NVQ Level 3 Beauty Therapy
B29 – Provide Electrical Epilation
Course Notes
Student Name: ____________________________
Hygiene and Sterilisation
The importance of attention to detail with regard to hygiene and sterilisation
practices in the salon cannot be over-stressed. It is therefore important to
realise not only the skin being treated, but also everything that is likely to
come into contact with the client.
The two main conditions against which the electrologist must guard are AIDS
and hepatitis, both of which are transmitted through blood.
The aim is to avoid cross infection from one client to another and from the
client to the electrologist or vice versa. This can be achieved easily by:
Carrying out thorough sanitation of treatment rooms.
Use of safe pre-sterilised needles.
Correct sterilisation of tweezers and chucks.
Correct disposal of clinical waste.
Personal hygiene and safety.
All professional bodies ‘Code of Practice’ state’s clearly that all members must
follow a good standard of hygiene at all times. Ensure official guidelines are
respected and ensure that cross-infection does not occur.
The Awarding Body’s Code of Ethics or Practice states the most up to date
sterilisation and hygiene rules.
Hygiene within the salon is easily achieved and the procedure should be a
routine matter. All equipment, hard surfaces and washable floors should be
cleaned daily with an antibacterial cleanser.
‘Sterilisation should not only be done, it should be seen to be done’
In other words, not only should the salon be as completely sterile as possible,
but also some of the processes should be carried out in front of the client for
confidence to be assured.
Warmth, moisture, darkness, and food are needed for germs to multiply.
Disease is spread by:
a) Direct contact – with infected person.
b) Infection by droplets in the air – sneezing.
c) Indirect contact – touching an infected towel, unsterilized tools.
Three micro-organisms that cause infection are:
a) Bacteria.
b) Viruses
c) Fungi
Methods of Sterilisation
The main methods of sterilisation are heat, chemical and radiation.
Sterilisation – destruction of micro-organisms.
Disinfection – some destruction of micro-organisms.
Liquid sterilisation
Ultra Violet cabinet
How it Works
For towels and headbands
that are suitable for machine
washing at high
Use at 60° to 100° as
the majority of germs
are destroyed at this
Similar to a pressure cooker.
Ideal for metal instruments
e.g. tweezers and chuck
Distilled water only is
used and is heated
under pressure to a
temperature of 121°C.
Always follow
instructions for use.
Ideal for immersion of small
tools e.g. tweezers.
Ideal to place the tools
in once they have
been sterilised in the
autoclave. ‘Barbicide’
is a trade name used
in the salon.
Follow manufacturers
instructions for correct
Not suitable for items with
body fluids on them.
Wash tools first.
UV waves travel in straight
lines and tools must be
turned over to ensure both
sides are completely
Grease is a barrier to
sterilisation therefore the UV
The UV cabinet is
fitted with a mercury
vapour lamp that emits
uv radiation, visible as
uv light at a
wavelength of 254
nanometers. When the
necessary does is
delivered for a specific
length of time then
cabinet must be kept very
Not very powerful.
Suitable for small items e.g.
tweezers. Full immersion of
tools is not possible.
Glass Bead
Effective in destroying
bacteria, spores and fungi.
bacteria become
inactive. Lamps must
be changed after 2000
hours use.
Always follow
instructions for use.
Not popular today due
to the length of time
the steriliser takes to
reach the correct
temperature of 190° 300°C.
Always follow
instructions for use.
Glutaraldehyde has an
expected lifespan of
14 – 28 days.
Always follow
instructions for use.
Personal Appearance and Hygiene
The therapist’s general appearance and personal hygiene can give an insight
into the character of the individual. A first impression is a lasting one and to
maintain a reputable business this is very important to maintain and in-still
client confidence and reassurance.
Well groomed hair which is neatly tied back if long, clean short nails, clean
low heeled shoes, clean laundered uniform, fresh breath, light perfume and
make-up worn.
The Integumentary System
This is a term used as reference to skin, hair and nails. Its main function is to
protect harmful bacteria getting in.
The structure of the skin and hair will be discussed in greater detail.
Functions of the Skin
The skin has many functions. An easy way to remember them is by using the
word SHAPES.
S – Sensation
H – Heat Regulation
A – Absorption
P – Protection
E – Excretion
S - Secretion
S – Sensation
The skin contains sensory nerve endings that send
messages to the brain. These nerves respond to touch, pain, cold and
heat and allow us to recognise objects from their feel and touch.
H – Heat Regulation
The skin aids in regulating body temperature by sweating to cool
down when it is too hot and shivering when it is cold. The pores close
when shivering and the hairs stand on end, trap a layer of warm air
next to the skin and heat loss is prevented.
A – Absorption
The skin is largely waterproof and absorbs very little, although
certain substances (some creams and essential oils) are able to pass
through the basal layer. Ultra-violet rays from the sun penetrate
through the skin’s surface layers and activate a chemical found in the
skin called ergosterol, which changes into vitamin D, essential for
healthy bones and eye sight.
P – Protection
The acid mantle is a protective barrier that prevents bacteria and
germs entering the skin. The skin produces melanin (the pigment that
is commonly known as a suntan) as protection when too much UV light
damages the skin.
E – Excretion
The sweat glands secrete waste products and toxins directly onto
the skins surface. Sweat contains water, salts, urea and uric acid.
S – Secretion
Sebum and sweat are secreted onto the skins surface. Sebum is a
fatty surface secreted from the sebaceous gland and it helps to keep
the skin lubricated and soft. (Sweat and sebum together form the
acid mantle).
The Acid Mantle
The oil form the sebaceous gland and acid from the sweat glands blend
together to form a film known as the acid mantle which covers entire body.
This prevents attack from harmful bacteria and fungi. The pH value of skin is
between 5.5 – 5.6. Using products that are too harsh for the skin will strip the
protective pH acid mantle and could allow infection in, causing damage.
Whether a substance or solution is acid, neutral or alkaline is indicated with a
pH number.
The Structure of the Skin
The skin is a very large organ covering the whole of the body.
The skin is one of the most active organs of the body.
The skin varies in thickness on different parts of the body (0.05 – 3mm).
The skin is thinnest on the lips and eyelids which must be light and flexible.
The skin is thickest on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands where
friction is needed for gripping.
Client’s skin varies in colour, texture and sensitivity – it is these characteristics
that make each client unique.
The skin can be divided into two distinct layers:The EPIDERMIS – the outer thinner layer.
The DERMIS – the inner thicker layer.
The SUBCUTANEOUS layer is attached to the underlying organs and
tissues lies below the dermis.
The Epidermis
The five layers of the epidermis are:
1. Stratum Corneum.
( Cornish)
Horny Layer
2. Stratum Lucidum.
( Ladies )
Clear Layer
3. Stratum Granulosum.
( Grow )
Granular Layer
4. Stratum Spinosum.
(Special )
Prickle Cell Layer
5. Stratum Germinativum. ( Geraniums) Basal Layer
Stratum Germinativum
A single layer of columnar cells that rests on the basal layer. This separates
the dermis and the epidermis.
Cells divide by mitosis and push, the older cells forward.
The process from reproduction to mitosis lasts about six weeks.
Star shaped melanocytes are found which contain the pigment melanin, giving
skin its colour.
Stratum Spinosum
This is known as the prickle cell layer and is formed of 2 to 6 rows of
elongated cells. Each rounded cell has short projections which make contact
with neighbouring cells giving a prickly appearance. Each cell has a nucleus
and is filled with fluid and is capable of mitotic division.
The Cornified Layers
 The cornified layer consists of three layers which are dying or dead
due to the process of KERATINISATION.
KERATINISATION is the process when cells change from living
cells with a nucleus (essential for growth and reproduction) to dead,
horny cells without a nucleus.
The KERATINISED cells form a waterproof covering, preventing
the penetration of bacteria and protect the body from minor injury.
Stratum Granuolusum
This is known as the granular layer. The cells contain granules of
KERATOHYALINE which is produced as the first stage of keratinisation.
These cells are beginning to die. This layer is a link between the living and
dead cells.
Stratum Lucidum
This layer consists of transparent cells which permit light to pass through.
There are 3 or 4 rows of flat dead cells which are filled with keratin (there is no
nuclei as the cells have undergone mitosis.
This layer is very shallow in facial skin but pronounced on soles of the feet
and palms of the hand and usually absent on hairy skin.
Stratum Corneum
This layer consists of dead, flattened keratinised cells. This outer layer of
dead cells is continually being shed by a process known as
Melanocytes and Langerhan Cells
These are found in the germinative zone of the epidermis.
These produce the pigment melanin giving skin its colour.
One melanocyte to ten germinative cell.
The amount of melanocytes varies according to race – white Caucasian has
less and black skin has more allowing less penetration of UV rays.
Carotene is also a pigment found in the epidermis (the amount lessens with
the increase of melanin production).
Langerhan Cells
These absorb and aid the removal of foreign bodies that have entered the
skin. These cells move from the epidermis to the dermis and enter the
lymphatic system.
The Dermis
The dermis is the deepest layer of the skin and its key functions are to provide
The dermis consists of two layers:
The Papillary layer.
The Reticular layer
The Papillary layer.
The superficial papillary layer is made up of adipose connective tissue and is
connected to the underside of the epidermis by cone-shaped projections
called dermal papillae.
The dermal papilla contains nerve endings and a network of blood and
lymphatic capillaries. The many dermal papillae of the papillary layer form
indentations in the overlying epidermis, giving it an irregular appearance.
The function of the papillary layer is to provide vital nourishment to the living
layers of the epidermis above.
The Deep Reticular layer.
The deep RETICULAR layer is formed from tough fibrous connective tissue
which contains the following:
COLLAGEN fibres which gives the skin its strength and resilience.
ELASTIC fibres which gives the skin its elasticity.
RETICULAR fibres which help to support and hold all structures in
These fibres all help maintain the skin’s tone.
Blood Supply
Unlike the epidermis, the dermis is highly vascular. Arteries carry oxygenated
blood to skin via arterioles (small arteries) and these enter the dermis from
below and branch into a network of capillaries around active or growing
structures. The capillary networks drain into venules (small veins) which carry
the deoxygenated blood away from the skin and remove waste products.
There is a network of fine lymph vessels throughout the dermis allowing the
removal of waste from the skin’s tissue. Lymph capillaries found around the
dermal papillae, glands and hair follicle drain away tissue fluid containing
waste products from cell activity and foreign bodies such as bacteria.
Nerves are widely distributed throughout the dermis but some can be found in
the papillary layer.
Most nerves in the skin are sensory nerves: which are sensitive to –
Temperature, Pain, Pressure, Touch and Hair Movement.
a) Temperature – there are separate hot and cold receptors in the skin.
They are stimulated by sudden changes in temperature.
b) Pain (Meissner’s Corpuscle) – These consist of branched nerve
endings in the epidermis and dermis. They are evenly distributed.
c) Pressure (Pacinian Corpuscle) – These are situated beneath the
dermis and are stimulated by heavy pressure.
d) Touch – These receptors are located immediately below the epidermis
and are most numerous in the surface of the fingertips and the tongue.
These enable a person to distinguish between textures such as rough,
smooth, hard and soft.
e) Hair movement – A different type of touch receptor detects hair
movement caused by wind or objects brushing against the skin.
Sweat Glands (sudoriferous glands)
Sweat glands are tubular in nature and begin in the deeper layers of the
dermis. The glandular region is deep in the reticular layer and the long duct
passes to the skin surface, opening at a pore.
The function of sweat glands is to excrete sweat.
There are two types of sweat glands:
Eccrine glands
These are found all over the body and
secrete water and sodium chloride, with
small amounts of urea, ammonia and
lactic acid – SWEAT – waste products
from the skin.
Their function is to regulate body
Apocrine glands
These are slightly larger than eccrine glands.
They are found in the axillae, pubic area and
open into hair follicles.
They produce – thicker milky sweat which is
broken down by bacteria and causes Body
Erector Pili Muscle
These are muscles attached to the hair wall at one end and the papillary layer
at the other end. When these muscles contract (via a message travelling
along a motor nerve), they pull the hair follicle upright trapping air next to the
body for warmth and pinch up the surrounding skin causing ‘goose bumps’.
Hair Follicle and Hair
The hair is a depression of epidermal cells pushed deep into the dermis. It is
responsible for the production of a keratinised structure called HAIR. Food
and oxygen required for growth is supplied by blood vessels.
Sebaceous Glands
These are found all over the body, except the palms of the hands and the
soles of the feet. Most are appendages of hair follicles and open inside the
hair follicle via a duct called the Pilo Sebaceous Canal, some open onto the
skins surface.
The glands produce oil called Sebum:
 Lubricates the skin. (Keeps soft).
 Prevents moisture loss from dermis.
Sebum and sweat forms an invisible layer over the skin called the ACID
Sub-cutaneous layer
This is a thick layer of tissue found below the dermis. Adipose tissue is
present, which supports delicate structures e.g. blood vessels and nerve
It contains the major arteries and veins which supply the skin (network in
dermis). The fat cells contained within this layer help to insulate the body by
reducing heat loss.
The Structure of the Hair
The cells of which hair is composed are arranged in three layers:
1. The cuticle – This is made of fine scales which overlap each other and
it provides the hair with its elasticity.
2. The cortex – this is made of elongated cells. The melanin granules in
these cells cause the pigmentation of the hair.
3. The medulla – The centre area of the hair has loosely connected
keratinised cells interspersed with air spaces which create the colour
tones by influencing the reflection of light.
The Structure of the Hair Follicle
The follicle comprises of three layers:
1. The inner root sheath (Henle, Huxley and Cuticle).
2. The outer root sheath.
3. The connective tissue sheath.
The Inner Root Sheath
This is composed of:
1. The cuticle layer – with overlapping scales pointing to the base of the
follicle, interlocks with the cuticle of the hair.
2. Huxley’s layer (the thickest layer) – two or three cells thickness and is
the middle layer of the sheath.
3. Henle’s layer – one cell thickness and lies next to, but is separate from
the outer root sheath.
The cellular growth of the inner root sheath and hair begins at the lowest part
of the follicle at the papilla. They grow upwards together as far as the
sebaceous gland, where the inner root sheath disappears and the hair
continues upwards.
The Outer Root Sheath
The walls or outer root sheath of the hair are a continuation of the stratum
germinativum (basal layer) of the epidermis and consist of two or four rows of
cells, the thickness being greater in large follicles. This surrounds the inner
root sheath and is of uneven thicknesses. The outer root sheath remains
stationary rather than growing upwards. The outer root sheath is of particular
interest to the electrolygists as the moisture content, which is the water
soluble animal starch glycogen, to attract the current. The sheath also has
germ cells which can be stimulated by hormones and enzymes to produce
new hair follicles.
The Connective Tissue Sheath
The papillary layer of the dermis supplies blood and nerve endings for the hair
follicle and the sebaceous gland. The connective tissue sheath which
surrounds the follicle is like an extension of the papillary layer of the dermis
and it contains the dermal papilla itself, which is responsible for the structure
of the follicle.
N.B – Blood supply of the Hair Follicle
Blood vessels arise from the hypodermal plexus. This plexus also
supplies the hair papilla. Glucose and sulphur, which contains amino
acids are taken up.
The Hair Growth Cycle
A hair undergoes a series of changes throughout its development.
Each hair will enter a phase of the cycle at a different time.
The three main stages are:
1. Anagen – lasts for 2 – 8 years (90% of hairs are in this phase).
2. Catagen – lasts for 2 – 3 weeks.
3. Telogen – lasts approximately 3 – 4 months.
Stage One - Anagen
Lower follicle is rebuilt.
New follicle formed – cells multiply by mitosis.
Follicle increases in depth and width.
Papilla cells form into the papilla.
Lower part of dermal cord develops into the bulb which surrounds the
dermal papilla.
Cells increase in size and elongate into upper bulb and keratinisation
Keratinisation cells push their way through the dermal cord and form
the inner root sheath.
Hair continues to grow producing a visible hair on the skins surface.
Hair continues to grow down to the dermis until approx ½“ above the
skins surface.
Hair treated in an early anagen stage produces best results.
Stage Two – Catagen
Before the catagen stage begins, the hair grows for a certain period.
Papilla separates and withdraws from matrix.
Hair rises up, still attached to follicle wall and receiving nourishment to
a small degree.
Papilla collapses and follicle degenerates in the lower half.
Dermal cord is then formed by undifferentiated cells that are present in
the lower half of the follicle.
Inner root sheath disintegrates.
Hair becomes detached from the surrounding tissue.
Sometimes a new hair emerges before the club hair is shed.
Stage Three – Telogen
Resting stage for the upper half of the follicle until stimulated again.
Length of stage varies.
Sometimes this stage does not occur due to new hair growing
Hair and Hair Type Structures
Once a hair has passed the level of the skin’s surface, they become
dead structures having been keratinised. Enzymes destroy the cell
nuclei and cause the hardening of the cells by the formation of the
horny protein material, keratin.
Hair Growth
Hair strength and colour will vary on different parts of the body and
may also depend on the client’s characteristics. Unwanted hair can
range from fine to coarse in texture, sparse to dense in coverage, and
fair to dark in colour.
The information below will help you to determine the type of hair
growth you are treating. This is important as the hair texture will
usually determine the depth of the probe.
Lanugo Hair
Lanugo hair is a fine downy hair and grows on the foetus as a normal
part of gestation, but is usually shed and replaced by vellus hair at
about 33 – 36 weeks of gestational age.
Vellus is fine hair that replaces lanugo hair and is found on most
areas of the body, apart from the palms of the hand and soles of the
feet. Treatment of fine hair is usually more uncomfortable due to the
close proximity of sensory nerve endings recording pain and
pressure. Lanugo hairs have a slow growth rate due to the under
development of the papilla and matrix and can only take nourishment
from the adjacent walls of the sebaceous gland lobe.
Fine hair growth (approx 0.1mm)
Shallow follicle (probing tip) – less than 2cm
Often lacks a medulla
Often lacks pigmentation
Small root structure
Found on most areas of the body – except palms of the hand and
soles of the feet.
If stimulation is provided it can be from topical or systemic cause.
Chaffing of the skin
Hormonal Influences
If stimulation to the hair follicle occurs either by topical or systemic
causes, the follicle is capable of extending downwards. These
changes may take place gradually over a period of a few months to
several years depending on the point of stimulation.
Hairs at this point are referred to as ACCELERATED LANUGO
HAIRS when they become longer than the neighbouring hairs, but if
stimulation to the hair follicle stops, the hair follicle will not grow any
deeper and the replacement hair may even return to its original depth.
This will only occur if a permanent pailla has not been formed.
When an accelerated lanugo hair starts to take on pigmentation, a
bulb usually develops and with further stimulus, the accelerated
lanugo hair makes its transition to shallow terminal where it can now
pick up a major blood supply from the dermis.
Terminal is coarse hair that covers specific areas for protection, for
example the scalp, underarm and pubic areas.
Coarse, thick hair growth (up to 0.6mm)
Deep follicle (probing tip) – more than 2cm
Contains a medulla
Usually pigmented
Large root structure
Found in specific areas of the body (pubic, underarm, scalp)
Specific Function of Hair at Various Locations
Normal Patterns
1. Eyelashes (Cilia) prevent dust or dirt from entering the eye and also
help shade the eye from excessive sunlight.
2. Eyebrows (Supercilia) also filter dust and dirt to a minor degree and
help to shade the eye from sunlight. Additionally they form a protective
cushion for the ridges of the eye socket.
3. Nostril hair (Vibrissae) screens incoming hair, filtering out dust and
large particles that might otherwise collect in the lungs.
4. Scalp hair (Capilli) serves as an adornment of the body. But such a
function is by no means an evolutionary one; man (or more correctly,
woman) has been the one who made hair an object of beauty. Nature
has on the other hand placed hair on the head merely to provide
protection and to help to retain body heat.
5. Body hair by which term we include underarm hair (hirci), pubic hair
(pubes) and others act generally as protection against friction. It is for
this reason that patches of excess hair will appear in many places
where the epidermis is continually irritated.
Classification of Hair Growth
Any conditions which can cause an increase in blood supply to the skin or a
general excess of certain hormones in the circulatory system may ultimately
be the cause of either hypertrichosis or superfluous hair (excess hair which is
not abnormal but is simply undesirable socially).
The causes of hair growth are classified as:
This hair growth is present at birth and some individuals being born with more
than others. People vary with the amount of androgens present. Females who
have a low level of female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) and
higher levels of androgens develop superfluous hair.
Stimulation or friction to an area can cause excess hair growth. Sustained
irritation almost always stimulates hairs in the immediate vicinity of the
affected area to grow deeper and coarser, thereby creating a mat of hair that
covers the kin and protects against further irritation. Whenever there is
irritation, there is an increase in blood supply reaching the follicles, and any
hairs growing from these follicles receive more nourishment than usual. They
therefore tend to grow deeper and coarser, thus it can be seen that anything
that causes an increase in blood supply to the surface of the skin is capable of
becoming a topical cause of hair growth.
Moles and birthmarks are frequently a cause of excessive hair growth. It is not
unusual to find clusters of thick bristles sprouting from moles or other surface
blemishes in an area otherwise devoid of noticeable hair. This occurs as the
result of the specialised blood supply system which nourishes the follicle
located in the blemish itself. Moles and birthmarks pose a special problem to
the electrologist, as there is a general prejudice against treating mole hairs
with an electric needle by anyone other than a person trained in medicine.
Topical causes include:
 A plaster cast.
 Tweezing.
 Waxing.
There are normal and abnormal hormonal change that can stimulate hair
Cushing’s Syndrome
Adrenogenital Syndrome
Archard-Thiers Syndrome
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Anorexia Nervosa
To appreciate how body chemistry can affect hair growth, it is essential to
have a sound knowledge of the endocrine system. Hormones which are
excreted by the endocrine glands, control the growth and development of
every organ of the body including the hair.
Hirsutism and Hypertrichosis
Types of hair growth
Three types
Hair growth
excess hair
Superfluous or excess hair growth
 This term refers to hair growth that is normal for any age and sex.
 However, it is desirable that some individuals prefer not to have this
 Superfluous hair can be found on the following areas – hairline,
eyebrows, sides of the face, underarm, bikini, chest, forearms, legs,
toes (males – ears, back, nose, buttocks).
Superfluous hair is normal at certain stages •
Puberty / Pregnancy - Once normal hormone balance has
been restored hair growth disappears.
Menopause - New hair formed at the menopause
is often permanent.
Hirsutism and hypertrichosis are often confused, although there is a definite
difference between the two. Both terms are used to describe excessive hair
growth in women, but there the similarity ends.
Not hormone dependent.
Masculine hair growth
pattern coarser, darker,
Generalised overgrowth of
terminal hair – wolf boy.
Can affect the entire body
Appears just before or after
Racial or genetic
Occurs in both sexes.
Affects hormone dependent
terminal hairs.
Caused by endocrine
disorder or sensitivity to
increase to circulating
hormones – tumour on
anterior pituitary.
Occurs in women.
Hirsutism – refers to a masculine pattern of hair growth in women (one which
is normal in men). There is an increase in cyclic growth, diameter of hair and
rate of growth. Hirsutism is caused by the following two factors:
Primary hirsutism – increased follicle sensitivity to normal levels of
circulating androgens in the blood stream.
Secondary or true hirsutism – increased androgen production by adrenal
glands and ovaries. Secondary hirsutism is caused by an endocrine disorder
which causes increased hormonal secretion by the gland.
Hypertrichosis - is the term used for a generalised overgrowth of vellus and
terminal hairs in either sex. Hair grows faster and longer than normal. Causes
are genetic and racial tendencies.
What is Epilation?
Epilation is the permanent removal of superfluous (unwanted) hair via a fine
needle which delivers an electrical current into the hair follicle to destroy the
hair root, thus preventing re-growth.
Unwanted (superfluous) hair is a very common problem that affects many
women at various times of their lives. There are times when clients turn to
temporary and permanent methods of hair removal to achieve effective
Electrolysis is a progressive, yet permanent method of hair removal and when
applied correctly and safely, the results will improve client esteem and
Contra-indications To Epilation
If a client appears to have a contra-indication during the consultation and
visual inspection of the area, the treatment cannot be carried out without
medical referral.
If medical referral is necessary then it must be done without naming a
condition not to worry and alarm the client.
The G.P will determine whether the client can have the treatment.
A note from the G.P is required prior to treatment being carried out.
Direct Contra-indications
Varicose veins.
Highly vascular area.
Cuts, bruises and abrasions.
Inflamed areas.
Pigmented, elevated, hairy malignant moles.
Pre-malignant moles (cells damaged can become malignant).
Indirect Contra-indications
Hepatitis. Aids. (body fluids)
Heart complaints.
Metal plates/pins.
Loss of skin sensation or hypersensitive skin.
Nervous/highly strung clients.
Specific medication i.e anti-coagulant drugs.
Hormonal imbalance (medically controlled)
Inflammation of area.
Black skin (keloid scarring/hyperpigmentation.
Asian skin (prone to hyperpigmentation).
Young clients (parental permission required).
Currents used in Epilation
What is an electric current ?
It is the flow of electricity (electrons).
What is a circuit ?
It is a continuous path for the current to keep flowing.
e.g Radio – only works after it is switched on to complete the electrical
There are two types of electrical currents:
Direct Current DC.
Alternating Current AC.
Direct Current – DC
The electrons always flow
in one direction.
An electron flow is always
Alternating Current – AC
Negative (-) > Positive(+)
The current
continuously reverses
its direction.
The electrons move
back and forth changing
polarity from:
negative (-) > positive (+).
Direct Current DC
Alternating current AC
Electrolysis Techniques
Main Electrolysis
High frequency,
Short wave,
Direct Current
Alternating current
Uses both
Thermolysis and
High-Frequency Alternating Current
The high frequency alternating current is also known as Short Wave
HF (High Frequency) is produced by an oscillator.
What does an oscillator do?
It increases the frequency of our household alternating currents to the
millions of cycles per second needed for thermolysis.
Alternating Current Frequencies
The following diagrams show the alternating current frequencies used
in thermolysis (approx 27 million cycles per second).
High Frequency/ Thermolysis
Heinrich Hertz was the first scientist to demonstrate that high frequency
waves existed in 1888.
High frequency became a popular method of hair removal in the
1920’s. It became known as thermolysis.
Thermolysis – destroys tissue by heat (thermal) action.
When the HF alternating current passes down the needle into the hair follicle,
the rapid agitation of atoms (stimulation of the water molecules of the moist
follicle) causes vibration – this vibration results in friction, thus producing
At the beginning of the treatment the needle itself is not hot, however
this can heat up due to the friction it has stimulated in adjacent water
Heat is of greater intensity in moist areas.
More heat is produced in the lower section of the follicle.
Types of Destruction
Heat destroys tissue either by cauterisation or by coagulation.
Cauterisation occurs when a high intensity of high frequency is passed into
the tissue. The moisture evaporates and the tissues become dry.
Coagulation occurs when a lower intensity of high frequency is used. The
cellular structure in the tissue breaks down and protein is congealed.
Electrical epilation should aim at coagulation of the lower hair
follicle, to bring about destruction without damaging the
surrounding tissue.
Heat Pattern of High Frequency
What does heat pattern mean?
The term heat pattern describes the shape and size of heat that forms around
the tip of the needle when the current passes through.
The Point Effect
This term is used to describe the greatest concentration of high frequency
current which is at the tip of the needle where the high frequency is most
intense ( where the needle offers least resistance to the current), gradually
building up the needle. The term ‘high frequency field’ is used to describe the
heating pattern radiating from an epilation needle.
The heat pattern will only develop where moisture is present.
The heat shows itself as a pear or tear-drop shape gradually building
up towards the skins surface
Heat begins at the needle tip – therefore the deeper follicle receives
more intense heat and also over a longer period.
Factors that Affect the Heating Pattern
of time
the current
and angle
of insertion
Present in
Factors affecting the heat pattern.
Current intensity
This is the amount of current used.
Exact amounts of current depends upon frequency, moisture and duration.
Length of time current is released
The effect of time on the heating pattern should be considered. The heating
pattern starts at the tip of the needle, progresses up the shaft and at the same
time expands in width around the tip where the concentration of high
frequency will be the highest. If the high frequency is applied for too short a
time, a sufficient heat will be generated. Should application be too long the
heating pattern will eventually reach the skin’s surface resulting in scars.
1) When using low intensity over a longer period (1-3 seconds) the
current spreads up and out from the needle point.
2) When using high intensity over a shorter period – the heat pattern is
intensified at the needle point thus not spreading up the needle.
Needle sizes
Needle diameter should equal the diameter of the hair to enable the tip of the
needle to encompass the base of the follicle.
If needle size is too small the intensity will be concentrated on a smaller
area making it more painful for the client and not giving sufficient HF to the
area being treated.
Needle types
Various types affect the heat pattern in different ways.
Gold – an effective conductor.
- Intensity is reduced slightly (less painful)
- Results are the same as using stainless
steel (slightly higher currents).
Insulated needles.
Moisture Present
Moisture is essential for an effective treatment (molecules vibrate – cause
friction = HEAT.
Limited moisture = limited heat.
Moisture is a good conductor of the current and is found mainly in anagen
stage hairs.
Depth and angle of insertion
Anagen hair (deeper insertion) – more moisture therefore more effective
Catogen/telogen hair (shallow insertions) – treatment will be ineffective.
Care must be taken not to damage upper follicle.
Frequency of current – higher frequencies generate quicker movements
(from positive to negative).
Higher frequency produces more HEAT
If intensity is too high – Tissues boil ( steam produced). This is indicated by
crackling sound and excess sticking of tissues to the needle.
Reduce intensity and/or duration – high intensity only used with short
durations (flash technique).
If the intensity is too low, tissue coagulation will take longer
and application time will need to be increased.
The aim is to use the highest intensity setting that the client
can comfortably tolerate, yet at the same time bring about
tissue destruction by coagulation not by cauterisation.
The Flash Technique
The flash technique operates at high intensity for short periods of time.
The ‘flash’ (automatically timed) technique uses an automatic timing device
which permits the need to emit a flash of very high intensity current for just a
fraction of a second. The purpose of this method is to dessicate the follicle so
quickly that the client’s nerves will not respond to this dessicating tissues in a
burst of intense heat too short lived to be painful.
Only used with computerised machines.
Practical Application and Techniques of Electrical Epilation
Any client who has a hair growth problem or is embarrassed by hair growth
will benefit from electrical epilation. During the consultation with a new client,
the therapist should try and discover the extent of the problem and allay any
fears the client may have about the actual treatment itself.
The points to be considered when giving electro-epilation treatment are:
Preparation of the area to be treated.
Ensure sterilisation of equipment and tweezers (autoclave) and
cleansing of area treated.
Positioning of equipment.
Make sure the client has no contra-indications.
Positioning of the client.
Operator’s posture and positioning during treatment.
Ensure needle is correct size for hair type.
Stretch adequately and firmly but with not too much force as this can
distort the angle of the follicle.
Never push the needle into the follicle, it should slide in without any
Accuracy of probing. Ensure angle of insertion is correct ( the first 1/8
inch of hair above the skins surface determines the angle of growth).
Current adjustment.
Technique – rhythm and continuity.
Never give prolonged treatment to hairs situated close together, as
tissues need space and time to heal.
Accuracy is better than speed.
Ensure the current is of suitable intensity to achieve maximum
efficiency and minimum discomfort.
Aftercare and homecare advice should always be given.
Appropriate duration between appointments relevant to client’s skin
type and strength and amount of hair growth.
Should any of the above not be carried out correctly there could be adverse
reaction on other areas, which in turn could have a detrimental effect on
Overall technique is very important if treatment is to be effective. The stretch
of the skin and handling of the needle holder, needle and tweezers during
insertion and removal – all add up to the therapist’s skill.
1. The skin should be held firmly but lightly.
2. The stretch should open the follicle orifice to allow easy insertion of the
needle without distorting the follicle.
3. The needle should enter the follicle easily, following the direction of the
hair growth.
4. The needle should not be rotated in the follicle (increases risk of
piercing follicle wall).
5. The angle of insertion should follow the direction of hair growth with the
needle raised slightly from the skin’s surface (first1/8inch from pore).
There should be no loss of colour or depression on the skin.
6. The needle holder should be held very lightly and without tension.
7. The needle should slide easily into the follicle, followed by application
of current, withdrawal of needle and removal of hair.
The Epilation Needle
The first single-use disposable needle was introduced to the industry
in 1980. Several manufacturers now produce high quality needles in
different styles and sizes to suit different hair and skin types. Needle
packs are sterilised by Gamma radiation and have a guaranteed
shelf life of five years. Some packs contain indicators that turn red
once the sterilisation process is complete.
The table below provides details on the different sorts of needles
available and the clients for whom they are suitable.
Needle design/
Stainless steel
Gold plated
One-piece needle
Suitable for:
● all skin types
Suitable for:
● sensitive skins
● clients with a low
pain threshold
● pigmented skins
● diabetics
Suitable for:
● sensitive skins
● clients who sweat
(because they
are nervous)
● clients with a low
pain threshold
● diabetics
Two-piece (Ferrie)
3, 4, 5, 6
Available in short
and regular lengths
Suitable for:
● all skin types
● curly hair
Suitable for:
● sensitive skins
● clients with a low
pain threshold
● pigmented skins
● curly hair
● diabetics
Suitable for:
● sensitive skins
● clients who sweat
(because they
are nervous)
● clients with a low
pain threshold
● diabetics
Suitable for use
● Alternating
● Blend
● Alternating
● Blend
● Alternating
current only
Sterex is the most well known manufacturer of epilation needles as
they developed the first sterilised needles. However there are other
needle manufacturers.
The types of needles available are: two-piece, one-piece, gold and
Needles must be of high quality and have a polished tip for perfect
insertion and comfort.
The common method of sterilisation is ‘gamma radiation’ with a 5 year
guarantee and visible date mark.
Needle types
Two-piece needles – stainless steel, gold and insulated.
Stainless steel – size 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 (10 – advanced
Gold - 2, 3, 4, 5.
Insulated – 2, 3, 4, 5
One-piece needles – 2, 3, 4, 5
The choice of needle depends on the diameter of the hair:
• The finer the hair, the smaller the needle - 002
• The thicker the hair, the larger the needle – 006
Correct needle size choice is essential to the effectiveness of the treatment.
Fine, fair, accelerated vellus hairs will be effectively treated using the small
.003 size needle. The problem the electrologist has here is that the small
diameter of needle concentrates the high frequency current, giving a hotter
heating pattern and a sharper sensation. The minimum amount of current
possible to effectively remove these hairs should be used, as they are
normally found on the very sensitive upper lip.
The larger .004 is used for most ‘average’ hairs, i.e. terminal hairs that are not
excessively strong or deep. The .004 fits these follicles well, giving a wider
heating pattern and because they concentrate the current less they are more
comfortable and allow the electrologist to increase the current level to
effectively treat these stronger hairs.
The .005 is normally used on coarse 2/3 body hairs such as bikini lines. The
wider diameter allows a wider heating pattern while a less dense
concentration of current keeps the higher intensity needed in the lower 2/3 of
the follicle and the sensation felt by the client is kept to a minimum.
Remember: if you choose a needle smaller than the diameter of the hair,
greater discomfort is felt.
Reason – the same current is released from a smaller area therefore –
concentration of current released.
Why is the correct diameter of the needle so important?
To ensure the correct amount heat/chemical released for effective
Prevent skin damage by skin rising to the surface.
Needle too large – Skin damage and over-treatment.
Needle too small – needle movement.
Small needle – smaller surface area = causes more client discomfort.
Two-piece needles are available in 2 shaft lengths:
Short - .48cms.
Regular - .68cms
Choice of needle length will depend on the individual client.
One and two-piece needles – The main differences
Two-piece – flexible and strong. Allows the therapist to
feel the resistance during insertion.
One-piece – more rigid, also used for advanced techniques.
Manufacturer’s instructions must always be followed.
Gold needles
Smooth insertion – gold is a smooth metal - less discomfort, less
Excellent conductor of electricity – reduced current, more comfortable
treatment, less erythema.
Ideal for clients allergic to metals/sensitive skin.
Gold is hypoallergenic.
Insulated Needles
The needles are coated in medical-grade insulation.
Ideal for sensitive skins and suitable for the flash
Why an insulated needle?
Smooth insertion.
Only the tip is exposed – prevents the heat rising to the surface and
the current is concentrated to the root.
Recommend for diathermy only – lye can distort insulated material if
blend/galvanic current is used.
All needles must be disposed of into a sharpes
box which is collected by specific people
working for county councils and are incinerated.
Needle Stick Injury
If a needle stick injury occurs it is essential to follow these steps:
1. Apply pressure at the site of the injury to encourage bleeding.
2. Rinse in warm water and wash with antibacterial soap.
3. Apply a sterile dressing.
4. If the treatment is to continue – use new gloves and change needle.
5. Blood waste must be deposited in a yellow clinical waste bag.
6. Injuries must be recorded in the accident book.
7. Therapist can wish to seek GP advice.
Angle of Insertion
The first 1/8” of hair above the skins surface determines the angle of growth.
It is this angle of growth that determines the angle of insertion.
Hairs can grow out of the follicle at many different angles.
It is essential that the needle is inserted correctly to avoid scarring and
achieve a successful result.
Can you think of incorrect insertion angles?
Too deep
Too shallow
Wrong angle
Probing vertically parallel
Probing Too Deep
Probing Too Shallow
Probing The Wrong Angle
Correct Insertion
Distorted Follicles
There are many reasons why follicles are distorted:
Naturally – curly hair.
Mechanical interference – tweezing, prolonged friction (legs rubbing
when crossed).
Distorted Follicles
When inserting into a distorted follicle it is essential to be aware that
the insertion depth is restricted by the bend in the follicle.
The current is not discharged to the target area and the use of the
galvanic or blend methods are the only currents that can be used.
Normal Follicle Lengths
Insertions of Distorted Follicles
An important point to remember –
Inserting into a distorted follicle - the insertion is always restricted by the bend
in the follicle.
Current will not be discharged to the follicle base – Galvanic and Blend
methods are more appropriate methods of treatment.
Insertions to Correct Depth
All follicles vary in depth from area to area.
Hair colour can give some indication of the follicle depth (only true on
virgin hair – hair not treated by any method). Examples – a client with
dark hair has shades from black to brown, the darker hairs will have
deeper follicles. This also applies to shades of blonde.
Grey hair however has deeper follicles.
Target Area
The target area (is in the dermal layer) and follicle depth are not visible to the
naked eye and therefore the term we use is ‘we are working blind’. It is
essential that the electrologist looks for other indicates that ensure correct
Depth indicators are referred to as ‘follicle feedback’.
Incorrectly inserted needle – indicators are shown on the
surface of the skin.
What are the signs to look for?
Dimpling or puckering around the skin.
The needle bends – this shows that it has met its resistance
(insertion is too long or at the wrong angle).
Remember to ‘feel’ your way into the follicle and never rush.
Observe client reaction – if a client flinches whilst you are
probing, you must have pierced the follicle at some point. Reevaluate your probing technique.
Probing the hair follicle
This process involves slipping a fine probe into the space between the
hair follicle and the hair. This skill will take time and patience to
Probing tips
Stretch the skin in the direction of the hair growth as this opens
the follicle allowing smoother insertion.
The probe should be inserted in the direction parallel to the hair as
it leaves the skin.
If the skin dimples, the probe is in the wrong place.
Once the angle has been established, insert the probe as close to
the hair as possible and slide it slowly and positively into the
If the insertion is correct, the client will experience no discomfort.
Use the lowest possible current for the shortest time to
successfully remove the hairs.
Visual Inspection of Hairs on Removal
At initial treatments it is essential to observe each hair on removal to assess
and determine the stage of growth at which each hair is in.
Anagen – hairs appear glossy, healthy and have a pointed tip. There is
a visible black bulb and inner root sheath.
Catagen – hairs have a duller appearance, tend to be longer and begin
to take on a dry appearance. There is a visible small black bulb.
Telogen – hairs are very dehydrated, lack lustre and are sometimes
crinkled. There is no bulb, and sometimes a fluffy inner root sheath or a
blunt hair.
The Galvanic Method (Electrolysis)
What is galvanic electrolysis ?
 This is one of the oldest methods of permanent hair removal.
 The needle acts as the NEGATIVE electrode (cathode)
conducting the direct electrical current (flow of electrons) into the hair
The Galvanic Current
 The galvanic current flows evenly from all parts of the needle.
 The hair follicle contains conductive salt and water tissue fluid.
 When the direct current passes through a conducting needle
‘electrolysis takes place – this causes the water and salt to break up
into its component parts to form ions (charged particles).
 The free ions recombine at the needle (cathode – negative electrode)
which quickly arrange themselves to form new substances.
 The new substance formed are LYE (hydrogen gas, chlorine gas and
sodium hydroxide).
 LYE is a strong caustic alkali (provides the destructive force in
galvanic electrolysis) and this briefly remains in the hair follicle where it
destroys the cells in the bottom regions of the hair.
 The gases produced will often be seen as froth of lymphatic fluid and
the gases escaping from the follicle.
 To produce this chemical effect there must be a complete circuit.
 To complete this circuit, the client holds the indifferent electrode –
connected to the positive polarity.
 The negative pole produces an alkali – sodium hydroxide whilst the
positive pole produces an acid – hydrochloric acid.
 Both negative and positive poles can destroy tissues: negative by
alkali, positive by acid. The acid produced by the positive pole does,
however cause certain metals such as steel to disintegrate and serious
skin damage and scarring can occur.
 The action of the positive polarity in the human follicle is something that
the student should not try. It is known that two adverse reactions can
occur as the result of the positive pole being the active one.
A) Produces a tattoo like spot of black oxide where the needle has
disintegrated in the follicle.
B) Hydrochloric acid tends to dry out and harden tissue, making it
difficult to epilate the hair, even when applying the current.
Severe scarring can occur.
 Therefore the negative pole is the only pole to use in hair removal by
 Galvanic electrolysis is useful for curved and distorted follicles.
 A minimum of 10 seconds for each hair makes this treatment slow but
Benefits of Galvanic
Less discomfort than other methods.
Chemical reaction – wider field of destruction.
Effective, yet slower method.
Suitable for curved/distorted follicles.
Units of Lye and Recommended Settings
The amount of lye required to destroy a hair varies due to:
The type of hair – vellus/terminal.
Depth of follicle – shallow/deep.
Stage of hair growth – anagen, catagen, telogen.
Area treated – upper lip/chin.
Stronger, darker hairs require more
lye than shallow vellus hairs.
Sodium hydroxide (lye) is produced in the follicle by direct current. The lye
helps to chemically decompose the follicle.
A unit of lye is a tiny quantity of lye solution made in the follicle.
The formula for assessing how much lye is made:
1/10th milliamp x 1 second = 1 unit of lye
The amount of lye produced is the current intensity x length of
time. The greater the current intensity more lye will be produced.
The longer the time and the greater the current intensity more lye
will be produced.
5/10th m.amp x 3 sec = 15 units of lye
9/10th m.amp x 5 sec = 45 units of lye
Below is an indication of how much lye is needed to destroy which size
follicle. The intensity and duration for each follicle can then be calculated.
Approximate units of lye for different follicle sizes
Follicle size/treatment area
Units of lye
Shallow insertion:
Vellus hairs on upper lip, eyebrow, face, arms.
Medium insertions:
Side of face (cheeks), chin, eyebrows, arms,
stomach, medium leg hair.
Deep insertion:
Chin, back, legs, thigh, underarm, bikini.
Very deep insertion:
Man’s beard, back, shoulders, thighs.
The Blend Method
The blend method was developed in the late 1930’s by an American
electrolygist Henri St Pierre and his friend Arthur Hinkel, an engineer.
The blend method was developed to address the slowness of the galvanic
current and the ineffective results on distorted follicles of the thermolysis
The technology has been updated for today’s use but the concept is the
Blend Method or Dual action.
Uses the simultaneous use of the Galvanic and Diathermic currents.
These combined qualities are effective for treating deep terminal hairs:
A. Thoroughness of galvanic current.
B. Swiftness of High Frequency – diathermy.
How the Blend Works
Both currents are present in the needle – each one retains it own
characteristics and identity.
Galvanism – tissue destruction by chemical action.
Diathermy – produces heat to speed up the chemical action of the
galvanic current.
A successful treatment relies upon a correct balance between the TWO
Both currents are available at the needle either separately or together.
Blend uses primarily a galvanic current with a small amount of
diathermy current.
The function of short wave diathermy is to produce heat to speed up
the chemical reaction of the galvanic current.
Chemical + Heat = chemical effect more rapid
The warmth heats the LYE as it is produced by the galvanic current
making a more effective destruction method.
The aim of the blend is to achieve complete destruction of the lower
follicle including the dermal papilla in the shortest possible time.
Care must be taken to avoid using the diathermy current at too high a
setting, which would be to the detriment of the blend technique.
Benefits of the Blend
Treatment can be adapted to each client based on their pain threshold
and length of treatment time.
Treatment time is shorter than pure galvanic.
Re-growth is less than with diathermy.
Fewer treatments are required.
Galvanic (chemical) when mixed with heat (diathermy) provides
effective destruction.
Less discomfort than diathermy.
Effective on curved/distorted follicles.
Skin with red or non-pigmented hair tends to sensitive and the blend
method can minimise skin reaction.
Current is attracted to more moisture found in the dermal papilla, which
can reduce the risk of surface damage, as the skin’s moisture gradient
ensures the action is kept below the skin’s surface.
The warmth caused by diathermy causes the tissues around the
dermal papilla to become more porous allowing the lye to diffuse into
them allowing for a more thorough treatment.
Lye remains in the follicle for a short time after it is released.
Research indicates that the wide field of effectiveness destroys any hair
germ cells which can develop later.
Blend Techniques
Treatment Technique 1
‘Higher for Shorter’
This is the main technique and is used first, but if the client feels
uncomfortable, one of the other 3 techniques can be used. Ask the client after
each increase if he/she is happy with the sensation, but do not inform the
client that you have just increased the current: rather you are adjusting the
current. Discuss the sensations felt, as there are other techniques you can
1. Prepare client.
2. Give client the indifferent electrode to hold – remove client’s jewellery.
3. Ensure you are comfortable and you have easy access to the
4. Use appropriate needles.
5. Attach all accessories.
6. Switch on the SX-B at the back of the epilator ensuring there is nothing
blocking the fan underneath.
7. Switch on the diathermy, galvanic and timer sections – digital readouts
will register 01 or 00.
8. Using the slow up button, increase the timer to 5.0 seconds.
9. To alter the diathermy intensity, depress the foot pedal and using the
slow up button, increase to 04. Do not be concerned if the numbers
fluctuate up or down a number as this is normal with digital readouts
and does not mean the current is fluctuating.
10. To alter the galvanic intensity, depress the foot pedal and increase to
11. When you remove your foot from the foot pedal, the digital readouts on
the current will go back to 00 or 01.
12. Insert the needle into the hair follicle you wish to treat and depress the
foot pedal. When you hear the ‘beep’ after 5 seconds, remove your foot
from the pedal.
13. Test the hair to see if it will remove. If not, check the client’s level of
sensation and increase the galvanic current. If the client feels nothing,
increase by 10 digits; if the client can feel something, increase by 5
digits only.
14. Increase the galvanic in this way, one digit at a time, until you have
reached the working point, then record these data on the client’s record
15. The level of galvanic current will vary on every client. Check to ensure
the client is comfortable and no adverse skin reaction is seen.
16. The level of galvanic may vary dramatically between clients, whereas
the level of diathermy will vary less. (It may be necessary to increase
the diathermy a little but remember the diathermy is there not to epilate
with but as a catalyst to increase the action of the more effective
17. You may notice more erythema and even oedema than with diathermy
– this is normal galvanic reaction and should calm down quickly.
Treatment Technique 2
‘Lower for Longer’
Galvanic intensity is lowered but the time is increased. This technique is used
if the client feels uncomfortable with the higher current and shorter time of
technique 1.
If the client states that technique 1 is uncomfortable, then reduce the galvanic
current by 5 digits and increase the time by 1 second, or reduce by 10 digits
and increase the time by 2 seconds.
Technique 2 will not treat as many hairs in the treatment time, as you will be
in the follicle longer. But sensitive clients will prefer it. Although if the
treatment area is the face she may prefer technique 1 as the results will be
better, even though she may prefer the sensation of technique 2.
1. Turn the galvanic intensity down 5 digits.
2. Increase the time by 1 second (up to 6 seconds).
Treatment Technique 3
‘Treat and Leave’
Treat a group of hairs in the same proximity, but do not try and remove
immediately. If the client is sensitive but anxious to have as many hairs
removed as possible, this technique is useful.
If the client finds technique 2 uncomfortable, then reduce the time back to 5
seconds. Treat a group of 10 hairs, then treat a further group of 10 hairs, go
back to the first group and try and remove, then go to the second group and
try and remove.
This technique is effective as the lye continues for a brief time, even though
the current is switched off and the needle withdrawn. In this technique the
therapist specifically uses the ‘carry-on-effect’ of the lye.
The benefits of this are lower levels of current, but with a quick treatment time
and the fact that many hairs are removed saves time.
Decrease the time to 5 seconds; leave the galvanic intensity alone.
Treat a group of approx 10 follicles.
Do not remove the hairs.
Treat another group of 10 hairs.
Do not remove the hairs.
Remove the hairs from the first group of follicles.
Remove hairs from the second group of follicles.
Treatment technique 4
‘Galvanic Only’
Rarely used as it takes too long. Some clients will prefer it as the sensation is
minimum, but with the treatment of each hair being so long few are happy. It
is however good for sensitive clients or those with a few hairs. If the client
finds all the blend techniques uncomfortable, turn the diathermy off and
increase the time to 10 seconds.
With this technique you can decrease the current and increase the time ‘lower
for longer’ or ‘treat and leave’.
Increase the timer to 10 seconds.
Switch off the diathermy.
Leave the galvanic intensity where it is.
Treat the follicle and remove the hair or lower the intensity and
lengthen the time, or ‘treat and leave’.
1) Higher for
2) Lower for
3) Treat and
4) Just
Turn galvanic
down 5 or 10
Leave as
Leave as
Galvanic by .5 or .10
until hair is removed
Time increase by 1 or 2
Treat 10 hairs-leavetreat 10 more hairs
Treat and remove
hair/lower intensity and
increase time/treat and
Benefits and effects of shortwave diathermy, blend
and galvanic treatments
This table compares the different electrical epilation treatments and
will help you to choose the most suitable treatment for a client.
Short wave diathermy
Uses an alternating
Uses both alternating
and direct currents
Uses a direct current
Requires 1 electrode
Requires 2 electrodes
Requires 2 electrodes
Causes a friction/heat in Causes a chemical
the tissue
change in the tissue
that is accelerated by
the short wave
Causes a chemical
change in the tissue
Application time is from
1 second
Application time is from
5 seconds
Application time is from
10 seconds
Short treatment time
Longer treatment time
than short wave
diathermy but shorter
than galvanic
Long treatment time
Small field of
Wide and deep field of
Wide field of destruction
Often not tolerated by
sensitive skins
Tolerated by sensitive
Tolerated by sensitive
Poor effect on distorted
Very effective on
distorted follicles
Effective on distorted
High re-growth of hair
Low re-growth of hair
Low re-growth of hair
When devising a treatment plan with a client, you may decide to use
one or more of the methods over the treatment period.
For example:
dense hair growth (lots of hair together) is effectively removed by
using the quick alternating/shortwave diathermy method; the regrowth can then be treated using blend
sparse hair growth (occasional hairs) can be removed using the
blend method.
In-growing and Unusual Hair Growth
In-growing Hairs
An in-growing hair occurs when it cannot emerge for the follicle and grows
along under the surface of the skin.
A dark, straight hair will show as a fine thread.
In-growing hair can also turn back on themselves into the follicle (especially
curly hairs). Infection with boil-like eruptions often occur. When removed the
hair is usually tightly coiled.
In-growing Hair
Treatment of in-growing hairs.
 In-growing hairs can only be treated when the hair is released from the
follicle and the surrounding skin has healed.
 A microlance can be used to pierce the skin, remove pus, place a
needle (size 6 or above) under the hair and hook it out.
 It is essential that in-growing hairs are not removed from the follicle,
otherwise the skin will grow over the follicle and the process will be
 Allow the skin to heal for at least a week prior to next treatment.
Tombstone Hair
Tombstone Hairs.
 During treatment of a hair in anagen or telogen, an early anagen hair
(vulnerable stage) was exposed to the current. Their appearance is
disfigured and rumpled.
They are thick, dull, dark and disfigured in appearance.
They are very brittle and easily break off.
They slowly work their way to the surface.
Tombstone hairs can be just lifted out and no treatment is necessary.
Unshed Telogen Hair
 A telogen hair that has failed to shed and a telogen stage appears like
a shaved or clipped stump that can become infected.
 It is generally colourless and occurs when a telogen hair which is quite
wide reaches the skins surface.
 Its lack of pigmentation is due to the hair loosing contact with thw
pigmentation source after separating from the dermal papilla.
 Hairs should be treated as if in normal telogen stage.
Compound or Pili Multigemini Hair
 This is where two or more hairs grow out of a single follicle.
 Each hair has its own papilla and its own inner and outer root sheath.
 Treat the larger hair with the current (this may affect both hairs). Hairs
will release easily if correctly treated. If the larger hair only is removed,
treat again to remove the smaller hair.
 When using blend – wait to see if the hair releases after a little time has
passed. If not , treat the hair as a single hair as a single hair when the
time is appropriate and not over treated. If both hairs are ‘blasted’
separately, too much current is used causing skin damage.
Corkscrew Hairs
 The hair is curved due to the distorted shape of the follicle.
 Over treatment of temporary methods of hair removal can cause this to
Lanugo Comedones
 Tiny bundles of lanugo hairs appearing from follicle/follicles.
 Appear like thick, short brown hair (looks like a comedone).
 Close examination – they are a number of fine lanugo hairs held
together by sebum (as they can arise from a sebaceous gland).
 Usually found on oily, seborrhoeic skin.
 Treatment – tweeze out without traction.
How to prevent an in-growing hair
In order to prevent in-growing hairs it is essential that the therapist gives the
correct advice and improves general skin care:
Exfoliate regularly (prevents over keratinisation of the skin).
Improve moisture and re-hydration.
Follow salon aftercare advice.
If not infected – release the hair using a microlance. Allow skin to heal
before treating with epilation.
 Seek GP advice if infection occurs after releasing the hair.
The initial consultation is a very important part of the client handling
procedure, not only in providing the necessary information to plan and carry
out the treatment programme, but also quite important in establishing a good
relationship between electrologist and client.
When a client comes in for a consultation regarding the possibility of
undergoing epilation treatment, they may be very apprehensive and will need
to be put at ease.
Personal appearance is the most immediate factor in determining the
successful outcome of this initial consultation.
It must inspire confidence.
The points to be covered in the consultation are:
1. Build a rapport between client and therapist.
2. Establish client expectations and advise the client on achievable
3. Inspection of the face or treatment area (skin and hair) and discussion
of hair growth and probable causes of the hair growth.
4. Discussion of temporary methods of hair removal previously used and
give an explanation of why they should not be used.
5. Emphasis on the performance of epilation and decide which treatment
method would be more suitable.
6. Description of the hair and follicle, the hair growth cycle, the destruction
process and discussion on the relationship of re-growth hair.
7. Explanations and treatment procedures, length of appointments and
the time between treatments.
8. Discuss cost of treatments.
9. Explain the possible reactions to the treatment.
10. Confirmation that the treatment is carried out with a skilled qualified
11. Allow the client to ask any questions and give honest answers.
12. Allow the client to try the treatment – this will ease any fears of a
treatment with needles.
13. Record all information the client has given.
14. Both therapist and client to sign written consent prior to any treatment.
15. Check for contra-indications.
16. Discuss and agree a treatment plan.
Adopt a polite and reassuring manner as this will put the client at ease with
an issue they can feel embarrassed with.
All clients are different, even if they have the same underlying problem. Each
treatment and course is tailored to client’s individual needs. Accurate record
keeping is essential to record reactions to treatment, client concerns,
progress and alter the treatment plan if needed.
It should be explained that the way in which hairs have previously been
removed, whether by tweezing, waxing, cutting, shaving or using depilatory
creams, have a direct bearing on the progress that can be expected and the
fact that all these methods are temporary. The client should be informed that
previous waxing and tweezing of the hairs may have caused distortion of the
follicle, thus making probing difficult and re-growth more persistent.
The eventual permanence of epilation should be stressed, although it
appears long and tedious. It should be explained that each hair has to be
treated individually, which makes treatment lengthy.
Demonstrating progress by using photographic evidence is encouraging for
the client. Client permission for this is essential. Photographs of the area
must be taken prior to any treatment and periodically throughout the course,
photographs taken to show the client the progress that has been made. This
will boost confidence in the treatment by visually seeing positive results.
Photographs must be of specific areas and full head shots.
The electrologist should feel that at the end of the consultation the client
understands how the epilation treatment works and that each treatment is
tailored to suit them. Initial consultations are usually 30 minutes and if GP
approval is not required, the last 10 minutes are allocated for the client to
‘patch test’ the treatment. Consultations are normally free or charged as a
‘short duration appointment’ if the practical treatment is combined with the
Why Patch Test?
A patch test on the treatment area will give the therapist valuable feedback.
To include:
The degree of skin reaction.
Allergies to needles or products.
Any pigmentation issues.
Clients pain threshold on areas.
The most suitable method of treatment.
Healing response.
Skin type, skin characteristics and ethnic group.
The method by which epilation destroys the hair can be best described to
the client as electrical heat which coagulates the hair root by using a specific
current. Explain how the needle is inserted painlessly down the follicle and
how the electrical current flows through to the tip of the needle to produce
coagulation in the active area of the follicle. Thus coagulation of the tissues
occurs, freeing the hair and reducing or stopping the follicles capacity to
grow a new hair.
The client will want to know how severe a problem she/he has in terms of the
treatment needed and how quickly it can be resolved, it should be explained
that it is difficult to assess accurately how long the treatment will last for
several reasons:
1. The strength and stubbornness of the growth.
2. The sensitivity of the skin – severe reaction acting as a limitation.
3. The ability of the client and her skin to withstand high current intensity.
4. The response to treatment, which is more rapid in some cases than
5. The need for a conscientious approach to treatment by the client –
regular appointments, correct homecare and a sound understanding
of the treatment and the hair growth cycle.
‘Vocal Anaesthesia’
A client can be helped to relax by what we call ‘vocal anaesthesia’. It
consists of talking to the client in a manner that suggests pleasant and more
comfortable thoughts about the work being performed.
All words such as pain, sharp, electricity, burning, piercing, sticking,
scarring should not be used. Instead use words such as discomfort, heat
and insertion.
A client will not relax if a therapist speaks in this manner:
‘Now all I’m going to do is stick a needle alongside this
hair and turn on the electricity and burn out the root and
Did that hurt too much?
I’ll turn down the electricity’.
The client would
probably relax
more if they were told:
‘Each hair grows out of a little opening called a follicle. I’ll
gently slide the tiny needle alongside the hair you will not
feel a thing. Now the action of the machine will make it
feel warm. This heat then releases the hair from the
Consultation techniques used are:
Confidence in subject knowledge
Treatment Planning
Treatment planning must include:
Area treated.
Length of treatment.
Frequency of treatment.
Current used and current intensity.
Needle type and size.
Hair removed. Clients must be told and shown the hairs removed and
what growth stage they are in.
Cost-effective Working Methods
All treatments must be completed within a specific time, ensuring that you
work cost effectively. Do not over treat, do not go over time and ensure the
client only pays for the treatment they have had and is not over charged.
Treatment prices vary from various locations and treatment costs are based
from 5 minutes to 2 hours. Cost is less with lengthy sessions.
Regularity of Treatments
It is essential for clients to maintain regular appointments. The following points
affect the regularity of treatment and the rate at which results are seen:
The scale of the problem addressed.
Financial costs are achievable/met.
Area treated appropriately.
Size of treatment area meets the amount of sessions required
Re-growth time.
Hair strength and type.
Skin type.
Clients healing rate.
Any medical problems.
Client’s pain threshold.
Effects of Epilation on Different Skin Types
Dry/Dehydrated Skin
Lack of sebum and moisture causes the upper layers of the epidermis
to become dry/dehydrated and can take longer to heal.
Needle insertions can become difficult when dead skin cells build up
around the follicle opening.
Problems can arise as alternating and direct currents need moisture to
be effective.
There is an increased possibility of sensitivity to the treatment along
with increased erythema which tends to last longer on dry skins.
Ensure enough space between probing and treatments to allow for
erythema and correct healing.
Oily/Combination Skin
Excess sebum is present.
Sebum acts as an insulator which is of benefit during diathermy.
Correct probing and current intensity during treatment –sebum will
protect the epidermis from the current.
Surface oil must be removed prior to treatment.
Moisture present is usually good therefore current is conducted to base
of follicle.
Dilated pores are common, therefore insertions are easier.
When working near papules or pustules – due to change in skin’s pH,
infection can occur.
Thicker skin texture.
Moist Skin
High moisture content in epidermis and dermis.
Surface burning can occur as the current can shoot back up the follicle
to the skin’s surface.
Current and duration needs to be accurately applied as the moisture
differs on all areas of the body.
The blend method is preferred due to the lower diathermy intensity.
Avoid pure diathermy method.
Change needle type.
Mature Skin Type
Skin types react far quicker – increased erythema.
Lower pain threshold.
Reduced mitotic activity means less desqumation and skin can become
dry and thicker.
Insertion depth is shallower due to a reduction of collagen in the dermis
and overall reduction in depth of dermal layer.
The epidermis thickens, the dermis reduces and overall insertions are
Skin tone is reduced and sufficient stretching of the skin is needed.
Sensitive Skin
Sensitivity can be present on all skin types or categorised on its own.
Skin is easily stimulated, erythema is quick to how and feels warm due
to increased blood flow.
The current needs to be effective and adopt a method of ‘lower for
longer’, especially with the blend method as erythema can be reduced.
Global Origins
Client’s ethnic origin directly affects the chosen treatment. Follicle depth and
shape affects all aspects of the treatment.
Black Skin
Main characteristics
 Stratum corneum is thicker and desqumates easily.
 Skin is strong due to more collagen fibres.
 Elasticity lasts longer therefore the ageing process is slower.
 There are larger and more sebaceous glands present.
 More sebaceous glands open onto the skins surface than via a hair
 There are larger and more sudoriferous glands.
 Sudoriferous glands opening onto the skins surface are longer and
more obvious.
Epilation advice
Consider curly and distorted follicles.
Tends to hyperpigmentate quicker – even though it can rectify itself.
On a previously treated hair the re-growth occurs from a straight
follicle. Treat as for a white skin.
Difficult to see erythema –beware of over treating.
Skin is very sensitive to heat , therefore prone to heat retention and
Prone to keloid scarring.
Patch test to record healing rate.
Blend method is preferred due to lye being ideal for curved follicles and
use a gold needle.
If using diathermy – use an insulated needle to reduce surface
Ensure correct size needle used.
Treat 1 in 5 hairs to avoid over heating.
Follow strict aftercare and use a compress with witch hazel or aloe
Ensure strict homecare is followed and allow skin to heal prior to repeat
Asian/Mediterranean/Latino Skin
Main Characteristics
Texture is finer than black skin.
Colour varies from light to dark brown.
Hair growth – fine, dense, dark. With coarse hair among fine ones.
Fine hairs – follicles are small, straight and superficial.
Coarse (terminal) hairs – follicles are straight and deep.
Skin is sensitive and increased pigmentation.
Pigmentation is not always visible immediately – but can take months
to fade.
Mediterranean/Latino – olive skin colour, moist and oily (good
elasticity), allows for easy insertion.
Epilation Advice
Recommend blend with a gold needle to reduce reactions.
If using diathermy, ensure low current and insulated needle.
Space out probing and treatments to avoid over-heating and ensuring
sufficient healing time.
Oriental Skin
Main characteristics
Prone to sensitivity, pigmentation, discolouration and pit marks when
over-exposed to heat.
Epilation Advice
Follow as for Asian skin.
Pores tend to be tight and small – use a 2 or 3 size needle.
The skin and electrical epilation treatment
It is important to encourage the client to follow a good skincare routine
as a hydrated skin responds successfully to an epilation treatment.
Hydrated skin (moisture content)
Water is an excellent conductor of electricity. Moisture levels begin to
increase through the lower cells of the epidermis down to the
hydrated area of the deep dermis and dermal papilla.
As the current is available the full length of the probe, this gradient of
moisture helps to limit the action of the current in the upper layers of
the skin, and concentrate its action in and around the dermal papilla
where it is required.
Skin that is hydrated responds positively to an epilation treatment,
helping the alternating current to coagulate and the direct current to
form lye.
The moisture gradient
Causes of dehydrated skin
Poor skincare
Lifestyle, e.g. effects of smoking, drinking alcohol, caffeinated
drinks and central heating
Sun damage
Natural ageing
Sebum insulation
The upper third of the follicle is coated in sebum from the point where
the sebaceous gland opens into the follicle, up to the surface of the
Sebum is an excellent insulator. It therefore protects the skin’s
surface from the action of the current. It also helps to concentrate the
current where it is required.
An oily skin responds well to treatment as it is more hydrated and
protected with a sebum coating.
Sebum insulation
Treatment Sensation
The sensations that client’s experience will vary from area to area and from
client to client. Each individual also has a different pain threshold.
Most client tend to describe electrolysis/epilation as a warm, burning or
stinging, uncomfortable sensation – very rarely painful.
Factors that increase discomfort
 Clients not motivated
 Young clients not motivated
 Mature skin - sensitive
 Sensitive area – upper lip
 Treatment too long
 Treatments too close together
 Current too high for a long
 Incorrect insertions
 Bent needles
 Faulty/old equipment
 Incorrect current adjustment
 Needle too small
 Skin inflamed – over working an
 Client changes – menstruation,
tired, headache, nervous
 High current needed for some
 Dry, sensitive skin
Factors that improve discomfort
 Clients that are motivated
 Atmosphere –
 Minimum use of current for
effective removal
 With blend – vary intensity,
duration and technique
 Pain relief (clients personal option
prior to treatment)
 Begin on less sensitive areas first
to acclimatise client.
 Concentrated treatment– not
jumping to other areas
 Numb and cool area with ice
 Correct aftercare products to
reduce erythema and oedema
 Professional and confident
manner from therapist
 Ensure effective and efficient
 Improving kills with further
 Distract client with finger pressure
 Distract client with music.
 Use modality to suit client
 Plan treatment to avoid increased
sensitivity e.g. menstruation.
Methodical Working Practices
The technique used will depend on information obtained during client
consultation – hair growth, client needs, area of growth, client tolerance and
skin tolerance.
Pausing or stopping between each insertion wastes time. Ensure that
positioning of therapist and client is correct. Always look for the next hair to
insert and build up a rhythmic and methodical procedure.
Cataphoresis is used after epilation (blend and galvanic) treatment to:
 Reduce inflammation/swellings.
 Reduce erythema.
 Tighten pores.
 Has a germicidal effect.
To apply cataphoresis;
 Use positively charged rollers over the area.
 The roller used is the positive electrode (anode) –this has a balancing
effect due to the positive electrode producing a mild acid reaction on
the skin – which neutralises the alkaline effect produced during
Balances skins pH
Neutralises lye
Skin appears calm and
Treatment time lengthens
Equipment cost
The Use of Collagen
Using pure collagen as an aftercare procedure has many benefits:
 Soothes the skin.
 Reduces erythema.
 Provides intensive hydration by replacing moisture lost via an osmotic
action (swells cells with moisture).
 Collagen is available in sheets or liquid form.
Hair Management Technique
The temporary methods used by the client to remove their hair will have a
large part to play in the epilation treatment selected for use.
It is also essential to provide and explain the management of hair growth in
between salon treatments. This is vital as temporary methods of hair removal
will interfere with the epilation treatment. It is advisable to explain that cutting
is the only method used in between treatments as this does not damage the
Rate of Hair Growth
The life cycle of a hairs vary. The following table gives indications on the regrowth times:
Hair Type
Terminal - upper lip
Vellus hair - upper lip
Terminal - chin
Vellus hair – chin
8 – 9 weeks
4 – 6 weeks
6 – 7 weeks
5 – 6 weeks
5 – 6 weeks
5 – 6 weeks
7 – 8 weeks
5 – 6 weeks
7 – 8 weeks
6 – 7 weeks
8 – 9 weeks
6 – 8 weeks
It is essential to remember that hairs grow quicker in treated areas than in
areas of untreated follicles.
New hairs only grow if the follicle becomes active. There are approximately 5
– 10 thousand hairs per square inch (does depend on area of the body).