Liz Talks Podcast, Episode 16: HAIR! Electrolysis vs. Laser, Henna, & Eyelash Growth

How I remove, dye, and strengthen my various hairs. (Not the same hairs, obviously.)


Liz Talks 

This is episode 16, topic: How I Remove Dye and Strengthen my Hair. Not the same hairs; obviously. 

In case you missed it, episode 15 tackled:

  • Baby-led weaning.
  • Work-life guilt. 
  • Period products. 

Today, I’ll talk about:

  • Why I chose electrolysis instead of laser hair removal. 
  • How and why I dye my hair with henna. 
  • Finally, what I’ve learned about keeping eyelashes healthy, naturally. 

Before we begin; a quick note. We’ve had a Saturday morning pancake ritual in our house for as long as I can remember. It’s something we all look forward to every week. And we’ve been using Arrowhead Mills buttermilk pancake mix since forever. Because it’s the one that tastes the best. 

Well; you can imagine how thrilled I was when Arrowhead Mills approached me about podcast sponsorship. It just seemed meant to be. And I appreciate Arrowhead Mills for that reason, and because they’re not only organic, and non-GMO, and focused on sustainable agriculture because it’s cool now. Well, cool among a certain subset of people, anyway. They were actually founded more than 60 years ago on those principles. So they’ve walked the walk for decades, and I appreciate that. 

So the next time you go to the store, I’d love to have you support a company that supports my work, and look for Arrowhead Mills buttermilk pancake and waffle mix, or their coconut flour. Or another one of my favorites, their red lentils for really good folate content. Or any of their organic, non-GMO products. You can also find them on just search Arrowhead Mills.

Alright, friends. To begin today’s podcast, I got lots of feedback about my period products segment in the last episode. And I realized; oops! I forgot to mention one other product I’ve tried. They are the Thinx period underwear. And what I have to say about those is, while I haven’t used them on their own. I’m not super jazzed about that. I do use them as backup. So I’ll use their shorts; and I’ve had them for a long time, so I don’t know what products they have now. This isn’t a sponsored plug or anything like that. Plug, that’s kind of funny, right? A little pun there.

I’ll wear their shorts; like their shorts underwear, overnight. They also have thongs. They have other types of underwear. So I’ll use them as backup; especially if I know I won’t be able to change my menstrual products frequently during the day. So that’s another one. And I know there are different brands available now besides just Thinx. My buddy, Shan, over at My Food Religion on Instagram reminded me about these. And she’s in Australia, so she’s got another product available to her there that’s similar. So I think it’s really interesting that these types of products are coming out. All kinds of different solutions. 

I also had folks email me about the sea sponges, and about all the different things that they’ve tried. And really, my conclusion is; there’s no great solution. So sorry folks; that’s where we’re at right now. But I appreciate everybody who listened and who sent in ideas about the cup, menstrual discs, about homemade cloth pads, about all kinds of different things. Thanks for listening. 

Onto the show. 

Ok, the first topic I want to talk about in this very hairy episode is why I chose electrolysis instead of laser hair removal. And I should say more accurately, why I am choosing electrolysis now instead of continuing with laser hair removal.

I said in a recent Instagram live where we talked about what beauty treatments and whatnot that I’ve had. I talked about how I just started electrolysis. And I started electrolysis for these hairs on my chin. Years ago, the story behind those; years ago, before, there were like 5 websites on the internet, right? Perez Hilton, Google, and I don’t know. Who knows what else. And I remember I was working at one of my early jobs; actually in oil and gas, if you believe that. And I realized that I was sprouting these black hairs on my chin. And I dug through this early version of the internet, which is a lot harder to find information at that point. 

And finally stumbled across information that basically indicated that the high androgen birth control I was on at the time was actually causing my hair follicles in certain spots to become androgenized. And basically masculinizing those hair follicles. So rather than just having normal hairs growing from those follicles, I started to have really kind of whisker-type hairs. And I was like; oh, this is just awful.

So for a long time, I waxed, bleached, plucked, that type of thing. And then I got to the point where I was like; let me just zap these things off. Because this is ridiculous. So I went in and had some laser hair removal. And it worked. And then I stopped, and then over time, the hairs grew back. And I thought; ok. Plucking is annoying, so I’m going to go back and spend the money, and I’m going to do laser hair removal again. 

And I didn’t really think about looking into the difference between laser hair removal and electrolysis at the time. It was just, like, not a whole lot of people did electrolysis. So I figured that was because laser hair removal was the next generation thing; that it was better. And that’s not necessarily the case, and I’ll talk about that in a minute. 

So I started going in for laser hair removal again, and I actually got it in a couple of different places. Because it’s pretty easy. At least, where I went. They’d say; ok, you want to do anything else? And I was like, yeah, let’s do my armpits. Or yeah, let’s do my bikini line. No big deal; let’s go ahead and do that. 

So I did that for a while. And I came back over time, just kind of expecting that after a while, the hairs just wouldn’t grow back. Because that’s really what they said would be the end goal. That they kind of just stop growing back over time. 

Now I did find that that has been the case with my armpits and my bikini line. But, when it came to these hairs on my chin, I actually felt like they were growing back worse. And I didn’t mention this before, but for a period of time, I actually bought an at-home laser hair removal device. Which was very painful and didn’t work; I would not recommend it. But the paperwork on that device actually said that there were a few paradoxical responses to laser hair removal, where the hair could actually grow back thicker and worse. And I was like; I think I might be actually a paradoxical responder! I might be one of those people whose hair is growing back worse! Agh! 

So that’s when I decided to go and actually get the laser hair removal again. So after multiple appointments; probably 4 to 6; I just felt like every time the hair grew back, it grew back worse. And that maybe I was actually getting new one around that chin and neck area. And I just thought; this is not cool. And for whatever reason; I don’t know if I was searching it on the internet, or if I read something randomly about it. But I kind of dug into what my options might be. And I decided to look into electrolysis again. 

Now, electrolysis, and I’m going to butcher this explanation a little bit. From what I understand, electrolysis can claim, because it is approved by the FDA, this particular claim; that they are a permanent hair removal procedure. And laser hair removal apparently cannot make this same claim. And I thought that was really interesting. And if that were true, then why does everybody choose laser hair removal instead of electrolysis? 

Well I will tell you. Because electrolysis is far less sexy; not that laser hair removal is sexy. But it is quick. It is easy. It’s kind of like one broad sweeping stroke that gets rid of all the hair. So you’re laying there, getting ready to get your laser hair removal done. And they literally just take this laser and just blast your hair away. 

Electrolysis is actually a sort of laborious, longer, a little bit less comfortable procedure. Or at least less comfortable for a longer period of time. And that’s probably why laser hair removal is just so much more popular. It’s easier for businesses to conduct laser hair removal, because they have multiple laser devices, and they can use whichever one is available for laser hair removal. It’s a little bit faster. It’s more broad and sweeping. And it doesn’t take as much precision and training; at least from what I can tell. And of course, I’m sure if I’m wrong about this, folks, laser technicians in particular, feel free to reach out and educate me. I’m very interested. 

But electrolysis, and my experience with electrolysis, has been; you lie there, and the technician has to be incredibly precise. They literally insert a probe into every single hair follicle and electrolyze it. And that’s what kills the hair. And you do have to go back; just like with laser hair removal. You have to go back for multiple appointments. But the end result is supposed to be actual, true, real life, permanent hair removal. 

So, I can tell you. I’ve been to my second appointment now, as of 30 minutes ago. And I had my first appointment; it was fairly uncomfortable. The second appointment I was able to use some numbing gel, so that helped quite a bit. But it took about 30 to 45 minutes to treat my chin, part of my neck area, and then today we did a little bit of the upper lip area, as well. And it took probably about 45 minutes. 

It’s very; as far as inserting the probe, electrolyzing, taking the probe out and doing the next hair follicle. That part is fairly quick. But it’s definitely uncomfortable. It definitely requires a lot of training. You have to find a really good technician. And it just is so specialized that I can’t see a Med Spa necessarily having an electrolysist on staff at all times. 

So that’s been my experience with it. Now, I will continue to go back. Because what I’ve noticed is that already the same hairs are growing back with less pigment, a little bit less coarse, and a little bit lighter and a little bit more faint. So I’m excited to see where this journey goes. 

And the thing that I learned from my electrolysist that was really, really interesting; and she works with people from all walks of life. People whose hair follicles have been androgenized by PCOS, people who have hirsutism, transgender individuals. So she sees people from all across the spectrum. And what she told me was very interesting. She said that laser hair removal, especially in these hormonally driven areas where hair follicles become androgenized and shift the type of hair that they’re creating; that they’re making; that laser hair removal, actually it’s fairly common, to see that hair grow back worse. So I was like so interested to hear this. And to hear that it wasn’t just me, and that I wasn’t just this crazy person that just happened to respond poorly to laser hair removal in that area. 

She said that it actually was really common. She doesn’t necessarily see it all that frequently on other body hair, although it does happen. But specifically in that chin, neck area that tends to become androgenized because of PCOS, hormonal birth control; whatever reason. And my reason was hormonal birth control, many years ago. And she sees it fairly frequently. And I was so interested to hear that. I don’t think it happens to everybody. I don’t think you should run away from laser hair removal, if it’s working for you. But I do feel like I solved my puzzle for myself. And I’m glad for that.

So I’ll keep everybody updated on my electrolysis journey and how that goes. I don’t intend to use it on my bikini line or my armpits or anything like that. I think I’m pretty much done with that. Because I do believe; like I’ll talk about in my overshare, that we have hair in certain places for a reason. And it might not be the greatest idea to manipulate that. But, for me, having these hair follicles having been androgenized, knowing no earthly biological reason that I would need whiskers on my chin. I’ll definitely pursue it in that area. 

Ok, next hair section. How and why I dye my hair with henna. I have gotten more questions about henna in my entire career online, over the last decade, than probably any other thing. And I’ve taken breaks here and there from using henna. I started using it probably 11 years ago, something like that. When I wrote my first blog post about it; which was, I fought the henna and the henna won, or something like that. I can’t remember exactly what it was called. But it was my first experience with henna, and I had ordered it from Mountain Rose Herbs. At the time, I had just discovered my first gray hair. But at the time I was also very steeped in the world of fully natural self-care.

Now, I’ve sort of evolved in my feelings about natural skincare. I still love it, but also when I discovered it, and when I was really spending a lot of time educating people about it, being useful to people around that topic, I was also in my late 20s, early 30s. And wouldn’t you know; as the aging process continues, I just happen to want stuff that’s a little stronger. And performs a little bit more reliably. And while I love natural skincare; very simple skincare, as well, I also know that there are actives. Things like green tea, EGCG, or ceramides, or vitamin C, that are really, really great in skincare that can be added to things in a standardized manner, so you know how much you’re getting and how well it’s going to work. So I’ve sort of tilted my way toward that end of the spectrum when it comes to natural self-care.

But way back when I was first using henna, I ordered from Mountain Rose Herbs. And I think they’re a wonderful company. But over time, I actually discovered the website And the woman behind is Katherine Cartwright Jones, I believe. And she did her dissertation on henna. If you want to know the entire background, history, ins and outs, chemical composition, how, who, what, when, where, why, and how about henna, is the place to go. 

I’ve never actually spoken to this woman, but I have consumed her work over the last however many years. And it has been absolutely fascinating to learn more about the history of henna, how it actually works in your hair. The difference between “henna containing dyes”; boxed dyes that say they’re based around henna, but actually include a lot of other chemicals, as well. The difference between that and actual body art quality, uncontaminated, just pure henna. 

So has all kinds of tutorials and different kits for different results that you might want from your hair dye. And the great thing about henna is that it is an herb. It’s literally an herb that a chemical compound in it bonds to the keratin in your hair, and changes it’s color.

And while I don’t begrudge anybody their hair dye; in fact, I’ve taken breaks from henna once or twice over the last decade and gone back to dyeing my hair. Because I wanted to. Because I didn’t want to deal with the process of doing it; which I’ll talk about in am in. But I’ve gone and I’ve dyed my hair. And I just find that over time, even the more natural hair dyes, or the hair dyes that take out some of the more noxious chemicals. Even those seem to just kind of make my hair a little bit weaker and thinner over time.

And you know; the conundrum is, you can’t dye over henna. I believe you can henna over dye, but not the other way around. So it’s kind of like you do have to pick a lane and stick with it for a period of time. And now that I have a lot more gray hair; which I’m just not ready for, I probably should embrace it. But I’m just not ready for it. I love the really rich color that comes with hair dye. I think it’s fun. Makeup; hair dye; all of that feels like art on a person to me. It feels like an artistic endeavor. And I like it. So I do it. Right? And that’s my call.

So with henna; and now in particular using it to cover more gray that I have now, I chose the cool brunette kit from And that kit is comprised of henna, indigo, and a little bit of amla powder, which is a vitamin C rich powder. And what happens is, when you combine the henna and the amla, it actually tamps down the red a little bit. The stain you get from henna is a very beautiful, rich, deep, coppery red. So if you’re doing your whole head, and you’re fully gray, your whole head of hair is going to be this glorious coppery red color. Right? 

Well, I didn’t really want that red tone. I prefer something a little bit cooler. A cooler tone. So what the amla powder does is it tamps down that more red tone that henna has naturally. And makes it a little bit cooler. So the processes; and it takes a while. This is a commitment, for sure. The processes to combine the henna and the amla powder; mixed it with distilled water and basically let it sit, and let the henna dye release for a period of time. Usually not more than 8 hours, but the temperature of your room can also impact how quickly the dye releases from the henna.

And I have also found; and this is a great shortcut, I have found that if you just mix the henna, amla, and distilled water, and immediately freeze it, it appears that over time you get the same dye release as you would have just letting it sit. So you have a little more flexibility there. Because if you’re letting it sit on the countertop and letting the dye release that way, you’ve either got to use it that day, you’ve got to pay attention to what time it is, and how long it’s been dye releasing. You’ve got to test it, and then you’ve got to either use it or freeze it with the dye having released already.

But what I’ve found is you can actually freeze it immediately, and have the dye release while it’s in the freezer. You don’t have to worry about it. And then a couple of weeks later, take a frozen block of henna out and you’re good to go.

So once you’ve got your either frozen henna defrosted or your fresh henna pulled out of the dye release process, you combine it with indigo and immediately paint it onto your hair. And once you’ve got this thick, muddy substance all over your head, you cover your head in saran wrap and you go about your day. At minimum, I have to keep that on my head for three hours. So there was a time when I went to school pickup with my head wrapped up in a cone of saran wrap and then an old, long sleeved, gray shirt over the top of it. I went to school pickup looking like that, and realized when I got there that it was actually a day that parents had to/got to go inside to pick up their children. 

So this is our first year at this school. I don’t know a whole lot of parents there. And most of the parents there probably don’t know what I do for a living. {laughs} Which is to say, talk about stuff like this on the internet and on podcasts. So I had to walk in with this giant conehead wrapped in an old black T-shirt, and just assume people would think I was somewhat sane. So embarrassing.

Some of you folks who follow me on Instagram probably remember that. It was hilarious; in hindsight. But also terrible. 

So you do have to leave it on for a minimum of 3 hours. And that’s generally what I do. Because my tolerance level is low. And I have so much hair; usually I just do my roots. But if I do my whole head; and even sometimes if I’m just doing roots, having that mass of heavy stuff sitting on my head for three hours can actually give me a pretty decent headache. And I’m not a headache person; I don’t get headaches. So three hours is about my limit. 

Now, then, you have to take everything off. Being very careful not to get it on any of your bathroom surfaces. Get in the shower; or like I used to do when we lived at the farm; just take a hose to it. And just let the water run down your head until all of the dye rehydrates and comes out. All over your bathroom. I’m really glad we did a wet room, because I can kind of rinse it all down with the showerhead. But it takes some time. You’ve got to put in a bunch of conditioner to kind of smooth it out; get the last remnants out. Rinse, repeat, all of that. 

But once you’re done; in general, you’ve got gray hairs that have at least turned a coppery color by that point. Sometimes it takes some time for the dye to; I don’t know what the word is. Just over time it kind of bakes in a little bit more. And in the end, your gray hairs should look pretty coppery red. And for right now, I have a decent amount of gray, but it still does blend in fairly well. And the rest of my hair just stays kind of a cool dark brown. 

So I love it. I do love the results of it. I love that I feel like it helps my hair look and feel thicker. My hair feels really healthy. And I’ve never seen that sort of long-term decline in hair health that I see when I use hair dye. 

If there are any hairdressers out there that can let me know how to sort of avoid that decline in hair texture and thickness with hair dye, I would be curious to know. I don’t intend to change from henna in the very near future, but maybe one day I’ll go back to hair dye, and I’ll want to know how to really maintain my hair, even when I’m dyeing it with more, stronger, industrial type chemicals. So let me know. 

Ok, that’s the henna process. And if you have any questions about it, come over to Instagram @RealFoodLiz. Ask me. I’m happy to answer. Sorry if I missed anything. But I really highly recommend the website. I know there are other products that are out there that sort of tout themselves as the best possible henna you can get. But this website is legit. 

Ok. Last stuff on the hair front is; what I’ve learned about keeping eyelashes healthy naturally. Now, I will say I have pretty long eyelashes. So I’m kind of starting out ahead of the curve when it comes to that. So I do have longer lashes. I’ve never done lash extensions or anything like that. My eyelashes are long, not super thick. And they point straight down. So that impacts some of the choices I’ve made around eye makeup, and my routine around eyelashes. And I’ll share that in just a second. 

So the reason I was so stuck to my eyelash routine, which was basically curl the eyelashes and hold the curl with waterproof mascara is because the lashes sticking straight down, as mine do, any kind of eye makeup or any kind of mascara that wasn’t waterproof that I would ever put on my eyelashes would literally just scrape off right underneath my eyes, almost immediately. I don’t know if that’s because my skin tends toward being; not oily, but not being dry. And I don’t know if it was because I needed to switch mascara; because I tried a lot of different ones. 

But what I found was, if the eyelashes were curled and I put on waterproof mascara, not only would my eyes kind of look a little more open and a little more fresh; gave me that little extra something. Which is not necessarily. Nobody has to wear makeup. Nobody needs to wear mascara. But I like it, so I do it. So it gave me that kind of extra curl; that extra awake look. And I would hold it there with waterproof mascara. Because if I curled my hair and put on regular mascara, for whatever reason; {zhoop} the eyelashes would point straight back down again. 

So I was really stuck to that. Because it was sort of the only way I could hack my eyelashes. But over time, and as I’ve gotten older, I feel like the quality of my lashes, kind of the same way as using hair dye for long periods of time. I felt like the quality of my lashes was sort of declining. So I felt like; alright. I probably need to stop using waterproof mascara. It can’t be good to coat your eyelashes with that every single day. Not let them breathe, and then take it off with harsh removers. And it’s probably just not a good idea. 

But I still wanted to achieve the look that I liked without so much work. Particularly in the morning. And I also thought; you know, there would be a bonus that I don’t necessarily want my daughter to see me putting on makeup all the time, feeling like I’m not good enough just as I am. And yes, I’m aware that there is some irony here. There’s probably some hypocrisy in here. But at this point, she’s so young. I just don’t want her to get that idea that she’s not ok just as she is. I do makeup now because I want to. I don’t want her to feel like she has to. So there you go.

So what I tried fairly recently was a lash lift and tint. Because I didn’t want to have to go through the mascara, eyelash curling routine so much. I felt like that had to be just as hard on my lashes as something like a lash lift and tint, and those kind of one-off chemicals that you have to use to achieve that. There’s no lash and lift and tint that I know of that is more natural, or healthier for your lashes. So I won’t even go there. And I think the chemicals in the lift and tint; it didn’t leave me worse off. But I don’t know that the swap made my lashes any better overall. And it’s also kind of wonky when they start to grow out, because the lift lifts them so much, and then as they start to grow out, the ones that are growing in are pointing straight down again, and I can’t really curl them when half of them are still lifted, and the other half are not. So it’s just been a kind of funny in between moment over the last couple of weeks. 

But I don’t think the chemicals left me worse off. I think I’ll probably do lift and tint now and then, just because it saved me so much time, and I felt like I really kind of looked a little bit more awake and a little bit more ready to go in the morning. Not having to worry about curling and doing mascara. 

So anyhow. That’s kind of where I’ve been over the last two, three, four months. In the past, what I have done to help or hopefully to try to help my eyelashes look a little bit healthier, grow a little bit longer and thicker. I have tried some growth serums. 

The one that’s my favorite is from Skin Actives; their brow and lash serum. And I love Skin Actives because they also sell just active ingredients for skincare all by themselves. So I’ve been able to put together some custom skincare recipes just for myself. Things that I like, by ordering things like their green tea EGCG, or their ceramides, or their aloe vera powder. That type of stuff.

But they also have a premade brow and lash serum. And I do like it. I do see results from it. But what makes me nervous about it is it’s just; and this is the same thing, why I wouldn’t probably fill a prescription for myself for Latisse or most of the other lash serums out there. Is because it’s a lot of water-soluble ingredients right up there by the eye. And I find that the water soluble stuff; you’re always getting it in your eye. No matter how little you put on there. I could always feel it sting a little bit, and then it would kind of crust. The whole routine just kind of soured me on the idea.

Now, I’m not opposed to it in the future. But I’m just not 100% sure I want to pursue that. 

So the one thing that I noticed really actually seemed to thicken and improve the health of my eyelashes over time was castor oil. And I’m not super surprised about that. One of the compounds in the castor bean is actually known to improve hair health, I believe. But hearing; I had heard from kind of crunchy people in the past that castor oil would actually make your eyebrows and eyelashes grow in thicker. I was like; ok. Yeah, that makes sense. But putting that right by your eyes; is that any better than a water-soluble, water-based serum for your lashes? I’m not sure. And I’m still doing research on this, so I’ll share what I come up with.

But because I have a ton of castor oil, for things like castor oil packs, I thought I’d try it. So I got a little mascara brush, and I dipped it in my castor oil, and I wiped it off almost completely. So there’s very, very little on the mascara brush. And I just put it kind of the top of my eyelashes, wiggled it at the base, and just pulled it out a couple of times. So there’s very, very little, if anything, that got into my eyes. And it was just a little bit more comfortable for me. And I would do this in the evening. So you’re supposed to do these things before you go to bed. And I would put a little bit in my eyebrows, as well.

And I do think that it actually thickened and improved the health of my eyelashes. Now, the problem is; I just don’t remember to do these things on a consistent basis. So even though castor oil is very simple; I have it on hand anyway. And it works. It’s just one of those things that I’m not super accountable to. But, I think I might go ahead and try doing that for another 4 to 6 weeks, and just see where it gets me, and then rotate in the brow and lash serum from Skin Actives after that. Just to kind of see which one helps a little bit more.

And I know sometimes these natural solutions for improving skin, hair, nails, what have you, can be super, super cringey for the estheticians out there. But I’m not advising other people do it; I’m just saying, this is what I’ve observed for myself in my own life and how it’s worked for me. 

So the other times in my life, I think, when I noticed improvement in the length, thickness, and robustness of my lashes are more recently when I was really closely aligning my daily meals with the Athletic Mom program recommendations that we have. Mostly getting X amount of protein during the day, three to four meals a day. Being pretty flexible with the rest of my plate. But I imagine that has most to do with the protein content of my diet, what I was getting in there. The protein and the B vitamins from animal foods.

So I notice that my eyelashes were looking even better when I was doing that consistently. And of course, there’s an ebb and flow to life, right? When we were testing level 1 of the Athletic Mom program, and seeing how these protein recommendations were impacting performance; it was great. It really worked well for me. But everybody has an off season, right? So you take a little bit of a break, and then you try something else. As long as you can keep your mental health as you’re doing all of that, which I’ve talked about in previous podcasts. 

But right now, I’m actually kind of going back in season with the testing of the Level 2 of the Athletic Mom program that we’re filming right now. So I’ll pay a little bit more attention to how my eyelashes do with that, and what might be related. 

I also feel like, when I stopped the waterproof mascara, I probably did have a little bit of an improvement in the fall out issue. Like, my lashes fall out a little bit less. So that’s a good thing. And again, the castor oil.

So just imagine if I did all these things at once. I was getting a really good amount of protein and B vitamins; I wasn’t doing waterproof mascara; I wasn’t straight off of a lift and tint, and I was using castor oil consistently. Just imagine if I did those all at once. Maybe I could have the lashes of my youth again. 

Alright. A big thank you to Arrowhead Mills. They’ve shown me a ton of love, and I intend to show a lot of love back. I appreciate them greatly. I hope you guys enjoyed this one. Please keep sharing this podcast with your friends, family, and your Instagram feed. I appreciate you. That’s it for now. I’ll see you next week.

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