Friday, April 20, 2012

About Epilators & A Review

This is an updated repost from my original blog on Tumblr

Epilators aren’t too easy to find (at least in my experience; I’ve only ever seen it at London Drugs and on the Canadian Tire website), so it’s no surprise that not many people know about it. Imagine rows of flat-edged tweezers arranged on a cylinder. As the cylinder spins, the tweezers open and close, so that each tweezer closes over a hair (say on your arm or leg), and then plucks it out. And it’s electric. That’s pretty much what an epilator is.

A big selling point for this device is that the hairs will take much longer to grow back than if you were shaving, because it removes hair at the root. Mine claims it can keep hair away “for up to 4 weeks”. According to the manual, mine is designed to be used on the legs but can be used it safely on arms, underarms, and bikini line.

Note that there is a cord that plugs into the bottom of the epilator
A few years ago, I bought a Braun Silk-epil Soft Perfection epilator from London Drugs. It was on sale for $60 CAD and came with a $10 off coupon for any CG lip product and a two-year warranty from Braun. Please note that this is my first and only epilator, so I don't really know how it compares to other epilator models.

First impressions: fucking terrifying. When you turn it on, it is super loud and intimidating. I was crapping myself and bf let me test it out on his leg first. After the initial scariness, it is actually pretty straightforward and simple to use, since you just slowly glide it over your body just as you would when shaving.

There are two speeds: the cylinder spins faster (and the tweezers open and close faster) on second speed and will remove hair better, but isn't as comfortable on your skin as the slower, first speed. My suggestion is to always start with the first speed when testing it on a new area and switch to the second if you are comfortable.

It comes with two attachments that go over the spinning cylinder with the tweezer bits. One has two thin, spiky rollers (top right) to help numb the discomfort of the epilating. This is useful if you are sensitive, removing hair that is thick or deeply rooted (which seems to hurt more), or are generally a wuss. The numbing rollers really help; I use it for my underarms. The second one has a sort of plastic guide. The manual explains that it is better at removing hair and following the curves of your body than the spiky one if you can do without the numbing rollers. I use this attachment for my legs and arms. It also comes with a stiff brush to help you clean the tweezed hairs off of the cylinder.

Does it hurt? I did tons of research about epilators before I bought mine. Everyone has a different experience with them because of the varying textures of hair, sensitivity, etc. My hair is generally very fine and I guess either not very sensitive or not very deeply rooted because I don't feel a thing, except (1) when I am using it on my underarms: I can sort of feel the hairs being plucked but it’s not painful; (2) using it for the bikini line was quite painful to attempt, even with the lower speed setting and spiky roller. For some people, epilating even on less sensitive body parts can hurt a lot and a few people have reported bleeding a bit.

How efficient is the hair removal? Although I do find it pretty efficient at removing hair, it doesn't always happen in one go; it may take another pass or two, especially for your underarms. (Tip: go slowly if it is not removing the hair in one go, the epilator might need more time to “catch” the hair.) The manual states that it is best used on hair that is 2-5mm long. I noticed from the test run on bf's legs that if your hair is longer than that, the epilator will break off the hair instead of removing it. Multiple passes over the same area will eventually cut it down to size where it can remove it. If it is shorter (just barely poking out from the skin), the epilator may not be able to catch it. However, I do experience super-sensitive chafed skin when I run the epilator over my underarms too many times trying to get at these short hairs.

How long does it take for the hair to grow back? My leg and arm hair is pretty negligible, so I am using it consistently every other day only on my underarms. I’ve read something to the effect of how constantly tweezing the hairs weakens them to the point where the hairs become finer and slower to grow back, or it give up altogether. I would say that the hair growth has slowed down, but not enough for me to go longer than using it every other day. My esthetician friend told me that hair grows in layers, so the hairs that I am epilating off on Monday are not from the same root as the hairs that I will be removing on Wednesday. Some online reviewers (of epilators in general) say that they experienced basically a total stop in hair growth, although I personally haven't experienced this even after a few years of consistent use.

  • pretty economical considering mine has lasted a few years for $60 (and will probably last for a few more), and an 8-pack of replacement blades for say, Schick Quattro is about $20 CAD
  • can use anywhere there is an electric outlet, so I can epilate under awesome lighting where I can see every hair (cordless battery-powered models also available)
  • not messy like shaving creams, waxes, or chemical hair removing creams
  • effective and generally painless for me
  • loud and potentially embarrassing
  • could be painful for some unfortunate suckers
  • may leave the epilated area red or sensitive (this has not been my experience)
  • unlikely to keep you hairless for weeks as advertised
  • may require more than one pass to remove hair completely
  • may not be the best tool for maintaining your bikini line
  • may be difficult to remove hair shorter than 2 mm, especially in tricky areas like the underarm
  • may cause increased sensitivity/uncomfortable chafing from overuse in the same area too many times in a session

I can’t guarantee that you will have an experience as positive as mine, but I definitely recommend giving it a try.

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