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Shaving and waxing and tweezing may be the most often talked about hair removal methods, but they’re not your only options. Ever heard of epilating? If not, listen up. Essentially, think of it as a super souped-up, electronically-powered version of tweezing using a small device known as an epilator. “Epilators use rotating tweezers on a spinning wheel that grab multiple hairs and pull them out at the root,” explains Dr. Stacy Chimento, a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami. As opposed to shaving, which just slices off the hair at the level of the skin, epilators remove the hair at the root; this essentially damages the follicle, meaning it takes much longer for new hair to grow in and the new hair that does grow, comes in thinner than before, says New York City board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. (Epilators can also grab very tiny hairs that can be harder to remove by waxing.) Plus, you can epilate from head to toe, be it on your face, your bikini line, your legs—you name it.
The big down shot? It’s not that comfortable, particularly for areas like the face and the bikini line, where the skin is more sensitive, Chimento points out. It’s worth noting that you can epilate on either wet or dry skin; according to Chimento, the latter is more effective, though also more painful. Either way, to maximize results, “try shaving one to four days before using one, since you want the hair to neither be too short nor too long,” Chimento suggests. King also recommends physical exfoliation pre-epilating: “Take a warm shower and use an exfoliating body scrub, gloves, mitt, loofah or brush. This will help to expose hairs, so they can be picked up by the epilator, and it also helps decrease the risk of ingrown hairs,” she explains. And, of course, make sure you’re choosing a quality tool.
Ahead, the best epilators out there.
Best Overall: Braun Silk-Epil 5 5-280 Epilator
Can be used wet or dry
Massage rollers provide a comfortable experience
Includes a cooling glove
Can’t be used on face
This is a top pick for Chimento, who says it’s a great option for first-time users. “It comes with a cooling glove that helps soothe the skin, and the included massage rollers make for a more comfortable experience,” she says, adding that it can also be used wet or dry. To that point, the whole device is completely waterproof, and the ergonomic angle of the device makes it easy to target pretty much any area on your entire body.
Target Areas: Arms, legs, armpits, back, bikini | Speed Settings: 2 | Number of Tweezers: 40 | Type: Corded
Best Budget: Braun Silk-Epil 3 3-270 Epilator
Comfortable size to hold
Only has 20 tweezers
Can only be used dry
If you’re curious about epilating but not quite sure you’re ready to commit to a super pricey device, this is a good place to start. It can be used all over the body and has the added benefit of coming with extra heads—a trimmer, razor, and like the aforementioned Braun product, a massaging rolling head to make the experience less painful. Just FYI, it can only be used dry.
Target Areas: Arms, legs, armpits, back, bikini | Speed Settings: 2 | Number of Tweezers: 20 | Type: Battery-powered
What Our Testers Say
"A full week later, the areas of my leg that I epilated were still pretty smooth. The few hairs that seemed to have broken at the surface grew back as if I had shaved, but for the most part, my legs were still silky and soft. Overall, the results lasted much longer than if I had shaved." — Jenna Igneri, Product Tester
Best Efficiency: Emjoi Emagine Epilator
Works very quickly
Lifts hair before tweezing to reduce ingrowns
Can be uncomfortable
This tool is not messing around. It touts a whopping 72 tweezers, the most of any on this list, so just an FYI—it’s not for the faint of heart. We think it’s best reserved for experienced epilators and/or those who want to get the job done fast and don’t mind a little discomfort in the process. Along with all those tweezers, it also has a tiny tip on the head to lift hairs before they get tweezed, helping to try to reduce the likelihood of ingrowns and make sure the device nabs every last strand.
Target Areas: Arms, legs, armpits, back, bikini | Speed Settings: 2 | Number of Tweezers: 72 | Type: Battery-powered
Best for Beginners: Panasonic Cordless Versatile Wet/Dry Shaver & Epilator
Additional caps for a more gentle experience
Can be used wet or dry
More speed settings than most epilators
“This device is a must-have because it comes with different caps, including the sensitive skin epilator cap for targeting sensitive areas and a gentle epilator cap that makes for a more gentle experience for beginners,” says Chimento of another one of her picks. She also lauds it as being a good option for both wet and dry epilation, and for the addition of an LED light that helps you get a good visual. Plus, because it touts three speed settings (more than the standard two), you can easily tone down or crank up your speed as you become more of an epilating pro.
Target Areas: Full-body | Speed Settings: 3 | Number of Tweezers: 60 | Type: Battery-powered
Best for Face: Finishing Touch Flawless Hair Remover
Gentle/comfortable to use on the face
Lightweight with a built-in light
Isn’t removing hair at the root
Only one speed setting
Technically slightly different than an epilator, this product (yes, it’s the one made famous by the TV infomercials) doesn’t have any tweezers but rather a unique spinning head that smooths peach fuzz on your face down to the surface of your skin. Said head is made of 18-karat gold, making it ideal for the delicate skin around the upper lip, chin, and cheeks. It’s lightweight and portable and also has a built-in LED light to help ensure you never miss any stray hair.
Target Areas: Face | Speed Settings: 1 | Type: Battery-operated
Best for Body: Braun Epilator Silk-Epil 9 9-720
Can be used wet or dry
Very effective on large areas
Massage cap provides a comfortable experience
Too big to use on the face
Chimento says this is another one of her favorites largely because it features a unique technology that helps you determine if you’re applying the right amount of pressure to remove the most amount of hair in one stroke. It’s also a top pick for King: “It can be used either wet or dry, and the wider head removes more hair with each stroke,” she says. (The head is also ergonomically designed, so it works well around irregular contours, think the knees and armpits.) Like the other Braun options, it also has a massage cap that makes the process more comfortable, and also comes with both shaving and trimming caps, too.
Target Areas: Full body | Speed Settings: 2 | Number of Tweezers: 40 | Type: Cordless
Best for Bikini: Philips Beauty Epilator Series 8000 5 in 1
Can be used wet or dry
While this pick is good for use all over the body, it earns our vote as best for your bikini line for several reasons. For starters, it comes with both a specific bikini trimmer comb and a bikini trimmer head so that you can start by getting the hairs down to the right length (epilating hair that’s too long is a recipe for a major ouch factor). Then you can pop on the delicate area cap to epilate this sensitive area. And while it is pricey, it comes with a bunch of other fun attachments, think a pedicure foot file and body exfoliation brush, making it one super versatile tool.
Target Areas: Full body | Speed Settings: 2 | Number of Tweezers: 32 | Type: Cordless
Best for Hard to Reach Spots: Epilady Esthetic Generation 5 Facial Hair Epilator
Lightweight and portable
Includes a cleaning brush
Only one speed setting
Number of tweezers not disclosed
Contrary to the name, this small tool doesn’t have to be reserved just for your face. “It has a convenient and compact design with a small head that’s great for reaching areas that are difficult to get to,” says King of one of her picks. (Though yes, it is great for using on your face as well.) It’s also very lightweight, battery-operated, and comes with both a cleaning brush for the head and an included case, making it ideal for travel, too.
Target Areas: Face, smaller areas | Speed Settings: 1 | Type: Battery-operated
Best for Sensitive Skin: Remington Smooth & Silky Deluxe Rechargeable Epilator
Massage cap provides a comfortable experience
Reviewers note it doesn't last long
Epilation, in general, can be a good option for those with sensitive skin, especially as compared to waxing, which removes not only hairs but the top layer of skin, says Chimento. And this pick, in particular, is great for the sensitive set. “Not only does it come with a massaging cap, but that massaging cap also contains aloe vera to prevent irritation and soothe skin,” she says.
Target Areas: Arms, legs, armpits, back, bikini | Speed Settings: 2 | Number of Tweezers: 40 | Type: Cordless
Best Manual: R.E.M. Spring Facial Hair Remover
Easy to use
Only works on face
Sometimes a non-electric device just feels less intimidating and more approachable. Enter this manual option; simply bend it into an upside-down U-shape, hold the ends, and twist so that it rolls up the tiny hairs on your face. The effect is similar to that of threading, but no salon visit is required. We also like that it can easily be cleaned/sanitized (it’s made of stainless steel) and barely takes up any room.
Target Areas: Face |Type: Manual
Overall, the best epilator is the Braun Silk-Epil 5 5-280 (view at Walmart). This multifaceted hair-removal gadget can be used wet or dry, and its wide rotating head grabs more hair than other models in a single stroke. Also, it comes with interchangeable heads, including a trimmer and an electric razor. With that said, the Braun Silk-Epil 3 3-270 Epilator is an excellent choice, too, and it comes at a fraction of the price. We appreciate that it also has multiple heads, plus a convenient flashlight at the head to help you remove unwanted hairs with precision. Beginners should check out the Panasonic Cordless Versatile Wet/Dry Shaver & Epilator (view at Amazon), which comes with caps for both sensitive skin and gentler epilation, as well as three different speed settings to help you customize the experience as you get used to the process.
What to Look for in an Epilator
Most epilators feature a wheel (sometimes called a rotating head) with small discs or plates that rotate at varying speeds. When the discs come together, they catch your hairs, usually with tiny tweezers.
The tweezers are what ultimately get the job done. As you're probably aware, not all tweezers are created equal. While quality matters, it's often more about quantity in the case of epilators. The number of tweezers on the rotating head will vary, but the best options will typically have more. You can find great epilators with 20 or so, but we recommend looking for a model with at least 40.
Some epilators operate at a single speed, though you'll find many with multiple speed settings. If you're sensitive to hair removal (who isn't?), slower settings can be gentler. On the other hand, if you want an efficient option for quicker hair-removal sessions, look for an epilator that can be set to a faster speed.
Most epilators are intended for use on only dry skin. That said, some models are designed for both wet and dry use, which can come in handy. For instance, you can find completely waterproof options, allowing you to achieve smooth legs and armpits right in the shower or bath. Also, warm water and humidity may make the process easier and less painful.
In terms of power source, there are two types of epilators: corded and cordless. Some cordless options have rechargeable batteries, and others require you to replace the batteries. For obvious reasons, they're more portable than their plug-in counterparts, although there's always the chance that a cordless epilator will run out of power mid-session.
How do you use an epilator?
Hold the epilator at a 90-degree angle against clean, exfoliated skin without pressing it in, then use your other hand to hold your skin taut and slowly pass the epilator in the direction of your hair growth. When you're finished, moisturize your skin to minimize irritation.
How do epilators work?
Epilators work kind of like waxing or manual plucking in that they remove hair at the roots. When you run the device along your skin, the tiny tweezers on the wheel grab your hairs and then remove them as it continues to rotate.
Do epilators hurt?
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Since waxing is her preferred method of hair removal, she relied on expert input, consumer reviews, and her background having covered epilators in the past to compile this list.
Meet the Expert
She specializes in medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology with an interest and expertise in acne, rosacea, body contouring, laser rejuvenation, and injectable aesthetic treatments.
Dr. Hadley King is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. She is also a Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and specializes in both medical and cosmetic dermatology.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any epilators from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.