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Does epilating hurt? What to expect for each body part

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flatlay of epilator on table

If you are considering epilating, you're probably wondering if there is pain as the epilator plucks out unwanted body hair. The answer is that it varies greatly based on the body part you're epilating (more on this below). I have experience with this method of hair removal, having started epilating earlier this year. I tend to grow hair quite quickly so I'm the perfect guinea pig for this!

I tried out the epilator on all my body parts so whatever body part you plan on epilating, I've tried it! I've listed out the various body parts a bit further along and what you can expect. Of course, each person is different, so your mileage may vary, but this will give you a general idea of what you could expect. Before we talk about each body part, a few quick notes.

What to expect with epilating

Unlike other methods of hair removal such as shaving or waxing, I found that the pain level of epilating varied widely depending on body part, from no pain at all (yay!!) to "I'm never epilating this body part again". More about this in a second.

First, whatever epilator you get, read the instructions that come with it carefully first because this can make the experience much easier and less painful. On my very first time, I found that the instructions in the Braun epilator kit I purchased from Amazon did an excellent job of explaining everything and suggesting the best guidelines and settings for different body parts.

You need to go much more slowly with an epilator than a razor to make sure you get everything. Even then, the epilator might not get every last hair in its path, but I find that going slowly gets almost all of it, and the few bits that are left you can do another pass over those specific areas. When you epilate the first time ever it will hurt more than subsequent times because you had more hair the first time. After a few days or whenever some of the hair starts growing back, different bits of hair will be in different stages of regrowth, which is good. So it's going to be more comfortable epilating on your second and subsequent times because there is simply less total hair in the path of the epilator, since some of it has not grown back yet.

If you normally wax any body part, in most cases you will have no problems with epilating that same body part.

Factors influencing pain level of epilating

I noticed that pain level when epilating varied dramatically based on

  1. the thickness of the hair (thinner is better) and
  2. how taut / tight your skin is (tighter is better)

Both of those will vary with body part. Unlike waxing, the actual sensitivity of the skin on the body part had less effect on pain for me than the hair thickness and skin tightness. Here is my experience of the body parts, from those that hurt least to those that hurt most.

Pain level of epilating each body part, from painless to very painful

Epilating the forearms and thighs

Forearms and thighs were blissfully pain-free to epilate! For both body parts, with the Braun epilator I used, it felt like lightly brushing a fine grade of sandpaper over my skin. It was not at all painful, but felt a tiny bit irritating as it was happening. But that faded away the minute I turned off the epilator.

I would therefore recommend if you're using an epilator for the first time, start with your forearms and thighs, as it's probably where you have the finest hair and where it's easy for your skin to be naturally tight. This gives you the best chance for a more comfortable experience with your hair removal.

Upper lip epilation

The Braun epilator set I used included a separate facial epilator, which I used to remove unwanted hair on my upper lip. I had no pain or redness, just a slight amount of irritation while epilating. The facial epilator is great for small areas of really fine hair, but there's no point using it on larger areas of body hair. So this is another area that is easy to epilate without discomfort, but only if you are using a facial epilator designed for small areas.

Epilating the lower legs

I felt a tiny bit more discomfort on the first time epilating my lower legs than the thighs or forearms, which makes sense because my lower legs have coarser hair than my thighs and forearms. But it wasn't painful. It got even easier subsequent times and now I don't feel anything.

Epilating a standard bikini line area (NOT a Brazilian area)

I had a low to medium amount of pain when epilating my outer bikini areas. This would be any bits of hair that appear outside a standard bikini bottom. Of those areas, around the front sides of the underpant area was much easier than the inner thighs, and this was because I found it hard to get the inner thighs taut; my skin was more flabby around my inner thighs so it was more painful there.

Underarm epilation

You will experience a medium amount of pain when epilating your armpits because the hair is so coarse that you really do feel it more. On the other hand, it's so rewarding because you can literally see the hair root on the hairs that are removed (which isn't really visible with finer hair like forearms). In terms of pain, the first time I epilated my underarms, I was like "never again!" but fortunately it gets easier on subsequent times. I did keep going with it because shaving just doesn't keep the hair at bay long enough for me.

Subsequent times of epilating my armpits became much easier, but still not quite as easy as the previous body parts I mentioned. Eventually it simply feels like a sort of strong tugging motion more than actual pain, so it's do-able. It never becomes comfortable like other body parts though. The main downside of epilating armpits is that it's really really hard to get every last hair (although you can still remove a lot of it). Also, there is still more discomfort in general than epilating other body parts. So I use epilating in combo with shaving when it comes to armpits, and the epilating cuts back on the regrowth a lot and then I don't wind up with a "5-o'clock shadow" in my armpits every evening like I would when exclusively shaving each day.

If you tend to experience fast regrowth in the underarm area, you will probably find it's worth the pain of epilating to keep the hair at bay, although that is ultimately up to you. If you're seeking longer-term hair removal of armpit hair, you may wish to look into laser hair removal or electrolysis at a reputable licensed provider, although both are painful and expensive.

Epilating the inner bikini areas (any part that would be covered by a standard bikini brief)

More sensitive bikini areas are excruciatingly painful to epilate, I found. I experimented with epilating my inner bikini area to trim down further inside the bikini brief area. Even without trying to do anything as dramatic as a Brazilian there, the pain was to the point that I didn't want to do it again. I had a few more tries just to check (I shaved and let it grow back a little bit and epilated at that point), but that is the one area I won't continue trying to epilate at least for now. To be fair though, I don't wax much of that particular area, so those of you who wax there may well find it a lot easier to epilate there.

The bottom line: is it worth epilating?

This will depend what body part you're planning on epilating. I feel it's worth epilating, I remove unwanted hair from all body parts except my more sensitive bikini areas that way. Even for legs alone, epilating is great - you can do it in the privacy of your bedroom or bathroom with no mess or fuss, you don't need to actually undress and take a shower just to remove the hair on your legs!

I also found epilating worthwhile in dramatically cutting down on my wax and wax strip usage. Before, I would use wax strips to remove the hair on my forearms, and on bikini line hair appearing outside of my bikini brief. Now, the epilator does all of that. The epilator is paying for itself by dramatically reducing wax strip usage. Overall, epilating is a "hidden gem" of hair removal - it gets it out by the root without needing to mess around with wax or wax strips.

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