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What Is an Epilator? Is an Epilator Right for You?

Answering the question what is an epilator is pretty simple because there are just a few characteristics that define an epilator.

If you ask me, I would say that it’s a great hair removal method, my favorite one. Many other women and even men would totally agree.

If you were ask others what is an epilator, they would straightforward say that it’s a torture device. You will immediately find out why that might be, when you read about what an epilator does and how it works.

I’ll tell you all about what an epilator is and, by the end of this post, you’ll be able to tell if this is the right hair removal method for you or not.

what is an epilator

An Epilator Is

A hair removal device – if you have unwanted hairs on your face or body and you want to get rid of them, using an epilator is an option.

A device that removes the hairs from their follicles – it pulls the hairs from the root, just like waxing does.

Since I just compared it with waxing so that you can get a clearer picture and I mentioned that the hairs are removed from their follicles, the logical conclusion is that epilation is a painful hair removal method.

You can also draw another conclusion:

Hairs that are removed from the follicles take a longer time to grow back.

You will be able to have smooth skin for about 2 weeks. That’s the average period.

Since I mentioned that an epilator is a device, let’s see what kind of device.

It’s an electronic device. Nowadays, we have:

  • corded epilators (a pretty long cord that needs to be plugged in so that it powers up the epilator)
  • cordless epilators (they work on battery, these need to charged for 1 hour and you can get about 40 minutes running time, if the battery is no longer able to hold a charge, they become useless)

But what component of the epilator actually removes the hairs?

That component is represented by tiny tweezers. An epilator’s head features many tiny metal plates that act just like tweezers and that’s why they’re also called tweezers.

We have epilators with 20, 40, 60 or even 72 tweezers. Those with 20 tweezers will be the most slow from the bunch, it will take longer to remove the hairs and it’s noticeable when it comes to large areas, like the legs.

These tiny tweezers, while spinning so fast that they become a blur, close around multiple hairs at the same time, hold the hairs in their grips, and, thanks to that rotary motion, pull the hairs from the roots.

It’s why they’re also called rotary epilators.

Epilators for short.

And we call the respective hair removal method epilation.

I always say that epilation is one of the most affordable hair removal methods.

Why is that?

Because, since an epilator is a hair removal device, you only need to buy that device and then get to use it for many years to come.

There’s no additional expense, like it is with shaving, waxing, hair removal creams.

You can get an epilator for as little as $30 and it will be a very good one. One that costs a bit more than $100 is already considered expensive and it’s about the maximum amount of money you should pay for one.

Sometimes, their prices vary quite a bit. You need to pay attention to that.

Corded epilators are known for their longevity, I still have my first Braun that I bought more than 10 years ago and, if I plug it in, it still works.

With cordless epilators, the things are not so reliable because the battery can stop working. It’s unfortunate that the best epilators at the moment are also cordless.

Most epilators can be used on the entire body (underarms, arms, back, chest, belly, whole bikini area, legs). And some can even be used for facial hair removal.


You can use an epilator everywhere on the body as long as you can stand the pain.

When it comes to facial hair removal, there are actually two options:

  • you can buy an epilator for body that also has a facial cap – the facial cap only allows for a small opening, just a few tweezers make contact with the hairs so that the pain is more bearable and the irritation is kept to a minimum
  • or you can get an epilator for face and only use it on small areas (besides the face, a facial epilator can also be used on the underarms and the bikini area)

There are a few more things to be known about epilating you facial hair. If it’s something that might interest you, read my post on post-epilation tips.

Since I mentioned the word epilation tips, what are the basics when it comes to using an epilator?

Using an epilator is easy, you get to epilate in the comfort of your home whenever the sight of unwanted hairs bother you:

  • you just need to move the epilator very slowly in the opposite direction of hair growth
  • don’t press the epilator into the skin, just hold it comfortably perpendicular to the skin
  • with your free hand, hold the skin taut (stretched) – it makes the process a bit less painful
  • if you rush the epilator and move it up and down as if it were a razor, the hairs will be mostly broken at the surface instead of being pulled from the roots and they will grow back in a matter of days instead of weeks
  • listen to music or watch some videos to pass the time – use headphones if the noise is bothering you, these tiny devices can be quite noisy

Those are pretty much the good things: affordable hair removal method, smooth skin for about 2 weeks, the ease-of-use, almost all the areas can be epilated without any help (the back is an exception).

There are also two major downsides:

  • epilators hurt – pain is the reason why people can’t handle epilation, the transition is easier for someone who used to wax, things are a lot more difficult for those used to the painless shaving
  • ingrown hairs – these are an often occurrence for many people who epilate but, if you exfoliate regularly from the beginning, there’s a low chance of getting them

How Does an Epilator Work?

I’m not a technical person. Fortunately, it’s not hard answering the questions what is an epilator and how does it work?

It’s a small device powered by an electric motor. When it receives energy, the tweezers start rotating really fast. They open and close for catching and removing from the root multiple hairs at the same time.

epilator's tweezers and rotating head

It’s just as if our fingers would be capable of operating multiple tweezers at the same time. And that’s how an epilator works.

The number of tweezers depends from model to model.

The more they are, the faster the epilation goes.

That’s why an epilator that has 72 tweezers, like the Emjoi AP-18 has, is considered the most powerful epilator at the moment.


The ability of those tweezers to efficiently remove hairs from the root, is not only a question of numbers.

Each epilator has tweezers of a different shape and differently arranged in a plastic head.

These are features that also influence how an epilator works and what it does once in contact with the unwanted hairs

Which is why Braun is the most popular manufacturer. It always improves its tweezers, from one Silk Epil series to another.

What Does an Epilator Do?

You pretty much know what it does if you’ve read the above two sections what is and epilator and how does an epilator work.

epilator removing hairs

An epilator removes hairs from the root through a lot of tiny fast rotating tweezers.

It’s a lot like waxing only that, instead of getting sticky wax on your skin, you get the hairs removed from the root thanks to an electrical device with tiny tweezers.

Waxing removes hairs from the root and so does an epilator. Because of that, both methods are painful.

Best of all, both methods should give you usually at least two weeks of smooth skin.

Here’s the kicker:

As years have passed, the answers to the questions what is an epilator and what does an epilator do have become more and more complex.

Nowadays, some epilators are an all-in-one device that remove hairs from the root from the entire body, including facial hair removal, thanks to a few accessories called caps.

They can also be transformed into trimmers, shavers, and even body exfoliators by simply changing the heads.

Epilators are constantly evolving and there are many wonderful models on the market, for all budgets. If you want to read about those, check out my epilator reviews post.

It will further help you understand what an epilator is and how it works and what you can expect from this hair removal method, which is my favorite and will continue being so for many years to come.