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Electrolysis is the process of destroying hair follicles with electricity to achieve permanent hair removal. A licensed electrologist typically performs electrolysis in a clinical setting. Electrolysis kits, however, are available that allow the consumer to perform a modified version of electrolysis at home. There are three basic types of home electrolysis kits that are categorized according to the method used to achieve permanent hair loss: galvanic, thermolysis and a combination of the two. In addition to these different methods of electrology, there are also different delivery systems, such as needle-like probes, tweezers, sticky pads and rollers.
Most experts on electrical epilation recommend that electrology be done by a professional for the best results. The effectiveness of home electrolysis kits is debatable. The cost appeals to many because kits can cost less than the price of a single hour of professional electrolysis. Home kits, however, are not as powerful as professional electrology and do not deliver nearly as much electric charge to the follicles. This often means that the hair is not destroyed or even damaged, even after multiple treatments with the kit.
The most effective types of home electrolysis kits are generally believed to be the ones that most closely mimic professional equipment. These kits use a needle that must be inserted into the pore next to the hair. This is similar to the way electrolysis is done in a clinical setting, though home kits can only deliver a fraction of the electrical charge professional equipment can, for safety reasons. These home kits, because a needle is inserted into pores and electricity is introduced, have the potential to cause mild skin damage and pain if used improperly.
Other types of electrolysis kits include those with tweezers that are supposed to send a charge into the hair, ones with pads that deliver a charge to the surface of the skin, and those with rolling devices that deliver electricity to the skin. Professionals and skin care experts generally consider these methods to be ineffective. These types of kits are less likely to cause pain or irritation than kits that use probes, but they are also usually less likely to remove hair permanently.
Kits that use a professional-style needle are supposed to destroy the hair either through galvanic or thermolysis reactions, or a combination of the two. The first method, which is typically believed to be the most effective, is galvanic electrolysis. A DC current created by a battery is introduced to the follicle so that it reacts with the water and salt in the hair and creates lye, which destroys it. Thermolysis is another method in which an AC electrical current reacts with the water and salt in the hair to create heat, which destroys the follicle. The third style of electrolysis kit uses a combination of both galvanic and thermolysis that utilizes both AC and DC currents to destroy the hair.