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Gel electrolysis is the process of removing hair by electrical stimulation of the hair root. This electrical stimulation is lethal to the root of the hair, and prevents hair from growing from that root again. It is often used as a method for the relatively painless, permanent and cost effective removal of unwanted facial or body hair. In gel electrolysis, an electrolytic gel is used to conduct a current to the hair root. Without this electrically conductive gel, much higher currents would need to be used to kill the hair root because hair, itself, is not a good electrical conductor.
Many people spend time and money in an effort to rid themselves of unwanted hair. This desire is highly culturally-dependent, as some cultures are more likely to encourage social norms that deride facial or body hair, especially on women, while other cultures don't. Even in cultures that frown on excessive body or facial hair on women, it's less common for men to be subjected to the same standard. Hair on men is often seen as a sign of virility. Regardless, some men also prefer to remove hair permanently, making gel electrolysis a gender-independent technique.
Waxing, depilatory creams, plucking hairs with tweezers or by other methods, and shaving are some methods commonly used to remove unwanted hair. Gel electrolysis is considered more effective than shaving or depilatory creams because in both instances, the hair is merely shortened to the level of the skin. The effects of this method are also more permanent than waxing or plucking, both of which remove the entire hair, even below the surface of the skin, because in waxing and plucking, the hair root is undisturbed. In gel electrolysis, the hair root is usually killed, though more than one application of electric current might be necessary before the hair root dies.
One of the disadvantages of gel electrolysis is that it is time-consuming, since each hair must be held for 30 seconds to two minutes while an electric current is applied. The fact that gel electrolysis is a permanent hair removal method can also be considered a downside, especially for people who are simply experimenting with different grooming styles. Advantages of this method include its low cost, long-term effects, and privacy, as hair removal can be done in one's own home using an electrolytic gel and a gel electrolysis machine.