The hair-removal process comes in many different (and often painful) forms. There are the classic options of shaving, waxing, or even sugaring, but none of these offer a very long-lasting or permanent hair-removal solution. Shaving is an option if you want something relatively easy and inexpensive, but if you have sensitive skin, you know that the accompanying razor burn and bumps are no joke. Sure, laser hair removal is always on the table (I personally swear by it), but there's another less-talked-about option that could also be worth a go.
This under-the-radar hair-removal method doesn't get as much attention but is still pretty effective. Considering? I'm talking about epilating. Epilator devices have several tweezers attached to a rotating head, and you pass the device repeatedly over the area you want to remove hair, as you would an electric razor. They come in different sizes and have different numbers of tweezers on the head. Using an epilator isn't an entirely painless option, but the results can last longer than shaving or waxing. If you're curious to learn more about epilating, keep scrolling. I'm breaking it all down below.
What is an epilator, and how is it different than a razor?
"Like conventional tweezers, epilators remove the hair directly from the root. This differs from shaving, which does not remove the root. Using an epilator means hair takes longer to regrow," explains board-certified dermatologist Ife Rodney, MD, FAAD, of Eternal Dermatology and Aesthetics.
This is one of the biggest pros to using the tool—it removes hair at the root. It's rare to find a hair-removal technique that doesn't involve at least a little pain, and using an epilator is no different. Rodney says that the pain is on par with waxing since both techniques yank the hair from the root. It might even be more painful for you at first if you're new to epilators and have never waxed before. When using the device, Rodney recommends pulling the skin taut before passing the machine over it and avoiding goose bumps. Make sure you're moving the device in the direction of hair growth, and don't press too firmly on the skin or pass through quickly, as those two things may cause irritation.
As for who can use an epilator, it can work on all skin types, but if you have sensitive skin, you'll want to be careful. If you have a severe skin condition, you may want to avoid it altogether. Test on a small area at first, which will help you figure out if it's right for you.
What to Look for in an Epilator
You'll want to be extra careful when using a device like an epilator. Rodney cautions that epilators can be very painful if misused. "Epilators also fail to address ingrown hairs and are not best for sensitive areas. You'll need to find one that keeps your skin's health and protection in mind," she adds.
To find the right epilator for you, you'll want to check out reviews rating how well one removes hair, whether irritation occurred when using it, and whether it does work well on sensitive areas like the bikini line. You'll also want to do some serious skin prep beforehand when using an epilator to soften the hair follicle and make it easier for the device to pick up and remove hairs. Rodney says that exfoliating at least a couple of days prior can help remove dry skin and dirt that might cause irritation. It can also help prevent ingrown hairs. Shaving or trimming a few days before might also be a good idea to make the hair-removal process easier, especially if you have hairs that are a bit longer. Taking a warm shower or bath will also help soften the skin and hair follicles to make it easier to pick up and remove hair.
If you're just starting out, you might want to try a device that's designed for sensitive skin until you get the hang of epilating. Once you're used to it, then you can try a more advanced device. For a few star epilators, keep scrolling below.
Best Overall Epilator: Philips Epilator Series 8000
Pros: Built-in light, ceramic tweezers made of hypoallergenic material, a delicate-area cap for sensitive parts of the body.
Cons: Only provides up to 40 minutes of cordless usage.
Philips's cordless epilator can remove the smallest hairs—up to 0.5 millimeters to be exact. It also comes with a delicate-area cap for more sensitive areas of the body and an optimal-contact cap, which gently stretches the area you're epilating to reduce discomfort on the skin.
Customer Review: "From the first moment I started epilating with this epilator, I new it was going to be a game changer for me. It is incredibly efficient in its hair removal—maybe it's because of the ceramic blades, but I could tell immediately that I wasn't going to have to go over the same areas over, and over, and over to get the hairs. It literally was taking 2-3 passes and it was getting practically all the hairs!"
Best Facial Epilator: Remington Smooth & Silky Facial Epilator
Pros: Cordless, compact design, six automatic tweezers.
Cons: Can only be used dry (isn't waterproof).
This compact epilator is designed specifically for removing facial hair. It has six automatic tweezers that quickly remove hair and provide long-lasting results.
Customer Review: "I have tried all the things, including the at-home laser removal, and this is by far the most effective and efficient. I use it on my chin and upper lip. It was a little scary when I first turned it on lol, but doesn't hurt on my chin (where I've plucked, waxed for years) the lip is more sensitive, but I think I'll get used to it. No skin irritation afterwards either. This is the cheapest one I could find since it was just an experiment and I am not all disappointed."
Braun Epilator Silk-Epil 3
Pros: Great for beginners, 20-tweezer system, two speed settings, equipped with massage rollers for a more comfortable experience.
Cons: Not cordless.
This epilator is gentle enough for beginners and has a 20-tweezer system and two speed settings. The head has massage rollers to make the experience even more comfortable.
Customer Review: "This epilator eliminated all of my issues from shaving! Epilating took a while my first time, but I look forward to spending a shorter amount of time with the upkeep. Legs felt like pin pricks but you get used to it. I literally saw stars with my armpits and it took me forever to fully epilate this area. The results are truly worth any discomfort or pain, though. I love that this epilator is corded, so my use isn't restricted by battery life, like with rechargeable models. I also love that it has a light that automatically turns on and stays on when the epilator is running. I am taking off a star because some hairs were cut rather than tweezed, and the shape of the epilation head makes it hard to maneuver around the bones of my ankles."
Panasonic Cordless Shaver & Epilator
Pros: Seven different attachments, 60 hypoallergenic rotating tweezers, 1.25 inches wide, able to cover larger areas, cordless.
Cons: Expensive, battery doesn't last as long.
This two-in-one device is both an epilator and a shaver. It comes with seven attachments: an epilator head, a gentle epilator cap, a sensitive-skin epilator cap, a shaver head, a sonic scrub brush, a footcare buffer, and a bikini comb. The epilator head has 60 rotating tweezers and is 1.25 inches, so it will cover a lot of area.
Customer Review: "Love the design. Easy on the curves, definitely grabs more hair with less trauma to the follicle. Leaving my legs smoother. Finally used the shaver on the crown jewel and what a dream! Great product. Super happy."
Remington Smooth & Silky Deluxe Rechargeable Epilator
Pros: Detail light, 40 tweezers, two speed settings, massaging cap with aloe vera, precision cap.
Cons: Pinches more than other options when in use.
Remington's epilator has a detail light, making it easy to spot the finest hairs. The device has 40 tweezers, two speed settings, a massaging cap with aloe vera, and a precision cap.
Customer Review: "Easy to use, useful when traveling, doesn’t hurt like other products."
Braun Epilator Silk-Epil 5
Pros: Includes a bikini trimmer for precise hair removal, cordless design, waterproof, great for beginners.
Cons: Pinches quite a bit when in use.
This other option from Braun includes a bikini trimmer for precise hair removal, has a cordless design, and is totally waterproof for use in the shower.
Customer Review: "Can't believe how much money I will save on razors and waxing. I'm Italian and Greek—I have thick, dark hair. Showering beforehand helps a lot, and going in quick, short strokes at first. Quality of the item overall is very good. Battery did not run out either time I used it. I'm very happy with my purchase."
Emjoi AP-18 Emagine Dual Opposed 72 Tweezer Head Epilator
Pros: Has 72 tweezers, dual-opposed rotating heads help remove hair from the root, works well on multiple areas of the body.
Cons: Not cordless.
With 72 tweezers, this device really gets the job done, and you won't have to run it over your skin too many times. It's also equipped with antimicrobial protection.
Customer Review: "I have very blonde, fine leg hair after laser hair removal and epilators are the best way to take care of that. I had the Philips one, but when it died, I went looking for something better. The difference between the number of heads this has vs. the Philips makes a huge difference. This one is so much faster and more effective. A light would be a nice feature, but as long as you are in a sunny spot when you do it a light isn't required. I prefer the corded ones because the rechargeables don't hold a charge very long and have less power than a corded one."
Tweezerman Smooth Finish Facial Hair Remover
Pros: Budget-friendly, works quickly, aluminum handles.
Cons: Doesn't remove hair at the root as well as other options.
This mini facial-hair remover from Tweezerman features aluminum handles to maximize grip and hold and a stainless steel spring to quickly remove hair.
Customer Review: "Not painless, but no worse than tweezing. It has a bit of a learning curve but I would recommend for anyone with stubborn dark facial hair. (I have PCOS and for years have tried to manage mine.) This works great!"
Hair-Removal Skincare Products
To avoid any ingrown hairs, skin irritation, or bumps after epilating, you'll want to make sure you hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. As mentioned above, prepping your skin properly can be the make-or-break factor for a good epilator session. The below products can help with both.