Well, first of all, you can find out if your state requires a license for electrologists. For example, the state of California requires 600 hours of schooling, plus a passing score on a written and practical exam before one can be licensed to perform electrolysis hair removal. Consumers can look up the California Department of Consumer Affairs at https://www.breeze.ca.gov and look for the link “License SEARCH” and then “Search by City/ County” followed by “Board of Barbering and Cosmetology” and “Electrologist” to find a licensed electrologist.
For states that do not have licensing requirements for electrologists, the American Electrology Association is a national association that provides electrologist testing & certification. They have a members list that can be found at http://www.electrology.com although keep in mind that the list may not be as complete as the one in your particular state.
Since most offices offer free first time consultation, I would recommend going in person and talking to several different electrologists before choosing someone. Finally, you should see results within 2 to 3 months of starting a regular hair removal schedule of a smaller area such as a woman’s chin. It is important that you follow the same schedule that you used for your previous hair removal method. For example, if you wax or thread every 2 weeks, you should see your electrologist every 2 weeks in the beginning of the course of treatment, so that she can catch and kill the new hairs when they first grow out and are at their most vulnerable. Otherwise, it will take longer to see results because of the nature of the hair growth and rest cycles.
One final note is to be fair to your electrologist and stick with her/ him for a period of at least 2 to 3 months. This is because the hairs are most difficult to kill at the beginning of the course of treatment or during the first clearing. If you do a lot of shopping around and see many electrologists at the same time, you may not have good results, and it will be difficult to figure out the reason why.
Usually, during electrolysis you should neither feel the insertion of the probe into the hair follicle, nor should you feel like the hair is being pulled out when it is removed because it will usually slide out of the follicle when properly treated. Sometimes, when there is a large white keratin ball at the root of the resting or telogen hair, you will feel it pop out right at the surface of the skin, and this is normal. As for when the heat is being applied or when the lye chemical reaction is occurring, different people have different tolerance for pain, and the same person may have different pain threshold at different areas on the body, or at different times of the month for women. Some areas of the face and body, especially towards the mid-line, are more sensitive than others. But considering that we have to apply enough heat or form enough lye to kill the germ cells that are making hair at the bottom of the hair follicle, anyone that claims a painless procedure is likely to be exaggerating just a little bit. It is just impossible to destroy tissue without sensation. Similarly, laser hair removal does involve some degree of discomfort. Clients who have low tolerance for pain may wish to apply a numbing cream, or take Advil or ibuprofen before their appointment. Stronger pain medication may be prescribed by their physician.
Because we must treat each follicle of the unwanted hair, electrolysis is time consuming by its nature. Electrolysis is ideal for clients who have patience and tolerance for delayed gratification, they are willing to invest the time and resource needed in order to achieve a more permanent result. Those people who need a quick fix are best served by more temporary methods such as shaving, waxing, threading, and tweezing. Having said this, one should keep in mind that waxing, threading, and tweezing will tend to distort the hair follicles and make electrolysis more difficult at a later date. These temporary methods may also lead to skin irritation, “razor bumps” or ingrown hairs, and increased hair density and thickness. Also, the temporary methods require frequent, never-ending maintenance, and in the long run are more time consuming and costly.