Sunday, March 27, 2011

Getting Started with an Epilator: A Guide to Less Painful Epilation

It was just shy of three years ago when I discovered this wonderful thing called an epilator.  I was desperately searching the internet for a new solution to remove my unwanted leg hair when I discovered the epilator.  I had never heard of it before and was quite intrigued.  In case you are as clueless as I was, an epilator is a small device containing many tweezer heads that pull your hair out as you run it across a surface. 

Ouch! Isn't that painful?!  Yes it is painful, but it's really not that bad when you do it properly and ease into it slowly.  If you can handle waxing you can surely handle this.  It's also less expensive and far less messy.  It's a lot quicker and easier to maintain -- it only takes me 5-10 minutes, 1-2 times a week, to keep my legs smooth and hair free.  The best part of it all is, I don't need to be in a salon, or a shower, or a bath to do it!  Those 5-10 minutes can take place at anytime throughout the day, and that makes a huge difference to me. 

Wait! 1-2 times a week?  Isn't an epilator supposed to keep me hair free for weeks?!  Each hair that is pulled out with the epilator will take 2-4 weeks to grow back, depending on how quickly your hair grows.  Unlike waxing, your hair does not need to grow out before you use the epilator. With waxing, your hairs are a designated length, so there's much more chance that you'll be able to pull out all your hair at once, even though your hairs are on different growth cycles.  With epilation, you'll want to pull your hair out when it's short.  This means that you'll have to use the device multiple times to catch the hairs that grow in after you have epilated.   This might sound like more work but really it's not.  Even if you have a few hairs that have popped up, your legs will still feel noticeably smooth.  Those pesky few hairs on their own timeline can be easily and quickly taken care of with your epilator.

The first step to a less painful epilating experience is to buy a good epilator.  It is my nature to research for hours before buying a new product (that's one of the reasons I decided to start this blog), and buying an epilator was no exception.  Here is what I finally decided on:

The Braun 5180 Silk-Epil.  I chose this epilator because it had extremely good reviews, was touted as being less painful than other epilators, had beginner and advanced heads and rollers, and was within my price range.  Almost three years later, this epilator is still going strong and I have no complaints about it at all.  That's right, not a single complaint (okay, it's loud, but I deal)!  I really do love my epilator.

Now is the perfect time to start using an epilator.  Why?  Because spring has just sprung!  You're probably not in shorts yet, but we're not too far from the season.  It will take 2-3 weeks to get started using your epilator. If you start now, you'll be absolutely loving your low maintenance legs this summer.

Step One: Shave!  If you're diligent, this could be the last time you shave in quite a while, but I imagine you'll need at least one more shaving session to ease into epilation gently.  The other thing I would recommend is to start with the lower section of your legs and work your way up to your upper legs later.  Make this a very good shave and be sure to exfoliate well before you do.

Step Two: Wait a day, then use your epilator.  It's one day after you shaved, and you just barely have stubble appearing on your legs.  You're not going to get much hair today, but this also gives you a chance to epilate your legs with almost no pain.  I strongly recommend that you bypass the "beginner" heads of your epilator, and run it full speed on the advanced head, with the closest attachment.  I started on the beginner head and roller.  I found that, once I got up the nerve to switch, it was far less painful and more productive to use the advanced head with the closest roller, and on the highest speed.  Like waxing, this is going to take out more hair at once and be less painful.  It might be helpful for you to take a hot shower and exfoliate well before you start your first round with the epilator

Okay, so take a deep breath and turn on your epilator.  That sounds scary, doesn't it?  Well it sounds more scary than it actually is.  Gently press the epilator to your skin and run it against the grain of your hair, just as if you were shaving.  See?  That wasn't that bad!  Yes, there isn't much hair there now, but at least you know you can handle it.  Now, remove the roller on your epilator.  See how long that hair is?  Whenever I start to feel annoyed by pain on my epilator, I stop it, remove the roller and look at all the long hairs in it.  Those are hairs that won't be back for a full 2 weeks!  (my hair grows very quickly, unfortunately).  Epilate your entire lower legs, then smooth some lotion on.  You're done for today, and have survived your first session with the epilator.  Congratulations!

Step Three: Epilate the next day, and the next, and the next ... You're going to become very familiar with your epilator these next few days.  I want you to use your epilator every day until the day comes that the epilator becomes too painful for you to use.  For some people this day doesn't come, but for me it's about day three.  That's when the majority of my hair has popped up enough to be pulled out.  When that happens, grin and bear it as much as possible and pull out as hair as you can before quitting.

Step Four: Shave Again!  Okay, your last session with the epilator was more pain than you care for.  Just remember that it won't always hurt that bad, and the worst of it is quite possibly behind you now.  Depending on how much you managed to pull out with your last session, you probably have pulled out at least half your leg hair.  Now that's progress!  Now I want you to shave again.  Repeat the daily epilation, waiting until the second day to start this time.

For me it only takes two shave and epilate cycles to get back into epilating.  (Yes, I admit that I fail to use my epilator over the winter and have to start again every spring).  But I also use the advanced heads.  If you have a lower pain tolerance and/or are using the beginner heads, then it might take you a third or fourth cycle to really get this epilating thing down.  Just keep repeating until you're relatively comfortable with it and your hairs are pretty much gone.

Step Five: Keep it up!  You've done the hard part, now it's time to keep those legs hair free as the hairs cycle back in.  I can get by on epilating only once a week but I find it much less painful to epilate a couple times a week instead.  Find the maintenance cycle that works for you.  If you find it too painful to epilate, stop and shave your legs and then epilate again.  Yes, it's more work than you care for (wasn't this supposed to give me MORE time?!) but you will get used to the epilator, and then you will find yourself spending less and less time with your epilator.  You will notice that, even if your legs aren't completely hair free, they certainly feel and appear to be.  Another thing I love about the epilator is that I can shave my legs really well right before going on vacation, and my legs will stay really smooth the entire time I'm gone, as long as I had been using my epilator regularly for a few weeks before hand. 

So getting started with an epilator probably takes more time than you imagined.  That's why I recommend starting now, a few weeks before you want to be in shorts regularly.  But I promise you, if you stick with this, you will find the upkeep to take very little time, and you will be loving how low maintenance your legs are this summer.  Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions.