Electrolysis Machines: An Overview

October 27, 2010 by Clark 

Electrolysis, as you may remember from your high school science lessons, involves the separation of chemically bonded elements by passing an electric current through them. It was discovered in 1800 by William Nicholson and Anthony Carlisle, who successfully decomposed water into its native elements of hydrogen and oxygen, and given a further boost in 1807 when Humphrey Davy used it to discover several new elements, such as potassium and calcium.

In 1875, Dr Charles Michel, an ophthalmologist from St Louis, Missouri treated a patient with an ingrown eyelash by inserting an electrode into the hair follicle, and so electrology, the science of using electrolysis machines for the removal of unwanted hair, was born. The new electrolysis machines swept America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and eventually spread to the beauty salons of Paris, leading to the usual French handwringing about how American decadence was destroying France’s oh-so-pure culture. In the 1960s and 70s, home electrolysis machines began to appear, as the invention first of transistors, then microchips, allowed the previously bulky electrolysis machines to be manufactured in more manageable sizes.

How Electrolysis Machines Work

Electrolysis machines work by the insertion of a tiny electrode into each hair follicle which kills of the hair root. There are three types of electrolysis machine: galvanic, thermolysis and blend. Galvanic electrolysis machines are named after the Italian physicist Luigi Galvani, whose investigations into the relationship between electricity and the animation of animal tissue formed the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. They work by converting the body’s own natural salts and water into sodium hydroxide, or lye. The lye damages the hair root and kills the hair.

Thermolysis is the use of a short wave radio frequency which generates heat, causing the proteins in the hair root to coagulate, killing the cells. It was developed in the 1920s and first reported by Henri Bordier in 1924 in the French medical journal Vie Medicale.

In 1948, Art Hinkel combined the galvanic and thermolytic methods of electrolysis into a third type of electrolysis machine, known as blend electrolysis. A blend electrolysis machine uses both radio waves and direct current to deliver a double whammy to the hair follicles. The best method of electrolysis to remove unwanted hair varies according to the individual’s hair and skin type. Nowadays, electrolysis is facing stiff competition from laser hair removal treatments. But the effectiveness of these treatments has yet to be fully established, while electrolysis has long history of safe, effective hair removal.

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