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Hair Gone: Permanently

21 Jan

Fed up with excess hair on your face or body? Did you know there is a permanent solution to unwanted hair? Have a look at these facts about hair removal.

The most common body areas for hair removal are – all areas!  Humans have been using all manner of hair removal methods since ancient times.  Until the 1870s, shaving, tweezing, and chemical depilatories were the only options. Then came electrolysis!  Also known as electrology or electroepilation.

Electrolysis was developed by a Civil War physician who treated eyelashes which curved inward and chronically irritated the eyeball. A skin doctor recognized the value for his hirsute female clients and history was made. The science of electrolysis treatments has undergone countless improvements since it was discovered.  Computerized epilators and pre-sterilized disposable instruments have made it comfortable and safe as well as improved its permanence.

Electrolysis treatments have always been appropriate for each type of skin and hair.  It gives you great results on white, red, blond, and gray hair and is safe for pigmented skin.

In the late 20th century electrolysis was surpassed in advertising by lasers and light-based methods, which are not all appropriate for non-pigmented hair and pigmented skin. The term “permanent removal” was given to the practice of electrolysis and “permanent reduction” was given to laser and light-based methods, confusing consumers, advertisers, and the media.

Prior to the introduction of laser hair removal, women with unwanted hair were embarrassed and secretive about having excess hair.  They didn’t know where to turn or who to ask about their problem. Since laser hair removal was often provided in physician practices, advertising often included billboards and full-page spreads in newspapers and magazines. This was something electrologists could not do due to the cost of advertising, BUT, the resulting awareness helped consumers discover electrolysis.

In most U.S. states, Canada, and Europe, electrolysis is a regulated practice.  The electrologist will provide you with a thorough consultation.  This consultation will explain the procedure, the aftercare, and provide you with appropriate expectations. Questions about your health will be asked, as excess hair growth can be a side effect of certain medical conditions or medications. The consultation may also include the treatment of a few hairs so you can decide whether or not you wish to proceed. There are two major side effects from electrolysis treatments.  The first one is permanently gone hair.  The treatment energy is focused on the specific hair growing cells and not to other tissues in the skin. The second side effect is an immediate

There are two major side effects from electrolysis treatments.  The first one is permanence.  The treatment energy is focused on the specific hair growing cells and not to other tissues in the skin. After the follicle is treated it cannot grow another hair. The second side effect is an immediate pinking up of the skin. This is caused by increased blood flow to the treated follicle and lasts a few minutes to a few hours. Other side effects are rare but may include swelling, a tiny scab, or the development of a small pustule or pimple at the follicle opening.

Electrolysis takes a series of treatments to complete because of the nature of hair growth.  Hair grows in cycles which are unsynchronized and are affected by your hormones, your genetics, your health, and your weight. Hair growth is much like looking at a giant iceberg.  What you see above the surface is only a small portion of the amount of active hair your body currently grows.

Before and after an electrolysis treatment, you need to take care of your skin and stop all tweezing and picking of the hair and skin. Hair can be shaved, but the length must be at least one-quarter of an inch prior to treatment. Skin must be kept clean. Avoid touching the skin after treatment.  Avoid unsanitary practices such as resting the phone on your freshly treated chin, applying lotions or creams for massage or facials, lying on gym equipment, or swimming and hot-tubbing – as these actions can introduce bacteria onto the freshly treated area.

Electrolysis is a time-tested method and is the most permanent method for hair removal.  You will love the results.

True Tales from the Electrology Treatment Room

1 Mar

Today, a new client came in. She’s young, she’s very attractive, and she’s so very thrilled there is a solution to what she feels is a horrible problem. You see, she almost has a whole face beard. If comparing to the Ferriman-Gallwey rating scale, she’s a 3.  (0=no visible hair; 4=full face terminal hair)  It’s bad enough that she gets worried someone will see this hair. She’s afraid of intimacy because of what a guy might think about her if she reveals the fact she has to shave beard-like hairs every day. She’s afraid her friends might see the shadow that appears by 5 o’clock. She’s afraid that someone at work will say something about the hair on her face. She cries because it is so personal and so painful.

She cried in my office because she is so happy to see the solution to her problem. 

A consultation in my office includes a short, sample treatment so one can see how it feels and how their skin reacts. She says, “Is that all it is?  I can do that.” We discuss the plan and she says, “Yes.”

It’s about hope. It’s about confidence. It’s about permanent hair removal. Electrology treatments have performed permanently for any hair color and any skin tone since its inception, circa 1870s.

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Electrolysis Saved My Life

15 Mar

Electrolysis Saved My Life

Client was tweezing her chin every day. The “acne” on her chin had been treated with every known pharmaceutical and OTC available. Her dermatologist was at a loss. She “heard” about electroepilation (electrolysis, thermolysis, blend) and decided to give it a try. A zap here, a zap there, AND instructions to stop all tweezing. One year later the skin on her chin is smooth and “acne” free. She says I saved her life. ~ Barbara Greathouse, CPE, Licensed Electrologist

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RUN AWAY WITH THE DOCTOR

5 Feb

RUN AWAY WITH THE DOCTOR

These memes are designed to help other electrologists share the word. Let’s build up the public knowledge about electroepilation business….. the electrolysis/thermolysis/blend permanent modalities. Share with your world!

Electrolysis treatments: Are you in good hands?

2 Jan

We’ve all heard the advertisement telling us “You’re in good hands with Allstate.”  Upon seeing this ad, I began wondering how the electrology client would be able to recognize they are “in good hands.”  You are literally in the hands of your electrologist when you seek permanent hair removal.  Most electrology providers have excellent skills, but those who provide improper electrolysis treatments end up giving the rest of us a bad name and they are the reason some consumers believe electrolysis hurts too much and/or doesn’t work.  Improperly performed electrolysis treatments fail to provide permanent results; increase client discomfort and cost; and contribute to a client’s perception that electrolysis does not work. 

The intention of this article is to help you recognize when you have a great electrologist. It is my goal to help you discern good techniques and statements about electrolysis treatment from not so good ones.

THE CONSULTATION

Prior to beginning electrology treatments you should receive a thorough consultation. This video is an example of a great electrology consultation.  Every consultation will be different, but your electrologist should provide you with the information you need and want to complete your treatments.  During the consultation, the electrologist may determine that more information is needed before proceeding and on rare occasions treatments will be delayed or contraindicated until the practitioner can determine what is appropriate. Most of the time – treatment can proceed immediately following your consultation. 

THINGS YOU MIGHT HEAR DURING THE CONSULTATION

“Don’t shave.” 

A consumer posting on hairtell.com reported an urban legend about shaving:  “She told me that shaving breaks down the hair under the skin into several parts, like a tree with many branches.”  This statement can be added to the long list of old wives’ tales about hair.  Shaving is depilation, or removal of hair at the surface of the skin.  The simple act of cutting hair off will not change its structure under the skin.  Another hair-related wives’ tale is “shaving will make hair grow in longer, larger, faster, and darker.” The hormones at puberty turn on hair follicles that were previously dormant. Statements about hair growth should be based on science and not coincidental events.

“Each hair needs several treatments to be weakened.”

Statements like this can be heard from many electrologists.  One electrologist’s website states: “Because it is important to protect the skin, we cannot use an electrical intensity high enough to completely destroy the follicle. A little destruction of the hair root occurs with the removal of a hair in a particular follicle, and over time this hair root will be completely destroyed. At that time, this follicle will never be able to grow another hair.”  I was trained to say this during the consultation.   Upon further practice and experience I discovered techniques that allow hair follicles to be treated once without returning.   An over-cautious consumer might believe this is a safe practice, but repeated applications of current in the follicle might cause unnecessary damage to the skin.  With education and practice your electrologist can apply current to the lower 2/3rds of the follicle upon first treatment while preventing surface damage. 

Perhaps the statement about multiple treatments per follicle is made to help the consumer understand that electrolysis takes a series of treatments. The science of hair growth should be explained in such a way that consumers understand the unsynchronized cycles/stages/phases of human hair growth.  The reason electrolysis takes multiple treatments is due to the time it takes for ALL of your hair to reach the growing stage.

“Tweezing and waxing are okay.”

My friend and colleague, Jeannie M. Bush, RDH, RE, CPE, LI, www.AmenityElectrolysis.com, an electrologist from Wisconsin coined a phrase about tweezing that many electrologists around the world have adopted.  That phrase is, “Only tweeze the hairs you want to keep.”  If the client tweezes or waxes between electrology treatments, then the electrologist will have little or no hair to treat.  Hairs must be present and visible on the skin to be treated with electrolysis.  Repeated tweezing can cause hair follicle problems such as distorted and ingrown hair. 

THINGS YOU NOTICE DURING TREATMENT

“I felt hairs being tweezed.”

The client should not feel like the hair has been yanked out.  When hair has been plucked without proper current application then the hair may need to be treated again.  Being hydrated at the treatment time will help you and your electrologist in several ways.  Hydrated skin allows the electrologist to reduce epilator settings while it also decreases skin sensitivity and increases moisture in the follicle, allowing for the “easy slide” the electrologist is looking for upon hair extraction.

“It really hurt.”

While individual sensitivity will vary, electrolysis should not be a horrible experience.  Yes, there are a few people who feel discomfort to a high degree – I call these people the “Princess and the Pea.”  For most people, electrolysis is uncomfortable at its worst and relaxing at its best.  If your treatments are horrible, then do schedule consultations with other electrologists for a comparison treatment. 

Perfect insertions should result in no sensation.  The sensation comes when the current is applied.  State-of-the-art equipment (there are many good brands) will provide a more comfortable sensation than early epilator models.  The electrologist should be able to adjust epilator settings for your comfort and topical anesthetics can be used (prohibited in some jurisdictions) to help desensitize the area.  You might also consider taking an OTC pain reliever or an antihistamine (please follow manufacturer directions) prior to your visit.  A new item in the profession is Buzzy®, a cute little bumblebee that acts as a distraction during treatments.  Soft music, a calm atmosphere, avoiding stress and caffeine, plus being well hydrated can also help.

“My skin looked bad afterwards.”

Electrolysis does require some healing time. It is common to have some redness, slight swelling, and even the occasional scab after an electrology treatment. The electrologist should give you instructions on how to take care of your skin after a treatment. While there might be some tenderness, there should be no deep pain.  Talk to your electrologist if you have concerns about your healing process. If there are any skin manifestations the electrologist will want to see your skin and should be sympathetic to your concerns.  Read Permanent Hair Removal is the Number One Side Effect of Electrolysis to learn more about possible skin reactions. 

“I take my needle home.”

What!!  No, never. One consumer reported on hairtell.com that during the consultation the electrologist said, “This is your probe. It has only been used on you. You can take it home, or you can leave it here, where it will be placed in a file, or sealed container until you come back, and we can reuse it then.”  This practice is an attempt to economize by the electrologist and results in an infection risk that can and should be avoided.  Electrolysis needles (also called probe or filament) costs up to $3.00 (U.S.) and should be used once then disposed of in a labeled sharps container made of durable, puncture resistant plastic, which is designed to be disposed of as regulated medical waste.  Clients can expect the cost of the needle to be included in their treatment charge. 

Years ago, I wrote an article entitled Selecting An Electrologist For Treatment of Unwanted Hair. My hope is that both articles will provide hair removal consumers with information which will help them recognize when they are in good hands for their permanent hair removal needs.  

In Good Hands

 

About the author: 

After providing electrolysis services for over thirty years, I believe I’ve seen it all when it comes to the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of electrolysis services. I was apprenticed by Wilma B. George in Topeka, Kansas.  I worked with her for almost 10 years before opening my own practice.  In the 20th century, Topeka was a mental health hub of the world, with the world renowned Menninger Foundation, bringing people to Kansas from all over the world, allowing this little country girl to learn about the diversity (and various amounts of hair growth) of humans and to hear about the travels of others.  I am honored to have provided electrolysis to clients who have come from all walks of life and from all over the world. 

Selecting An Electrologist for Treatment of Unwanted Hair

8 Mar

The following article was published several years ago on the AEA website.

Reprinted with the permission of Barbara Greathouse, CPE – Electrology Works

After choosing electrology treatments, the permanent method of hair removal, the next step consumers should take is to select a good electrologist. You might think that licensing, certification or association membership would indicate that the selection process stops there, but there are many more indications (and red flags) to look for when selecting an electrologist.Licensing, Certification, Association MembershipThirty-two states and the District of Columbia license electrolysis as a profession. The state boards overseeing the profession vary from boards of cosmetology and barbering, nursing and medical, health and human services, and include boards of professional regulation, consumer affairs and business. In licensed states, the required training ranges from 300 to 1500 hours. Keep in mind that in an unlicensed state no training is required. Schools of electrology usually require a minimum of 120 hours, designed for those in unlicensed states. Several licensed states include chair-side or apprenticeship training which is usually double the hours required when attending a school. With that in mind, look for an electrologist who has a diploma of training. The licensed electrologist will often use the credentials “LE” or “RE” (registered electrologist) after their name.

Certification is provided through testing by a national organization and is maintained by continuing education. The Certified Professional Electrologist (CPE) credential is the premier certification provided to electrologists by the International Board of Electrologist Certification (IBEC) and secured by PROMETRIC™ a global leader in testing and assessment services, including development and administration of licensing and certification exams for businesses and organizations. Membership in state or national associations is a possible indication that the electrologist is actively involved in the profession. Associations offer continuing education and allow members to keep abreast of the most recent topics affecting the profession. Knowing that your electrologist is licensed, certified or associated with other professionals should give you some assurance of security, but there is more!

Referrals: Phone Book, Internet, Physician, Personal Friends

When seeking an electrologist, personal referrals are a very good start. While many people don’t want to admit that they have excess hair, if you quietly ask, they might tell! Physician referrals can be helpful, but then again, many people don’t even admit to their physician that they have had electrology treatments. Also, local phone books and internet searches can help you find an electrologist in your area. When viewing print, internet and television ads, make sure that they are providing needle electrolysis. In yellow page and internet advertising you will often see “heading jumping,” a type of bait and switch, where practitioners of other hair removal methods advertise as electrologists. If you call, they will make an appointment for you and never tell you that they do not provide electrology treatments.

The Phone Consultation

When you find an electrologist, call for a phone consultation or look to see if they have a website that provides information. During the phone consultation, you can ask about training, licensing, whether or not they provide a free in-office consultation and what other procedures they provide. This would be a good time to ask if the electrologist uses pre-sterilized, disposable electrolysis needles and what other sanitation and sterilization guidelines are followed. Again, make sure they are providing needle electrolysis. An advertisement that states treatments are “painless” should be a red flag. (Electronic tweezers, patch devices, laser and light devices are not electrolysis.) The electrologist will ask you to discontinue any tweezing or waxing when you make an appointment.

The In-Office Consultation

At the consultation, look for a clean, well-organized office and expect a friendly welcome by a professional-looking electrologist. You will fill out a health history assessment form that asks for contact information, questions about the areas you want to have treated, what previous methods you have used to hide or remove the hair, and questions about other health considerations. The electrologist needs this information to provide you with information specific to your hair problem, and to determine if you have any contraindications to treatment. Red-flag the electrologist who does not have this assessment form.

When the form is complete, the electrologist will then explain several things about the treatment. The physiology of the hair follicle and the fact that hair grows in unsynchronized cycles is essential information to help consumers know what to expect from their treatments. The experienced electrologist will be able to design a treatment program for your specific needs, but they will not be able to state the exact number of treatments, or how long it will take you, since your physiology is unique to you. Genetic, hormonal and medication variations will contribute to your specific problem. Ask as many questions as you like during the consultation. If you forgot or missed something during that first consultation, the electrologist should be happy to provide any and all information to you at a later date, if you ask. The consultation should also provide information about what to expect after the treatment, as your skin might be pink or even red for a few hours. It is important that you keep your hands off the treated area, and to avoid situations where your skin will get dirty, sweaty, or irritated for the first few days after a treatment. After-treatment products should be discussed, including what to do if you experience a rare side effect such as a pimple or bruising.

The Treatment

Most consultations will also include a short treatment, where the electrologist removes a few hairs so that you can see what it feels like and how your skin will react. The insertion of the electrolysis needle into the follicle should not hurt, but the treatment energy does sting. Upon removal of the hair, you should not feel that the hair was plucked or tweezed – it should slide out of the follicle with ease. The exception to this extraction sensation is the slight traction that can be felt when some catagen and telogen hairs are removed – as they are held in the follicle by a dried root sheath. Red-flag the electrologist who provides an insertion that is painful or whose hair extraction feels like tweezing. Before any treatment begins, you should see the electrologist wash his or her hands and don gloves. Immediately after a treatment, the electrologist should dispose of the needle in a red sharps container, place the tweezers in a soaking container, dispose of any cotton used during treatment, remove gloves and decontaminate hands by using an alcohol gel or soap and water. Red-flag the electrologist who fails to follow these protocols.

The Sensation

If the treatment energy sensation is too uncomfortable for you, ask them to stop. Make sure that the insertion is not causing pain, as it’s the treatment energy that will sting. There are topical anesthetics available that some electrologists will apply to small areas such as the upper lip or they will sell to you to apply prior to treatment. Some licensed states forbid electrologists’ application of topical anesthetics, however, you can obtain products OTC or by prescription. It is essential that you follow all directions for these products. After the first treatment, most people will say, “Is that all it is?” when asked about the sensation of the treatment. The treatment energy causes the sensation during electrolysis – not the insertion of the electrolysis needle. Some electrologists will provide ice or other cooling methods for you to take with you. The electrologist should provide written instructions for at-home care, but any concern that you have at home should be immediately addressed by calling the electrologist.

The Cost

Many people dismiss electrolysis as an option believing that the cost is prohibitive, but it is very affordable. The consumer seeking hair removal on large areas with dense hair growth will spend more than the woman with a few hairs on her chin. However, all treatments will occur with decreasing length and frequency as they progress. The average consumer spends around $25.00 to $40.00 per treatment (depending upon the geographical area) and is completed within 12 to 24 months. Some electrologists offer reduced pricing with the purchase of blocks of time. You should not purchase a block of time until you have had a few treatments from this electrologist and are sure of your practitioner. Choosing the practitioner who offers the least expensive treatments does not mean the total cost of treatments will be less than choosing the practitioner who offers the most expensive treatment; just as choosing the practitioner who offers the most expensive treatment does not mean that you have chosen the highest quality available. The electrologist with the best skills will give you the most cost-effective treatment.

Office Policies

Professional electrologists will have written office policies about the hours they keep, the methods for scheduling appointments, and the requirements for cancellation. Respect their time by giving 24 hours notice to cancel an appointment. Most electrology practices are owned by women who make a living by selling their time. If you do not give them appropriate notice to cancel, they cannot sell that time to another client, so you should expect to pay for the time you reserved. Exceptions to this would be a medical emergency or the manifestation of a contagious condition such as a cold, flu, or cold sore. The electrologist will also want you to communicate any concerns you have after a treatment.

Savvy Consumers

The 21st Century has brought us to an age of information that exceeds anything known before. Consumers should be aware that there are practitioners from all walks of life who lack the skills needed for their chosen profession. The electrology profession began in the late 1800’s, and the 20th Century provided us with technology and information about the body’s physiology that amaze us still. Education and technology won’t override skills, but they indicate an investment in the profession. There is nothing wrong with consulting with several electrologists in your area before choosing one. The savvy consumer will be knowledgeable about the procedure, will communicate openly with the electrologist, will follow treatment recommendations, and will get results.