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Understanding different skin types

As an electrologist you’ll need a thorough understanding of the physiology of the skin and how to treat various skin problems.

You’ll also need to be able to recommend a home skincare regime to your client to increase the moisture gradient and improve skin condition. 

The following skin types present different challenges for the electrologist:


The skin’s protective mantle is partly composed of moisture, dead skin cells and sebum. In oily skin there is an excess of sebum, which acts as an ‘insulator’ confining the high frequency current to the lower follicle when using SWD. This means there is usually a high level of moisture in the lower layers of the skin, which is necessary in order for any of the three modalities to be effective. Follicles are easier to insert into as they are usually enlarged. 


  • Comedones
  • Milia
  • Papules
  • Pustules
  • Sallow complexion
  • Shiny skin surface
  • Open pores

Considerations for treatment:

  • Do not insert into inflamed or infected follicles
  • The Ph balance of oily skin may be disturbed, increasing the risk of post-treatment infection – again strict adherence to homecare must be emphasised
  • Skin care regime should be recommended


Dry skin is usually lacking in sebum, whereas dehydrated skin lacks moisture. As the skin ages both the sebum and moisture levels diminish. Insertions may be impeded by flaking skin cells blocking the entrance to the follicles.


  • An abundance of very fine lines
  • Deep lines
  • Dull appearance
  • Scaly, flaky appearance
  • Evidence of facial thread veins
  • Tight pores

Considerations for treatment:

  • Allow sufficient healing time between treatments
  • Keep treatment duration short
  • Important to find a balance with current intensity: there is less moisture to facilitate effectiveness, but increasing intensity is risky for fragile skin
  • Blend is preferable to SWD
  • Emphasise the importance of a good skin care regime, which should include gentle exfoliation
  • Use of a gold or insulated needle is recommended


Moist skin has a high level of moisture in both the epidermis and dermis and can be a sign of good health and a good skincare regime but if in combination with oily skin, sometimes due to excessive sweating, is known as hyperhidrosis. 


  • Visibly moist
  • Generally good condition
  • Good elasticity
  • Plumped appearance

Considerations for treatment:

  • Use of SWD is risky, as the current may rise too quickly to the surface of the skin, before treatment of the lower follicle has occurred, so current intensity will need to be carefully assessed. 
  • Blend the most suitable modality, due to the lower intensity. 


Sensitive skin will react quickly to treatment with pronounced erythema in the area and the client’s pain threshold may be lower. A naturally sensitive skin will react very quickly to even the gentlest of touches.


  • Presence of dilated capillaries (telangiectasia)
  • High colour (flushed appearance)
  • Could be oily, dry, or combination 

Considerations for treatment:

  • Blend is recommended, as less heat is applied to the skin
  • The intensity of the current may need to be altered to allow for a lower pain threshold
  • Use of a gold or insulated needle is recommended
  • Plan treatments to allow sufficient recovery time between sessions and avoid adverse reactions
  • Treat hairs in a wider proximity


It is very important that the electrologist understands the physiological differences between Caucasian and Black skin in order to carry out electrolysis safely and effectively.


  • Sebaceous glands are larger and more numerous
  • The stratum corneum of the epidermis in Black skin is thicker and desquamates more easily
  • Collagen fibres are more numerous, so skin is stronger
  • The ageing process is slower, as skin elasticity lasts longer
  • A greater number of sebaceous glands open directly onto the skin’s surface instead of into a hair follicle
  • Suderifeous (sweat) glands are larger and more numerous
  • The suderifeous ducts open onto the surface of the skin
  • More prone to keloids (sometimes a genetic disposition) – elevated fibrous enlargements of the skin, a skin reaction to injury, commonly found at scar sites. They are usually raised, smooth and firm.

Considerations for treatment:

  • It is difficult to detect erythema, so there is a risk of over-treatment – treatment duration should be kept short and current as low as possible
  • The area may be prone to hyper-pigmentation (uneven colour distribution), which can be exacerbated by the heating effect of SWD – the client must be alerted to this possibility
  • Blend modality (less heat) is recommended to minimise the risk of an adverse reaction and it reaches curved hair follicles effectively
  • Great care must be taken, as Black skin is particularly prone to keloid scarring
  • Do not treat hairs in close proximity
  • If using blend, an insulated needle is not appropriate – gold is recommended
  • Allow sufficient healing time between sessions
  • SWD should only be used if no alternative – it should be low intensity and an insulated needle used to reduce surface reaction 
  • It can be difficult to insert into curved hair follicles, as the hair shaft is usually flattened – ensure enough stretch (three way not two way stretch) is used and the client is correctly positioned


Most Asian women tend to have a lot of very fine but dense hair along the sides of the face and neck. Treatment can take a long time, so careful and meticulous planning is required in order to minimise any risk to the skin.


  • Smooth, fine textured skin
  • Hair growth tends to be fine, dark and dense – may be some coarse hairs
  • Fine hairs usually grow from short and straight follicles
  • Prone to sensitivity and hyper-pigmentation

Considerations for treatment:

  • May be difficult to detect erythema, so there is a risk of over-treating – keep treatment duration short and current as low as possible
  • Do not treat hairs in close proximity
  • Pigmentation may not be evident for several days or weeks and can take many months to fade.
  • Blend method is most suitable, with use of a gold needle to minimise sensitivity and risk of adverse reaction
  • If SWD is used, intensity must be low and an insulated needle used so that intensity remains in the lower half of the follicle
  • Allow sufficient healing time between treatment sessions.
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