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If You're Feeling Plucky, Try Electrolysis

June 15, 1995

H\o7 air turns up in the funniest places. Just ask the woman or man who looks in the mirror and groans, "Hey, how did that get there?"

Meta J. Van Gent hears it all the time--she's a registered electrologist who spends her day removing hair from faces and bodies, at about $1 a minute. She says everyone is different; you just never know who's going to be sensitive and in which areas. Some of her clients react to her needle as if it's a little tickle; others jump.

"It's a very personal experience," says Van Gent, whose office is in Newport Beach. She recommends that, before starting treatments, a client meet with the electrologist and make sure that he or she is registered with the state and that the office is clean.

This is another in a series of first-person columns that allow people in the fashion industry to talk about their encounters.

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Every electrologist in California needs to be registered. They need to have had a certain amount of instruction at an accredited school and have taken the state board exam; then they're a board certified electrologist.

I have clients who are professionals, mothers, all types. Lately I've been getting men who want the hair on their back removed. It can take over a year to remove all of their hair if they have a lot.

Some men also have one brow on their face that they want me to clean up so there is a space between the brows. Men may also have hair that grows on their cheeks close to their eyes, and it's hard to shave this sensitive area. They may also have ingrown hair in the folds of their necks that they want removed.

Women want hair removed on their face and bikini line.

Everyone has different hair cycles for different parts of their body or face, so there is no typical growth rate for hair.

The treatments are spread out, so you don't have to come in every week. But it varies: A woman with coarse hair on her face may have to come in twice a week, while someone else with fine hair may come in every three weeks.

Sometimes I offer the first 15 minutes free so people can find out if electrolysis is right for them. Some people just can't handle it because they are very sensitive. I can use EMLA, which is a prescription that goes on the skin and numbs it, but it's not 100%.

I use dry-heat sterilization for the tweezers, even though they don't even touch the face. And I use disposal probes because it makes the client feel better. But there is no blood involved in the treatments. Even though I go into the skin, there is no blood.

Every hair is treated separately. You remove one hair at a time. A very fine needle goes into the follicle to the blood supply. You apply a small amount of electricity that kills the hair root and then remove the hair.

To protect yourself, make sure you have a good feeling about the person performing the electrolysis. If it doesn't feel right after a few sessions, switch electrologists.

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