Unlike razors that give us in-grown hairs, or waxing that just leaves us sticky, epilators leave you with silky smooth skin without the mess.

If you haven’t tried epilating before, once you get past the first hurdle, it’s worth it for the long-lasting results.

But how do these miracle devices work and how do you even begin using an epilator?

We’ve rounded up all the info you need to know before making the investment, so you can have silky smooth limbs in no time.

We also put some devices to the test in the ELLE Beauty Lab, to see which ones really stood out from the crowd.

ELLE Beauty Lab Picks:

ELLE Editors’ Picks:

How does an epilator work?

  • We know epilators can hurt but what sets epilators apart from a standard razor is their ability to pluck hair directly from the root.
  • Nicole Wedderburn, UK Brand Manager at Remington explains, ‘Epilators use a rotating barrel and tweezing mechanic to pull unwanted hair from the root, unlike shaving which simply cuts the hair at skin level.
  • The barrel is covered in tweezers and as it rotates the epilator plucks the hairs to leave your skin smooth and hair free.’
  • Which explains why it hurts but if you can handle tweezing your own brows, you can handle epilating.
  • Wedderburn believes that, ‘Typically, epilating causes some minor discomfort.
  • This is considerably reduced with repeated use as your skin adjusts to the process and the hairs become thinner.’ So there is light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Wedderburn recommends taking a warm shower before using your epilator, or even using it in the shower to help soften the skin to ease the pain.


How often should you epilate?

This depends on your individual hair and what epilator you’re using, but typical results will last for at least four weeks .

‘It is beneficial to have a routine when it comes to epilation, as this will help the skin get used to this method of hair removal, making the process more comfortable over time.

After epilating, the hairs are much finer and over time, it becomes less time-consuming,’ says Wedderburn.

As with everything, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.


Is epilating suitable for everyone?

Just like trying a new skincare product, it’s best to err on the side of caution when changing anything in your skincare routine, including anything to do with shaving.

‘Anyone can epilate, although it would always be recommended to consult your doctor first if you are suffering from any skin irritation,’ explains Wedderburn.

You should also be wary about trying to epilate on any delicate areas of skin, such as your bikini line.

Wedderburn advises trying the areas but on a lower setting or speed than on less sensitive areas.

As a general warning, Wedderburn advises ‘not to use an epilator on the eye area and scalp, and we’d recommend avoiding epilation on irritated skin or skin with varicose veins, rashes, spots, moles or wounds without consulting a doctor first’.

To make sure skin is prepped and to help minimise any pain, skincare expert, Nathalie Eleni advises that you ‘exfoliate your skin 24/48 hours before epilating to remove dead skin cells that may trap little hairs underneath, this will provide you with a more successful and smoother result.

Regular body brushing also works really well ahead of epilating as it increases the circulation and blood flow and drainage from the lymphatic system, which will improve the results.

‘Use a soothing moisturiser afterwards but nothing fragranced or perfumed.

For best results, epilate before bed to allow your skin to settle whilst you sleep,’ says Eleni.

How we test

In the ELLE Beauty Lab, we asked 22 testers to try a range of epilators to see how effective they were at removing unwanted hair.

Our panel judged them on how easy they were to use, their design, how well they removed hair and how much regrowth was spotted after a period of 4 and 8 weeks of continued use.

The ELLE Beauty Editors have also picked their favourite epilating devices, which you can find under Editors’ Picks.