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In the world of hair removal there are generally only three options you hear mentioned: shaving, waxing, and lasers. But we’re here to tell you there’s another hair removal device that’s been getting overlooked. Enter the epilator. In case you’re not familiar, let us explain. An epilator is usually a rotating wheel of multiple (we found one with 72!) tweezers that pull out your hair from the root as you move it across your skin. We know what you’re thinking—ouch—but epilating has some major benefits including longer-lasting results (you usually only have to use one every 2-3 weeks) and zero visits to the salon.
"When it comes to epilators, there are a few things to keep in mind," says Rachel Nazarian MD FAAD, a New York-based dermatologist. "You need the grip to be comfortable and ergonomic to allow for easy access to hairs that might be in difficult-to-reach areas." Additionally, she says the design should allow for a smooth movement along the skin while effectively grasping hairs.
From face to bikini, here are the best epilators for every area.
Best Overall: Braun Silk-Epil 5 5-280 Epilator
While using an epilator is generally not a fun process for anyone, it’s especially teeth clenching if you have sensitive skin. If that’s you, give this epilator a try. The massage head helps take your mind off of the tweezers doing their job and the included cooling mitt is just what you’ll want after you’re finished. There’s also a shaver head for areas that may be too sensitive for epilating. The device is also completely waterproof so if you find it’s more comfortable to use it while under running water you totally can.
Best Budget: Braun Silk-Epil 3 3-270 Epilator
If you’re trying out an epilator for the first time, this is a good place to start. Not only is it a great price, but it also comes with three extra heads: A trimmer, razor, and massage roller to help ease the pain. You’ll also love that there’s a little flashlight on the end that lights your way for a more precise epilating experience every time. The petite size also allows it to fit easily in your palm for a more comfortable glide.
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 for Face: R.E.M. Spring Facial Hair Remover
Whether you’re usually on the go and don’t have an outlet handy or you just prefer a device that looks a little more approachable, this classic non-electric epilator could be your best bet. Made to grab the tiny hairs on your face, you simply bend the epilator into an upside-down “u” and twist the ends to make it roll up your hair.
It has a similar effect to that of threading, without the hassle of a salon visit. The stainless steel is not only less irritable to the skin, but it’s also recyclable and can easily be sanitized. Keep this one in your purse so you can pull it out whenever you find that perfect light.
Best for Bikini: Epilady Speed Corded Epilator
The sleek design of this epilator is ideal for maneuvering around the small contours of your bikini line. That coupled with the precise epilator head makes it the best choice when you want to be detail-oriented and when you want to be a little gentler with such a sensitive area.
Best for Beginners: Panasonic Cordless Versatile Wet/Dry Shaver & Epilator
Not only is the sleek design a little less intimidating for epilator newcomers, but the three speed settings also allow you to have control and change up your speed as you get more comfortable. There’s also a gentle epilator cap to help remove hair with less pulling and a sensitive skin cap that narrows the epilation area for more precise hair removal (or if you can only take doing a small area at a time).
And if you ever change your mind and decide you’d rather just shave, there’s a cap for that too, along with a bikini trimmer. And when you finally work yourself up to the real deal, there’s the large epilation head that uses double discs and uses 60 tweezers so you can epilate large areas with ease.
Best Efficiency: Emjoi Emagine Epilator
With a whopping 72(!) tweezers, this epilator is not for the faint of heart. Whether you’re an experienced epilator or you’re a beginner who is just trying to get the job done quickly, this one should do the trick. There’s also a little tip on the head that helps lift up hairs before the tweezers pass over them to help reduce ingrown hairs and catch any hairs that may not be sticking up straight on their own.
Overall, the best epilator is the Braun Silk-Epil 5 5-280. 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.
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 and pull them up from the root, 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 help open up your hair follicles, which can 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?
Start by holding the epilator at a 90-degree angle against clean, exfoliated skin without pressing it in. Use your other hand to hold your skin taut, then gently 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?
Similar to waxing, using an epilator can hurt. Since the device pulls hair away at the root, there's an expected "ouch" factor. But like most other forms of hair removal, many people find that it becomes less painful after multiple sessions.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.