Getting to the Root of the Matter

By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, December 9, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News.]

MAKING LIFE BEAUTIFUL -— Arlene Gaskell, pictured in her home-based office in Hampton, has been providing electrolysis in the Seacoast area for 10 of her 25 years of professional experience.
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]

HAMPTON -- Arlene Gaskell has been a licensed and certified electrologist in New England for almost 25 years, but it's the past decade of providing electrolysis to her clients in Hampton that truly gives her cause to celebrate.

"I love the people — it's my mission field," she says, reaffirming her dedication "to build honor, trust, privacy and professionalism" in all areas of her work.

"I enjoy the relationships I've had so far," adds Gaskell, a married mother of four who is also serves as a Daisy Scout troop leader, a basketball coach, and a congregant at Bethany Church in Greenland. "I love getting to know the people's hearts."

In her comfortable and inviting home office on Winnacunnet Road, Gaskell has beautified the lives of her customers using what the FDA considers "the only permanent method of hair removal." It's also one of the oldest, having first been used in 1875.

In these days of waxing, depilatories, tweezing and shaving to rid the face and body of unwanted hair, electrolysis is not only a "very safe" alternative, says Gaskell, but is "a simple procedure with no side effects and no scarring." This is unlike other similar methods such as those do-it-yourself at-home electric hair removal kits, which should be avoided at all times.

"People really need to be careful when considering a hair removal process," says Gaskell. As far as the American Electrology Association is concerned, electrolysis performed by a trained professional like Gaskell is the best route to go.

Gaskell uses the thermolysis method, in which a very fine wire is inserted to the hair follicle without piercing the skin (there's already an opening there). Between "the electricity at end of my wire and water in skin," explains Gaskell, the process "destroys bottom two-thirds of the follicle, which cuts off the blood supply and eliminates the cells that make the hair grow."

Any hair that does happen to regrow (usually within 3-6 weeks) will come back thinner and thinner until it's gone. For those people who have previously waxed and tweezed, the overall electrolysis process may take a little longer to accomplish because they have distorted, rather than destroyed the hair follicle. Darker, thicker hair is often removed first, gradually working up to the finer, lighter strands that remain.

Is there pain? Gaskell acknowledges that "there is a sensitivity because we're working toward the nerve ending," and "everyone has a different pain tolerance." Some redness and swelling may occur on the area that has been treated, but will disappear within an hour or so with the application of a cold compress.

Ultimately the results are pleasing to anyone who has undergone the process. In fact, says Gaskell, she has heard a number of her customers remark, "I wish I had done this when I was younger."

Speaking of youth, Gaskell's customers have ranged in age from 11 on up to grandparents. She has provided electrolysis for many generations of both men and women, whose particular needs often vary according to gender and personal preference.

For instance, men may opt to have hair of all types removed from the back, neck, shoulders, face, ears, the entire beard and the unibrow. Women tend to have more done in the facial area, including eyebrow shaping, sideburns, hairlines, chin, upper and lower lip and neck, but more localized areas such as the armpits, abdomen, bikini area, legs and toes are also done.

"Eighty percent of women have some kind of body hair that is of some nuisance to them," says Gaskell, explaining how three different life stages — puberty, pregnancy and menopause — often lead women to discover unwanted hair. Such growth can also be due to hormonal imbalance, heredity, stress, medication, and obesity.

A member of the New Hampshire Electrology Association and the American Electrology Association, Gaskell provides free consultations for her customers. She typically charges $20 per 15 minute block, a rate which adjusts for every additional 15 minutes on up to an hour. She gauges her task on time spent, rather than the area to cover, and multiple office visits may be required to complete the process. From a personal aesthetics point of view, it's well worth the investment.

Most of the people for whom Gaskell provides electrolysis are from Hampton; others come from Lee, Alton, Rochester, Seabrook and Newburyport. As she begins a new decade of business, she welcomes new customers from throughout the Seacoast area, inviting them to contact her to set up a consultation appointment. To do so, call (603) 929-3936. For more information about electrology and the process of safe, permanent hair removal, visit