen hundred cases of superfluous hair with electrolysis.
- We know nothing of “Miss X” save what her physician, W. A. Hardaway, recorded in 1877. Twenty-two years old when she came under Dr. Hardaway’s care, Miss X was “thoroughly feminine” in character and physique, nicely plump, and robustly healthy. She was also the “unfortunate owner of a beard that for strength and luxuriance rivaled the hirsute appendages of any man.” Previous efforts to remove her beard had not gone well: after the application of depilatory powder the beard grew back “thicker and more profuse” than before. … Eager to be of service to the young woman, Hardaway decided to tackle the “luxuriant” but unwanted beard with an experimental procedure: electrolysis. … Moving strand by strand in this fashion, Hardaway and a colleague removed the entirety of Miss X’s “appendage.” The two men worked on the young woman’s face for an hour or two at each session, as many as nine sessions per week—more than 350 treatments in total. Despite the procedure’s tedium, Hardaway concluded that this “radical cure of hirsuties” is “brilliant in its results”.
Early electrolysis machines
The electrolysis machines developed by Michel, Hardaway and others were battery operated, generating what medical practitioners of the day called a ‘galvanic current’, named after Luigi Galvani [1737-1798] – known for using electricity to produce muscle contraction in frog’s legs. Many nineteenth century physicians were familiar with galvanic batteries, galvanic induction coils and electro-therapeutics, so it was relatively easy for them to set up working electrolysis machines. If the necessary parts were not available in their surgery, they could easily obtain them from any one of a number of suppliers.
Eventually, manufacturers combined all the required parts of an electrolysis machine into complete kits and advertised them in their catalogues. These machines were made up of battery cells along with all the necessary cords and electrodes. To make them easier to use, detailed instruction manuals were often included which outlined the process involved to remove hair by electrolysis.
Manufacturers were naturally keen to sell as many electrolysis machines as possible; mains electricity was absent from most cities in the early part of the twentieth century but as the equipment was battery powered, and very portable, this was not an issue. In addition, their operation was not regulated so, before long, their use spread outside the medical profession. Attitudes of some physicians helped. Although some could see the distress that excess hair was causing their patients, many saw electrolysis simply as a beautifying practice – as the correction of a ‘cosmetic defect’ rather than a cure for a ‘serious disease’ – and discounted it as a medical procedure, leaving it to others to provide the service.
By the end of the nineteenth century, electrolysis treatments could be readily obtained from non-medical sources including specialist operators, as well some barbers, hairdressers and beauty salons. As physicians discovered other uses for electrolysis, the non-medical operators followed and were soon using their machines to treat other facial blemishes such as moles, warts, spider veins, birthmarks, pimples, blackheads and acne. Newspaper advertising of the time indicates that there were often many operators working in major cities and it is more than likely that some of these branched out and became Beauty Culturists as well.
By the 1940s, the medical profession was retreating from removing hair by electrolysis completely, and in second half of the twentieth century it became increasingly a non-medical procedure.
Despite the helpful literature supplied by manufacturers, practitioners (both medical and commercial) soon realised that using the machines to produce satisfactory results without scarring or pitting the skin was not a simple matter – skill and experience counted.
Concern about the expertise of operators came from a number of areas; legislators, manufacturers, the medical profession and commercial operators were all interested in this area. In France, commercial operators were barred and patients were required to seek medical assistance. In the U.S. and Britain the situation was more open. As commercial operators became more common, some authorities began to regulate the practice; however, this varied from country to country and from state to state. The arrival of professional associations and training schools helped set standards and provide supervised training programs. Manufacturers were also an important source of training. For example, when multiple needle electrolysis machines were introduced, the company set up to manufacture them also trained operators in their use.
Limitations of electrolysis
Although electrolysis was a significant improvement over previous treatments it had a number of problems. Some of these were due to the technical limitations of the equipment used, others were inherent to the method. As well as introducing the possibility of infection, the process was very slow, painful, could produce noticeable scars if rushed or done incorrectly and could create pigmentation problems in the treated areas of some clients. Patient forbearance, variation in skin and hair types, operator fatigue, acuity of vision and the cost of treatments were all factors affecting the successful outcome of a treatment regime. The fact that patients endured the drawbacks gives us an idea of the measures they would undergo in order to rid themselves of the hair.
Treatment times The process was inherently slow. Even skilled operators had to wait for the production of sufficient sodium hydroxide to destroy the papilla. The process could be speeded up with a stronger current but then the risk of scarring increased – an ongoing problem. Removing the needle too early would only lead to regrowth.
One way around this problem was suggested by the father of demabrasion, the German dermatologist Ernst Kromayer in 1908 – use multiple needles. This idea was taken up by Professor Paul N. Kree who patented a multiple-needle electrolysis machine in 1918 (US: 1445961) and established a business to manufacture it. However, for individuals with severe problems, treatments could still go on for months or longer.
Pain Patients showed a range of tolerance to pain. The pain generated also varied depending on the area of the body undergoing treatment.
In early machines, the galvanic current was produced by cell batteries and regulated not by a dial (rheostat) but rather by connecting more or fewer cells to the circuit. Voltage regulation was limited and the intensity of current used was higher and therefore more painful. Later machines did show improvements with the addition of regulating devices (rheostats), amperage meters and the use of mains electricity but there was no way to avoid the production of sodium hydroxide and the associated pain.
Needles were also an issue. Unlike today, they were not disposable. Platinum and gold needles were expensive and tended to deteriorate with reuse, so steel was preferred. Some commercial operators used sewing needles to reduce costs but even needles purchased though supply companies were thicker than those currently in use, adding to patient discomfort.
Some physicians tried topical anaesthetics such as cocaine to reduce the pain with mixed results. Commercial operators also tried to minimise the pain but generally steered clear of local anaesthetics.
Cost In the early part of the twentieth century a commercial operator in the U.S. might earn between six to ten dollars an hour, more than a day’s pay for many other workers making the treatments out of the reach of many. As treatments could extend over many months some women were also forced to abandon them before completion and return to shaving, depliators, tweezing and other methods of removing unwanted hair, simply because they ran out of money.
Cost pressures also had effects on the operators. This was particularly so in the early history of electrolysis, when the technique was slowest. When working on wealthy women, operators could take more time and use lower current levels, thereby reducing the level of pain.
Poorer patients tended to pressure operators to use higher current flows and traded off an increased chance of scarring for a larger number of hairs being treated at each session. Fortunately, as the levels of prosperity rose in the twentieth century and new technologies for hair removal arrived this trade off became less of an imperative.
One way to reduce the cost was to treat yourself. Beginning in the 1920s a number of electrolysis units designed for home use began to appear on the market. Devices such as the ‘Beautiderm Midget’ appealed to users who wanted to avoid the cost of a salon treatments or were too far away from a major centre to make regular treatments practicable. Home electrolysis treatments have continued right up until today but have a number of problems. First, even if you have a stready hand, good eyesight and the resolve, it is not easy to treat yourself in front of a mirror; results are always better if someone else operates the machine. Secondly, the machines produced for the home market are never as effective as those used commercially. Today, self-treaters recommend the purchase of second-hand commercial machines.
The issues associated with permanent hair removal by electrolysis – cost, pain and time – meant that many women had their hair removed by X-rays, with disastrous consequences.
One other problem was skin discolouration caused by black deposits produced by a chemical reaction between hydrochloric acid and the metal in the needle if, by chance, the operator used the wrong polarity. The problem was easily avoided by using needles made from gold, platinum, or stainless steel, but some electrologists in the past failed to do this and mistakes happened. Fortunately, this is not an issue today.
In the 1940s, high frequency electrocoagulation machines came into operation and the practice of electrolysis began to wane. However, it did not die out and a number of current practitioners still prefer it for its permanent results. The new high frequency machines produced hair loss by heat (thermolysis/diathermy) rather than by chemical decomposition (electrolysis) and removed hairs at a more rapid rate. Unfortunately, this new technique also had its problems. Read about Thermolysis and the Blend here.
With everyone obsessed with wanting to be hair-free it seems like new options pop up every day promising to rid you of the fuzz. I have stubborn blond hairs on my face that I constantly pluck and wax. It’s time consuming and annoying to do every day. Shaving, waxing, threading and tweezing are all common methods for at-home results, but more and more people are turning to procedures that get rid of your hair for longer or even permanently. The most common of these procedures is laser hair removal. Laser hair removal uses pulsating light beams aimed at the hair follicle to heat the melanin in the hair. When melanin is heated, it tends to burn and this causes the hair follicle to TEMPORARILY stop producing hair. However, laser hair removal DOESN’T work for lighter hair colours, which means it wouldn’t do a thing for those blonde hairs on my face that I want gone.
While looking for other options, I discover a procedure called galvanic electrolysis. Electrolysis was developed more than 100 years ago to treat ingrown eyelashes. Except electrolysis doesn’t just remove the hair: it PERMANENTLY destroys the hair follicle that produces the hair. A hair follicle destroyed by electrolysis will NEVER produce a hair again…. WAAAHOOO!!!! With results like that I was really surprised I hadn’t heard of more people getting it. As it turns out, electrolysis is VERY popular in the transgender community because although laser can remove the dark pigmented hair that men have on their face, it’s never a permanent removal solution.
Just like any procedure, you want to make sure you find a reputable and knowledgeable person to perform it. I made an appointment with Alana Dzurek, a licensed electrologist in Beverly Hills. She works by inserting a tiny needle deep into each hair follicle holding a hair. Then a low-level electrical energy pulse is sent into the follicle to destroy it. The existing hair falls out, and the process is repeated hair by hair [source: American Electrology Association]. With the multi-probe method she uses 16 needles at a time making the process much faster, removing 150 hairs per hour and up to 1000 hairs in a 4 hour session.
My first appointment lasted an hour and a half. She was able to remove most the hairs on my upper lip and also the hairs on the side of my cheek and along my hairline. I had the option of using a numbing cream, but for the sake of writing this post, I opted out of it because I wanted the full experience. I had heard the procedure was really uncomfortable or painful but those rumors couldn’t be further from the truth. The actual size of the needles used are thinner than a strand of hair, and virtually painless when they enter the hair follicles.
I literally fell asleep at one point during the process. I was able to watch myself in the mirror and watch how the hair came out. I cried laughing because I looked like Frankenstein with the needle wires stuck to my face. After she did my face, I had Alana remove hairs on different parts of my body to see how it felt. She removed the hairs along my bikini line as well as hairs under my arms. I asked her the craziest place she’s ever removed hairs from: a man’s balls! So there are basically no limits to where you can do this.
I’m so happy with my results. I think the electrolysis procedure is perfect for people that don’t have hair dark enough for laser treatments to be effective, or for anyone that wants a truly permanent hair removal solution.