Get ready to toss your razors.
How is it 2019, and we’re just now exploring better ways to remove body hair? If you prefer to remove your body hair, you’re aware of how time-consuming it is to shave constantly. Another popular option is to get a wax, but this technique can hurt like hell (especially if you have sensitive skin), and laser hair removal costs almost as much as our rent. So, when we heard of a shaving alternative that promises great results—a handy gadget called an epilator—our first thought was torture device, of course. But epilators are actually affordable, at-home devices that remove hair quickly and effectively, leaving smooth skin for weeks at a time.
An epilator is a tool that mechanically “plucks” unwanted hair and can simultaneously remove several hairs at a time, Rachel Nazarian, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, tells Health. Similar to waxing, it pulls hair from the root and can slowly destroy hair follicles over time, causing hair to grow back slower. The result? Finer hair and, eventually, permanent hair loss.
That might sound great for those who’d like to shave less in the long run or want a cheaper laser hair removal option, but if the word ‘waxing’ made you wince, you might be wondering if using an epilator hurts. The truth is, it can. It has a similar feeling to waxing, but it might still be less painful since you’re not yanking the hairs out as quickly, says Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City.
So, why should you choose an epilator over the old-fashioned razor you’ve used for decades? While it’s still possible to get ingrown hairs or redness (similar to what you can get from shaving), epilators leave legs, bikini lines, and areas on your face so much smoother, Dr. Jaliman explains. Plus, many epilator devices conveniently work on either wet or dry skin, which makes them much quicker to use—you can eliminate stray bikini hairs in the shower or zap peach fuzz from your face right before walking out the door to brunch.
The best way to prepare your skin before using an epilator is to take a warm shower to open up your hair follicles, then follow up by exfoliating, Dr. Jaliman adds. After, apply a gentle calming cream such as Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream ($11; amazon.com), Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($11; amazon.com), or La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm AP+ Intense Repair Body Cream ($20; amazon.com) to the skin, which will decrease redness and irritation, Dr. Nazarian suggests.
Pro tip: don’t wait for the hair to grow back fully, and instead use an epilator when the hair is 2-3 millimeters long (in other words, after it’s grown out just a little bit), Dr. Nazarian adds.
Whether you want to keep your bikini area neat and clean between waxing appointments or you’re ready to commit to epilators full-time for a smoother shave, these are the best dermatologist-recommended epilators that will have you tossing your shower razor.