Looking for help in purchasing my first machine

Hi there. I’m newish to the forums, and I’ve been reading quite a bit. I’m absolutely sure there’s plenty of good information here, but I had a specific question, and I was hoping for some smart, informed answers.

I’m looking to purchase an inexpensive (probably used) machine for $300-$400. I live in a very rural area, so I’d have to do it online. Is Ebay the best source of machines? How do I know what I’m looking for in a machine. Can I post links here (in this thread) and ask for advice on listings?

More about me: I’m 33, transgendered, transitioned 11 years ago and I’m trying to finish the process as economically as possible. The $400 I’d like to spend is pretty much my entire disposable income for a month, so it’s important to me that I do not waste any money.

I’ve used the One-Touch type of systems for ~40-50 hours with great success (very disciplined, very meticulous, no scarring, lots of hair gone); looking at other parts of my body in the future that I might like to work on, I’m starting to realize that a faster/better/more controlled device would really save me a lot of time because it’s probably more efficient. A foot pedal seems like an amazing luxury.

I feel extremely comfortable and confident about my ability to do electrolysis on myself, and I also have a partner who helps me with harder to reach areas. It’s possible over time that I might want to take up Electrolysis as a side job for a more diverse income (and that’s when I’d look at proper schooling.)

I guess http://www.hairtell.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/67741/1.html would be a better place to ask specific questions about listings. Does anyone have any specific advice? Should I be trying to spend closer to $1,000 for a good system?

And last question (for now). If you were purchasing a machine, would you prefer an Apilus? I can spend more money if I plan ahead. I just want to make sure I make a wise purchase.

It depends on your needs. If something that is the newest thing on the market is what you desire than yeah sure, spend a grand on a apilus or ST machine. Conversely, the other machines from the 90s and early 2000s work just as well if you know what you’re doing.

The only advantage I see is settings for different areas in the more modern epilators. eBay is probably your best source because you can bypass the electrology license you would (usually) need to purchase one

I also need to put in my signature that my Silhouet Tone machine was bought for 115$… At the time I was reluctant in purchasing it even though I already had a gentrionics, but I actually use this machine way more

This is not in your price range, but this would be a great epilator for a DIY’er and her buddy.

Don’t know if it is still available as there was some interest shown on another site today.

ok, So I guess I’m the official queen of DIY on a shoestring budget so I’ll put my two cents in.

I frankly dont see that many machines that are worth having, coming up on ebay for too low a price they get bid up but it DOES happen. Unfortunately too low and the seller may make an excuse and not honour the sale ( seen that happen too) . They usually go for more than they do on private for sale adds on places like craigslist or kijiji. I will occasionally post a bunch of adds from Ontario and Quebec kijiji of machines on the cheap side of things, or that appear to be spectacular deals.I’m also a trangirl, and also on a tight budget. Twice I purchased machines on the low cost side, and twice had to put nearly twice as much money as I planned into it when all was said and done. Honestly, 500-700 IS a better price range to be looking in, but I understand the hesitance to increase your budget that much. I live with 3 kids, on just a bit more than you do a month.

As long as a machine does blend, it usually does strait thermolysis and galvanic too. So that will give you some idea what to look for. Beyond that the computerized systems ( read more expensive too) DO have some advantages . I ended up with an Apilus SM-500 and I have come to really like some of the pulse blend modes, and use them almost exclusively.It cost me $300 for the machjine, $100 busfare to get it, and another $300 for a memory card to make it work, but I still came out with one worth about $1200. But a analogue machine will also work just fine. If you post a link to an add in this thread, I’ll likely see it and give you an opinion.

Expect to spend probably another $100 on probes, and 60-80 on a loop lamp.And some odds and sodds like tea tree oil, gloves, alcohol , stuff like that. The probes are high, because you will likely need 3 boxes, of differing sizes. And if you are like me, you will bend LOTS of them while learning.

If you have any more specific questions, I’ll definitely try to answer.


Thank you to all three of your for your replies. You have three completely different perspectives; I’m grateful for your thoughts!

iLikeDIY: I’m completely okay with something older as long as you can still get supplies for them. Are probes universal? Is it hard to find probes for older machines? Also, can you recommend anywhere I can pick up an older, reliable machine? If I could find a machine that did thermolysis, galvanic and blend for under $400, I’d probably pick it up within the next day or two.

I’m pretty comfortable with the science behind electrolysis; I feel really comfortable with adjusting settings on the fly. The biggest thing I’m looking for is a reliable and comfortable device that I can use quickly/efficiently. I don’t even care how painful it is (as long as it works and it’s safe.)

dfahey: How much is that epilator selling for? I didn’t see a price or anything. My absolute ideal situation would be finding a private seller (perhaps a community member). I’d love the contact information if you have it; I have $300 of cash on hand atm, but I could go as high as $700-$800 if needed and if the device was worth purchasing.

SeanaTG: I really appreciate your advice Seana! There’s always something else that I’m saving up for, so being economical is a really big deal for me. I’m not sure how comfortable I feel purchasing from Canada; it really seems risky to me unless there was someone who could vouch for the seller.

I did start looking at craigslist ads in my state, though, since it’s possible I could do a 3-4 hour drive to go and pick it up. I didn’t expect to have much luck, but it turns out there are a few devices floating around.

I actually have two wonderful daughters, so I guess we’re in a pretty similar situation!

For probes, are they more or less universal?

I already have wonderful lighting and a great vanity mirror that’s x10 magnification (really, really helpful). I’m definitely going to look into a magnifying loop lamp, but I kind of feel like I can grab that afterwards. The first thing I want to get is machine and probes.

Here are two machines I might be able to pick up locally. Are these something any of you three would consider?


The clareblend machines both come well recommended. Both those appear to do blend so you are in luck. Now they appear to be non-computerized so you wont get any fancy programmed routines. You’ll need to determine your settings, but Michael Bono’s book has a section on this and how to establish good settings.
Most modern epilators use f-shank probes ( you’ll see them referred to as f2 f3 f4 f5 or f6.The Clareblend machines would be the same I believe. Usually the only one to use K shank probes are old kree machines, which should be avoided due to age and reliability.So the probes you get will fit any machine.
I started off with f2 f3 and f4 probes. That seems a good mix. Dont worry about insulated probes until much later, when you are doing thermolysis or blend.Even with blend I personally prefer the uninsulated ones. Gold are awesome, but pricey. Stainless steel do nearly as well in my testing.

The loop is more practical when you have someone to work on you. You cant reach all areas by yourself ( like under the chin). Do yourself a favour, and find someone to trade off with . Then get a loop. Peverably a 5 diopter, 2 diopter arent really strong enough.


One last piece of advice. If you are buying privately, ask to test the device first! I made this mistake, twice, and it cost me. Always test!


Okay, thank you Seana.

I was going to ask about a few random epilators, but then I realized that I really want a machine that does blend electrolysis (thermolysis and has an anode, which means galvanic). From my research, plain thermolysis is only really good for fine hairs and shallow follicles.

How long do you treat each hair using your machine(s) on a blend setting. I’m trying to figure out what I gain by buying a professional machine (esp blend). I feel really comfortable with Galvanic and I really like the idea that it kind of travels down the follicle, in case the follicle is twisted at all. Do they make pure galvanic units with a foot pedal?

it depends on the epilator and the mode you are working in and where you are working. My epilator has about 900 presets for different areas , different types of hair. And every epilator is calibrated differently so my settings wont be anywhere near the same as yours.

In general, I find some of my hairs stubborn. I know the school the students had the same issue and most times zapped them twice. So often I’m using 2 full cycles at the preset to get the hair to come out “just perfectly”. So I’ll preset for example on the upper lip, for course hair ( 3-8 on my Apilus) thich related to about .49 Milliamp on galvanic, for 10 seconds, mixed with 9% thermolysis for some period, 4 times in the cycle. If I was using strait blend and not multipulse blend, the settings would be different. So there’s no real comparison between what I see, and you will on your epilator. What you need to do to determine your settings is experiment, and do a tolerance test. This isnt as easy as it sounds but as I said, if you look in Michaels book ( or even in the free pdf download condensed version on his site) there are rough instructions on how to do a tolerance test.

This is what you want to look at. I have probably read this download from Michael 50 times by now:


One other thing. While you are experimenting, stay the heck away from your face. While Galvanic is fine , it takes longer. And its really easy to overtreat. I at one point did something like 2 minutes of galvanic on my chin at 0.30 milliamperes. I wa very lucky that the scab that I had there for a week and a half didnt scar. I practised for weeks on my arm, not because it caused dysphoria, but because I didnt care if I screwed up there.I do care somewhat more if I leave a smoking hole in my chin


Thank you so much for your help Seana! And thank you for that PDF link, btw! Talking with you (and everyone else) has really helped motivate me to do a tremendous amount of self-learning (about machines, electrology types, benefits of each type, etc). I’m incredibly grateful that you were here and that you chose to share your wisdom and experience with me. :slight_smile:

I made plans to purchase this Clareblend machine for $500: http://spokane.craigslist.org/for/4161469671.html

The seller is an older electrologist with a more expensive machine; she practiced in multiple locations previously, and the Clareblend was her backup machine. She attests that it works really well (she used it recently). After talking to her, I feel really comfortable doing it through mail; I’m sending her a cashier’s check on Monday, and she’s going to ship it out to me shortly after. I asked her numerous questions about what came with it, and she even offered to send me some probes and other little goodies to get me started (wonderful older woman)! So I am super excited.

The machine itself only does Thermolysis and Blend; it apparently does not do straight galvanic (which I kind of like having the option to do), but I’ll survive I think. Blend is what I was really after and if I get really into doing eletrology (on more than just myself), I could always consider buying a more expensive epilator.

I’ll be very careful about experimenting with the new machine. I’ll definitely start somewhere inconspicuous, and then move to other areas. Thanks for that tip!

I have two more random questions if you don’t mind answering them. First, where do you buy your probes from? I was looking at Electric Spa (http://www.electricspa.com/category/Precision-non-Disposable-Needles.html), and I though their probes looked like they were priced well (and they don’t seem to mind selling to me). Do you have a different place you like to purchase from?

Second, I was thinking about eventually taking a course in electrology. WA state actually doesn’t require licensing for electrologists (and I’m far off from even considering doing this professionally), but what would you think of a course similiar to this (http://www.trevinoskincare.com/electrologists-training/)?

I might be moving over towards that area next summer. Is electrology something I could practice myself on friends and family (with the understanding that I’m learning, and that I wouldn’t be doing anywhere that’s super sensitive to scarring/dmg)? Is technique something I can pick up through a lot of experience (and it would have to be, because someone, somewhere had to learn/develop it), or is it something you really think I’d need a teacher to learn?

I buy my probe from texas electrolysis supply ( http://texaselectrolysissupply.com ) as do many of the folks here. I’ve chatted witht he office girl filling the orders many times and she as no issues dealing with me either.

I’m looking at courses too. There is nothing stopping you from practising in an unlicensed state. You can learn other places. Start with the pdf I sent you link of. Also go into the thread “Learning resource list” and look for the link I posted on the sterex academy. There’s a couple otther good texts beyond Michaels, I liked Milady’s Hair removal Techniques it had some good physiology informtion. And you can learn more, by reading some of the pro’s information here.
Courses are a bit touch and go. Some give the bare minimum. This one seems designed to be a little more because it has 320 hours. Not all of that is instruction, alot would be practising on each other. Your best bet is to practise basic insertion techniques ( I did this for weeks with no power applied from the epilator.) and then slowly experiment with hair removal with power applied. The course well it can be really good or really bad, but there isnt many ways I can tell froma web page. Courses, like electrolysists, is best to ask for referrals.


I got my machine today, and I have not tried it out yet. I have a few last minute questions.

First, the foot pedal. Should it go into the plug for Galvanic or RF Foot Switch?

Second, the dials. There is DC Electrolysis, RF Thermolysis, and then a power dial from Off-10. It looks like DC Electrolysis is Galvanic (so the lady was wrong, and this machine does do old school Galvanic), and the RF Thermolysis is the Thermolysis setting. There’s a Clareblend switch, which probably mixes the two settings. Any idea of how the power setting (Off-10) interacts with the other settings?

I feel comfortable playing around with it, but I’d love some advice if anyone knows a bit more than me before I get started.

I have the electrode plugged into Blend Ground. I plan to keep it wet with salt water. I was hoping I could just keep it held between my knees or lower thighs. Is there anything wrong with that plan (so that I can keep both hands free?)

And finally, on the meters, there’s are pink and green areas. Any idea what they’re trying to indicate?

The machine plugs in and seems to work well, s I’m really excited! Will post more information as I figure it out.

Okay, got it all working. RF was the right switch for blend. The numbers on the power dial seem to be the timer. I’m so excited. I absolutely love the way the needle feels (compared to the old One Touch thingie). This is the best! :slight_smile:

Thanks to all who helped!

Ok so it sounds like you have it worked out as to the mechanics.

For the Annode probe, I find it useful to wrap the annode in paper towel. I’ve never had to use salt in the water, but it would improve conductivity I suppose.There’s no reason why you cant strap the annode somewhere on your body, use a bandana or something to tie it in place. I just hold mine, I should probably not and give myself more hands but I’m ok with it.

Start someplace like a leg or arm. Try out your settings there. I can give you some basic settings from my presets, but they would be different for your machine. It’s a starting point I suppose?

For blend , most places on the face, I’ve found a 10-15 second duration works. The intensities vary immensely though depending on where I’m working, Highest on the chin, the least on the upper lip, and about midway between the two for cheeks.

Start with a higher galvanic, and just a LITTLE RF if you are going to do blend. I recommend starting out though with strait galvanic. Try somehting like 0.3 milliampere’s for 20-30 seconds on a forearm hair. Get prectise with that then slowly add your small amount of RF. Chin hairs for me are something like 0.6 milliamperes galvanic, but dont you dare try something that high starting out. Be conservative and please dont leave any smoking holes in yourself. Dont touch your face for a while, get used to the machine and what it can do, and insertions , first. I literally spent WEEKS practising with a needle and NO POWER before even trying on an arm hair. By then I had gotten the hang of insertions, depth, and such pretty well. You;ll learn to feel the bottom of the follicle. That’s where you want to be.

I’ve probably said some things I shouldnt have! Please take my lack of experience into account and use your best , conservative, and careful judgement.

And congratulations on your first machine! It’s an exciting time for you!