First off: I don't recommend attempting home electrolysis.
Second: Most home hair removal systems have no proof of permanent results they claim. You must use a unit where you insert a probe into the follicle if you want permanent results.
It's a small device 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 tweezers. 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!) for high power.
- 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.
- Many have attempted to do their own electrolysis. Many failed.
- It takes a large time commitment and real dedication.
- You have no training.
- You could cause permanent skin damage.
- You may may not get permanent results due to improper technique.
- Temporary side effects such as redness and swelling may be worse and last longer than with professional treatment.
- Some find it more painful than professional electrolysis.
- It may take much longer to treat your own face than to have it done professionally.
- When you factor in what your time is worth and additional supplies, it may be more expensive than getting it done professionally.
- Some areas are difficult to see/treat by yourself, especially using your non-dominant hand or areas requiring a mirror.
- The more hair you have, the more work and less your chances for success.
My recommendation: Don't try this at home
I feel the potential drawbacks outweigh the benefits, so I do not personally recommend attempting to do it yourself.
From an FDA hair removal overview published in July, 1996:
"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."
The British Medical Association recommends avoiding them altogether, as do many medical professionals (for example, see Caldwell, 1972).
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. For the best chance of getting permanent results, I recommend a professional electrologist recommended by someone who is done and happy.
If you decide it's right for you
I have compiled information on where you can buy a home electrolysis kit and some tips to increase your chances of success.