If you’re new to the world of epilation, the thought of actually epilating can be a daunting one. We’re here to walk you through how to use an epilator, and to make sure you know all you need to know about how to epilate and get the best results possible.
First of all, you might want to know: what exactly is an epilator?
To put it simply: an epilator is a device similar to an electric shaver, but instead of blades cutting your hairs the epilator uses many rotating tweezers to pull hair from the root. This results in far smoother skin, and keeps you that way far longer than shaving can.
Next: what kinds of epilators are there, and which kind is best for me?
To answer this question you can take a look at our Definitive Epilator Guide, which we compiled through extensive research and found the best epilators we could. If you’re looking for the short version – the Braun Silk Epil 9 Epilator is the single most popular epilator amongst my readers.
Preparation – What to Do Before Epilating
It’s important to make sure your skin is in good condition for epilation to avoid more irritation than is necessary. There are multiple ways of doing this.
One of the main causes of ingrown hairs is dead skin cells blocking the pores through which hairs grow. This is why it is important to exfoliate before epilating. My current favorite product for exfoliation is this Himalayan Salt Scrub– and it’s affordable too!
For best results try to exfoliate about a day before you plan to epilate. You can, of course, exfoliate right before epilating but this tends to leave the skin feeling a little delicate and could result in more pain and redness than normal.
Exfoliating once a week will keep your skin nice and fresh. If you’re going to be epilating once every couple of weeks we highly recommend you start exfoliating regularly too. The Braun epilator actually comes with a facial cleansing brush that you can use for exfoliation!
We don’t feel like this is a necessary addition to an epilation routine, and can get a little pricey if used regularly. But if you’re worried about the pain, it’s worth a try. Many of my readers swear by this numbing cream for use before epilating, waxing, or laser hair removal.
This bit of prep is really only relevant for your first time epilating. Epilators work best when hair is short and of similar length. If the hair is too long what often happens is the hair simply breaks off instead of being fully pulled out. Some epilators have shaving heads so you can use the same device. This is one of my favorite features on the Braun Silk Epil 9.
For your first time, we recommend shaving 1-3 days before you plan on epilating to give the hair enough time to grow out a little.
Wet or Dry:
This is an important step. You’ll have to choose one or the other. Both have their advantages and their disadvantages, but you won’t get great results with ‘slightly wet’ skin.
Dry – Dry epilation is undeniably the most efficient method. Without water weighing down hairs and pushing them against the skin, the epilator is able to pick up hairs with ease and will allow you to finish a full epilation in a much shorter time. This can be an issue if your epilator is cordless and has a limited running time.
The downside to dry epilation is convenience and pain. There will be more cleaning up to do epilating outside of the shower, and without some warm water to soothe your skin it will be a little bit more painful.
When epilating dry, you should epilate before or after the shower. Make sure not to use too hot water (it dries your skin out) and dry your skin thoroughly with a towel before using your epilator.
Wet – Though slower than dry epilation, wet epilation is far more convenient and far less painful. The ability to epilate in the bath or in the shower is one we are extremely grateful for. If you have a wet and dry, cordless epilator then you will be able to use it both outside and inside the bath/shower. This is what I do!
Warm water makes the skin more relaxed and thus looser. This makes the sensation of hair being pulled far less noticeable. Unfortunately it means you’ll have to spend longer epilating as it also makes picking up hairs more difficult.
Combined with a nice bath soap and maybe a glass of wine, epilating in the bath is the perfect hair removal method.
Additional Preparation Tips
Make sure your epilator is fully charged! Unless you have a corded epilator, you’re going to want to make sure you have full power. Epilators are power-hungry machines and only tend to last around 40 mins – 1 hour. There’s nothing worse than having your epilator die halfway through a session.
Wait until the evening. Most people experience redness and small bumps for about 30 mins – 2 hours after epilation. This is nothing to worry about and is completely natural, but it’s not something you want to be sporting out of the house. We recommend epilating before bed so you can wake up to divine smoothness.
Be ready for a bit of pain. If it’s your first time epilating, I’m sorry to say it probably won’t be too pleasant. I can ease your worries by saying that the first time is absolutely going to be the worst it will ever be. As your hairs get thinner and you get used to the sensation of epilation, the pain will get lesser and lesser. Some people like to take a small painkiller or have a glass of wine before their first epilation, but again remember: it only gets better and is worth the pain! Check out these tips for a less painful experience.
The Epilation – How to Epilate Properly
Epilating is actually quite easy. To make sure you get the most out of your experience there are just a few things to remember. Here’s how to epilate:
Start on a lower setting: If it’s your first time epilating, and your epilator has 2 speed settings, we highly recommend you start on the lower one. This will make things a little slower, but you might appreciate the difference in pain while you get used to it. We also recommend testing the epilator on your hand first. This will let you get used to the sensation of epilation, before moving on to different body parts.
Keep your skin taut: Epilating works best on flat surfaces, so its best to keep your skin as flat and tight as you can. This will help the hairs to stand up and be caught by the tweezers and will also make sure you don’t pinch your skin. We recommend using your dominant hand to guide the device, and your other hand to pull your skin tight.
Keep the epilator at 90 degrees: In order to ensure the best effectiveness; try to keep your epilator 90 degrees to your skin (perpendicular). This makes it easier for the device to pluck your hair.
Take it slow: Epilating is best done at a slow pace. If you move the epilator too quickly across the skin, it is more likely to miss hairs and you’ll just have to redo the area. If you take it slow, you’ll allow the epilator to pick up everything in its path. What also happens if you go too quickly is that the hair is broken instead of being plucked from the root. This again means you’ll have to come back for it. Slow and steady!
Against the grain: The most effective way to epilate is to run the epilator against the direction your hair is growing. Sometimes this can be difficult to see, and so moving the device in small circles allows you to pick up hair growing in different directions. Some epilators come with lights on them to illuminate the direction in which your hair is growing.
Be gentle: Don’t push down against the skin when epilating. You run the risk of pinching your skin in the epilator’s tweezers. Simply glide the head across your body and let it do what it was designed to do.
If you’re a first-timer, you may have to wipe away a few tears. After a few times, it will simply be business as usual.
The first step after epilating is moisturisation. We recommend something with witch hazel or aloe vera to soothe the skin. This organic aloe vera gel is a great choice.
Charge your epilator! We hate being ready to epilate only to find we forgot to charge. Some epilators take longer than others to get full battery, but its better to do now while its fresh in your mind.
Clean up. If you’re epilating dry, there may be some straggler hairs around that you’ll have to clean. Regardless of whether you’re epilating wet or dry, it’s always good to clean your device properly. This makes sure we reduce the risk of infection or skin irritation next time. Put your epilator in some cleaning alcohol and let it dry thoroughly.
That’s it. If it was your first time epilating, congratulations! The worst is over. Be prepared for some seriously smooth skin.
Epilators can pick up hairs as small as 0.5mm, so give them some time to grow back a little and you’ll be ready for the next round in a couple of weeks. Be sure to come back and reference all the epilation tips here for your next session.
If you’re still unsure about which epilator to use remember to read our Definitive Epilator Guide, or check out our most highly recommended epilator here.