Electrolysis, also known as the practice of electrology, is a hair removal method that uses a device to destroy the growth center of each individual hair by using chemical or heat energy. These medical electrolysis devices insert a fine probe into the hair follicle before the hair is removed with tweezers. If inserted properly, the probes do not actually penetrate the skin. They deliver the chemicals or electricity to the hair follicle, damaging the area so that hair won’t grow back. Electrolysis is considered a permanent hair removal solution, and it can be done via three methods: galvanic, thermolysis, or a combination of the two.

The Galvanic Method

The galvanic method was first introduced in 1875 as a way to remove ingrown eyelashes in patients suffering from trichiasis, a condition in which a person’s eyelashes are positioned abnormally and grow back into the head. Named after Italian physician Luigi Galvani, who was well known for pioneering bioelectricity, this method is performed by using the human body as an electrolytic cell. Essentially, an electric current is sent through the body and directed toward the targeted hairs to kill the hair cells and provide permanent hair removal.

The Thermolysis Method

Thermolysis is a form of hair removal that uses radio frequency to kill hair cells. First developed in 1920, a thermolytic epilator is used to output energy from the probe’s tip after it has been placed in the skin tissue. This causes the hair follicles to heat up and damage the cells to the point that hair growth can no longer occur.

The Combination Method

This is the most commonly used method and the most modern form of electrolysis, since its development in 1948. Both the galvanic method and thermolysis are performed to achieve the best results.