Nikola Tesla

6 May

Nikola Tesla

The practice of hair removal, utilizing electrolysis, has a long history. This history touches three centuries of research, study, and practice – providing the public with the most effective method of permanent hair removal available.

Hair Growth Facts: Resources for the Electrologist

16 Mar

Yale Medicine:  Life of a stem cell   This video describes the proliferation of hair follicle stem cells.

You Beauty:  The Science of Hair  This video explains the hair follicle and its production of hair.

Official Nanogen:  Hair Growth (and advertisement for hair loss product)  Good video explaining hair production in the follicle.

Hair Follicle Stem Cells  Very dry, but provides great science of the hair follicle stem cells.

Morphogenic Mechanisms  Photos with descriptions.

Stem Cells & Regeneration from Development  Development publishes high quality research and review articles in developmental biology, stem cell biology and regeneration. The journal seeks to underscore the close relationship between developmental biology, stem cells and regeneration.


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


Improve Your Selfies

20 Feb

See an electrologist

Electroepilation (electrolysis, thermolysis, and blend treatments) are safe and effective for large and small areas. Just a few hairs on your chin or upper lip? Fifteen minutes or less and occasional appointments. Feeling like a bear? Schedule several hours and watch your favorite movie.

Who Wants To Be An Electrologist???

10 Feb


In over 30 years of practice, quite a few of my clients told me they would like to become an electrologist.  I believe they viewed doing my job as an opportunity to be their own boss, to have flexibility and freedom from the drama of working with others, and to be able to spend quality time with family.  Being an electrologist does mean you have more control of your life, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

When I decided to write this blog I thought about all the electrologists I know. A vast majority of electrologists are women who work without employees, and as a result they wear all the hats associated with owning and operating a small business.  Being a “solopreneur” encompasses a large amount of responsibility for one person. Not only do electrologists provide hands-on care to their clients, they also run a business and often juggle a family.

To learn more about who becomes an electrologist, I surveyed electroepilation (electrolysis, thermolyis, and blend) practitioners from social media settings that serve the United States, European and Commonwealth Countries. One survey asked how they decided to become an electrologist, about their views of the profession as time passed and if they would share their personal stories. In another survey about demographics 50% of respondents stated they were the sole support of their family, over 40% share financial responsibility with a partner and less than 10% do not support themselves or their family with income from providing electroepilation treatments.  Nearly 90% of respondents were female; more than 5% were transgender, and more than 5% male.  When asked what they believed the gender of the profession the averages were:  female 89.13%; transgender 6.44%; and male 4.44%.  This survey was taken by a small sample of practitioners and does not represent the actual numbers of electrologists in practice.                    

Attending a school for electrolysis and setting up a business could be one of the least expensive and quickest of professions to enter. The obstacle for many is the fact that there are few electrology training facilities to be found, so leaving a family for the time it takes to receive training may be out of the question.  An individual with a good credit rating should be able to borrow the money to attend school and finance equipment to get started in the business, but again, if your life is already in motion, it is difficult to stop that motion to obtain the education needed to become an electrologist.   


Electrologists come from many walks of life.  A small percentage of electrologists grow up in the profession, having had family members already in practice.  Over 40% of respondents came to the profession because they had been seeing an electrologist and they wanted to help others in the same way.  One electrologist added that she decided in the 6th grade that she would become an electrologist after having been herself “the original mustache lady.”  Of the electrologists surveyed, 44% of respondents came to the profession from an unrelated background. Fifteen percent of respondents came from the beauty industry, with some developing an interest after receiving mandatory training as part of a beauty therapy program.  Twenty-one percent of respondents came from the medical industry with one-third of those coming from dental hygiene background. Over 10% of respondents came to the profession at a very young age and while some had other jobs this has been their only career.  A small number of respondents reported to have stumbled across the profession accidently, and never looked back after getting into practice.


When respondents were asked how quickly their practice became self-sustaining more than a quarter answered that it took 2 years. Over 20% reported it took more than two years; over 7% said it took a year; and nearly 20% reported it took 6 months to become self-sustaining.  This would indicate that most new electrologists could safely project a three year plan to become established.     


Over 55% of the responding electrologists provide other types of treatments; however they report electroepilation services as providing 85% of their business income.  Many electrologists also provide esthetic (skin care) services.     


The average electrologist works between 31 to 40 hours per week providing electroepilation services.  36% of respondents work 1 to 30 hours per week and 33% work more than 41 hours per week with 5% of respondents reporting to work more than 60 hours per week.


Respondents were asked what obstacles they had when they were a new electrologist in practice.  Over 70% stated that getting clients to come was their biggest obstacle.  The cost of equipment was a factor for nearly 30% of electrologists surveyed; under 20% found it difficult to find a training facility or apprenticeship; and under 20% believed it difficult to select a location for their business. Less than 4% of respondents believed their young age was a negative factor when they started in practice.  They believed it contributed to lack of support from other electrologists and the fact they had to work other jobs during their start-up years. 


Being established does not prevent the electrologist from experiencing obstacles to practice.  Fifteen percent reported the cost of advertising was their biggest problem after becoming established.  Over 10% reported advertising by other hair removal methods as their biggest problem.  One electrologist wrote that inaccurate marketing of laser and IPL misleads people to expect complete permanent (hair) removal and in turn, this creates a misinterpretation of electrolysis as archaic and lengthy and only useful on small areas.  Another complaint about “competition” had to do with seeing poor results from nearby colleagues, which they believed caused a “guilt by association” response from consumers.  Over 10% reported being isolated from colleagues and opportunities for education as their biggest obstacle. Less than 10% of respondents stated client retention was a problem after their business was well-established.  One electrologist stated, “Convincing some people to stick with it when they have a lot of hair to remove,” was her biggest problem after being established.  Nearly 15% of respondents stated that they had too much demand, and their obstacles had to do with finding staff to help, or finding staff they could trust.  The cost of doing business was mentioned with respondents listing licenses, location, and advertising as part of a financial obstacle.  The electrologists were not asked how old they were, but 20% of respondents saw the need to take more personal time because they were seeing changes in their stamina due to age as their biggest obstacle to practice.  It is a well-known and recognized fact that electrologists are an aging population with few new electrologists coming into practice.    


Electrologists were asked, “Are you satisfied with your decision to become an electrologist? Is there anything you would say to encourage someone who is looking at becoming an electrologist?” The following quotes are just a few of the responses. 

“Yes, very satisfied. The ability to change someone’s life by treating and removing distressing unwanted hair is very rewarding. No day is the same so I never get bored. Just love my job!” Mandy Painting, C&G, BIAE, CPRE

“It was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. I would encourage anyone to take the plunge and stick with it.”

“Yes! Making people feel better about themselves is definitely rewarding. Sometimes you see their whole outlook on life change or they create a more positive environment for themselves. It’s amazing!”  Mary Patno, L.E.

“A very nice way to be self-employed. Clients are appreciative and excited once they are cleared.”

“Yes. I tell people it’s a great way to work for yourself and that there is a need for skilled electrologists.”

“Yes, I’m satisfied. I can’t imagine a more rewarding profession – you literally change people’s lives by giving them back their confidence. You see people coming to you at first with their hair falling over their face, wearing a polo neck and they won’t look you in the eye because they feel so bad about their hair problem. As treatment progresses you see them coming in with their hair tied back, their head held high and looking you right in the eye – there’s nothing to beat the feeling that gives you, knowing that you are the one who did this for them.” Helen Graham. MBIAE [British Institute & Association of Electrolysis.

“Yes, if you love to help people this is the career for you.”

“It is a great satisfaction to get people to have serious results, but it is very hard sometimes the customer is satisfecho. Necesitas much positive energy, tenacity and self-esteem, because they will require ‘impossible’ and have to do it ‘possible’.” Concha Miralles Diplomada desde 1973. España


The aging population of electrologists would indicate the need for a new group of recruits in the profession.  Becoming an electrologist doesn’t happen overnight because it takes planning and time to build up an electrology practice.  Connecting with other electrologists can help with referrals, and networking will help get exposure for a new practice.  Physician referrals are a great to have, but the very best exposure is word of mouth from happy clients.

Skills are important when it comes to being an electrologist.  The training will vary according to the laws where you intend to practice.  Obtaining training and the scarcity of training opportunities may be the most difficult part of becoming an electrologist, but developing good skills is the most important part of the process. The savvy practitioner will continue building on their training by reading, participation in hands-on events and attending continuing education opportunities after they start their practice.

Communicating accurate information to consumers and making the public aware of a electroepilation practice should be expected for the duration of one’s practice.  Even the well-established electrologist will want to continue evaluating their communication skills and practical techniques and treatment results. As time passes better magnification and lighting may be needed to help aging eyes. Upgrading equipment and decor, and checking for “coffee spills,” will make sure the practice surroundings and appearance is acceptable to clients.  Maintaining one’s health will enable the electrologist to continue an ongoing practice.   

Electrologists are included occupational employment statistics for the related profession of skin care specialists (esthetics).  According to U.S. News, “Esthetician” is the 29th of “The Best 100 Jobs,” and 19th in “Best Health Care Jobs.” Skin care specialists are also listed in the fastest growing occupations on the U.S. Department of Labor website.  



5 Feb


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.


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. 


“Don’t shave.” 

A consumer posting on 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,, 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. 


“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 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. 

Care and Repair of Stainless Steel Tweezers

4 Jul

Care and Repair of Forceps

By Barbara Greathouse, CPE   December 9, 2009


An instrument used daily by electrologists is forceps, also known as tweezers.  This delicate instrument is used to grasp and extract the hair from the follicle.  Electrologists must be able to trust that forceps are going to do what they are supposed to do, but if forceps are damaged they won’t extract hairs from the hair follicle.  This could result in possible overtreatment of multiple hair follicles before forceps damage is discovered.

History of Forceps

Tweezer-like tools have been in existence since the stone-age.  The first precision tweezers were made for the watch industry in Switzerland in the 1870’s.[1]  These tweezers contained a high carbon content, which made them magnetic and porous.  The advancement of medicine in the 20th century brought the need to manufacture instruments that would not oxidize and could be sterilized.  Stainless steel sheet, the material medical instruments are made from, was developed in 1908. According to the Metals Industry Resource Guide the first patent for stainless steel was issued in 1919 for cutlery.  Swiss made instruments are considered to be of the highest quality available.

There are over 150 grades of stainless steel, with the crystalline structure determining the classification.   The combinations of steel and alloys will depend on the purpose of their use.  Stainless steel instruments will be stamped with numbers and names that identify the grade or content.   Some forceps used in electrolysis will be labeled with INOX, which is the alloy composed of the elements of Carbon and the minerals Manganese, Chromium, Molybdenum, and Vanadium.[2]  The chemical Carbon is a “non-metal” element that allows steel to have increased strength, wear and impact resistance.

Care of Forceps

Forceps are made of stainless steel, but the term “stainless” is misleading.  If not handled properly, forceps can and do stain.  While stains can be removed from stainless steel, stains can cause the damage that leads to rust.  To discover if stains are turning into rust, use an eraser to rub hard over the discolored spots, and then examine forceps for pitting; which means corrosion has occurred.

When blood and debris are allowed to dry on forceps staining can occur, which leads to corrosion, rusting and pitting.  Removing organic material during a treatment will keep forceps free of blood and debris that can be more difficult to remove once it dries out.  Once a treatment has been completed, forceps should be placed in a soaking container with a neutral pH cleanser.  Dish soap, salt, abrasives and chlorines should never be used to clean forceps, as they damage stainless steel, leading to spotting, corrosion and pitting.  Enzyme detergents should be used as they are designed for the crucial steps of soaking and cleaning instruments such as forceps.  Prolonged soaking of forceps can result in surface damage and decrease forceps life, so they should not be allowed to soak overnight.

When extracting an ingrown hair, forceps can invade the skin barrier so proper cleaning and sterilization of forceps is essential.  Studies have shown that ultrasonic devices clean 16 times better than manual washing.  Ultrasonic cleaning is considered the standard for caring for fine instruments such as forceps, since forceps have sharp points and a deep crevice which need the blasting energy of an ultrasonic cleaning device. Dissimilar metals should not be combined in ultrasonic cleaners, as ion transfer can result in etching and pitting.  When placing forceps in containers to soak and clean, make sure that the points are all at the same end of the container.  This allows the tips to be free from bumping up against other forceps which protects the points from damage and helps prevent puncture injuries when removing the forceps from the container.  After 10 to 20 minutes of ultrasonic cleaning, forceps should be rinsed and dried.  Rinsing removes the particles suspended on the surface of the forceps, but if tap water is used, the high concentration of minerals can contain chlorine which leaves water spots on the surface.  Air-drying can cause spotting and rusting, so forceps should be placed on a clean towel and then gently blotted as soon as they are rinsed.  Electrologists should not use chrome-plated instruments as ultrasonic cleaning can cause flaking of the surface material. Forceps must be clean before sterilization as dried-on debris becomes baked-on stains.

Forceps are packaged and then processed by dry heat or autoclave sterilization.  Cold “sterilization” products should not be used because immersing instruments in solutions for long periods can damage forceps surfaces and liquid “sterilants” cannot be monitored for efficacy.  When using the autoclave, forceps must be thoroughly dried before storage to prevent rust formation.  Proper storage, away from moisture and exposure to soil and traffic will protect forceps from damage.

Safety Issues

Electrolysis forceps have very sharp points that could cause a serious puncture wound to the client or the electrologist.  Client eye protection during a treatment will help prevent an accidental eye injury if forceps are dropped.  When forceps accumulate debris, the electrologist should wipe them from crevice to point (one direction only) with wet cotton.  This is the safest way to remove gross soil from forceps during a treatment.   Care in manipulating forceps must also be taken when handling them between treatments and when preparing them for decontamination.

Forceps Repair

As stainless steel instruments age they can soften with use and sterilization, so older instruments might feel different from new ones.  Even well-cared-for forceps will eventually need repairs.  Like any mechanical device that is used frequently, forceps need a regular visual inspection and may need a yearly refurbishing.  An inspection of forceps includes checking for cleanliness, proper alignment of points and evidence of barbs or chips at the point.  Repairs can be done by a professional instrument repair service, which would use the right tools and should provide a quick turnaround of instruments.  A busy practice should have several dozen forceps which helps limit overuse and should help delay the need for routine repairs.

After investing hundreds of dollars in the number of forceps an electrologist must have, it makes good sense to take care of them so they will last.  Good stainless steel instruments should last for 20 years.  Knowledge of the selection, care and repair of forceps will result in a long lasting investment and developing good habits for proper daily care of forceps only takes a few minutes.



Infection Prevention Resources for the Electrologist

2 Jun


The Six Steps of Instrument Reprocessing –  Best practices for instrument reprocessing is an important aspect of modern health care as it helps to minimize the patient’s risk of infection. This article is intended to provide an overview of the six (6) recommended steps for instrument reprocessing; cleaning, inspection, packaging, sterilization, sterile storage, and quality assurance.

Detailed Infection Prevention and Control Procedures for Electrolysis – Personal services bulletin from Eastern Ontario, Canada.

Health Standards and Guidelines for Electrolysis – Alberta, Canada.

AEA’s Standards over time:

The 2000 Revised Infection Control Standards for the Practice of Electrology were reviewed and commented on by the following: *Walter W. Bond, MS, Consultant Microbiologist, RCSA, Inc., Lawrenceville, GA (Hospital Infections Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA., retired),  *Lynne M. Sehulster, PhD, M(ASCP), Microbiologist, Hospital Infections Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA,  Victoria Thomas, RN, MS, Supervisor, Allied Health Laboratory and coordinator, Electrology Program, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ,  Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc., Washington, DC,  *Review and comment does not constitute endorsement by private organizations or US governmental agencies.

2005 Infection Control Standards for the Practice of Electrology

Basic Hand Hygiene

21 May


APIC Guideline for Hand Washing and Hand Antisepsis in Health Care Settings provides us with the basics of hand hygiene.  Hand hygiene is one of the most important methods for preventing disease.