Every once in a while you come across one of those ‘life-changing’ beauty tools that completely changes up your routine. For me, that discovery was the epilator. I purchased the Braun Silk-épil 9 as a Christmas present to myself nearly two years ago and it’s saved me so much time and effort in my beauty routine since then! So today I thought I’d share my thoughts on this nifty little device, including how it works, how often I use it, my results – the full deets. So keep reading if you’ve ever been curious to make the switch!
How does an epilator work?
While shaving only cuts hairs at the surface of the skin, an epilator pulls out hairs from the root. The latest models consist of a roller that has about 20-30 moving grooves or plates that quickly open and close. As you glide the epilator across the skin, these grooves/plates catch hold of your hairs, and as the roller rotates, it plucks them out.
What’s great about this design is that you can say goodbye to nicks and cuts! There are no blades or cutters involved, so you don’t have to be afraid of the device. And even if you do apply a significant amount of pressure, it won’t cause any damage to the skin.
Does epilation reduce hair growth?
Yes! That is one of the huge pluses of using epilator. Much like tweezing or waxing, since you’re pulling out hairs at the root, they grow in thinner and more slowly. So even if you do let them grow out a bit, they won’t be nearly as noticeable as thick dark stubble. For me personally, while the re-growth may not be coming in quite as thin as my virgin hair before I started shaving, they’ve reduced in thickness by at least a good 30-50%!
How often do you need to epilate?
This is going to depend on a few factors, including how often you’ve been using an epilator, as well as your own personal body chemistry/biological makeup. Generally speaking though, you can expect your smooth legs to stay pretty neat and tidy for a good 1 to 2 weeks, and maybe even up to 3 weeks if you’re lucky (or don’t mind a little extra fuzz).
From my experience (and after about a year and a half of using the epilator) I can safety stretch my epilating sessions to once every two weeks for the legs, with only quick touch-ups needed at around the one week mark. (By this, I mean I’ll have roughly 20-30 noticeable, but still very thin hairs creeping up – no where near a full leg of hair.) And for the underarms, I can go a full week without epilating before I start to notice any significant hair re-growth (I’m talking around 20-30%, which I can epilate in about a minute and be good to go until the following week)!
Is it painful using an epilator?
This is difficult to answer since we all have different tolerances to pain. When I first started my research, I come across reviews of women literally crying as they tried it on their legs for the first time, while others said they had no problems at all! (I’m assuming the latter were gals that waxed regularly.)
As someone with a fairly high pain tolerance and some experience waxing (I’d used self-heating wax strips on my legs before), I decided to go for it. If it meant no longer having to deal with pesky, thick stubble on my legs and underarms after 1-2 days post-shave, I figured it would be worth it.
And that’s what kept telling myself all throughout the first session, because, yes, it was painful. I started out on fully grown out underarms and was unable to hold the device in that area for more than one second at a time. I kept going in in quick spurts, enduring the pain while the epilator slowly plucked away patches of hairs. When I switched to the legs though, I breathed a sigh of relief. Going in between the ankles and knee was practically pain-free – I felt the tiniest little pricks here and there, but it was tolerable. At that point, I was able to turn the epilator on at full speed and do longer strokes up my leg. When I got to the knees and thighs though, that’s when the pain picked up again. Since the skin is thinner and more sensitive in those areas, I felt every little pull. I ended up doing 1-2 second-long spurts again, plucking just a few hairs at a time until the job was done.
The good news is that every subsequent time I used the epilator, it got gradually less painful. That’s because re-growth is thinner, so the hairs are less stubborn (and hence, less painful) to remove. And since re-growth is also slower, there’s simply less hair to epilate! And thirdly, after a while the senses sort of dull – the brain learns to cope, the skin strengthens, or some combination of the two. (Remember the first time you plucked your eyebrows and how much that hurt? Then by the third or fourth time, there was far less pain? Well, it’s kind of like that. The pain never completely goes away though, but rather plateaus to a fairly tolerable level.)
The short of it: Epilating isn’t pain-free. Your first time is going to be the worse, but it will get easier and slightly less painful after each session!
Shown here is the attachment for going over tighter, curvier areas like the underarms (whereas, the purple one shown earlier is designed specifically for the legs).
Are there any after-effects of epilating?
Epilating can result in a bit of irritation afterwards, especially if you’re doing a full leg or underarm (as opposed to just a quick touch-up), or if you have very sensitive skin. For me personally, though I wouldn’t describe my skin as super sensitive, I still tend to develop little bumps and red spots where the hairs had been plucked. For that reason, epilating is something you’ll probably want to put off until the evening, or at least 1-2 hours before heading out on a dinner date.
To help soothe skin afterwards, I recommend following up with a lotion or balm. Since the skin is probably in its most vulnerable state right after epilating, it’s best to use a formula that’s all-natural, non-toxic, fragrance free, and also free of essential oils (as, though they are natural, they can be just as irritating on delicate skin).
Do epilators work on facial hair too?
Yes they do! In addition to using an epilator on your legs, arms, underarms, bikini area, and other parts of the body, you can use them to remove facial hair on the upper lip, chin, or anywhere else you’d normally tweeze. Just be especially careful when going around the hair line and the brows! For precision work in those areas, I’d recommend using a miniature epilator that’s designed specifically for smaller areas of the face.
Epilators are super simple to use! Must have one dial that turns it on and lets you choose between two speed settings.
Overall, while epilating can be a bit painful, the end result is absolutely worth it. Since purchasing my first device, I’ve been able to cut out two full steps from my shower routine. This saves me time in my everyday morning routine, and also converses water – bonus! Whereas before, I would shave three times a week, I now epilate once a week – max. And since there’s no need to use shave gel and then rinse off the legs, the entire process from start to finish is much faster and more convenient – just epilate, rinse off the device, and go! The best part? On the in-between days, I no longer have to deal with that annoying stubble – my legs and underarms always feel smooth, even if I’ve gone a week without epilating!
Just getting started? Let me leave you with a few quick tips!
Quick Tips for Epilating
For beginners – A great way to get yourself adjusted if you’re just starting out (instead of diving in head first like I did) is to shave 2-3 days before your first epilating session. That way, you won’t have a full leg/underarm of hair to tackle, and the pain will be lessened a bit. Then, grab your epilator every couple days and tackle hairs as they grow back out.
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate! – Exfoliating your skin a few days prior helps remove dead skin and exposes any ingrown hairs that need to be epilated. I also recommend exfoliating a few days after epilating to minimize ingrown hairs (which is something I struggled with back when I first started my sessions).
Select the highest speed – Just like ripping off a band-aid, the pain of pulling out your hairs doesn’t feel quite a painful when it’s done quickly, hence why I always keep my epilator turned on the highest speed setting. Another benefit? This increases your chance of picking up hair on the first pass, as opposed to the second or third.
Use slower strokes – While your epilator is moving at full speed, you may be tempted to slide it down you leg as quickly as you would a razor. However, epilators don’t really work that way. You need to spend a good 1-2 seconds on each area so that it has a chance to grab onto the hairs, so get in the practice of moving it slowly (I’ll typically do 15-20 second-long strokes up the leg to the knee). Otherwise, you’ll find yourself having to do 1-2 extra passes.
Pull your skin taut – The flatter the surface of your skin, the better chance your epilator has to capture hairs with each pass. When going around the knee, bend the leg at a 90 to 45 degree ankle. This pulls the skin tight and creates a smooth surface for the roller to pick up hairs more efficiently. When going over the armpit, pull your skin taut and slightly out of the armpit crevice so you can tackle the hairs more quickly and less painfully.
Epilate in or right after your shower/bath – Warm baths or showers help soften your hairs, making them so much easier (and less painful) to pull out. The higher temps also open pores, making the hairs even easier to remove. For these reasons, try epilating right after you get out of the bath/shower, while the room is still steamy and warm. Better yet, if you have an epilator that’s water resistant (like the Braun Silk-épil 9), use it at the very end of your bath or shower for a faster clean up!
My Top Pick
I did loads of research before purchasing my first epilator and finally decided on the Braun Silk-épil 9 based on reviews. It’s been working amazingly well for me so far and is still going strong after almost two years! Plus, at a little over $100, it comes close to what one might spend in one year on razor blades and shave gel (which, for me, was ~$8-10 a month). I highly recommend it if you’re thinking about making the switch!
Have you tried epilating? What has your experience been like? If not, are you interested in starting? Let me know below!