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.


Anonymous said...

Dear Brandie: I have an epilator, but I found it was more work than shaving twice a week. Good tips for proper usage though.

Brandie said...

I completely understand. It probably would be more work than shaving twice a week, but my leg hair grows so quickly that it's all stubble by the next day. Therefore it's worth it to me. But I might spend 15-20 minutes a week using it, but the result I get is much smoother legs all the time, vs smooth legs occassionally.


Demetra Davis said...

Jeez on my arms it barely hurts but on my under arms its so painful. I'll have to try this.

Anonymous said...

I'm on day 2 of your method. My legs r super red and even the places where there r no hair it feels like there any way to not have that happen? I exfoliated really well and it didn't help.

Anonymous said...

I'm on day 2 of your method, and even where there is no hair anymore it feels like stubble.... Any suggestions? I even exfoliated really well and nothing.

Liana Burgers said...

I am starting tonight thanks for the tips, taking pain killers before hand! Ouch!

Brandie said...

@ lizthenailjunkie - For the way I outline this method, it's baby steps. You shave it all then begin to use the epilator. At this point the epilator is grabbing very little hair out -- it's essentially getting you used to the sound and feel of it. When your stubble grows out a bit and the epilator grabs more hairs, then you will feel the difference.

As far as redness and irritation -- exfoliation and using after a warm bath or shower are my suggestions. I do not suffer with overly sensitive skin so I have no more suggestions. Some brands like Olay sell epilating wipes designed to prevent the bumps and redness. You could try some of those, perhaps.

Joy Fulton said...

Your tips for epilating give me hope for succeeding with epilating my legs. If I want to keep my legs stubble free, I have to shave daily and I am sick of it. I'll be trying your suggested program. Thanks!

Nicola said...

I say forget about all this easing in steps. Its 2014, no pain no gain. Braun Silk epil is great and haven't tried any others. I've had my epilator for 6 years and I have to build up the courage to use it EVERY time. Just do it with no fittings and the highest speed and get it over and done. I suggest putting some music on so u don't hear how the hair is being ripped from you epidermis lol!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Great post!! I've got the same one as you did and I agree it's fab. I epilate every two days to keep super smooth but unlike you I just went for it without shaving, really taking my time and using the higher setting when I was more confortable. This epilator is the best I tried and the only one where I found the pain bearable.
I am at the stage where I just use it to keep my legs smooth, so like your technique it's virtually painless, just the odd hairs. Hopefully I will be able to go down to every three days soon.
Keep posting :-)

Kristy Hirsch said...

You are awesome :) i just got my epilator 2 days ago and i came across your blog this morning and the advice has made my decision to epilate an even better experience!! My hair also grows within the next day of shaving and drives me and my husband absolutely nuts and with having a toddler i just dont feel like shaving everyday which makes me feel "not so sexy" lol sometimes i can even feel stubble within the same day of shaving :( this epilator has changed my life, i probably skipped some of your steps only because it doesnt really hurt :) i have sensitive skin but pain really doesnt bother me (i have many many tattoos) and it doesnt hurt any where near the way they did, as far as bumps i get them after but its almost like goose bumps and i make sure i take a couple ibuprofen before i take a shower and i use a ice pack on my legs as i go and those both keep from swelling and redness etc :) i just figured id throw up some of my tips for other ppl lol anyway like i said your awesome chick and your step by step is perfect for anyone that is scared or thinking about trying it!!
Thanks :)

Bella said...

It's great to see more love for epilators. They really are the most efficient and most affordable form of hair removal!

Bella said...

It's true, epilating is less expensive and far less messy than waxing. The convenience alone is worth any of the pain.

Claire said...

Great tips for epilating, and definitely worth trying if you haven't. Yes, it does hurt the first time but it you do get used to it! (I promise). The more you do it, the less it hurts :) Love the blog!

Karen said...

This is a great post about epilators! Thanks so much for sharing.

G Smith said...

I just found your post! I've had my epilator for almost 10 years and all I was ever brave enough to do was my arm pits. This last year, I have been waxing and got to a point that the last week I would feel like Chewbacca. And then over these last few month, my girl's schedule hadn't worked with mine and I would go way over 4 weeks to get a wax. I sucked it up and put my epilator to work. Although I think my epiltor has seen better days, BUT I did my whole legs AND bikini line! Your way was perfect! Just a little but each day. It took me about 4 days to complete, but now I don't have to feel like chewbacca anymore! And no more waiting for hair to get long enough!! YYEAHHH! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!