James Schuster is a Wisconsin dermatologist who has prepared several videos and slide presentations on hair removal. Dr. Schuster performed several controlled tests of electric tweezers to demonstrate that the devices cannot perform as claimed.
The slide above demonstrates the chemical reaction that takes place with an electrified probe using direct (galvanic) current. The analog medium turns purple in the presence of sodium hydroxide (NaOH). This chemical, also known as lye, is corrosive and can permanently damage a hair follicle in galvanic and blend electrolysis. Note that the chemical reaction only takes place in a uniform pattern around the needle. The electricity does not travel through the medium and is too dissipated past a certain point to cause the chemical reaction.
Comparison of galvanic needle epilation to galvanic tweezer epilation.
Dr. Schuster prepared several hair follicles by leaving the surrounding skin intact. He then slid an electrolysis probe into the follicle and immersed the specimen in an analog solution that turns purple in the presence of lye.
Results of galvanic needle reaction
Dr. Schuster repeated the galvanic needle experiment with galvanic tweezers.
Note in the photos below that there is no change in the analog in the first two photos, indicating the the current is not traveling down the hair as claimed by electric tweezer makers. To prove the tweezers themselves conducted galvanic current, he dipped the second hair deeper so the tweezers came in contact with the analog solution. This caused a bright burst of purple, indicating the presence of lye. Note that the lye is only at the top of the hair follicle near the tweezer. This indicates that even with direct tweezer contact to the skin, energy will not travel down a hair as claimed by tweezer manufacturers.
"My experiments with electrolyte treated hairs demonstrated that a very small current can be conducted over the hair surface through the electrolyte coating, not the hair fiber itself. In addition, such current would readily diffuse upon contact with the follicle walls past the infundibulum and little, if any, would reach the papilla."
These findings echo other unpublished clinical data ( van Orden 1998) and commonly accepted observations on hair properties (Ruggera, 1991 and Feughelman, 1982). As Dr. Feughelman confirmed in his third-party review of the van Orden study, the application of a gel or conductive solution would form a coating on the hair surface through which current might flow, not through the hair fiber itself.
In other words, controlled clinical data and experts in the field of hair conductivity indicate that electric tweezers cannot work as claimed. The gel some electric tweezers use does not appear to make it possible for the hair to conduct electricity to the bottom of a hair.
galvanic tweezers immersed in analog
(slides courtesy of James Schuster, M.D. Reprinted with permission.)