Melissa Juried Kriebel
Hate shaving every day, but still want skin without stubble? Yeah, join the club. While there are plenty of long-lasting hair removal options out there (read: waxing kits, at-home laser hair removal devices, and professional lasers), don’t underestimate the convenience of one of the best epilators. We chatted with dermatologists to find out what you need to know about your epilator purchase—like exactly what epilators are, how they work, how long the results last, and the details to look for when shopping for an epilator. Not to mention, the experts we spoke to even recommended a few of their favorite epilators to make your search even easier. Smooth skin ahead!
What Is an Epilator?
“An epilator is a handheld powered device that mechanically removes the hair,” explains Dr. Snehal Amin, the co-founder and surgical director of MDCS Dermatology. “Unlike shaving, which cuts the hair off at the skin’s surface, epilators remove hair deeper—at the level of the follicle or roots.”
How Do You Use an Epilator?
Just like using any new hair removal device, using an epilator comes with a slight learning curve. Dr. Kenneth Howe, a Dermatologist at UnionDerm in New York City, explains: “You use an epilator by moving it slowly along the skin surface in the direction of hair growth. You should hold the device at a 90-degree angle to the skin.”
How Do Epilators Work?
While epilators often get confused with at-home laser hair removal devices, the two hair removal tools work differently. “Epilators work by grasping hairs and pulling them out by the root. Basically, the same way tweezers do—only you’re tweezing multiple hairs at the same time,” says Dr. Howe. “Some hair shafts may twist and/or shatter when they’re yanked by the epilator. Those damaged hairs may result in ingrown hairs.”
Howe explains that laser hair removal devices, on the other hand, “work by targeting the pigmented hair bulb.” He says that it’s the “heat injury” from the device that keeps the hair from growing. However, he says that the “actual physical hair shaft remains in place.”
Do Epilators Hurt?
Dr. Howe is quick to note that using epilators does hurt. “[Using an epilator] is difficult for a lot of people,” he says. “I think of it as a waxing treatment in super slow-motion.”
Keep scrolling to shop the best epilators for hair removal.
The Best Epilators
The Best Epilator for the Face
Finishing Touch Flawless Women’s Painless Hair Remover
This portable little $20 epilator has both Dr. Howe’s and Dr. Amin’s stamps of approval. “Facial hair is finer, and can accordingly be removed with less trauma and less irritation,” says Dr. Howe. This epilator is made with an 18k gold-plated head, and has a built-in light so you can see what you’re doing, Plus, it’s battery-operated so you don’t need to keep an extra charging cord in your bag. However, reviewers note that it takes a few passes to remove all of your hair due to the smaller size.
Pros: Derm-Approved; Portable; Costs less than $50; Has a built-in light for easy use; Battery-operated; Can be used on the face.
Cons: Some reviewers found that it wasn’t as powerful as other models on the market.
The Best Epilator for Beginners
Braun Silk-epil 3 Epilator
With over 10,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, this $40 cordless epilator from Braun is one of the best on the market. It’s designed to remove hair that’s four times shorter than hair removable by a razor or wax strip and promises results that last up to four weeks. It’s also outfitted with a few key design features, like a built-in light and a massage-roller tip that’s meant to reduce pain during use. It has two speed settings, too, so you can customize your experience. However, it can only be used dry.
Pros: Costs less than $50; Top-rated on Amazon; Has a built-in light; Battery-operated.
Cons: Cannot be used in the shower; Cannot be used on the face.
The Best Epilator for Body
Conair True Glow Total Body Epilator
If you plan on using your epilator for legs, arms, and everything in between, check out this option from Conair. It has 40 ultra-fine tweezers to catch every little hair. While directions will differ per product, it’s advised that this epilator be used on dry skin and, most importantly, in the direction of hair growth. “It’s important to move the device slowly, in the direction of hair growth, otherwise you may break the hair rather than pull it out from the root,” says Dr. Amin. He recommends holding the skin tight and positioning the device at a 90 degree angle. Pressure should be gentle—don’t push down too hard.
Pros: Costs less than $50; Dermatologist-Approved.
Cons: Can only be used on dry skin.
The Best Epilator for the Bikini Line
Panasonic Cordless Shaver Epilator
While a bikini wax is efficient, it requires about two weeks of growth for optimal results. If you want a more immediate solution, add this to your next Amazon order. It comes with five different attachments, all of which have rotating heads that make it easy to get to hard-to-reach areas down there. “This is helpful for contoured, harder-to-reach areas,” explains Dr. Amin. It can be used wet or dry, and comes with a head that measures 12.5 inches for smooth, fast, shaving.
Pros: Comes with multiple removable heads; Can be used wet or dry; Can be used in the bikini line.
Cons: Costs over $50; Some reviewers said it pinched their skin.
The Best Epilator for a Fast Shave
Philips Epilator Series 8000
We should preface this by saying that no form of epilation is going to be effective if it’s done too quickly. That in mind, the wide design of this cordless epilator tool from Phillips lets you cover more surface area at any given time—your legs will be done in about 10 minutes. There are also two speed settings with this one. While both work great, anyone with sensitive skin is better suited to the slower setting. Better yet, it comes with two detachable heads for versatility.
Pros: Cordless design; Has two speed settings; Can be used wet or dry; Can be used on the whole body; Has a cordless design; Has a rechargeable battery.
Cons: Costs more than $50.
The Best Cordless Epilator
Remington Smooth & Silky Deluxe Women’s Rechargeable Electric Epilator
This top-rated epilator from Remington has lots of key design features that make it a great buy. It costs just shy of $40, can be used either wet or dry, has an easy cordless design plus a rechargeable battery, and a built-in light so you can see what you’re doing as you go. Reviewers also say it works great on both the face and the body, that it’s great for coarse hair, and that it removes hair in one pass.
Pros: Costs under $40; Can be used wet or dry; Can be used on the face; Has a built-in light: Has a cordless design; Has a rechargeable battery.
Cons: Doesn’t last long.
The Best Epilator for Men
Emjoi AP-18MS Emagine Epilator for Men
With 72 tweezers, this is a pretty heavy-duty epilator. It can tackle hairy backs, chests, beards, or legs. And even though it’s specifically marketed for men, there’s absolutely no reason women can’t use this one too—the technology is all the same. In fact, if you’re dealing with super short hair (0.4mm to be exact), this is going to be your best bet. It’ll snag even the tiniest stubble. Plus, reviewers say it works faster than other, similar models. Some reviewers also note that it hurts more than other epilators on the market.
Pros: Works fast; Good for short hair; Can be used on the face.
Cons: Costs more than $50.
The Best Epilator for Sensitive Skin
Philips Satinelle Essential Compact Hair Removal Epilator
Calling all my sensitive skin girlies! This high-tech gadget is *chef’s kiss* if you’re prone to irritation. There’s a specific cap made for sensitive skin that’s extra gentle. While the instructions will recommend this head for your underarms and bikini line, there’s no reason you can’t use this cap on your entire body. Just make sure you remember to clean the head to avoid infection. It also has two speed settings, and reviewers say that it’s actually not as loud as other models.
Pros: Costs less than $50; Works fast; Good for sensitive skin; Quieter than other models.
Cons: Some reviewers say that they need to make multiple passes to get completely hair-free; Quieter than other models.
The Best Epilator for Peach Fuzz
Braun FaceSpa Pro FE 910 2-in-1 Facial Epilator & Cleansing Brush System
This all-in-one epilator device from Braun comes with a specialized face washing brush that will effectively get all the gunk and makeup off of your face before you use it as an epilator, as well as a micro-vibration head that helps your serums, treatment, moisturizers penetrate deeper. As for the epilator attachment? It can grab hairs as short as 0.02mm (AKA – hair that’s four times shorter than what a razor can grab). Plus, it has a cordless design for easy use.
Pros: Comes with a facial cleansing brush; Has a cordless design; Has a rechargeable battery; Can be used on the face.
Cons: Costs more than $50.
How Long Will the Results from Epilators Last?
The hair removed from your legs, arms, bikini line, or armpits is going to stay away way longer with an epilator than it would with a traditional razor shave. Think: four to six weeks of silky, smooth skin without intervention.
To get long-lasting results, though, you have to give the epilator enough time to catch all the little hairs. “The epilation process does take time and involves moving the device slowly across the skin, but the time spent will actually make things easier later. Epilation may reduce future hair growth by causing mico-injury to hair follicles,” explains Dr. Amin.
Meet the Experts
Snehal Amin, MD, FACMS, FAAD is co-founder and surgical director of MDCS Dermatology: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, located in Manhattan, Upper East Side, Commack, Hampton Bays and Plainview, NY. As a board-certified dermatologic surgeon, he has:
Provided top-notch patient care and life changing skin transformations
Published numerous ongoing publications
Focused on Mohs micrographic surgery, laser resurfacing, pediatric/adult lasers, and facial cosmetic reconstructions
As a cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Howe is known for his light touch. He believes that smaller, earlier interventions allow patients to maintain a youthful appearance while at the same time preventing or slowing further aging. Calm and reassuring in manner, Dr. Howe is an expert in guiding patients through the variety of available options, from the simplest topical agents to cutting edge procedures. He values maintaining an open dialogue between doctor and patient throughout this process.
The goal of all aesthetic treatments, in Dr. Howe’s view, is to achieve and maintain a completely natural look. What is done must be dictated in each case by careful study of the anatomy and structure of the individual face. This approach is particularly noteworthy in Dr. Howe’s use of injectable fillers and toxins, of which he is a recognized expert.