General Electrolysis FAQ
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Q: How does electrolysis work?
A: The electrologist inserts a metal filament into each hair follicle, uses electricity to heat up the tissue, and permanently kills the hair. I then tweeze the hair out.
Q: How should I prepare for a session?
A: Let the hair grow out long enough that it can be plucked with a tweezer. A couple millimeters / a couple days of growth is usually enough. Check out my Before / After Care page for more details!
Q: Is it painful? If so, how can I ease the pain?
A: Some people find it to be a minor annoyance, some people find that it hurts. Some facial areas hurt more than others. Electrologists recommend getting a lidocaine (numbing) cream prescription from your primary care physician. When I have electrolysis sessions for my own face, I put the numbing cream on about 30 min prior to my session, cover the skin in Saran wrap so it absorbs fully, and end up feeling no sensation in the area.
Q: How many sessions will it take electrolysis take to clear my hair?
A: Everyone has a different number of hair follicles, so it varies vastly person-to-person, and depends on what area we’re treating. Come in for a free consultation to get a better picture of the time-scale for your personal goals!
For a trans woman, clearing one’s beard generally takes between 30–80 hours over the course of years, but some people take as long as 150 hours. This depends on whether you’ve had laser previously, whether/when you started HRT, etc. Keep in mind, permanent hair removal does not happen overnight. It takes months (usually years) of committment to remove all of a trans woman’s facial hair, and it is an investment. But with weekly one-hour sessions, you can expect a noticeable decrease in hair density within a few months.
Q: What’s the difference between laser and electrolysis?
A: Electrolysis is the only fully permanent hair removal method, because it physically accesses the root of each single hair in order to kill the follicle. It is equally effective on all skin and hair types.
Laser was created to be less invasive and treat wide patches of skin at once. This makes it more effective at treating large areas such as legs or arms, which would be too time-intensive for electrolysis. However, the tradeoff is that it is less permanent (and therefore termed “hair reduction”). Some of the removed hair has only been made dormant, and will grow back in a few years, though it will be thinner/weaker.
Additionally, laser is only successful when there is a large contrast between the lightness of the skin and the darkness of the hair, and so cannot be used successfully to treat certain skin tones and hair colors.
In short, laser is like a weak punch over a large area, whereas electrolysis is like a precise gun shot.
Laser can be a useful addendum or precursor to make electrolysis a shorter process, but laser on its own is generally not capable of removing trans women’s facial hair permanently. For most of my clients, laser hits a wall eventually, where further treatments no longer remove any more hair —this point comes earlier depending person-to-person.
I personally got laser for 6 months to make a sizeable dent, and then moved onto electrolysis for the following years to finish off the remaining ~50% that laser couldn’t kill. People who desire fully permanent results though, and can afford it, generally choose to do only transgender electrolysis. New York, fortunately, offers these options
Q: I thought electrolysis was permanent, but the hair grew back??
A: Some bigger hairs you will notice do grow back thinner the next week, and may require a couple treatments to fully kill the follicle.
Additionally—after you’ve decreased the hair density enough over time, you’ll start leaving a session occasionally with your face totally cleared of hair. But! Hair grows in cycles. Lots of the hair follicles on your face are dormant right now, and won’t grow in till several weeks or months later.
So yes, after you clear all your facial hair, it’ll only feel clear temporarily. New dormant hairs are always waking up and starting to grow in. These are new hairs that haven’t been treated yet.
Q: Where can I learn more?
A: For some general advice on transgender electrolysis, try this:
Transgender Map Electrolysis Info
For general info: Hair Free Life Guide
Q: What are your Covid safety protocols?
I am vaccinated! N95 mask and nitrile gloves worn at all times, room has a HEPA air filter, tweezers are fully dry-heat sterilized before use, anything else that contacts skin is single-use, and there is a separated waiting room for following clients
Q: Do I have any health conditions that might be an issue for electrolysis?
If you have hemophilia, diabetes, a heart condition, pace-maker, high blood pressure, take blood-thinning medication, or are pregnant, you should talk to your primary care physician before starting electrolysis treatment
Q: Are most of your clients trans?
Yup! My primary aim in offering this service is to provide a safe space for transgender electrolysis—NYC, Brooklyn, and beyond