Off Topic: I Try Epilating

OK, I know I usually post book reviews on here, but I just had to share my experience with epilating.

Ah, the woes of women and the weight of society’s expectations on us to be hairless everywhere, contrary to our natural bodily inclinations. I have used a handy razor for years as the most convenient and pain-free solution to keeping the underarm hirsutism in check, but recently, I’ve been left wanting more. I understand not everyone wants to read about feminine hairy problems, so I’ll just chuck all of this under a Read More tag.

So, as explained above, I’ve always used shavers as the obvious first step to keeping my underarm clean, and for years I’ve never had cause to complain. I was aware of, and believed in, that myth about how shaving made your hair thicker, but it didn’t bother me very much. Shaving became part of my everyday shower routine, convenient and ensured I never had unsightly hair growth. One thing that did bother me, though, was how shaving darkened your armpits. I never understood why but I do now after I’ve epilated. More on that later.

At one point, I even tried IPL for a few sessions, but I stopped because it costs a fortune. It’s easily $1000+ for a round of therapy (about 6 sessions), and it’s not even permanent, as most of the clinics that offer it would say it is. My definition of permanence is that it is never coming back again. The clinics’ definition of permanence is not coming back in “months or years”. For most cases, hair begins to grow back in 2 years. I simply don’t have the cash to shell out on this, and I have even less reason to do so if it’s going to be as impermanent as every other hair removal therapy.

However, recently, my boyfriend suggested that I try waxing instead, so I did. I thought it’d be an interesting experience. (I even tried Brazilian waxing twice because I thought it was an interesting experience) Anyhow, waxing was great. It left my underarm feeling smoother and cleaner than it had ever felt before. I never realised that shaving actually left bumps of hair that was simply cut off at the surface of the skin, and that this problem was eliminated with waxing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see the sustainability of waxing. Salon waxing appointments were $30 per session and obviously this was going to go on indefinitely (albeit with an interval of about 2 – 3 weeks). Home waxing strips basically sucked and were a waste of money. Another thing I didn’t like about waxing was that you had to allow the hair to grow out long enough before you could wax effectively. So that basically gives you 1 week or so of nice clean underarms, and then you have to start hiding it for the next 1 – 2 weeks because you have to grow out the hair before you can wax it again. I live in a tropical country which is hot and humid all year round, so banning me from wearing sleeveless outfits is extremely heartless.

Finally, I decided to try an epilator. Of course, I’ve heard of epilators before but they scared the hell out of me the first time I found out what they were. I was reminded about them again at this point when I asked my friend what she used for hair removal and then recalled that she had been epilating for years. I went to find out more about epilators – this site was a blessing – and was very keen on giving it a go. I had tried to manually pluck the hairs as well, but it was just way too time-consuming and tedious. The epilator looked like a fantastic time-saver, being basically an automated plucking machine that did the job for you.

I think one of the biggest issues that most people have with starting epilating is the pain. I was certainly very concerned about this, because I wasn’t sure how well I’d take it. There are tons of comments on the Internet (I particularly recall someone saying that epilators were torture devices invented by the Devil) that didn’t reassure me very much. But yet, I also read advice from experienced epilator users, recommending beginners to try waxing or plucking just to get used to the pain level. I’m not exactly sure how high my pain threshold is, but I was fine with waxing and plucking. It hurt, but not so much that I would hesitate to go back. And anyway, the thing about waxing that bothered me the most was the heat of the wax when they first apply it, not so much the ripping of the hair itself.

I bought my epilator, though I had a misadventure where I bought the wrong epilator, one for legs and arms only, and not for underarms. I returned it, and finally settled on this baby:

Philips SatinPerfect HP6575

It cost about $150, so it wasn’t cheap, but I thought it was worth it if you consider how it replaces waxing appointments. Actually, there are cheaper models and brands on the market (I saw some ranging from about $30 – $80), but I specifically wanted one that could be used in the shower – a wet/dry epilator, and this obviously cost more than usual. I was wary enough about the potential pain factor, since using it in the shower is apparently supposed to be less painful.

It comes with 3 caps as shown in the picture. The normal cap, which is pictured already on the epilator, the sensitive area cap on the bottom left, and the bikini line trimmer/shaver cap on the bottom right. I put on the sensitive area cap and headed to the shower.

Surprisingly, the pain for me wasn’t as bad as I expected. It felt a little bit like static electricity snaps on the skin. After a while, I got frustrated at how the sensitive area cap was really slow and not grabbing as much hair as I would like, so I changed it to the normal cap which did the job far better. It is worthy to note as well that I had shaved about 2 or 3 days ago, so the hair growth was only at around 2-3mm. Apparently, epilators can hairs as short as 0.5mm, and basically the shorter the hair, the less painful it is.

Underarm hair is always a bit tricky because they grow in all directions instead of just one, so I had to run over the same area a few times just to make sure everything’s gone. I spent a really long time in the shower just trying to get all those hair out, but this is also apparently normal for a first-time epilator user. So a few things I noticed about my experience:

  • The epilator won’t remove 100% of the hair. After a while, I realised that it was impossible to remove ALL of the hair by epilator alone, and that I was going to have to do some supplementary manual tweezing after that. I’m not sure if it’s because of my technique, but the friend that I had who had been epilating for years also confirmed that she isn’t able to get them all out by simply epilating either. However, this point isn’t a big issue for me because it removes probably >95% of the hair. The supplementary plucking is really just a few stray strands. This being my first time, I think there were also hair that broke near the surface of the skin, I could feel them as bumps, but it’s impossible to pluck them out by either epilating or tweezing. I think it’s likely that this will lessen as time goes by and I epilate more.
  • The epilator is pretty messy. It’s not like a vacuum cleaner where there’s a storage area for the plucked hairs to be streamed into and discarded later. Plucked hairs go anywhere and everywhere, which makes cleaning the epilator very important. You don’t want plucked hairs to clog up the rotation gears.
  • Underarm hair is long. As I mentioned above, I had shaved only 2 or 3 days ago and there was only a short length of hair visible above the skin surface, about 2-3mm. So short that it was only just barely pluckable with a tweezer. But when you actually do pluck them out, with epilator or tweezer, it’s shocking that the hair strand itself can be actually up to 7-10mm! Most of it is just underneath the skin surface (like an iceberg), which is also the reason why shaving gives one a shadow on the underarm. Shaving simply cuts the hair on the skin surface, so you can imagine that most of the hair strand is still stuck below surface and if you have dark hair and light skin, this becomes visible in the form of the infamous shaving shadow.

Am I satisfied with my experience? A resounding YES. Although I still have a very tiny bit of stubble left, most of my underarm is now as smooth and hairless as it is after a waxing session and I’m excited to continue epilating and see how much better it gets. What I’ve read from experienced epilator users is that the underarm hair gets thinner and grows less densely the more you use it, so I’m looking forward to that happening. I’m pleased that the experience wasn’t as painful or traumatic as I thought it would be. Yes, my underarm was a bit red after epilating (and there was even one very tiny blood spot), but I put on some moisturiser and went out with a sleeved outfit and I’m not the worse for it.

For now, unless something drastic happens, I will certainly be sticking with epilating! Have you tried it? If not, would you want to try it? Leave your comments below! 🙂

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