Modest Expectations - Modest Success with simple equipment

I wanted to relate my experience with home electrolysis. My ultimate goal is total beard removal. I decided to initially focus on the hairs under my nose and on my upper lip.

I first used the Clear and Easy version of the one-touch. I found that this machine could work, but initially I did get some burns and the needle was sometime very large compared to the hair folicles that I was inserting them into. I did the footswitch modification (found elsewhere on this site) and this helped a lot to control the current. Most of the burns I got seemed to be from either inserting or removing the needle when the current was flowing.

I do dabble a bit in electronics and decided to build my own device. I followed some of the tips found here and purchased some .005 and .003 insulated “blend” needles and a stylus from Texas Electrolysis supply.Then I built a small unit using around an LM 555 timer chip, some capacitors and some potentiometers to set the time and current. I used an inexpensive Radio Shack multi-meter to observe the current flow. My ultimate goal was to make a multi-needle, constant current home unit. While this was a facinating excercise and greatly expanded my electronics knowledge, it overall did little to remove hair! You aren’t zapping hairs when you are researching a circuit or soldiering. Also, it was clear to me that multi-needles would be practically impossible to place by myself. You need to be horizontal for them to stay in place. (Oh, I forgot to mention, I do have a rather high pain tolerance…)

After all this trail and error and a big bill at Radio Shack, here is the simple solution I arrived at:

I use a 9v battery, battery clip, a 10 Ohm resistor, a stylus with a 003 needle and a sponge in a bowl of saltwater as a footswitch. These are connected with wires terminated with (nicely soldiered) alligator clips. I figured out the 10 Kohm resistance by experimenting with the multi-meter; balancing my pain tolerence, treatment time, current and resistance. The circuit is simple… the negative battery lead goes to the stylus, the positive lead goes through the resistor and is attached to the salt-water sponge using an alligator clip. Insert the needle, touch you foot to the sponge and start counting…1,2,3.

I measured the voltage drop and observed that my normal body resistene is about 7 Kohms, for a 17 Kohm total resistance. This, at 9.6 volts, this results in a treatment current of around 600 uV (microvolts).

Using this simple circuit, for me, about 50 seconds seems to be the magic time. A bit less for velous hairs, a bit more for the terminals. I only mention this as an example, each of us is different. The hairs are sliding out, they don’t seem to be coming back and there is no skin damage. I do this at the same time every day and drink lots of water. Nearly every insertion generates a small amount of white stuff that bubbles a bit while the current is applied.

I have been moderatly successful using this simple circuit. I spend about an hour a week clobbering about 40 hairs per session for about 6 months. Figuing my beard has around 20,000 hairs, my face should be cleared in about 10 years… assuming I can reach all of the areas. (Did I mention that I am very patient!)

The good news is that the areas I have done are looking very good and clear. I am not inflicting any scars. Realistically, I will go see a professional some day, but for the time being, those 40 hairs per week are very satisfying.

If you are seriously considering DIY galvanic electolysis, then I highly recommend the keep-it-simple approach. With the exception of the professional needles and stylus, this approach costs next to nothing. It did take some experimenting to get the resistance and timing right, but now it is second nature. There is really no reason to spend money on one-touch machines and their expensive needle replacements that a long-duration treatment program would require.

Thanks to everyone on this forum for making so much great information available. I hope my experience can help someone a little bit.

19,000 hairs to go,

Great Post CeeCee

Nice to see that other people are willing to take a methodical DIY approach to their hair removal.
I too modified my OneTouch to make it more efficient for my use. Have not done the foot switch yet but since the conduction band is almost totaly corroded on mine I will be soon forced to go down that road <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />

The beard is the one last area on my body that I have not attacked yet, hopefully in a few years I can look back with a smooth and clean face.


In my original post, I first mention my resistor value as 10 ohms, I meant 10 K Ohm.

I derived this value by first using a variable resistor (a 100 K ohm potentiometer). I adjusted the resistence until I got the correct balance of pain, time and effectiveness. I used the $20 Radio Shack multi-meter to read the microamps during treatment and then to measure this resistence I was using on the pot (after treatment). It was about 10 Kohm. I replaced the pot with a fixed resistor instead of the pot so that the only variable is treatment time. The voltage of the battery will drop over time as it drains, but I have found the batteries to last several treatments.

Somewhere I found a table that translates treatment current and time to something called Lye Units. I have worked these into a spreadsheet that I will be glad to share.

Another variable that I don’t yet understand quantatativly is the impact of the various needle sizes. A prevoius poster recommends doubling the treatment when going from a 006/005 to the 003 size. All of my work so far has been with the 003, so when I use the 005 for the larger hairs, I will initially half the treatments and work back up to the optimum pain/effectiveness balance.


It has been my experience as a practitioner that larger probe sizes, equal lower treatment settins, not higher ones. I use Ballet Gold Probes. The conduction may be better, but I believe the same would be true with a stainless probe as well.

Thanks for the clarification. That is what I tried to say. When I go up to the 005 larger probe, I will start with 20 seconds instead of 40 seconds. This seems more in line with the 15 second treatment time the one-touch recommends with its 006 probe.

I will try the ballet gold needles with my next purchase. The needles seem to last a really long time though. I dip them in alchol between each insertion, and as long as I don’t accidentally bend them in handling, they seem to last indefinately. I wonder if they are actually corroding over time?

A lot of what I read about Lye Units and treatment time is related to blend methods. The treatment levels I am using seem high on these tables. Can I assume that since I am using only electrolysis, thus not heating up the lye to a gazzillion degrees with RF waves, that these higher levels are OK. Again, the hairs are sliding out easily and I am not getting too much post treatment irritation.

Agian, thanks for your clarification.

You will need more “lye units” if you are not using RF. Not to worry.

The rules aren’t very solid, anyway. The practitioner typically will adjust the settings as they go in order to achieve a balance between easy epilation and reduced after effects.

If I were you I wouldn’t bother dipping the needle in alcohol prior to every insertion. The hair follicles are filled with bacteria, so inserting a needle in there, whether clean or otherwise, is like plunging a yardstick in a cesspool: It’ll be nasty when it hits the bottom under any event. You might try experimenting with doing a bunch of epilations without the alcohol to see if there’s a difference in healing.

I don’t think your needles, stainless or gold, are corroding to any significant degree. Keep in mind the standard practice used to be to reuse needles indefinitely. Take a used needle and inspect it under a microscope if you’re still curious.

hey ceecee i was wondering if your home made device turned out to be a good one? is it better than the one touch? i’ve never tried either of them. i was looking at clean and easy electrolysis kit but i still don’t know? please let me know if it worked out for you…i’ll be attending school while using whatever device i end up with and i just don’t know if this is a good idea? but i have no money lol so i can’t get it professionally done or anything. thanks for your help…and anyone else who wants to comment. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

In reply to Ceecee’s post about making an electrolysis machine: based upon the instructions given and what I had on hand (a One Touch that didn’t work for me when I bought it 25 years ago) I made my own machine and it works! I used the stylus from the one touch and a 9v. plug-in transformer (they come with many small electronic appliances)instead of a battery; I still use the band on the stylus as a switch but use a thimble on my fingertip with brine inside- it stays wet longer this way; the only improvement I can see would be to get some of the gel that’s used to attach electrodes to the skin for EKG’s, etc. instead of brine; I didn’t have a 10k resistor but had a couple of 5k pots and wired them in series; about 20 seconds per hair seems to work

Your thimble based switch for the one-touch is very simple and clever, I have not heard of that before. It sounds like positive contact is ensured. It has been over a year since I cleared my first areas and they remain clear.

Using a wal-wart for your power supply scares me a bit. While I have never heard of a power supply melting down and delivering a mega-shock, something about being connected to the grid is scary! I found that 9v batteries lasted a very long, long time (20+ hours) so I never tried your approach. I wasn’t powering the one-touch timer and beeper however, perhaps that drains the battery some more.

Best of luck with your hair removal,