Bono (The Blend Method) has an excellent section on lighting and magnification, in which he ranks the equipment in order: magnifying lamp, single lens loupe, binocular (multilens loupe), and surgical microscope.
Magnifying lamps are initially attractive, as they offer high magnification for a very low cost, but they have a number of problems: The hair you are epilating has to be very near the center of the lens, or the view of the follicle is distorted. This means you are constantly adjusting the lens position. If the patient shifts even slightly, the lens has to be adjusted.
The spacing between your eyes is large enough that when the view through one eye is on-axis on the lens, the view through the other eye is off-axis, so each eye sees a different view. You virtually have to close one eye.
On lighting, while on the subject of magnifying lamps: The circle fluorescent magnifying lamp typically has a poor color rendering index (CRI). That means that, especially with lighter hairs, the contrast between the hair and skin disappears. Furthermore, the light is diffuse and so there are no shadows - which are important for fine hand-eye coordination. By far the preferable light source is halogen, which renders colors perfectly and shows distinct shadows. I use a halogen spotlight (available from a typical office supply store - MR16 bulbs are available with a 10 degree spot), which is a reasonable approximation of a fiber optic halogen illuminator.
The spacing between the lens and skin is narrow enough to make working between the two awkward.
When your face is close enough to the lens to make the magnification useful, you end up breathing on and fogging up the lens.
James added: Heat from the circle lamp can cause discomfort, and a person who moves under one can bump the lamp, and may get burned by the bulb as well.
Single lens loupes are identified by their positioning a single lens in front of the eye. This is the same thing as holding up a magnifying glass. The problem is that the loupe can’t practically be positioned very far from the eye, which it needs to be in order to adequately magnify. These range in price from $5 or so up to about $50.
Binocular loupes use a multiple lens light path to allow high magnification as well as close placement to the eye. They look like a miniature pair of telescopes mounted to headgear. The cost ranges from $75 up to $500 or so.
Surgical microscopes provide the very best imaging, and cost upwards of $5000.
James added: Stereo Scopes and Loupes have the advantage of keeping your vision and ligh equipment far enough away from the client that they can sneeze and not endanger themselves or the equipment. Fiber optics keep all of the heat of the halogen lamp away from the client, although many halogen spot lights can be placed far enough away to not have a problem with this, however, the electrologist would still have to move the spot, and therefore touch the light source many times during treatment. With a fiber optic built into the scope, when you have set your vision, you have set your light as well.
Lastly, stereo scopes give you a field of vision that stays still and doesn’t shake, like binoculars that are worn on the face, and don’t need one to put one’s eyes all the way on them to see.
All that said, decent work can be done with a circle lamp, but for someone who was making it their life long profession, I would expect enough dedication to have the best equipment. It only increases their ability to work better, and faster. The more comfortable your clients, the faster you get their work done, the more clients you will have, and the more work each will be willing to get done.