What Is An Epilator & How To Use It
If you want skin that stays silky smooth without the hassle and cost of making a trip to a salon, an epilator might be just the thing for you.
What is an epilator?
It’s an electric hair removal device that looks similar to an electric razor, but it grabs hair and pulls it out from the root. It works like tweezers but can pull out many hairs quickly.
Pros and Cons of Epilating
Epilators pluck out hairs with the use of spinning discs or springs. They catch the hair at the skin's surface, and the rotating parts pull the hairs right out. This can provide you with fast hair removal that lasts longer than shaving.
- You'll have smooth skin. Since the hair comes out at the root when you epilate, there’s no stubble like you have with shaving, and your legs will stay smoother, longer. Many women go for as long as two weeks to even a month between epilating sessions.
Another great thing about an epilator is that since you keep it at home, you can remove hairs with the epilator as soon as you spot them. No more waiting for an appointment at a salon. Epilators can work on hairs less than a millimeter long.
- Hairs grow back thinner and sparser. Pulling hairs out from the root continually can lead to damage of the cells in the hair’s follicle. That’s a good thing! Damaged follicles produce hairs that are thinner than follicles that are firing at full capacity. The hairs will be finer and harder to see.
Over time, the follicle may stop producing hair altogether.
- You can use it all over the body. There’s no limit to the areas you can epilate.
Legs, underarms, bikini area and even the face can all be safely epilated. Some epilator models come with attachments that are designed for use on different parts of the body, but it’s not necessary to have those attachments to successfully remove hair.
- It is cheap. While there is an initial up-front cost when you buy an epilator, it can save you a lot of money over time compared to the cost of paying for waxing every three to four weeks.
You’ll also save on the cost of shaving equipment and depilatories. It’s also significantly cheaper than paying for laser hair removal or electrolysis.
- It's easy to use. If you've ever waxed at home, you are familiar with the mess it can create. You don’t need to use any special creams or lotions when you epilate.
All you need is the epilator and you. Some types of epilators can be used in water, but you don’t need to use soap or cream. And cleanup is easy. Most epilators come with a small brush for cleaning the rotating discs or springs.
- It doesn't have any side-effects. Unlike depilatories and creams, there are no side-effects to epilating since there aren’t any chemicals involved.
Epilating is also an excellent choice for removing hair in the winter when your skin is especially dry and flaky.
Shaving seems to aggravate winter dryness. You can avoid that irritation by using this device. Also, unlike waxing, epilating doesn’t pull on the skin; it only grabs onto hair.
- It can hurt. It’s probably no surprise that having your hairs quickly tweezed out from your body can cause some pain. Epilating typically hurts the most the first few times you do it, then the areas seem to become conditioned to the sensation. Women report a similar phenomenon with waxing. After you have it done a few times, it doesn’t hurt much, if at all, even on sensitive areas.
- It can cause ingrown hairs. Most hair removal methods can lead to ingrown hairs, including shaving.
However, epilators tend to cause it more often. This is probably because the rotating motion can pull the hair out in varying directions.
You can minimize the chance of getting ingrown hairs by learning how to move the epilator slowly and gently over the skin.
Moving slowly and gently will minimize the amount of hair breakage that can lead to ingrown hairs.
Exfoliating is also crucial to preventing the formation of ingrown hairs. You should regularly use a loofah or exfoliating scrub on epilated areas. This will remove dead skin cells that can cause the hair to grow inward rather than up and out through the follicle.
How to Use an Epilator
Epilators are very easy to use, but they definitely take some getting used to at first. Here are some tips to make the process as successful as possible.
- 1Exfoliate. You can help to prevent ingrown hairs by exfoliating your skin on a regular basis. An ingrown hair is a hair that curls back on itself and grows under the surface of the skin, creating a potentially painful little bump.
There are several ways to exfoliate.
You can use an exfoliating glove, a rough washcloth, a shower brush or even a high-tech oscillating exfoliation brush. For best results, exfoliate the day before epilating. After epilating, scrub the area every two to three days. By removing dead skin cells this way, the hair will have a clear path back to the surface.
You shouldn’t exfoliate immediately before or after epilating because it can make the skin too sensitive. If you feel that you must, exfoliate very gently.
- 2Hold the epilator correctly. For best results, hold your epilator at a 90-degree angle.
What this means is to hold it straight over the area where you’re removing hair. It shouldn’t be slanted or tilted. Hold the epilator close to the skin, but don’t press too hard. You can gently brush it against the skin. To make it easier for the epilator to grab the hairs, it can help to run your hand against the grain of hair growth to make them stand up away from the skin.
- 3Hold skin taut. Just like with waxing, you want to hold the skin taut when epilating. This way the hairs will be pulled out with minimal tugging on the skin, resulting in less hair breakage and also less pain for you.
Your skin should be free of oil and thoroughly dry. Showering before epilating is a good idea for removing oils and lotion, and it also relaxes the skin. Just make sure you are completely dry before epilating. The exception to that is if you have a wet epilator that can be used in the shower or bath.
- 4Move in the right direction. To help the epilator grab the largest number of hairs, move the device against the direction of hair growth.
For instance, on your lower leg, you would move the epilator from your ankle toward your knee. However, there is no reason you can’t vary the direction you move the epilator to make sure it grabs each and every hair.
Some experienced epilators recommend moving the epilator upward using small circular motions. Move slowly so that the device has a chance to catch as many hairs as possible and to reduce the risk of hair breakage.
Does Epilating Hurt?
If you’re new to epilating, it almost certainly is going to hurt the first few times.
Think how much it hurt the first time you tweezed your eyebrows, but now you can probably do it without even flinching, right? :)
The same principle applies to epilating. Over time, the skin will become accustomed to epilation, and it won’t hurt nearly as much if at all.
That said, you have to be willing to put up with some pain initially although there are some ways to minimize the amount of pain.
Tips for Reducing Pain:
- Use numbing and lidocaine creams. If you have a low pain threshold but are committed to epilating, consider using a numbing cream.
Many women use them before laser hair removal sessions and electrolysis, so as you can imagine, they help cut down on the pain of epilating.
All you have to do is apply the cream to your skin one to two hours before epilating. You want it to sit on the skin and soak in naturally, so smooth it on without rubbing it in. Then, once you start removing hair with the epilator, you won’t feel a thing.
- Take a warm shower. Enjoying a relaxing shower or bath before you epilate will not only relax you, but the heat will open up your pores, making it easier for the hair to be removed. If you are using a dry epilator, make sure you are thoroughly dry after showering.
If your epilator is designed to be utilized in the tub or shower, then you are good to go.
- Wet and Dry Epilators. Epilators have traditionally been designed to be used dry, meaning you don’t use any lotion or water with them.
However, there are now wet epilators on the market that can be used in the bath or shower.
You can even use these epilators completely submerged under the water.
Not only will your pores be relaxed from the warm temperature in the bath, but the water will lift the hairs up, making them easier for the epilator to grab. When you use a wet epilator in the shower, you just need to make sure your skin is thoroughly wet before epilating for the best results.
There are so many brands of epilators on the market today it can be hard to decide which one to try. Braun, Remington, Emjoi, Philips and Panasonic are among the most popular.
Your best bet is to read reviews, and see which ones have the features that appeal the most to you.
If you are brand new to epilating and afraid it might hurt, you may want a model with a smaller head and fewer tweezers.
That type of epilator is considered less painful because it doesn’t pull as many hairs at one time as models with larger heads and more tweezers. It makes sense to look for an epilator with at least a 30-day money back guarantee, so that it if it doesn't work for you, you can return it and try something else.
What is an epilator? It’s a cost-effective device that offers smoother skin and longer lasting results than shaving, without the mess of waxes and depilatory creams.
Epilators can take some time to get used to and to learn how to use for the best results, but with such a broad range of epilators available, there's bound to be a model with the features that are right for you.