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Did you know that shaving, waxing, and IPL are not the only options when it comes to hair removal? Epilating is another form of hair removal that lifts hair at the root for a long-lasting, smooth feeling on any area you choose to treat. Rather than tweezing hair one by one with a tweezer, an epilator is a handheld device that tweezes multiple hairs at the same time, allowing you to remove hair on larger areas of the body faster.
“Epilators are devices that remove body hair from the roots, similar to waxing,” explains Emily Buckwell, Global Head of Communications of CurrentBody. “They are a small electrical device which, instead of cutting hairs at the surface, uses spring coils, discs, or plates to tweeze multiple hairs at once.” An epilator looks similar to an electric razor, but from the process of pulling the hair from the root, it stunts re-growth to achieve longer-lasting results and smoothness.
According to Buckwell, epilators saw a real boost over the pandemic, as people couldn’t get to the salon for their regular waxing treatments. While epilating is certainly an effective method of hair removal, it’s definitely not the most pain-free. If not done properly, epilating can be painful on any area of the body, and might even cause burns with some specific devices if you aren’t careful. Because of this, it’s important to read and follow the instructions that come with your device before use.
This pick is ideal for people who want to epilate often and invest in a multi-use epilator.
This epilator is a bit pricey, so it’s probably not a good option for anyone who is trying to save money and wants to opt for a more budget-friendly epilator.
Although the Braun Epilator Silk-épil 9 9-720 might be one of the priciest of the bunch, it is certainly our favorite for a reason. “It's great that it can be used wet or dry —mit's completely waterproof,” explains Dr. Hadley King, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “And the wider head removes more hair with each stroke.”
This epilator has many impressive features, one of which includes the vibrating head. “The head also vibrates to decrease discomfort, and it pivots to more easily accommodate body curves,” says Dr. King. “The newer models also have a smart sensor that helps to guide how much pressure to apply.”
The Braun Epilator Silk-épil 9 9-720 comes with the device, a trimmer cap, a skin contact cap, a shaver head, a cleaning brush, and a pouch to store it all. One of the downsides of this product is that it’s expensive. That being said, it’s worth the price if you know you prefer epilating over other forms of hair removal and want to invest in a durable, high-quality epilator.
Power Source: Smart plug | Features: Wireless and can be used wet or dry | Recommended hair type: All hair types | What's included: Device, trimmer cap, skin contact cap, shaver head, cleaning brush, pouch
Price at time of publish: $89.94
This epilator is great for folks who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a hair removal device.
This pick is not ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with a cord while epilating, as this is not a cordless option.
Small but mighty, the Philips Satinelle Epilator does much more than just look compact and cute. This pick is one of the more budget-friendly options of the bunch, and does a great job of removing hair all over the body.
“The rounded design is great for the bikini area, and there's an ergonomic grip,” says Dr. King. “I like that the epilator head can be detached and washed under running water. Plus, there's an extra cap that can be placed on the epilator head for more gentle epilation in sensitive areas.”
While this is a great option for epilating delicate spots like the bikini area, it’s not ideal if you aren’t close to an outlet (this pick isn’t cordless, so you’ll need to plug it in while in use).
Power Source: Corded Electric | Features: Sensitive cap | Recommended hair type: All hair types | What's included: Charger and sensitive area cap
Price at time of publish: $34.95
This option is a great pick for anyone who is usually super sensitive to waxing or other forms of hair removal. It also could be a good fit for those who are just trying out epilation for the first time.
This is also another pick that requires an outlet nearby, as it is not cordless.
For anyone with sensitive skin or first-time epilator users, the Braun Epilator Silk-Epil 3 3-270 is your best bet. This pick comes with multiple attachments for a smooth hair removal process, and comes with two-speed options, too.
The Braun Epilator Silk-Epil 3 3-270 is an affordable choice that comes with a shaver and trimmer as well as an epilator. “This product allows you the flexibility to switch hair removal modalities if your skin is showing signs of sensitivities to one,” explains Dr. Nava Greenfield, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “If you develop ingrown hairs or irritation from epilation on certain areas of skin, you can use the shaver or trimmer for those spots and return to epilation for skin that is less sensitive.”
One of the downsides of this option is that it is corded and will require an outlet close by to use. Additionally, because the epilator head isn’t as wide as some other picks on the market, it might take a bit more time to epilate on larger areas of the body, such as the legs.
Power Source: Corded electric | Features: SmartLight, massage rollers, and two-speed setting | Recommended hair type: All hair types | What's included: Epilator, shaver head, trimmer head, cleaning brush, and charger
Price at time of publish: $39.94
If you’re looking for an epilator that allows you to customize your bikini grooming, this pick is for you.
Because it has so many attachments, it’s an expensive pick — this option isn’t ideal for anyone who hasn’t tried epilating before.
If you’re someone who loves to switch up their bikini grooming every so often, the Philips Epilator Series 8000 with nine attachments should be your go-to. This pick comes with an epilating head, shaving head, trimming comb, trimming head, bikini comb, body exfoliation brush, pedicure foot file, delicate area cap, optimal contact cap, and a pouch.
“I like the Philips Epilator Series 8000 as it comes with nine accessories like an extra wide head to cover more surface area,” explains Dr. Julie Russak, a board-certified dermatologist in NYC. “Plus, it works on wet and dry skin depending on your preference or needs.”
With more attachments comes more money, and this pick is definitely on the higher end in terms of cost. If you don’t think you’ll use all the attachments provided, there is a less expensive option that costs $55 for only three heads.
Power Source: Rechargeable battery | Features: 9 Attachments | Recommended hair type: All hair types | What's included: Device, epilating head, shaving head, trimming comb, trimming head, bikini comb, body exfoliation brush, pedicure foot file, delicate area cap, optimal contact cap, pouch
Price at time of publish: $99.95
Anyone needing to epilate in small areas, such as the upper lip, brows, or bikini area.
This pick would not be good for larger surfaces, such as the legs or arms.
If you like to stay fuzz-free on your upper lip area, consider trying the Epilady Esthetic Generation 5 Fine Facial Hair Epilator. This pick uses the old-school coil epilation system to remove even the finest baby hairs on your face.
“I like the Epilady Esthetic Generation 5 Fine Facial Hair Epilator because it has a convenient and compact design, with a small head that's great for reaching difficult-to-get-to areas,” explains Dr. King. [Editors' note: This version is discontinued, but the Delicate Facial Epilator is very similar.] “It's cordless, lightweight, quiet, and easy to operate and clean.”
This product does heat up when turned on, and some folks have reported getting slight burns on their skin when not used properly. Always make sure to follow the directions when using this pick.
Power Source: Battery powered | Features: Coil epilation | Recommended hair type: Fine facial hair | What's included: Device, cleaning brush, pouch
Price at time of publish: $39.95
This option is great for anyone who doesn't need all the bells and whistles of a fancy epilator and instead wants a simple-to-use option.
It’s not ideal for folks who need to epilate smaller or hard-to-reach areas.
The Remington Smooth & Silky Deluxe Rechargeable Epilator is a simple, straightforward epilator that’s ideal for folks who have never tried epilating before and don’t need the added attachments and functionality of pricier options.
“This epilator is a more basic system that is affordable and allows for some individualizing,” explains Dr. Greenfield. “This product is fairly straightforward to keep clean, which is important in avoiding the development of folliculitis from epilation. I also like that it includes a massaging cap with aloe vera, which is an ingredient that can smooth skin after irritation.”
We love that this pick uses a rechargeable battery to offer a cordless experience, and also has a light that shines on the area you’re epilating to make sure you’re removing all the hairs.
Power Source: Rechargeable battery | Features: Waterproof, rechargeable, 2-speed setting | Recommended hair type: All hair types | What's included: Device, massaging cap, precision cap, charger
Price at time of publish: $33.14
It’s best for folks wanting to remove hair from smaller or more sensitive areas on their face, such as the eyebrows.
Anyone wanting to remove hair from large areas of their body.
Technically this pick isn’t a textbook epilator, but it does have a unique rotating head that helps remove hair. What’s so great about this one is that it’s really great for very small areas like the eyebrows, upper lip, or bikini area, thanks to its precise tip.
“I love this one because it's small enough to treat right between the eyebrows, and it's super portable and great for travel,” explains Dr. Russak.
The Finishing Touch Flawless Brows Eyebrow Pencil Hair Remover and Trimmer is ideal for maintenance in between any waxing or eyebrow plucking sessions. We love how sleek and discreet this device looks, and how easily it can pop into your purse, carry-on, or any travel bag.
Power Source: Battery powered | Features: Rotating head to trim hairs | Recommended hair type: Eyebrow hair | What's included: Device
Price at time of publish: $18.99
There are multiple factors you’ll want to consider when choosing an epilator. First off, you’ll want to look for an epilator that can be used on wet or dry skin. “Dry skin is probably the best way to go with this device, but at least with both you have the option if ever needed,” explains Dr. Shereene Idriss, a board-certified dermatologist, founder of Idriss Dermatology in NYC and the #PillowtalkDerm Series on Instagram. “Also, a massage cap is a nice touch to have on an epilator for comfortability, as some can be uncomfortable.”
You’ll also want to choose an epilator that has a larger number of tweezers, as this will speed up the process and allow the hairs to be pulled out in a smooth motion. “Look for a good design when shopping for an epilator — a small rounded head that pivots so you can easily reach all treatment areas, and an ergonomic handle also makes it more comfortable to use,” suggests Dr. King.
Epilators come in a wide range of prices, from $18 for a manual tool to over $100 for something that is multi-functional like the Phillips Epilator Series 8000. Consider what hair removal needs you have (are you looking to treat a large surface area or a small area like the upper lip?) then decide whether you want something simple or if you're willing to splurge on something with extra attachments like an exfoliating brush head for added benefits.
According to Dr. Idriss, it’s best to start slow and easy when it comes to epilating for the first time. “If you’ve never used one before, it can be a bit tricky, so make sure you are reading all of the instructions so you don’t cause yourself any harm,” she suggests. “Some epilators even come with a sensitive skin epilator cap and a gentle epilator cap, both of which are great choices for those just starting out.” Apply lotion after you use the epilator to help cool and soothe your skin.
Another great tip is to gently exfoliate your skin prior to epilation. “Take a warm shower and use an exfoliating body scrub, gloves, mitt, loofah, or brush,” says Dr. King. “This will help to expose hairs so they can be picked up by the epilator, and it also helps decrease the risk of ingrown hairs. Although slower than dry epilation, wet epilation is thought of as being more convenient and less painful.”
Epilators are a great option for anyone who might not be a great candidate for laser hair removal. “Laser... has been a gold standard for hair removal, however, it might not be the right fit for all hairs or all cases,” explains Dr. Russak. “For example, hair that has no pigment (blond or gray hair), fine lanugo or vellus hair, and young pre-teen girls are not the best candidates for laser hair removal.”
One benefit of using an epilator is that you'll get smoother skin, and the results last longer than most other hair removal methods such as shaving. “Results vary from person to person, but you can expect smooth skin for up to four weeks,” explains Buckwell. “Epilators can also get closer to the skin compared to shaving and waxing.” Another benefit of using an epilator compared to shaving or other methods of hair removal is that over time, the hair grows back softer and finer.
If you are someone who is really prone to rashes, nicks, and cuts when shaving, epilators are a great option because they remove the risk of razors altogether, according to Dr. Idriss.
The biggest downside of using an epilator is, of course, the pain involved. “Depending on your pain tolerance, using an epilator can be extremely painful and even scary at first,” explains Dr. Idriss. “Similar to waxing, the device is yanking a bunch of hairs from their roots all at the same time. Some areas where the skin is thinner, like on your face, can feel a little more uncomfortable.” That being said, the more often you use an epilator, the more comfortable you’ll get with the sensation and it won’t shock you or hurt as much.
Daley Quinn is a freelance journalist, content strategist, and beauty industry expert with over ten years of experience in the media industry. She interviewed multiple dermatologists and industry experts for this story because of their extensive knowledge and expertise in all things hair removal, and their many years of testing hair removal products on the market.
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