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Three modalities of electrolysis

There are three modalities of electrolysis treatment: galvanic, short wave diathermy and blend.

They all have comparative benefits and disadvantages and should be used in accordance with individual clients’ needs and situations. All three modalities require moisture for effective treatment.


The galvanic method uses a direct current which moves from one pole to the other in one direction.


  • Excellent for strong and coarse hair
  • Excellent for distorted follicles – the Lye is fluid and flows into the base of the follicle
  • Current is attracted to the area of greatest moisture, i.e. the lower follicular area, where the dermal papilla is located
  • Less re-growth


  • Treatment is slow, as it requires more application time to allow the destructive chemical to flow and act
  • Not as effective on fine vellus hair, which is more shallow, as there is less moisture and a higher level of insulating sebum in the upper follicular area.

Short wave diathery (SWD)

This method is also known as ‘Thermolysis’, ‘High Frequency’(HF) and less so ‘Radio Frequency’(RF). It uses an alternating current that oscillates by moving backwards and forwards between poles at 3 to 30 million cycles per second.


  • The quickest way to remove hairs
  • As it is coagulation, not cauterisation that is required, a low intensity current is required so damage to surrounding tissue is less likely


  • Permanent results take longer, as there is more re-growth
  • Not suitable for the removal of distorted and curved follicles, as the heating effect is not wide enough


The blend method uses a combination of SWD and galvanic currents and benefits from the greater effectiveness of the galvanic method and the warmth produced by SWD.


  • Takes more time in situ than SWD, but is quicker than the galvanic only method
  • Generally more comfortable for the client than SWD
  • More efficient than either of the other methods on their own
  • Very effective on distorted or curved follicles because of the fluidity of the warmed lye
  • More effective so less re-growth
  • Three different techniques can be used to suit all skin types and pain thresholds, so client can choose the treatment that is most comfortable for them – the happier clients are, the busier electrologists will be!


  • Lower currents generally mean longer time (but for some clients this is their choice as its more comfortable)


Technique 1 – Higher for Shorter

Generally the most popular, this technique must always be carried out first to establish the ‘working point’, which is the point at which the hair epilates without traction, indicating you have achieved the correct and optimum levels for treatment.


  1. Set the timer to 5.0
  2. Set the thermolysis (SWD) intensity to 0.5
  3. Set the galvanic intensity to 15
  4. Insert the needle, depress the footswitch
  5. Wait for the beep, lift foot from pedal and remove needle
  6. Gently release the hair; if it won’t remove, leave in situ for a while and increase the galvanic intensity by 3 digits and insert into another follicle
  7. Repeat steps 4, 5 & 6 (on different follicles) until the working point is found.
  8. Once the working point has been established, other methods can be tried.

Technique 2 – Lower for Longer

Following on from Technique 1, turn the galvanic intensity down by 3 digits and increase the timer by 1 second, to 6.0 seconds. Can be repeated, reducing the galvanic current and increasing the time until the desired results are obtained.

Technique 3 – Treat and Leave

The lowest current and time usage, but the hair is temporarily left in the follicle to allow the Lye additional time to perform its caustic action. Following on from method two, decrease the time to 5.0 seconds, do not alter the galvanic intensity.

  1. Treat a group of at least 10 hairs, but DO NOT remove
  2. Treat another group of at least 10 hairs – do not remove these hairs either
  3. Gently remove the hairs from the first group, then the second group

A mini ‘treat and leave’ technique can be utilised. Once the working point is established, occasionally a stubborn hair may not release as it may require slightly more time in the follicle to react. This one hair can be left in the follicle temporarily whilst the electrologist moves onto the next hair. Following the gentle release of the next hair, the first stubborn hair can be revisited and it should now gently lift from the follicle.

Sometimes better results are obtained by turning the thermolysis (SWD) down to 04 or even 03 as the moisture in the follicle can dry out too much at the normal level.

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