Welcome! The information on this page is written for a transsexual audience.
For a general market discussion of home electrolysis, please visit: hairfacts.com.
- Many have attempted to do their own electrolysis.
- I do not recommend attempting to do your own electrolysis.
Generally, the drawbacks outweigh the advantages.
See the discussion below.
- Most home systems do not work. You must use a unit
where you insert a probe into the follicle if you want permanent results.
The only galvanic probe home unit widely available is the One Touch, available for about $30 at drugstores,
some department stores, and beauty supply stores. Those interested in buying
a personal or professional unit for home use should see my purchasing tips.
- Most people, even those who had success, say that it's easier and more convenient
just to get it done professionally. Some find it a good supplement for touch-up
between professional sessions.
In the never-ending quest to save money, some transgender women have attempted
to do their own electrolysis. Most who did felt they were forced by necessity
to do so. The people who had luck with this had a LOT of free time and determination.
It is very difficult, but not impossible.
Possible advantages of attempting do-it-yourself electrolysis:
- You can save money.
- You can do it in privacy.
- You can treat yourself when it's convenient.
- It's an option for those who cannot find or travel to a competent electrologist.
- Maybe you don't trust your face to someone else.
Possible drawbacks of do-it-yourself:
- It takes a massive time commitment and real
- Often greater than getting it done professionally. Let's see-- at an
optimal 30 seconds per hair (20 for electrolysis, 10 to remove hair and
find next hair and insert probe), even with an optimistic kill ratio,
you are quickly into a huge amount of tedious work. One correspondent
took 2,000 (!) hours during her first year of at-home electrolysis. That's
20 times more than I did for my first year of professional treatment,
and she still had hundreds more hours to do in following years.
- You have no training.
- This leads to the next problem...
- You could cause permanent skin damage.
- Is saving money more important than your complexion? Or just as bad...
- You may may not get permanent results due to
- It's not easy. If you don't do it right it won't be permanent. Be sure
to read as much as you can before attempting it yourself.
- Potentially worse temporary side effects
- Redness and swelling may be worse and last longer than with professional
- Potentially longer treatment time and time to completion
- It may take much longer to treat your own
face than to have it done professionally.
- Some areas are difficult to see/treat by yourself.
- Working on yourself can be quite awkward, uncomfortable and prone to
error. Imagine using your left hand to treat areas hard to reach with
right hand. Imagine working under your chin or near your ear while looking
into a mirror. Imagine having a friend help you-- do you trust their ability?
- The more facial hair you have, the more work, and the less your chances
- Some find it much more painful than professional electrolysis.
- There are real and hidden costs.
- Some burned out several of the cheap home units before getting done,
and professional equipment may be as expensive as many hours of professional
treatment. There's a possibility it would end up costing more than professional
electrology if you figure in how much your time is worth. For instance,
had the person mentioned above spent her self-treatment time at a part-time
job flipping burgers for minimum wage, and then used all the proceeds
for professional electrolysis, she would still have had enough money left
over for a few outfits.
I feel the potential drawbacks outweigh the benefits, so I do not personally recommend attempting to do it yourself.
For a permanent result, a good TG-recommended professional electrologist is
usually the best solution. But since there are those people willing or forced
to do their own, I have included information on the two kinds of permanent systems
that could be used by do-it-yourselfers.
Buying home electrolysis kits
or used professional units
The American Medical Association's Committee on Cutaneous Health and Cosmetics
"recommends limiting self-treatment to readily accessible areas, such
as the lower parts of the arms and legs. Because working
on facial hair requires use of a mirror, and, therefore, reversed movements,
this area is best done by a professional."
--FDA hair removal overview, July, 1996
The cheapest of the cheap do-it-yourself approaches is a home electrolysis
kit. Most home systems do not work, especially
electric tweezers such as IGIA, etc. You need to find one that emulates real
electrolysis, with a probe you insert into the follicle to conduct current to
the hair root.
Only a galvanic probe system like One Touch can
be permanent. Don't bother with anything else. It's a battery-operated
gizmo with a stylet that looks like a mechanical pencil. One end has the retractable
probe like the one on a professional electrolysis machine, and the other end
is connected by a cord to a 9-volt battery on the main unit. There is a metal
band around the stylet at the place where you hold it like a pencil during the
treatment. The probe is on a spring so you can't insert it too deep and puncture
the skin. When the probe touches the moisture of the papilla, the circuit is
completed and the unit makes a 5-second tone. You hold the probe in place another
15 seconds for the galvanic current to work, then try to remove the hair with
If it doesn't give, try again, but don't try the same hair more than twice.
The unit has an adjustable "comfort control" (a euphemism if I've
ever heard one!).
If this still sounds like something you want to try, you will probably want
a magnifying mirror and very bright light. Better yet, work in direct sunlight.
You may also want to invest in rechargeable batteries to save money. They recommend
doing no more than a square inch at a time. The probe
bends very easily, so be careful not to brush it against anything. The
One Touch system requires that you mix a saline solution and keep your fingers
moist, "but not too moist," as you proceed. If you get it too moist,
it will set off the tone before it should go off.
You may find it helpful to do it with a friend. Some areas are nearly impossible
to do yourself. That means you have to trust in your friend's ability, too.
If using a machine with someone else, always disinfect and never use the same
probe that another person uses.
Michelle writes, "I bought an older machine that my electrologist had
stored away in her closet and have been doing all the areas I can reach myself.
It is set up right next to my computer and I can do a few at a time and I know
my pain threshold by direct feed back and it is easy to learn. I highly suggest
that many of you ask your electrologist if they have any older equipment they
want to get rid of. Mine was glad to get it out of her storeroom. Especially
if you notice they have just bought a new machine."
See my pages on purchasing tips and do-it-yourself tips for more details.
There are certainly success stories out there. I've included all I've found
Kare Ross has been cool enough to
write extensively about her experiences with home electrolysis. The following
is edited and excerpted from several informative posts and letters. (Emphasis
and categories mine. --AJ):
Worth the time and effort
How badly do you want to be rid of the beard? I wanted it gone very badly.
I lived in a rural area and I was poor. I really had
no other option.
In retrospect I'm very glad I removed my own. It was
one of the best transition decisions I made.
Yes, the galvanic needle devices are *slow*. They require great patience and self-discipline, but
the galvanic needle devices do work and work very well. The device I used
was a "Perma-Tweez" by General Medical. The "One Touch"
by Inverness should work as well. With proper technique, you'll have essentially
Ironically, it's the cheapest devices that work best.
Those that cost about a hundred dollars and claim "no needles" don't
work. I thought for a long time that the device I used, the "Perma-Tweez,"
was no longer available. There are still some out there, especially used ones.
In late summer of 1971 I made my decision to transition whatever the cost.
The first thing I did was to get a job which gave me some independence and
allowed me to leave my parents' home. The job moved me across the state, and
I had my first apartment by myself. I immediately started a diet and shaved
my legs. The next thing I did was send away for a home electrolysis device.
I used it almost daily. Some days I used it a couple of hours. Some weekends
I'd do 12-14 hour sessions. I began my self-electrolysis in November of 1971.
Sometime in late March or early April 1972 was the last time I ever shaved
my face. By that summer, the last straggler hairs were gone. The beard removal
has been permanent and left no scars. It's as good as any professional work
I've ever seen and better than most. It cost me less than $100 but it did
take a lot of time and real self-discipline.
Treatment time/time to completion
In terms of the time necessary to remove you own beard, I devoted something
between 75 and 100 hours to remove mine. The
amount of time needed will depend upon the extent of the beard and the level
of skill you develop. And by the way, it's a skill like riding a bicycle -
you never really lose the needle placement skill. A while back a friend asked
me to remove some of her eyebrow strays. :-)
If, like me, you are dedicated and use a large portion of your spare time,
you can remove most of your beard in a small number of calendar months by
spending a lot more time on the project than you could afford to spend if
you had to pay someone else to do it.
I was lucky that my beard was all concentrated in places I could easily reach
and treat myself. I had a friend remove her beard as well. She had beard over
a wider area. I'm not sure how she did some parts. If I had that problem today,
I might try using my camcorder with macro focus and a TV to see those places
and guide my hand.
*Everyone* I've known who seriously tried has succeeded
- but it is a small sample size. I might see my experience as more
of an exception except that I gave my Perma-Tweez to a TS friend and she removed
her beard with it, too. She had more beard than I did and she removed hers
with no scarring. I've known several who have done it, and those who were
serious about it succeeded. None of them had any scarring, either.
No skin damage reported
For simple galvanic electrolysis it doesn't take any training. It mostly
requires some practice, common sense and reasonably clean and sterile technique.
Galvanic electrolysis can produce more redness and swelling and it can last
longer. But, properly done, it has less permanent damage to the skin, in my
I've never known anyone that damaged their skin doing
their own electrolysis using a needle *galvanic* device. I've seen
a post or two with such comments, but never met anyone who said that. On the
other hand, I've met a number of examples of the opposite experience. If you
follow the directions, you don't *very badly* over-treat individual hairs,
and you keep everything clean to avoid infections, you will almost certainly
have less skin damage than any professional would do.
People who've met me in person will attest that I got no scarring or pitting.
You'll never find a professional job with less skin damage than my result.
Those friends of mine who've done their own have gotten no scarring or pitting
that I can see. On the other hand, I've never seen a professional thermolysis
or blend result that didn't have some scarring and pitting - and I've seen
a lot of them. I'm sure there are some that got no scarring, but I haven't
Why do I think self-electrolysis is better? Because when you do your own, you can control current flow based upon
what you *feel*. You are also sure that "the operator" really
cares about killing each hair and not over-killing the skin. Of course, if
you know you're sloppy, can't pay enough attention to observe a reasonable
sterile technique or don't give a rat's posterior - pay someone else to do
I never had electrolysis on my face by a pro, so I can't compare [pain].
On the other hand, not counting the upper lip, I found the discomfort quite
manageable without any pain killers. (But the professional electro on my crotch
prior to labiaplasty would have been *intolerable* without the local anesthetic.
Eeeeouch! How do I know? There was one small patch that didn't get enough
Except for the upper lip hairs under the nose, which are bad no matter how
it's done, the people I've talked to who've had straight galvanic, blend and
thermolysis have generally found simple galvanic to be less painful. The key
is to reduce the current level and extend the time to compensate. High current
rate is more uncomfortable and can hurt. Low current rate takes longer but
isn't as uncomfortable. It's a trade-off. But when you do your own, you can
make that trade-off yourself based upon what you feel - for each hair. A pro
can't do that because they can't feel what you feel. That's why doing your
own can be far less painful than having a pro do it. Of course if you can
afford E-2000 of have Guy at Wave Electrolysis do it with a local from Dr.
Joy, well that's probably the least painful method - after the injections
(Oh, and a tip - for my upper lip, I took Dristan an
hour before zapping to keep my nose from running. It also had some
painkiller in it, as I recall.)
[Visiting a pro to see how it's done is] only worthwhile if you find a professional
that will do straight single needle galvanic. How many operators will/can
accommodate that request? Getting thermolysis or blend is *nothing* like getting
galvanic so it won't be of any use understanding what doing your own galvanic
electrolysis is like.
If you try the Perma Tweez, batteries can be a problem.
I think Radio Shack may now carry a suitable battery. I got tired of buying
mine from General Medical (back in 1972), so I modified an old battery and
the device to connect to a 12 volt lantern battery. I was at least 3/4 finished
before I did that (probably three to five batteries - I don't recall), but
at least I never needed another battery after I adapted it to the lantern
battery. When I gave my Perma Tweez to a friend who used to to remove all
of her beard, she never needed a new battery. :-)
I don't recommend [using a 9v wall adaptor]-
too much risk of serious electrical shock. Batteries are completely safe.
Wall current is dangerous. An adaptor can short and send wall current through
you face. Use rechargeable batteries (2) and a recharger if you want to save
money on batteries. Use one battery while the other recharges.
I could get at everything I needed to zap. You might not. In case you have
a fair amount of such hairs, you probably would prefer using a pro to zap
those. Working on a friend can be...um...touchy. :-)
Invest in a high quality lighted magnifying make-up
mirror. A good mirror makes all the difference between a difficult
chore and an ordeal that you'll abandon. I mostly worked at night - [direct
sun is] unnecessary if you have a really good lighted mirror.
Especially ignore the tweezers that tip the Perma Tweez.
They seem to be especially worthless.
Most folks fail because they lack sufficient discipline.
Face vs. body: test areas and treatment
[I had recommended, "Practice on an area other than your face."
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!! This is the single most common piece of *bad* advice
I've encountered. Beard hairs are *very* different than
hairs anywhere else on your body. They are much easier to zap yourself than
any other hairs. For most people *it hurts less* to zap beard hairs
than other body hairs. I removed my entire beard without a pain problem. But
there's no way in hell I'd ever try to remove leg or arm hairs that way -
too damn difficult and too damn painful!!! OUCH!!
For your first attempts, pick beard hairs on the lower
margin just under you chin. They're still easy to see and reach. In
the *very* unlikely event that you screw-up so badly that you actually level
a scar or pit, it won't be noticeable. (I did my whole beard without leaving
*any* scars or pits!) In addition, it's much easier to learn needle placement
on coarse easy to see beard hairs. The larger diameter follicles easily accept
the extra bulk of the needle.
Small hairs are difficult because expanding the tiny follicle to accommodate
the extra bulk of the needle requires a much larger stretch of the tissue
in terms of the total follicle size. And finally, the current flow needed
depends upon a number of variables. Facial beard follicles and skin are different.
The time and current needed for arm or leg hairs will generally not apply
to your face. In general, only experience doing your face guides you on how to do your
In my experience, with a galvanic device like a One Touch, testing it on
arm leg or body hairs is a poor choice. Beard hairs, except for the mustache
hairs under my nose, were far easier to remove and much less painful than
any body hairs I tried. Beard whiskers were about the
only hairs on my body that were reasonable to remove, for me. I would
never consider clearing my legs with one - just too painful. Coarse whiskers
also provide a solid hair shaft that is much easier to use to guide the needle
into position in the follicle than a fine body hair. I believe that the follicles
of beard hairs are larger which also make needle positioning easier.
I also read that some folks seem to panic because they get a larger welt
from galvanic than from thermolysis. The larger welt and large pink area does
not necessarily translate into scarring. I got large
welts and redden areas that were obvious for several days after each session.
Yet I never got any scarring. It's simply that the body reacts differently
to the two types of electrolysis. I removed my entire beard with *zero* scarring as people
who've met me in person can attest.
Thick coarse dark beard whiskers are the easiest to remove by galvanic electrolysis.
The thick hairs have wider follicles and it's *much* easier to slip the needle
into place. Once zapped, they lift cleanly from the skin with a much higher
kill rate because the needle placement is *so* much easier. I
absolutely *hate* to try to do electrolysis on pale and fine hairs. And, in my experience, fine hairs hurt more, for
some reason. They are too hard to see and too hard to place the needle in
their follicles. I have very pale skin. My beard hairs were dark and coarse.
It gave me a shadow so bad I never even *tried* to cover it with make-up.
That's why I made removing my beard my number one priority. My beard was gone
before I ever said a word to any type of professional about my intention to
*Galvanic* home electrolysis is about as certain as any electrolysis can
be. The technique is simple. You place the probe needle parallel to the hair
shaft in close contact to the hair shaft. Slide the needle against the shaft
down into the root until it stops (at the bottom of the root).
The needle is actually blunt. It shouldn't pierce the skin - it should just
slide into the follicle along side the hair. The low level current (a few
milliamps) will flow. Time the flow (how long the needle has been in place).
I just watched the second hand of a watch. When sufficient time has past,
you withdraw the needle and use a pair of tweezers to lift the zapped hair
from the skin. If you have applied enough current for sufficient time, the
hair lifts easily from the follicle without tugging.
The zapped hair will have (usually) a gelatinous sheath around the base of
the hair when it is removed. That indicates that the hair was killed. In my
experience, the hairs that lift free without a tug, and particularly those
that lift free with the gelatinous sheath, *never* grow back. From time to
time more than one hair can share the same pore in the skin. There are often
hairs in close approximation that need to be killed separately. Those are
often on a separate growth cycle. Sometimes it may seem like it's the same
hair re-growing, but it isn't.
There is no free lunch. Professional electrolysis is
likely to be much faster - if you can afford it. E-2000, is probably
THE answer for those who are well heeled. For those who have a lot of free
time but little cash and have good vision and hand-eye coordination, doing
your own electrolysis is an option. Notice, however, that if you have a lot
of beard on your neck or at the back of your jaw where it's difficult to see
and reach, you'll probably still need some professional electrolysis.
Melanie Anne Phillips writes of her experiences:
It did indeed work very well. In fact, I burned out five of them by the time
I stopped using them. For the record, the machine in question is the "Inverness"
home electrolysis unit. It sells for about thirty dollars and runs off a single
nine volt battery. It is much less painful than regular electrolysis, but
requires many more treatments to do the same job. For me, It took forty
hours EACH WEEKEND for a year to keep
my face cleared. What a pain that was, sitting
in front of a make-up mirror for FORTY HOURS once a week!!!
I used the machine for two or three years, and by that time I was down to
a couple hours a weekend, and only had the clear hairs left. After
that, I decided to go back to regular electrolysis (actually "thermolysis")
and have been doing that for about 18 months as of this posting. I go in once
a month or so for about an hour. That keeps everything absolutely fine for
the next four weeks, and I will probably be more or less done in another year.
(This stuff takes forever!!!) Of course, for the whole month, I don't have
to worry at all, so I have no more concerns in that area, even under the most
A word of warning though... The home unit IS very powerful. It has power
settings from 1 to 10. I did all of my work at 1 or 1.5. I
tried 10 once and a piece of my skin just baked and dropped out on the spot!!!
Fortunately, that healed, but I suspect if you go higher than 1.5 you
are going to get some eventual scarring, and if it is high enough the scarring
will be immediate AND PERMANENT!
In other words, Melanie spent over 2,000 (!) hours the first year alone, plus
hundreds (!) more hours over the next couple of years. Even after all that work
clearing her face with a home unit, and expects to supplement that with 30 hours
of professional electrolysis over the course of 2.5 years after stopping treatment
with her home unit. That's about 10 times as many hours spent for about 1.5%
of the cost of professional electrolysis.
So, it's possible to put a huge dent in the amount of professional electrolysis
you'll need, but it takes a MASSIVE commitment of time and energy. Most people
would prefer the extra 30-odd hours each week if they could afford it. As I
said earlier, if you have 15 to 30 hours a week to devote
to home electrolysis, it might be better to get a part-time job and use the
money for professional electrolysis.
Amy writes of her experiences:
Yes, I have extensive experience with home electrolysis. Actually I find
them cheaper than $50, mine cost me $40, and its the Inverness One Touch Deluxe
unit. I've been through a couple of them now and wiped out large areas of
facial hair with them.
If you are considering this its best to bear in mind that you are going to
have to have the patience and commitment to it to develop a refined skill
that's not easy to master. Not many actually have the will to stick with it long enough
to get anywhere with it, or even to develop the skill needed, and still
fewer can deal with the pain or the idea of inserting an electrified needle
into their face and zapping their follicles until lye oozes out of their pores
(though personally I really dig on it).
I've usually do this on Saturdays to give the swelling time to go down before
I go to work on Monday, and I usually epilate between 600 and 800 hairs in
about 11 hours of work, though any more I'm running out of enough hairs to
meet this kind of quota.
I like to keep off that metal band until I've completed
the insertion because I don't want it to start heating up until I'm
down in there. This can be a bit tricky and takes practice, but you have lots
of hairs to practice on and lots of time.
I managed to completely clear the right side of my face. I leaned over a mirror
laid out flat and a lamp with an electronic (fluorescent) bulb lying next to
it. Using an 11w bulb meant that it was cooler and I could lean closer to it
to get a higher degree of illumination. It's difficult to advise people as it
is something that you have to find your own way of working with.
It took me about 6 months, using it for up to three hours per day to clear
the right side completely. Each day, whatever hair was visible, was electrolysed.
Because I was working with very short hairs I kept my slant-edged tweezers well
aligned and 'sharp' using fine sandpaper.
Although I permanently removed the hair, I did cause some permanent surface
blanching (scarring) although it is only visible when I point it out, under
bright light. This happened because I treated the hair too aggressively sometimes,
due to impatience, so I would advise people to be very
careful of over treating themselves.
Because there is a high risk of scarring I would say always go to a properly
qualified, experienced electrologist. On the other hand, if there is no way
you can afford to, then using One Touch is definitely better than doing nothing.
I found it impossible to clear the left side of my face
as the angles were too difficult. Being ambidextrous would be an advantage!
I used One Touch because I found it far too difficult and embarrassing to grow
any hair out and then travel in public to a professional clinic. In the end
I had to do it for the left side of my face anyway, but I managed this by just
growing out one small patch at a time.
Heather worked on her face with
an Inverness unit from March to November 1994, and spent approximately 40 to
50 hours before she could stop shaving. She says, "From time to time I
still find one to zap," but she has not shaved since late 1994. Heather
writes of her positive experiences:
I too went this route for 3 reasons:
- I am a miser.
- I live in the middle of nowhere and 50 miles from a salon.
- I live in Redneck Central Alabama.
I got the Inverness Clean + Easy (Yeah Right!!) Deluxe Electrolysis Kit.
But first I did go for 3 professional sessions to see
how it was done. Yes it hurt! But I found after time I was somewhat
numbed by the pain. And yes it takes a strong will.
What it takes is for you to look in the mirror and say something has got
to go-- "Them hairs or me"!
It is that same will, if any of you have ever stopped smoking. But I found
the machine set on 10 did well on thick virgin hairs as I had never plucked
before, and yes again I say it hurts at first..
Now I do not know if it is that you de-sence the pain in time or you learn
how to work the machine.
But I do say when I started I could not stand the mustache area at setting
of 1, and as I was ending treatment around 48 hours later, I could take a
full 10 setting under the nose..???? So there again, I
am not sure how you cope with the pain, but by will or experience you do!
Keep at it...
I also found to maintain constant results, invest in a wall pack that has a 9v plug tail on it.
Anyway-- Just wanted to let you know there are some
of us who made it.
I am including a photo of me so you may see what I look like... proof to
no huge scars or pits. [Heather's photo shows no evidence of skin damage.
Anyone trying this at home: My heart goes out to you, and may your will be
like the balls I got rid of!!! LOL
Suggestions? Well keep at it. It takes a while to learn how to do it-- at
first you burn yourself. Starting out, I would
say do it on the arms some first, or if you got those pesky 6 or 7
hairs on the base of your fingers they are a good place to practice.
Remember it is your face, not mine-- do what you will if you think you know
all you need to know from the cheap piece of paper they give you....
And also the tip! Use your own judgment on this.....
- Take and dip the tip, hair size part of the needle
into a clear nail polish.
- After it dries place it back in the machine.
- Extend the tip and use a fingernail file or fine emery paper and sand
This will keep it from burning the hair shaft pathway and get all the voltage
to the root where it needs to be.
I am a Electronics Technician and have modified my machine some-- not so
much that your results should vary from mine, but I upped the voltage to 12
CAUTION: you need to learn how to use the machine first so you don't blow
your face up. I took out the buzzer and placed an amp meter on mine so I could
watch the load drop as the hair root was drying up.
Don't tear your machine up trying this unless you know what you are doing.
It really does not need it. It works fine from the box on a wall 9V pack as
it is. And don't try to put 12v to the 9v tail-- you will burn up the 555
IC timer.. It can't take it!
It took about 60 hours to clear one side of the face and one side of the
upper lip. However, I could not reach the side burns
or under the neck, so I go to an electrologist to take care of those areas.
I am hoping to be completely finished by December. The One Touch did a wonderful
job on about 3/4 of my face including the beard area and the upper lip. The
hair on my face was full, but most of the hairs were soft, light hair with
just a few strong black hairs in between. I am experiencing some regrowth,
but most of it is really fine and white.
I would recommend the machine, but I would like other girls to understand
that just like going to a professional electrologist the One Touch might not
work as well for everyone. Some might zap the hair once and it will never
return, while others might battle the same hair for days. Also just because
you can buy it at a store for a cheap price does not mean that it is a toy.
The One Touch is very powerful and you could hurt yourself.
The current is strong enough to burn skin.
Also I would recommend that only the very patient and
steady people use it. I am a painter and I used to paint these really
large oil paintings with a little tiny brush. I would be very obsessive and
paint these really thick paintings in a circular motion it was very tedious
and time consuming. So I guess I have the right temperament for the One Touch.
All in all I think the One Touch is worth it and it was a big help for me
not only because it worked but also the psychological factors involved. At
the time I started using it I could not afford an electrologist so the One
Touch helped me get started and made me feel a little better about myself.
However, the One Touch can not be expected to complete
the whole job. The electrologist is still necessary. I was able to
complete a little over half of the total area (in 6 months) with the One Touch.
I still use it for Touch up work.
Julie uses her One Touch primarily for body work. She adds:
I'm one of those people who found it's easier to use
I also found that for "touch-ups" between
visits, or for light hair on the breasts, they are kinda practical. But
for heavier hair, or lots of hair, I still see my professional zapper.
The body parts which I set out to clear were cleared. I started to
clear my pubic region for SRS. I found that a 1 cm^2 area took an hour. I
decided against it after estimating the total time at "pretty damned
long." But to this date, that part of my pubic region has zero hairs
in it. I've also done parts of my face, the hairs immediately around my nipples
(which I haven't cleared 100% because "some hair is normal"), and
the upper range of the hair on my sternum. My next project is to clear some
hairs from my labia that are where I don't want them. I'm done enough on my
face from my regular zapper that I am letting her shape my eyebrows and clear
the rest of the hairs on my sternum.
My approach has been to slowly attack areas
which I don't want to pay a professional to handle or which would be too painful
if they were done by someone without anesthetic -- the pubic hairs
I've killed were done with no pain relievers.
I have also used it to pick up a few stray hairs. When it took more than
two or three hours to clear out the remaining growth on my face, I'd kill
some of the hairs which were more out in the open myself. I found that helped
me reduce the amount of my face that I needed to shave or the amount of makeup
I was wearing (and the trouble I went to to apply it) to cover up the few
hairs which were away from the bulk of the beard.
I have no self-inflicted scars on any area that
I'm the only one who has worked on the area. I have some pitting on my face
and a fair amount of scarring in the pubic region from flash thermolysis.
My experience is the same -- the hairs that I knew were dead after I zapped
them never grew back. I permanently removed some 400 hairs from my upper lip during
a time when I couldn't afford to see my regular zapper (I was busy
spending money on crotch electro ...). That was about a third of my total
upper lip and was done in my spare time in the evening. That was about 1/3rd
of the total number of upper lip hairs and was probably less than 5 total
hours time. I'd just go in the bathroom, wash up, make up some salt water
(per the "One Touch" instructions), and kill a dozen or two hairs.
If I'd had more hairs on my face (this is when it took less than two hours
remove any strays on my face with professional thermolysis), I might have
been more dedicated, but I just wanted to thin out what there was on my upper
lip, as I could do it with much less pain than via flash thermolysis.
The hairs I've had the best luck with killing, and which go most rapidly
have been relatively thick, coarse, dark hairs. The only exception have been
pubic hairs which seem to have Roots From Hell(tm).
My experience is that do-it-yourself galvanic can be relatively painless
if you adjust the current down low.
To give you an idea, [my electrologist] Guy zapped a few hairs in the pubic
region where there was no anesthetic. They hurt like sh*t. I killed an estimated
80 - 90 hairs in the exact same region and did it without shedding a tear
or getting drunk first. My regular zapper always makes me cry doing my upper
lip and can get serious flinches out of me doing the rest of my face, especially
along the jawbone. I have very little pain, mostly mild discomfort, when I
do any of those areas.
Part of the motivation for doing the upper lip hairs I mentioned before was
that flash thermolysis has become extremely painful up there. Doing them myself
was significantly less painful. The remaining hairs, however, are now so fine
that I have the problem [Kare] mentioned in her posting regarding fine hairs.
Face vs. body for starting/testing/learning
The area where I learned the most was around my nipples.
I could see what I was doing and it helped me learn how to time things, get
a good insertion (what does a good insertion feel like?) and so on.
I never did buy [a lighted mirror], but then most of the time I've spent
has been on places I could see directly. To do my upper lip I sat on the counter.
To do various odd pickups on my face, I could often see that one stray hair
well enough to do it without.
But if I were doing more of my face and less of my body, I'd get a nice table,
comfortable chair and the mirror as suggested.
The tweezers that come with the "One Touch"
are hard to use -- I reground the surfaces with a sheet of 1200 grit
(I think that's what it was -- it came in a model rocket kit I bought two
years ago) wet-or-dry sand paper.
I never found [direct sunlight] necessary and would often work at night with
just a single 60w bulb at the other end of the bed. I'd just put a CD in my
computer, click on Workman, and kill hairs until the CD was over. The bathroom
was a different matter when I was working on my face. The vanity had 4 40w
bulbs and that was more than enough light for the small number of hours I
spent doing that.
My recommendation is to avoid retreating an area too
soon so that you can see if the hairs were killed or just plucked.
Had I done that I'd have started "real life" with a much thinner
beard. I also would have saved nearly $3,000.
I have hit just about 60 hours of DIY electrolysis. It's amazing how many
hairs are under your nose! I've just about got the "reverse goatee",
with the center of my face clear (out to about 1/4 of my cheeks) and a small
spot under my chin. I've got a small hairy place about the area of a quarter
under my right nostril (about six hours) and a line just above my jawline
(maybe another six hours) left. The parts I have clear, I don't shave any
more, just hit them once a week. Can't wait to get out on my cheeks again;
it goes a lot faster there!
Recommendations so far:
Work with your "off hand" at least half the
time, and whenever you cross the centerline of your face. It will pay
off when you get around by your ear. You'll be a lot more ambidextrous when
Work clean! Remember that if you pick up bacteria
on the probe, you are injecting it under your skin, and giving it a lovely
soup of blood, fried tissue, etc., to feast on. Don't think that the heat
and electrical current will sterilize it for you. I use liquid Dial on my
hands, and keep my tweezers and probe clean with the little alcohol wipes
that the nice nurse (that's me, remember) swabs you with before she gives
you a shot. They cost about $2 for a box of 100 at your local pharmacy, and
they stay moist for about fifteen minutes in my dry winter kitchen. Figure
it out- that $2 gets you through about twenty-five hours of zapping, well
worth it. Put your tools down on a nice, fresh paper towel, change it every
session, and clean your tools thoroughly before and after each session.
Buy good tweezers. You will have no idea how
important this is until you finally get a good pair. The ones to get are Tweezerman
slant-tips, which are the standard model; they cost about $18. Tweezerman's website
(www.tweezerman.com) has a dealer list! Get them, keep them clean (pull your
alcohol swab through the jaws often), don't drop them. You'll want them for
your eyebrows long after your face is clear! For now, keep them with your
zapping supplies (I've got a card table set up in the kitchen), don't use
them for anything else. I can't stress how important these tweezers are; my
working speed is two to three times faster with them.
Take your time, enjoy the process. It's wonderful to watch the pink areas
grow! You are going to have many hundred hours to learn to do it right; I
started to get confident with my probe placement at about thirty hours. I
know- as yet I have no idea how effective my work is, the whole process hurts
a lot, and my skiing and winter surfing have been seriously cut back, not
only because of the time involved, but because my skin is so sensitive to
the sun and the cold. Whatever the outcome, not a minute of my time will have
been wasted. I spent a long, long time in a cold, dark, empty place of my
own making, and the feeling of "earning my way out" is wonderful.
I'm planning on having Dr. O. do my forehead; I could well be that much ahead
When I was a teenager I ordered the $19.95 Perma Tweez electrolysis unit
from General Medical Co. in Los Angeles. The unit was largely ineffective
and frustrating. However, I began to use salt with hot water in a small dixie
cup to keep my index finger moist. The unit then became highly effective.
I learned with time to always remove the battery in the unit when my electrolysis
session was finished in order to preserve it. Although I needed to replace
batteries and stylets over time, I was able to remove more than 95% of my
facial and body hair. I even removed all the hair in my genital area prior
to sex reassignment surgery. During the time of my hair removal I used professional
electrologists occasionally for 1 or 2 sessions with little to no success.
Having dark hair and large pores probably were helpful in contributing to
my success for removing hair. I have no scars or unsightly after-effects from
my electrolysis. Although I continue to receive 28 mg of biweekly delestrogen
injections post-surgery, my several years of self-inflicted insertions with
an electrolysis stylus make those injections painless. The gal who gives me
the hormone injections refers to me as "the human pincushion" -
Thanks to everyone who's been willing to share their experiences and advice
so generously! They're doing a great service for our community!
A sampling of failures reported
OK, that's every success story I've received. Now for the other side: space
does not allow me to list all of the failure stories I've received. The
stories below are representative.
Here's my own experience: I found it excruciating
on the machine's lowest setting of 1, and I can take full-blast professional
electrolysis with just a couple of Advil. Plus, the few hairs I treated left
me with angry raised red bumps worse than any I ever got at regular electrolysis.Plus,
the time it took to do just a few hairs made it seem like an impossible task.
When I bought mine, the cashier told me they were very
hard to use and that they get a lot of returns, so save my receipt. I
can see why. There are people who cut their own hair, change their own oil,
do their own plumbing, etc. Not me. I decided this was another thing I'd rather
not deal with, and just had it done professionally.
Jennifer writes of her home unit, "The level of discomfort using the unit
is slight and I have found that this is not intolerable. My largest concern
however is that the time, incredible patience and agility required to attempt
usage on one's entire face is beyond the realm of the normal individual. It
took me about 1 hour to do 10 hairs. This I am sure is due to my inexperience
using the unit. One experiences a lot of hit and miss attempts which requires
you to re-zap the same hair(s)." She concludes, "Large
scale areas should be left to a professional electrolysist. It's more
effective and less painful. That's worth the money to me!"
Leveaux weighs in as follows: "I've tried just about every machine that
claims hair removal. Almost all of them seem to work for me, but I've
just found it more convenient to do the electrolysis. If money is the
main issue, I still recommend having it done, since the outcome will be affected.
I just don't want to see anyone scar themselves or anything like that (I have
three dot sized marks on my underchin, not real noticeable to others, but it
is to me). I've healed already from my other attempts at home hair removal...
and unless you have really fine hair, these products won't work at all."
The British TS website maintained by the Looking Glass Society doesn't mince words: "These items
are widely available on the retail market, and are generally very simple, low-powered,
galvanic electrolysis units. In practice the power levels developed are quite
insufficient to treat male-type hair, and again these products are quite useless in the treatment of transsexuals.
In addition, the needles supplied with these units are generally not disposable,
non-sterile, poor quality and excessively large in diameter. In the opinion
of the present authors these kits are a recipe for permanent
Jay says: "The ones that use a needle are not nearly as effective as the
equipment used by an electrologist, but they do work. I tried one for a while,
and the small number of hairs I removed have never grown back. I
gave up, because it was just too hard and took too long. Try taking an
ordinary needle - blunt it a bit first - and with the aid of a mirror, poke
it into the hole that one of your hairs is growing out of. It not only has to
go into the hole, it has to connect with the hair root. You'll see what I mean.
I know such kits have been used successfully by some people, but you
need literally years of time and lots of patience."
Christa adds: "Mine's still in a drawer in my bathroom, along with the
home waxing machine (caused horrible bruising), an ancient bottle of Nair (made
my skin red and itchy for weeks), and a few other things - kind of a museum
of failed desperation. I tried the One Touch exactly once; it
burned a hole in my arm that took weeks to heal. How anyone with anything
short of rhino skin could successfully use one of those things without becoming
one big scar is a mystery to me."
Another person writes, "I also tried the One Touch. I found it to be so
frustrating to use that I threw it away. In fact, to remove the temptation to
take it out of the trash, I smashed it with a hammer."
While I have included success stories to show that this can work, I should
add that I get many more who report complete failure for
every success story I've received.
For the vast majority of us, going to a professional is the fastest, cheapest,
safest, least painful way. While there are success stories from do-it-yourselfers,
I do not personally recommend do-it-yourself electrolysis.
If you decide to attempt at-home electrolysis, please let me know how it goes!