When I got my curling iron, I didn't read the instructions. When I got my Clarisonic, I didn't read the instructions, either. When I got my Polaroid camera? You get the picture. When I got my epilator, I read the instructions cover to cover. I'd heard about epilation as a method of hair removal a handful of times before, but I'd never tried it until very recently. But after growing tired of waxing — those appointments really add up — and even more so of shaving (meh, stubble), I decided that with a only few weeks left of summer, it was now or never. (Okay, so more like "Now or next summer," but for the sake of this article, let's just go with the first one.)
"Epilation is the process of removing hair from the root," says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. "This includes tweezing, waxing, threading and newer devices that grab the hairs and pull them from the skin." Those newer devices are often made by household small appliance brands like Braun, Phillips, Panasonic and Remington, and they usually cost between $60 and $150.
I unboxed Braun's newest model, the Silk-épil 9, with a mixture of excitement and nerves. After juicing it up with a full charge, I flipped the switch to the first speed. The whirring heads were illuminated with a bright white light (an automatic function when the device is powered on to help you see the individual hairs) and were weirdly louder and faster than I expected. I'm supposed to run that along the surface of my skin?
When I finally got over myself, I decided a safe(ish) place to start would be my leg. The sensation felt something like a thousand rubber bands snapping against my skin. After one pass, a surprising amount of the hairs were successfully pulled out. After a couple more passes, I decided I was comfortable enough with the feeling of flashes of white-hot tingling to switch to my underarms. By the end of the night, I'd gotten to the point where I was absentmindedly epilating while watching "New In Town" on Netflix. Yep, I got that used to it.
"With epilation, it takes a little longer for a new hair to grow out and that hair is much finer," explains Zeichner. "Epilation may be painful as the hairs are pulled out of the skin from the root. Shaving isn’t painful, but can lead to skin irritation and razor burn." I consider myself someone with a relatively high tolerance for pain, but I found it pretty uncomfortable. According to Zeichner, the first couple times you use an epilator, it's not uncommon to experience some redness and tenderness. And even though your skin is less likely to become irritated, epiliation can still lead to ingrown hairs like when you wax, so be sure to regularly exfoliate the area with glycolic pads, like these from M-61.
So, will I keep on with it? Sure. It's quick, and over time, a better bet than shaving. My skin felt oh-so-smooth and there was zero trace of that vaguely ashy tone that can stubble can leave if you have dark hair like me. I'm sure that weeks from now, it'll be as average as getting my brows done. And I've still got a whole season of "Gilmore Girls" to re-watch...
Braun Silk-épil 9 Wet & Dry Epilator, $129.99, available at Target
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