When it comes to permanent hair removal, the method that springs to most peoples’ minds involves a laser, but laser hair removal is limited in what hair it can remove and not always as permanent as desired.
This has led to the resurgence of a hair removal technique first pioneered in 1875 as a method for removing ingrown eyelashes: electrology. The technique can be used anywhere on the body on any type of hair.
Certified professional electrologist Stephanie Shields has been practicing electrology for 20 years. She has been involved in the industry for even longer.
“I was raised in the industry. My mother started (her clinic) in 1982. We were hairy little Italians and wanted unwanted hair taken care of. When she was in high school, she went to school for this,” Shields said.
Now, she has moved from Arizona to Lewis County and opened Zap Master Electrology in downtown Centralia. The clinic’s soft opening is set for March 1.
While she studied education in college, Shields was encouraged by her mother to learn both laser hair removal and electrology while going through school. It helped them spend time together and Shields ended up becoming the second in command at her mother’s clinic in Arizona.
A number of reasons drove Shields to move to Centralia, including economic factors and a desire for better education opportunities for her children.
However, the main reason was the potential for business growth. Not only is Centralia an optimal place for a clinic in her eyes, but a school as well, she said.
“All of the surrounding states are lacking in education facilities for electrology. I chose Centralia because it’s a literal hub. I chose next to the Amtrak (station) because it’s a literal hub,” said Shields. “From Canada down to Eugene and over to Idaho, I have a space people can come to for education at a reasonable price in an area that is up and coming.”
She added downtown Centralia’s beauty also drew her to choose the area. She hopes to simultaneously grow her business and the school.
Shields plans to teach students. But if they are reliable and have a good work ethic, she will invite them to stay and work at Zap Master, a pipeline directly into the industry.
“I’m internationally known for what I do. It’s one of those things that for a lot of people in the industry, I’m a quick phone call away because they want to know what Stephanie is doing, and they follow suit,” Shields said.
Electrology’s process involves using a hair-thin probe to insert into each individual hair follicle without puncturing the skin. Then, an electrical current is delivered to the follicle, which causes localized damage to hair-generating areas.
Three different methods are utilized: the galvanic method, which delivers positive ground power of around three milliamperes; the thermolysis method, which utilizes radio frequency energy to heat and kill hair matrix cells; and the blend method, which combines the two previous methods.
“The reason why electrolysis is permanent hair removal while laser is permanent hair reduction is because in electrolysis we’re using a very fine filament to go directly into the follicle,” Shields said.
Those filaments are typically between two-thousandths and six-thousandths of an inch in diameter.
While anyone can undergo electrology for permanent hair removal at Zap Master, Shields specializes in two areas of electrolysis: treatments for gender-affirming care and for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Gender-affirming treatment is something close to Shields’ heart as her family knew transgender activist Monica Helms.
According to Shields, other schools and clinics like hers are opening all around the country, helping fuel the resurgence within the industry.
“It’s a great industry to be in. You really can control your schedule and be able to customize your treatments to a certain demographic you feel best in. If someone is really worried about ingrown hairs, they can work on clients and market toward that client base,” Shields said. “Gender affirming care, I can go in there and say, ‘Hey, I’m a practitioner that’s very well versed in this,’ or (polycystic ovary syndrome) care, same deal. It can be a big hyperfocus, or you can take on whatever hair drives you crazy.”
Shields has even performed electrolysis on her husband, removing hair on the lower part of his neck and thinning out his arm hair.
“It was not necessarily to make him feel aesthetically better. It was more along the lines of just making grooming easier,” Shields added.
Aside from the soft opening on March 1, she also has a grand opening set for July which will feature a continuing education units (CEU) event.
“I am in the process of working toward licensing for larger electrology programs, and I’m about 90 days away from that so new students can start to put their names on the waitlist,” Shields said.
Additionally, she holds CEU sessions for area practitioners to continue their education and become certified electrologists.
While certification requirements vary from state to state, the average amount of training hours required to become a certified electrologist is around 600, according to the Beauty Schools Directory.
If you’re planning on visiting Zap Master just for hair removal, consultations with Shields are $35 and treatment sessions start at $55 for 15 minutes, $70 for 30 minutes, $90 for 45 minutes and $110 for an hour. She is also offering $15 off a customer’s first service during her first two months open.
“Consultations include a 15-minute service with it so they can get a feel for what the treatment is going to be like,” Shields said.
Zap Master’s hours of operation are between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Shields stated hours will be expanded when other electrologists are on staff. Shields does have hours available outside those times but they are limited and by appointment only.
Zap Master Electrology is located at 108 N. Tower Ave. in downtown Centralia.
For more information, visit https://thezapmaster.com/.
To set up an appointment or find out how to attend one of her CEU events, contact Shields by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 360-489-6952.