The History of Electrolysis
The first person to use electrolysis for hair removal was Dr. Charles E.
Michel (1833 - 1913), a St. Louis, Missouri ophthalmologist (eye doctor) who, in
1875, reported the results of his use of electrolysis in trichiasis (ingrown
eyelashes) (St. Louis Clinical Record, October, 1875, 2:145-148). He had been
performing electrolysis since 1869.
Dr. W.A. Hardaway, a St. Louis, Missouri dermatologist, gave the credit for the
first use of electrolysis to Dr. Michel (Transactions of the American
Dermatological Association, 1878, 4:337-340.) In this paper, Dr. Hardaway
described his own results and those of others; an indication that numerous other
physicians were also performing electrolysis.
1880 - 1900
The use of electrolysis became well known in the latter part of the
nineteenth century. During this time, Dan Mahler established an electrolysis
practice, and subsequently, an electrolysis equipment firm. The family business
exists today as the Instantron Company, which has been operating continuously
for over a century and is one of the world's largest suppliers to the
Paul N. Kree, of New York, developed the multiple needle technique for
galvanic electrolysis. He was instrumental in the increased marketing of
electrolysis services to the general public. Electrolysis spread from the
medical profession to lay electrologists. The Kree Company dominated the
performance and teaching of electrolysis in North America until the late 1970's.
Dr. Henri Bordier, of Lyon, France, developed the method of thermolysis
(also called short-wave, diathermy, high-frequency etc.) Medical literature of
this period indicates that thermolysis was probably attempted as far back as
1910, in Germany by Dr. Eitner.
Dr. A. Rostenberg introduced thermolysis into the North American medical
Dr. Mildred Trotter published her classic article proving shaving does not
affect hair growth.
New equipment eliminated the crude spark-gap diathermy machines, which
provided an unpredictable performance. Thermolysis became more widespread with
the use of the simplified and more consistently reliable vacuum tube machines.
Arthur Hinkel and Henri St. Pierre applied for the patent of their blend machine
in 1945 and received it in 1948.
Gordon Blackwell began publishing Electrolysis Digest, and continued until
1986. His reviews and critiques were vital to the dissemination of helpful
information to electrologists throughout the world.
Arthur Hinkel and Richard Lind widely publicized the blend in their text,
Electrolysis, Thermolysis and the Blend. Hinkel formalized the concept of
intensity x duration = units of lye (treatment energy), which is fundamental to
a better understanding of electrolysis. The work of Hinkel and St. Pierre was
brilliant, conceptually and technically, and of great assistance to a better
scientific understanding of electrolysis.
Electrolysis equipment became much more reliable and simple to use with
the development of transistorized equipment. In November, 1979, the Copperwaites
of Toronto established International Hair Route, a publication which continues
to print articles of interest to all electrologists.
Computerized electrolysis equipment became smaller, more reliable, and
easier to use. Mr. Mark Van Orden, of the Fischer Company, was able to
incorporate Hinkel's formula into programmable computerized epiltors. The AIDS
virus stimulated development of pre-sterilized, disposable needles. In the early
1980's, Drs. Toshio Kobayashi and Shiro Yamada described their technique of
high-powered thermolysis, using an insulated needle.
1990's Present Day
Standardized training and improved equipment are making
electrolysis more popular and more accessible to people around the world. It is
still the only method recognized by the FDA as Permanent Hair Removal.
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