Numbing Creams for Epilators & Laser Hair Removal – Which ones work best?

Will Numbing Creams Work For Me? Which Ones Work Best? Your Guide to Numbing Creams for Hair Removal

Alright, so you have picked out a great epilator and are finally ready to have a hair removal experience that doesn’t involve having to repeat every 3 days (like shaving) or having to worry about ruining your bathroom countertop/floor by spilling hot wax everywhere. But when you turned on the epilator and tried your first swipe on your hair… ouch! It hurts! 

Is it supposed to hurt this much, you wonder? Can I do anything about it?

Enter stage left: numbing creams for epilators, laser hair removal, and even for getting tattoos

In this guide:

Wait, I thought you said that epilators don’t hurt?

Remember, high quality epilators hurt far less than their cheaper counterparts because they do a better job of getting all of your hair with far less passes over the same hair and do not break hairs. If you’re using a cheaper model, we recommend upgrading to a better epilator because you try numbing creams. Check out our reviews for the best epilators currently available to you on the market.

Most people have no trouble when they use a high quality epilator on their legs, underarms, or even face. However, some may find that they have extra sensitive skin all over their body or you might find that you can easily epilate your legs, but not your face or bikini area. For you, a numbing cream can help alleviate some of the discomfort so that you can use the epilator for ALL of your hair removal as it was intended.

You can also read more about epilator pain in our article on epilator pain on legs, underarms, and face. 

Generally some areas of our body are slightly more sensitive than others. Whether or not you can use an epilator really depends on your personal pain tolerance level, but if you’re worried that yours is too low, try a numbing cream.

What are numbing creams? How do they work?

Numbing creams are topical creams or solutions that help temporarily numb the surface of your skin.

Your skin surface is made up of 2 top layers – the epidermis and below that is the dermis. You feel pain when the pain receptors in your skin’s dermis are activated by trauma (like pulling out a hair) and that pain travels from the pain receptors which are actually nerve endings, up the attached nerves, and then to your spinal cord and then to your brain, and you think ouch! 

Numbing creams act on the dermis and its embedded pain receptors so that for a short while, the receptors do not send pain signals to the brain. The effect is short lived and works really well for epilators and hair removal.

There are many numbing creams that promise results, but not all of them work well enough to counter epilator pain. Some of them are meant for general non direct muscle pains or other similar issues and not for the specific sharper pains you feel when you yank out hairs. So what are your options?

Which numbing creams can I use to reduce epilator and hair removal pain?

Here are our recommendations for OTC (over the counter) numbing creams that work well when you use them with epilators or another type of hair removal that can hurt, like laser hair removal. 

1. LMX Topical Anesthetic Cream – Most Effective Numbing Cream

This the best over the counter topical LMX 4 Topical Anesthetic Cream anesthetic cream for temporarily numbing your skin. There are 2 versions that are widely available – LMX4 Topical Anesthetic Cream and LMX5 Topical Anesthetic Cream. LMX4 has 4% Lidocaine and LMX5 has 5% Lidocaine. 

Lidocaine is clinically proven to temporarily deaden the nerves endings in skin and surrounding tissue, so it’s great for desensitizing skin just before using your epilator or laser hair removal to minimize pain. You can also use it to numb skin before tattoos, tattoo removal, and skin piercings.

LMX Anesthetic Cream also comes highly recommended by the Department of Dermatology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, USA as an effective anesthetic for numbing skin and reducing pain during skin treatments. In a 2012 medical journal article, “Anesthesia Methods in Laser Resurfacing”, two Baylor College of Medicine doctors mention LMX as a viable noninvasive OTC topical cream that showed effective results for reducing pain in skin resurfacing treatments, a skin procedure that is also painful. They also wrote: 

Topical anesthetics have a long history of use and proven efficacy in decreasing pain with common dermatologic procedures such as shave biopsies, punch biopsies, curettage, and electrosurgery, allowing their easy introduction during laser procedures. Studies have already shown that commonly used lidocaine preparations reduce discomfort associated with … (Nd:YAG) laser hair removal. Topical lidocaine has also been successful in reducing intense sensation during Q-switched laser tattoo removal, and the discomfort associated with the laser treatment of vascular and pigmented lesions.” [source: Sergio Gaitan, Ramsey Markus. (2012) Semin Plast Surg.]

So LMX is a scientifically endorsed numbing cream that can be used for several skin treatments and hair removal procedures that can be painful. 

We have used both with great success. It has a non greasy, non oily feel and works for about 2 hours. You can use it anywhere on your body except around your eyes. And it’s easily accessible over the counter and online.

Check out more reviews on LMX5 Anesthetic Cream or LMX4 Anesthetic Cream.

2. Ebanel 5% Lidocaine – Economical Numbing Cream

Ebanel 5% Lidocaine is another over the counter lidocaine topical cream that has a similar percentage lidocaine as LMX5 but is about half the price, so it’s our pick for most economical numbing cream.

Like LMX, Ebanel has an elegant cream feel, isn’t greasy or oil, and can be used anywhere except near your eyes. It lasts for about 2 hours and is made in the US. It can be used to reduce pain before hair removal, for getting tattoos or piercings, and has a wide range of other pain reduction applications.

So if you’re looking for a cheaper option than LMX, you can try Ebanel 5% Lidocaine instead.

Check out more reviews on Ebanel 5% Lidocaine.

3. No Scream Cream – Numbing cream Without Lidocaine

Don’t like how lidocaine creams feel? Relax & Wax’s No Scream Cream is a topical anesthetic cream that relies on 20% Benzocaine to numb your skin. It works similar to lidocaine but is much gentler. 20% Benzocaine is about the equivalent of 2% Lidocaine. 

No Scream Cream is marketed as a numbing cream for waxing hair removal but it can be used for laser hair removal and for epilator hair removal. It takes about 20 minutes to start to work and lasts for about 2 hours.

Check out more reviews on No Scream Cream.

How to Use a Numbing Cream

Numbing creams are great for numbing small areas like your upper lip, under arms, or bikini/brazilian area. You do not want to use it in large areas like full arms or legs. According to the FDA, lidocaine is not safe to use in large quantities so you do not want to use it in large areas like full arms or legs. Lidocaine is absorbed into your blood via your skin. It is still safe to use in small quantities but too much of it at once can have adverse effects. We do not recommend that you do not use more than one 15g tube of LMX or Lidocaine cream at a time.

Here is how to use a numbing cream:

1. Clean your skin

Before applying any numbing cream, make sure your skin is clean and dry. You don’t want any lotions or moisturizers or any other kind of skincare or makeup on your skin. If you have anything on your skin, wash with warm water and soap and pat dry. Lidocaine needs to make complete contact with your skin so that it can numb your skins epidermis and more importantly, numb the layer right below called the dermis because that’s where your pain receptors live.

Remember, use numbing cream only on skin that is intact. If your skin has any cuts or rashes, do not use numbing cream until your skin heals.

2. Put on gloves

We recommend also putting on a pair of clean disposable gloves before you start applying numbing cream. (We like to use these biodegradable disposable gloves, but you can use any kind you have.) Some people report that their finger tips also start getting numb or start tingling and you don’t want that to happen especially if you’re going to be doing your own hair removal shortly.

3. Apply a thin layer

Apply a thin layer in the direction AGAINST your hair growth and begin rubbing it into your skin for about 30 to 40 seconds. This first thin layer helps the cream penetrate the first layer of skin.

4. Apply a thick layer

Now, apply a thick layer to cover the previous thinner layers. You should layer it on about ⅛ inch to ¼ inch thick.

5. Cover with clingwrap

Usually in a hospital setting, a medical professional will cover lidocaine cream with a medically dressing called Tegaderm or a similar bandage. However, you can just use clingwrap at home. You can also use these wound dressing bandages if you want to make sure it stays sanitary in case your clingwrap is in use in your kitchen and you’re not sure where it’s been.

When you’re covering the cream, make sure you dont flatten it. It should stay thick on your skin.

6. Wait for it work

Now you wait for 30 minutes. At this point, you’ll start notice some numbing and you can remove the cream if you want to. However, you can also wait up to 60 minutes if you want to get the full effects of the numbing cream. 

After 60 minutes, you’ll have reached peak numbess. At this point, there is no benefit to leaving the cream on for longer. Also, rubbing the cream in will not increase its effect on your skin. 

7. Wipe the area

You can now wipe the cream off your skin with a wet paper towel or wash it off gently. Obviously, you don’t want the cream on your skin when you attempt hair removal.

The numbing effect will last another 60 minutes.

8. Continue with hair removal

You have an hour to continue with hair removal with an epilator, laser hair removal device, or waxing while only feeling minimal pain. 

Want to learn more about reducing epilator pain? Check out our article on 10 Tips for Reducing Epilator Pain.

Best 7 Epilator Reviews for Better Hair Removal

A complete guide: Epilator hair removal

Epilators have come a long way since we started using them for hair removal a few years back, with an infinite number of features, speeds, colors. There are so many options that it is confusing to pick a good epilator unless you are an epilator veteran. To skip ahead in this guide, please expand the table of contents below.

In this guide:

Reviews of the Top 7 epilators in 2018

With prices ranging from $30 to $160 and up to 10 features to shop from, picking one of many epilators available in 2017 can be overwhelming. To help you make your choice, we have rounded up the top 7 epilators of 2018. Each epilator is broken down into features as well as cons to make it easier to find the one that best suits your lifestyle and hair removal needs.

  1. Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 – Our Top Pick Epilator

This is not the most expensive epilator out there but it IS the best epilator that money can buy in 2018. Let’s see why.

The head of this epilator is extra wide, which helps remove more hair in each pass. The head vibrates while in operation, which minimizes the pain that you might feel while epilating. The vibrations help massage and numb your skin. And finally, the Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 epilator head also pivots with your body. This helps keep the epilator head flat on your skin’s surface in trickier areas like under arms or behind knees.

Thanks to its Micro Grip tweezer technology, the tweezers on this epilator are much longer and wider than standard. This makes this hair removal device even better than waxing, picking up hairs that you may not even see. The Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 can pick up even a grain of sand!

It is cordless, with the longest lasting battery on the market, and can be used in both wet and dry environments. It’s also easy to clean with a detachable head, which you can wash or use the included cleaning brush.

There is a built in light for better visibility. To help with sensitive skin areas, the Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 epilator offers 2 speeds and an efficiency cap. This helps maximize hair removal and control how much hair you want epilate at any time.

Last but not least, the Braun epilator comes with 7 extras! Yes, SEVEN! This includes a shaver head that you can use to shave, a trimmer cap for trimming hair, an efficiency cap, a high frequency massaging cap, and a facial brush. The facial brush helps remove makeup and physically exfoliate any dead skin through micro vibrations. All of these attachments are waterproof just like the epilator itself. The seventh extra is a recharging stand for the epilator.

(The main epilator head is considered the 7th attachment, as all of the caps are interchangeable and some can even be doubled up, with 1 over the other.)

To read more about Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 product specifications, click here.

What could be better

There are really no issues with this epilator. We had to think hard about this but here are two potential issues.

Initially, we considered the price to be a downside of this epilator. But after taking the number of attachments into consideration, the price is a 1 time cost that can save you money on razors, facial brushes, and a trimmer. For this many uses, the 1 time cost is more than reasonable.

The second potential downside could be that you cannot use the epilator and charge at the same time. The epilator must be charged before or after each use. This could be a matter of habit for you. If you wax at home, you have to heat up the wax before you can use it. Similarly, by keeping the recharging dock nearby and in sight, this problem can easily be avoided. Just remember to charge after each use so you’re ready for the next time.

To read more customer verified Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 reviews, click here.

Summary

By almost exceeding in each of the potential features that an electric epilator can have in 2017, the Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 is an incredibly feature heavy hair removal tool. If you’re looking for an investment epilator that has multiple uses, this is your epilator!

BUY NOW: Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579

2. Panasonic ES-ED90-P – Runner Up Epilator

The Panasonic ES-ED90-P epilator comes in a close second to the Braun Silk-epil, offering another excellent choice minus a few features.

This epilator comes with a 60 degree pivoting head with a built in light and 2 operating speeds to epilate more or less sensitive areas of your body in 1 go. With 46 tweezers, it falls into the mid to high range for tweezer power.

It also comes with 6 attachments. Two of these attachments are epilating attachments, with a gentle epilation cap attachment and a precise cap attachment. The gentle cap is meant for areas of your body that have a low tolerance to pain as it reduces the number of tweezers running along your skin. The precision cap makes the head smaller so you can epilate smaller areas with more accuracy. The precision cap could be especially useful for men for beards.

Other attachments include a shaver head, a bikini comb cap, and a pedicure buffer for removing dry skin and calluses.

This epilator also works in wet and dry environments.

To read more about Panasonic ES-ED90-P product specifications, click here.

What could be better

Again, like the Braun, price and rechargeability are the main but still minor concerns. This is still an excellent investment in terms of price in that it is far less than even 1 salon wax session.

This epilator cannot be recharged while using it, like some corded epilators. Be sure to charge immediately after each or every few sessions to make sure it always runs when you need it to.

To read more customer verified Panasonic ES-ED90-P reviews, click here.

Summary

This is another best contender in the best epilators money can buy. It is missing some of the features, like micro grab technology, a trimmer or a facial brush, from our top pick, but adds some feature options to make up for it. Depending on what extras you’ll use the most, the Panasonic ES-ED90-P could be your top choice.

BUY NOW: Panasonic ES-ED90-P Epilator

3. Emjoi AP-18 – Most Powerful Epilator

Let’s start with the main feature that makes this epilator such powerhouse – It has 72 tweezers! This is almost double our first pick and runner up. With 72 tweezers, the Emjoi AP-18 is an ideal epilator for legs, arms, or other areas with a lot of hair or dense hair. Epilating with the Emjoi AP-18 will be much faster than either the Braun Silk-epil or the Panasonic epilators.

However, this may not be the best epilator for a beginner for the same reason. 72 tweezers pulling hair is going to hurt much more than half that number. The Emjoi AP-18 also does not have any massaging or vibrating attachments that will help numb the pain for a beginner or for someone with low pain tolerance.

But if you’re a seasoned veteran or have used an epilator 4-5 times, this is a powerful machine for you. Even if you are a beginner and plan on removing a lot of hair via epilation, it would be possible to build up tolerance and good technique by using it in smaller areas first.

The second feature unique to the Emjoi is the dual opposed heads. What this means is that the tweezers are not just at the top of epilator, but rounded out to extend out the top as well as the sides. These dual opposing heads allows greater flexibility as you travel over your body with the epilator. You can use it both on the right and left, and angle accordingly as you epilate.

The Emjoi AP-18 is corded with a 6.5 feet cord and offers 2 speeds.

It also boasts a Skin Glide technology that helps it grab all hairs on your skin. This technology helps it “scoop” up any hairs that are sitting flat and remove them from the root.

To read more about Emjoi AP-18 product specifications, click here.

What could be better

The Emjoi AP-18 does not have a built in light or shaving attachments. There is no efficiency cap, but you may not need one with the 72 tweezers and dual heads!

It is not water resistant, but it comes with a cleaning brush for good hygiene. It certainly is missing many of the features that our top picks have.

To read more customer verified Emjoi AP-18 reviews, click here.

Summary

While we wouldn’t make it our top choice, this is a great epilator to have in your hair removal tool arsenal because it is incredibly powerful. Don’t look to the Emjoi AP-18 for features. This is a workhorse epilator and exceeds expectations in the main goal of an epilator – remove hair.

BUY NOW: Emjoi AP-18 Epilator

4. Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator – Best Hypoallergenic Epilator

The Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator is a different kind of powerhouse in that it is a highly efficient epilator for those with sensitive skin.

It only has 36 tweezers but has the “highest tweezes per minute”. There are 2 speeds on this epilator. So while there are far less tweezers, at each of the 2 speeds, the tweezers rotate very quickly to pull out hair quickly. This makes the Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator perfect for causing the least amount of discomfort on sensitive skin.

Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator has another helpful feature for those with sensitive skin – all 36 tweezers are 24 karat gold plated with antibacterial properties. This plating makes the tweezers hypoallergenic and decreases ingrown hairs.

It includes a massage attachment that helps numb your skin during epilation. Like the Emjoi AP-18, it is not water resistant but includes a cleaning brush. It should not be used in the shower.

This epilator is also cordless and rechargeable. In fact, you can use it while it recharges unlike the other epilators we have covered so far. This allows you to use this epilator in any dry situations at any time!

To read more about Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator product specifications, click here.

What could be better

It would be nice to see Emjoi make their epilators water resistant. The Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator has so many features alongside great epilation technology. Being able to use it in the shower would round out its feature list and make it contender for a wider audience.

To read more customer verified Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator reviews, click here.

Summary

It’s hypoallergenic tweezers and fast rotating tweezers make the Emjoi Soft Caress epilator a unique product. If you have sensitive skin or are prone to ingrown hairs, this is the epilator to get.

BUY NOW: Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator

5. Remington EP7030 – Best Value Epilator

If you’re worried about, there are a few decent options in a lower price range that offer a good value as a beginner epilator. The Remington EP7030 is one of the best in this category as Remington is one of the original companies in the epilator industry.

The Remington EP7030 epilator has 40 tweezers and operates at 2 speeds. It also has a pivoting head with a few cap attachments. The precision cap, perfect angle cap, and massaging cap all help you customize your experience according to what area you are epilating. There is also a built in light for better visibility.

It is rechargeable with a power adaptor and otherwise cordless, and can be used wet and dry. You can wash it off in the shower after use by removing the head or use a cleaning brush, also included.

To read more about Remington EP7030 product specifications, click here.

What could be better

The epilator is highly functional, but lacks additional features that make this a versatile travel friendly tool. It also lacks some technological developments in terms of tweezers and epilator motor like our other picks.

To read more customer verified Remington EP7030 reviews, click here.

Summary

There is a low frills epilator that does the job, and does it well. If you’re a student or not sure about epilation as a hair removal process in general, this is an excellent experimental product. That’s not to say that it is not good for long term use. These epilators will run for years. So if you find that you don’t need more features, you’ll find the Remington EP7030 performs very well.

BUY NOW: Remington EP7030 Epilator

6. Codream 4-1 – Best Value Epilator with Features

Are you looking for a beginner epilator with a few more multi-purpose functionalities? Look no further than the Codream 4-1 epilator.

It is a lesser known epilator with a younger brand. But don’t let that hold you back if the features make this an appealing choice for you.

The 4-1 refers to the 4 functions this epilator offers via attachments – epilator, shaver, hair clipper, and callus remover. Amongst the extras, the callus remover on Codream 4-1 is highly rated attachment. In terms of multifunctionality, this is a powerhouse.

It is rechargeable via power adaptor and can be used while plugged in or as cordless. There is a built in LED light. The epilator head can be removed and washed with water. But the epilator itself is not wet/dry and should be using in dry places only.

To read more about Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 product specifications, click here.

What could be better

In terms of features, making the whole epilator water resistant would make this epilator well rounded.

Aside from features, the Codream 4-1 epilator does lack the latest technology in both tweezers
and epilator motor.

To read more customer verified Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 reviews, click here.

Summary

Want an beginner, budget friendly option that offers more features and versatility than the Remington EP7030? The Codream 4-1 is your epilator.

BUY NOW: Codream 4-1 Epilator

7. Philips Satinelle HP-6401 – Best Starter Epilator

For our last review, we asked ourselves – What is the cheapest basic epilator that does the job?

Why bothering asking this question? We recognized that sometimes you want to spend the least possible money to figure out if a particular hair removal method even works for you. With that in mind, we concluded that if you want a basic starter epilator, the Philips Satinelle HP-6401 is one to try.

It has 21 tweezers, 2 speed setting and an efficiency cap. You can also wash the top epilator head by taking it off the body of the machine, which is not water resistant.

It is a little louder than the other epilators we have reviewed. It is also corded.

To read more about Philips Satinelle HP-6401 product specifications,click here.

What could be better

Almost everything.

This epilator has none of the features of our epilators and no additional attachments. It has a low number of tweezers and no built in light. And it is not water resistant and so cannot be used in the shower.

To read more customer verified Philips Satinelle HP-6401 reviews, click here.

Summary

Remember this is a basic, no frills epilator. It is much lower in price than the others we have picked to review here. But this is also a best selling epilator and has been for many years. So it may not be fancy, but it works! The Philips Satinelle HP-6401 would be a great epilator to start your epilating journey with, and later adding a second more efficient epilator to your hair removing arsenal!

BUY NOW: Philips Satinelle HP-6401 Epilator

What is an epilator?

Epilators still enjoy a somewhat anonymous status. Many women have never used or heard of an epilator! This is ironic because epilators can be the ideal method of hair removal for a lot of people, men and women.

The epilator is a hair removal device that uses groups of tweezers to remove hair from it’s root. The tweezers are usually metal or ceramic. As you pass the epilator over your skin, its many tweezers rotate to grab many hairs and remove them completely just like waxing.

Epilation allows you to be hair free for longer than shaving, similar to waxing. Like waxing, when the hair regrows out from its root, you must epilate to remove it again. Depending on fast your hair grows, you could enjoy smooth skin for 1 to 3 weeks!

So why is the epilator a better alternative to shaving or waxing?

Long lasting smooth skin

Epilating gives long last smooth skin. If you remove hair by shaving, you are probably shaving anywhere from every 3 or 4 days to daily. Epilating is like waxing. It removes the hair from the root. So you have to epilate only as often as your hair regrows from its roots. That means you can enjoy smooth hairless skin for a week up to 2 or 3 weeks!

Easy

It’s also as easy as shaving, if not easier. Epilators come in many features, from cordless to rechargable to waterproof to vibrating heads that numb your skin. There is no nicking your skin or causing razor burn like shaving.

It’s definitely much easier than waxing. You may need to recharge your epilator, but there is no warming up of wax or other preparation. You even don’t need to wait for your hair to grow out ¼ of an inch, like for waxing. You can epilate the minute you start to see or feel hairs. And you can epilate from anywhere, home or a hotel.

Cheap

If you shave, how often you buy new razors or razor heads? Or you may go to a wax salon, which can cost up to $200/visit. Not to mention having to schedule an appointment and worry about hot wax burns. Even if you wax at home, you’re spending money on wax refills or waxing strips.

An epilator is a 1 time cost for several years. With epilators ranging from $40 to $140, you only have to spend that once to epilate for years. Without a doubt, epilating is the cheapest hair removal solution available to men and women today. And with technology improving every single year, epilators are becoming a go-to for hair removal for more people every year.

Features of an epilator

There are over a hundred epilators available to try out there today. You could start with any of them. So which one do you pick up? What are the differences between each epilator? Are they all the same? Why are some more expensive than others?

A few years ago, a lot of epilators were fairly straightforward. They only worked if plugged into an outlet, in dry environments (not in the shower), and sometimes hard to clean. Today, epilators are available with lots more features. Here are some of the features we looked at to differentiate a good epilator from a better one to find some of the best epilators available to us in 2017:

Pulls hairs rather than breaks hairs

A common question we get is: do epilators cause ingrown hairs? They can with a low quality epilator. So what does that mean?

A good epilator will grab the hairs at their roots to pull it out completely. It should not be grabbing hairs halfway and breaking them. This will lead to faster re growth because the hair was not removed and only broken, like shaving.

It could also mean more ingrown hairs because when a hair is pulled until it breaks halfway, it is stretched out. After it stretches and snaps, it curls back towards the skin and could become an ingrown hair.

Number of tweezers

The more tweezers on the head of the epilator, the faster you’ll pull out more hair. Each of the tweezers grab hairs as they rotate.

So with an epilator that has a high number tweezers, you’ll be pulling out more hairs per pass of the epilator over your skin. This can be great because you’ll spend less time epilating.

At the same time, if you have low tolerance for pain, more tweezers could also mean more pain. So it is important to know how many tweezers an epilator has, so you can make an informed decision.

Cost

Epilators can cost anywhere from $30 to $150 and prices go up with increased features, details, and accessories. Lower priced epilators can have lower number of tweezers and less convenient details, but are a good place to start if you are unsure about epilation.

On the other hand, if you wax often or use a hair removal method that removes hair from the roots, a good quality epilator can be a useful tool. While the initial cost can seem high for an epilator will all of the features, bells and whistles available, the money you save by replacing wax salon fees quickly makes the epilator a good investment.

Efficiency cap

If you have low pain tolerance, the epilator cap is a must have. It is an attachment cap for the epilator head, where all the tweezers are, to help lessen the pain of epilating.

It is curved and helps optimize the surface area that touches your skin to maximize the angle needed for epilation. The shape of the attachment cap helps you keep the epilator at a 90 degree angle, which is the best angle for epilation. It also makes epilating less painful.

Easy to clean

This is another must have. To make sure your epilator works for a long time, you want to be sure to clean it. The tweezers that pull hair out rotate at the top the epilator. In a good epilator, you are able to take that top portion off or apart to clean out any hairs that might have gotten stuck in there while the tweezers rotate.

A clean epilator will also help keep your skin free of any acne or similar breakouts that are a result of bad epilator hygiene.

Speed options

Variable speeds help you control how fast or slow the tweezers turn. This is especially useful when you are epilating a curved and sensitive area, like an armpit or the back of knee. These areas can hurt a lot more.

If your epilator has two or more speeds, you can continue epilating up an arm or leg by just slowing it down when you reach a sensitive area.

Built in light

Most of us will epilate in a bathroom, and sometimes bathrooms do not have the best light at night. Having a built in light at the head of the epilator that shines on your skin can be really helpful when you have to epilate during an evening.

The built in light can help you see hairs that are shorter or finer so that you don’t end up with patchy areas due to bad overhead lighting.

Accessories

There are a lot of accessories available with some epilators. Some accessories make the basic epilator into a powerful 7-in-1 or 5-in-1 tool with attached heads for shaving hair, exfoliating, or even scrubbing your heels.

Epilators with accessories can be the ideal choice for anyone who travels or does not have a lot of storage in their bathroom because one tool does so much more than just epilate!

Cordless

Corded epilators work just as fine as cordless or rechargeable epilators. However, if you travel or your bathroom outlet is too far to be comfortable, a cordless option can be a small detail that offers tremendous convenience.

So think about where in your home you will be using your epilator, and if having a cordless epilator will make your life easier. Alternatively, if you travel often, cordless is definitely the way to go.

Wet/Dry options

Want to be able to shower and epilate in 1 go? A wet/dry epilator might be your best friend. These epilators can be used in the shower with the water running. This helps with cleaning up the hair that is epilated and the epilator itself. As these epilators are water resistant, you can wash the epilator and the tweezer heads and let it dry in the shower for the next time.

These epilators are also ideal for travelers, who can use in hotels and airbnbs without worrying about the mess and cleanup.

What about pain?

All this talk about removing hair from the root brings us to an important question – How much does it hurt?

The answer depends on your tolerance for pain. We have found that it hurts less than waxing but more than shaving. However, if shaving gives you ingrown hairs then trading your razer for a good epilator may still be worth it. A well designed efficiency cap also helps with any pain you might experience.

Even if you do experience pain from epilation, there are a number of ways you can reduce epilator pain.

All in all, unless your pain tolerance is insanely low, don’t be put off by the reports of pain. With some practice, the epilator can become your go to tool for hair removal.

Epilator & Epilation FAQ – Questions from our readers

Below we have answered frequest questions about epilators and how to use them from friends and readers. 

Do epilators work well?

A good quality epilator like the Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 or the Panasonic ES-ED90-P works extremely well to remove hair from anywhere on your body. Epilators can remove hair as well as waxing sessions at a salon and last just as long, with none of the preparation or cleanup required after waxing. And you can epilate hair quickly, almost as quickly as shaving.

Is an epilator better than shaving? Do epilators last longer than shaving?

Epilators are better than shaving if you’re looking for hair removal that lasts longer. Because epilators remove hair from the root like waxing, epilator hair removal lasts longer than shaving. 

Most people find that epilator hair removal will last anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks.

Can you use an epilator on pubic hair?

You can use an epilator on pubic hair. However, unless you have a high pain tolerance and plenty of experience removing hair, we would not recommend using an epilator on the most sensitive areas of your genitals. You can easily use an epilator on the pubic hair around your bikini line but any lower than that may hurt a lot. 

Can I epilate everyday?

You can epilate everyday if you see hair. It may seem like some hair grows back faster but this is because hair grows in cycles. So you can easily epilate as frequently as you wish. Unlike waxing, where you may end up over exfoliating your skin if you try to wax everyday (when you pull out the hair, you also pull away some of the top layers of shedding skin), you can safely use epilators everyday without hurting your skin.

Is it better to epilate wet or dry?

If you’re pressed for time, it is better to epliate dry than wet because the latter will take a little bit longer. However, if you want an easy place to wash away the hairs, clean the epilator, you can epilate wet skin just as easily as dry.

If you have a wet/dry epilator like the Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 or the Panasonic ES-ED90-P that can be used in the shower on wet skin or after you’ve dried your skin, you can epilate wherever is most convenient for you. Not all epilators are suited for wet environments.

How often should I epilate my legs?

You can epilate your legs as often as you see hair on your legs, even everyday. Hair grows in cycles and you do not need to allow a certain period of time for recovery like in waxing before attempting to remove hair again. If you are someone who finds themselves needing to shave everyday, you may find that you can save a lot of time by epilating your hairs every few days.

Does epilation reduce hair growth?

Epilating does not reduce growth, though this is a common myth. Many people use an epilator after shaving for many years, and so go from seeing their hair regrow within days to not having to worry about hair removal for weeks after using an epilator.

This is because an epilator removes the hair from the root like waxing and shaving only cuts it off at the surface, and so the hair takes time to regrow from the root instead of continuing growth from where it was cut off.

So while it may feel like epilation reduces hair growth, it only forces the hair to regrow from the root. If you want to try a hair removal method that reduces hair growth, check out our guide on at home laser hair removal.

Can epilating permanetly remove hair?

Epilating does not remove hair permanently. Like waxing, it only removes the hair from the root, without damaging the root and so it will regrow. 

If you want to try a hair removal method that permanently removes hair, check out our guide on at home laser hair removal.

Is epilating bad for your skin?

Epilating is not bad for your skin and is a skin safe method of hair removal. If you have sensitive or thin skin, you can remove skin along with hair if you wax or sugar your facial hair. If you shave your facial hair, you run the risk of razer burn and skin irritation. A high quality and gentle epilator like the Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 or the Panasonic ES-ED90-P can help you avoid these types of skin irritation and last anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks.

Does using an epilator darken skin?

Using an epilator does not darken skin. It is a skin safe method of hair removal. You can safely use epilators to removes your hair without any damage to your skin, no matter your skin tone. 

Which is better – epilator or laser?

Epilators are better than laser if you want to save money but want a hair removal method that lasts longer than shaving, up to 2-4 weeks at a time.

Laser hair removal is better than epilators if you’re looking for a permanent hair removal method. Laser kills the hair at the root instead of just pulling it out. To learn more, check out our guide on at home laser hair removal.

Can you epilate armpits? How often should you epilate your armpits?

You can epilate your armpits easily. You can epilate as often as you want, or as often as you notice hair. Epilators are great at removing hair from nooks and cranies and is great for all types of hair, armpit and otherwise.

Does epilating cause strawberry legs?

Epilating does not cause strawberry legs. Like waxing, epilators pull the hair out from the root instead of just cutting it off at the surface like shaving (shaving results in strawberry legs). 

You can also use a non comedogenic lotion like Aveeno Moisturizer or Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion right after you have finished epilating to replace any moisture lost during the epilating process and further reduce any risk of strawberry legs.

What are the benefits of epilating?

Here are some benefits of epilating:

  • Results in long lasting smooth skin (anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks)
  • An easy method of hair removal that anyone can do at home
  • Great for removing all of your hair
  • Gentle on thin or sensitive skin
  • Cheaper than spending money on salon visits to remove hair with waxing. 

How long does hair need to be to epilate? Can you epilate long hairs?

You can epilate hairs of any length, but you’ll have more success epilating hairs between 1/8 to 1/4″ long. If the hair is longer, you may end up breaking the hair instead of pulling it out, and then that hair will grow back faster.

You can epilate long hairs. For best results, we recommend trimming hairs that are longer than 1/2 inch to anywhere between 1/8″ to 1/4″.

Can you epilate your face? What is the best facial epilator?

You can easily epilate your face hair. Certain epilators like the Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator are gentler on sensitive skin and can work really well for facial hair removal or even bikini hair removal. Read our review on the Emjoi Soft Caress Epilator at the top of this article.

Does numbing cream work for epilating?

Numbing cream works well for epilating and can help reduce pain. Numbing creams target the pain receptors in your skin’s dermis and epidermis and temporarily prevent them from relying pain to your brain. Numbing creams can work for an hour to an hour and 30 minutes, giving you a window to remove hair with minimal pain, and are a great tool if you suffer from sensitive skin or want to remove hair in a sensitive area like face or bikini. Here’s our guide to numbing creams for epilators and hair removal.

How long does epilating last?

Epilating will last anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks, depending on how fast your hair grows. Like waxing, epilators remove hair from the root and so epilator hair removal will last as long as it takes for your hairs to regrow from the root.

How long do epilators last?

A good quality epilator will last years. I have used an older model Braun epilator for 10 years before upgrading to a wet/dry model. If you take care of epilator, clean out the epilator “teeth” (the roters that pull out the hairs) regularly, and use as it is directed, you can expect your epilator to last a decade or longer. Of course, you may choose to upgrade sooner like I did.

Should you shave before epilating?

You should not shave before epilating because then the epilator will nothing to grip and pull out. If your hair is too long, you can use a trimmer to shorten the hairs.

Does epilating cause hair to grow back thicker?

Epilating does not cause the hair to grow back thicker. In fact, you’ll notice the hairs come back finer over time. Because the epilator will remove the hair from the root, it will need to regrow from the root and will grow back finer than if you had shaved the same hair.

Can I do a Brazilian with an epilator?

Technically you CAN do a Brazilian with an epilator, but it is not something we would recommend. You can easily remove hair around your bikini but anything lower than that will hurt a lot because it’s a sensitive area. It’s especially difficult to use an epilator on yourself in that area. And as an epilator removes hairs in approximate groups of 5-30, you’ll feel a lot more in a sensitive area like your public area. We recommend waxing or laser hair removal for better results.

Do epilators break hairs?

A good quality epilator like one of the ones we recommend at the top of this article will not break hairs and will only pull them out from the roots. A cheaper epilator can break hairs which will result in ingrown hairs. So invest in a well reviewed device and you will have no issues.

Should you moisturize after epilating?

You can moisturize after epilating with a non comedogenic moisturizer like Aveeno Moisturizer, Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion, or Cetaphil. It’s a great idea to do so because it helps replace any moisture lost in your skin during the hair removal process.

How do you epilate for the first time?

Here’s how to epilate the first time and any subsequent times:

  • Clean your skin of any lotions and creams
  • Hold your epilator at a 90 degree angle to your skin 
  • Turn the epilator on and move it in the same direction as your hair growth
  • Go over the same area once more if you see that a few hairs were missed
  • Clean your skin with warm water or a damp towel
  • Moisturize with a non comedogenic lotion like Aveeno Moisturizer or Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion

Do epilators leave stubble?

If you use your epilator incorrectly or use a cheap epilator, you may notice that you get stubble in just a few days and your hair removal does not last the expected 2 to 4 weeks. Remember to use your epilator in the same direction as hair growth and if that does not work, invest in a better quality epilator. Check out our epilator recommendations at the top of this article.

Do you epilate against hair growth?

You should epilate in the same direction as hair growth. If you epilate against hair growth, you may break the hairs which will result in those hairs growing back quickly as stubble or worse, ingrown hairs.

Do Epilators Cause Ingrown Hairs?

Short answer: No. If you are using a high quality epilator the right way, epilators should NOT cause ingrown hairs.

However, you ended up here because you are using an epilator that is causing more ingrown hairs than you expect. So why is this happening? Let’s go over two explanations and how to avoid them for the future.

In this article:

1. Hair is breaking instead of being pulled out from the roots

Sometimes hair breaks at the surface of the skin instead of being pulled out. You may think that the epilator is removing hair and not the notice the difference. But it will grow out quickly like as if you had shaved instead of waxed.

These hairs were pulled at by your epilator but broke before they could be yanked out. Because they were pulled and then broken, they are more likely to curl inward and cause an ingrown hair. So why does this happen?

There are three possible reasons for this.

Loose skin

First, you may not be pulling your skin taut before passing over it with your epilator. The epilator is not able to grab the hair near its root to pull it out completely and instead grabs the hair shaft midway and ends up breaking it. So what can do you do to prevent this?

Make sure your epilator head is as flat as possible on your skin so that it can grab the hair close to the root and remove it. In areas such as your arm pit or your upper thighs, use one hand to pull the skin tight and then epilate. If these areas are especially sensitive, check out our tips for less painful epilation.

Worry about the pain

This brings us to our second reason. Sometimes, when we first start epilation, the pain is intimidating. If you’re starting out and it hurts, you may be afraid to press the epilator head flat on your skin. The epilator will feel less painful when it is only breaking hairs halfway and more painful when you’re pulling the hairs out by your roots. So you may only be skimming the skin surface, only breaking hairs… and ending up with a lot ingrown hairs.

Ingrown hairs are even more painful than epilating, and can be prevented! So if epilating is too painful for you to do right, consider another less painful hair removal method. Shaving alongside a home laser hair removal might be a good option for you. Here are our recommendations for the best home laser systems.

Cheap epilator

Finally, the last potential reason could be a cheap epilator or one that has a low number of tweezers. The tweezers are the mechanical pieces that rotate in epilator and pull the hairs out. The higher number of tweezers, the more hair grabbed and pulled out by the epilator. A lower number of tweezers could mean less hair is being grabbed at the root and some hair is attempted to be grabbed but is just pulled halfway until it breaks. A good epilator has anywhere from 20 to 60 tweezers. Some epilators even come with 100+ tweezers!

Epilators can last a long time. So there is no reason to assume that you have a low quality epilator causing your ingrown hairs. We recommend that you try the other tips in this article first before concluding that the problem is your epilator. However, if you’d like to upgrade to a better epilator and smoother skin without ingrown hairs, here are our recommendations for the best epilators available in 2017.

2. Lack of exfoliation

The other major key to preventing ingrown hairs is exfoliation. Exfoliating regularly helps turn over the top layer of skin. It also makes sure that hairs do not have opportunity to grow inward or into the skin’s top layer and become a painful ingrown hair. Your skin sheds every day and exfoliation helps speed up this process. Some people shed skin faster than others. You may be prone to more ingrown hairs because your skin does not shed as fast.

There are two ways to exfoliate – physical and chemical.

Read our guide on Physical and Chemical Exfoliation.

Physical exfoliation includes using brown sugar or coffee or a formulated body scrub like Gigi No Bump Scrub to help remove dead skin. You can also use a loofah or pouf to lightly scrub your skin. This can be done both inside the shower with your body wash or you can do a dry scrub with a dry scrub brush right before you hop in your shower or bath.

Chemical exfoliation involves using a lotion or cream with exfoliating acids, like alpha hydroxy or AHA, to speed up the skin cell turn over. Common AHA acids include lactic acid, glycolic acid, and more. Be careful if using both chemical and physical exfoliation at the same time. Over exfoliation can ruin your skin’s natural moisture barrier, overdry your skin, and takes longer than you think to reverse. So if you plan on using both physical and chemical exfoliation, check with your dermatologist.

We also recommend that you always wear sunscreen if you are using a chemical exfoliant, because they can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

Both have their pros and cons. As for which is better, it depends on a few factors – your sensitivity level, how much time you want to spend on exfoliation, and your type of skin. To pick which is best for you, read more about the pros and cons of chemical vs physical exfoliation.

Ultimately, there are many possible reasons why you are getting a lot of ingrown hairs from epilating your hair. Be sure to eliminate each of the above reasons and maybe even try an updated or new epilator. If you continue to get ingrown hairs, despite exfoliating, good epilating technique, and a high quality epilator, we recommend trying another method of hair removal. Ingrown hairs are not just painful, but can cause long term scars. While there are certainly ways to fade scars over time, it may be better to switch back to shaving, try a depilatory cream, or combine shaving with an at home laser hair removal system.

Epilators vs Waxing?

Epilators or Waxing – Which at home hair removal method is better for you?

We get common questions like “do epilators hurt?” or “which is better?”. Epilators and waxing both remove hair from the root, so they’re similar in their end result. But the process is different for each. So here’s a guide that compares epilators vs waxing on some key characteristics, like waxing vs epilator pain or which costs more, that can help you determine which of these hair removal methods can work better for you.

In this article:

Epilator definition

An epilator is an electrical hair removal machine that removes hair from the root. It has a set of tweezers on a rotating wheel that quickly removes many hairs with each pass of the epilator on skin. The tweezers grab hair and pull it out. There can be anywhere from 20 to 100 tweezers on an epilator, so the epilator can pull out 2 to 4 times the hair with each short pass.

Epilators can be plug in devices or rechargeable battery powered, for dry use only or for wet/dry that let you use them in shower, and come with a number of helpful accessories that can help reduce the pain.

Want to learn more? Read our complete guide to epilators here, complete with a how to epilate, pain levels, and thorough reviews on some of the better epilators available today.

Waxing definition

Waxing is the process of applying a soft or hard wax on skin in the direction of hair growth, and then then removing the hair from its roots by quickly pulling the wax off. A good quality wax will cling fast to the hairs and not the skin, taking the hairs with it when it is pulled off. Waxes come in two main consistencies – soft wax and hard wax.

Soft wax is the gentler version that is removed with wax strips made of cotton or recycled paper. Hard wax is considered better for waxing coarse hair. It is somewhat less sticky and can be pull off as it cools by gripping the edge of the applied wax and so you do not need any strips for hard wax hair removal.

All waxing also lightly exfoliates the skin by also removing a layer of the topmost dead skin cells.

Want to learn more? Read our complete guide to waxing at home here, complete with a how to wax, pain levels, and thorough reviews on some of the better waxing kits for home available today.

1. Compare – Which lasts longer

Both epilators and waxing hair removal remove the hair from the root. Lets assume that you have a good waxing technique and a good quality epilator and you are not breaking hairs at the skin surface and really are pulling them out by the root: Hair removal by either the epilator or waxing should last equally long, which can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 weeks.

But, after you epilate or wax and the hair grows back in, how soon can you wax or epilate? To wax again, you’ll need the hair to grow back to a 1/ 4 of an inch or more. Otherwise, the wax will not be able to grip the hair. On the other hand, a good epilator can grab hairs that are only 1/ 8 of an inch. So you could epilate sooner.

However, some people may find that if they epilate hairs as they come in, they need to epilate more frequently. Hair grows back in stages, so you always have hair growing in. It’s possible that during your regrowth, all the hair that you pulled out previously did not regrow. So you may find yourself epilating more often for everytime hairs cycle through their phases and grow back in. With waxing, because you have to wait until hairs reach a certain length, you may find that you’re able to remove more hairs because more hairs have grown back in since you last removed hair.

So each has its pros and cons. Depending on your lifestyle or needs, you may find that one works better for you.

Winner: BOTH

Both the epilator or waxing win on the basis that they last equally long. But you’ll be able to epilate new growth sooner than you’ll be able to wax new growth.

2. Compare – Cost

Epilators come in all shapes, sizes, and price points from $30-200. Let us say you purchased a mid range epilator for about $100. Epilators are a one time purchase and if you take care of them, you don’t have to buy replacement heads or other parts for a lifetime. So that is a one time cost of $100.

If you’re waxing, you’ll need to replace your wax as you run out. If you’re using a hard wax, then all you need to wax is the wax. But if you’re using a soft wax, then you’re also using disposable wax strips and waxing applicators like popsicle sticks. Gigi brand’s replacement wax cost $10-20 and should last about 3 months even if you’re using it 2x a month. Replacement strips and applicators could cost $25 total but will last the whole year. So doing the math, you might spend $80 max for the first year of waxing at home if you’re hard wax, and $105 max for the first year of waxing with soft wax.

Of course, we compared epilators vs waxing at home for our example here. Getting a wax done professionally will cost much more than this.

Winner: Epilator

The cost of epilators vs waxing is the same for the first year, but you’ll see your costs increase linearly each year with waxing while an epilator is a one time cost.

3. Compare – Pain

Both the epilator and wax pull the hair out by the root so both are more painful than shaving or a depilatory cream which only remove the hair at the skin’s surface and not below.

Epilators can be particularly painful if you normally shave or use a depilatory (chemical shaving) cream like Nair where the hair is not removed from the root but only at the skin’s surface. This is because over time your hair follicle (or root of the hair) regrows more hair each time it’s shaved and the hair follicle gets quite strong over time as it regrows and regrows. When you yank the hair out from its root, the hair that grows back in looks finer.

This is actually what causes people to think that waxing or epilating makes hair grow back less and finer, but that is actually a myth. In reality, shaving makes a thicker follicle (looks darker) and pulling it out from the root makes a thinner hair grow back. There isn’t less hair as a result.

So if you’ve only shaved to date and then you try to use an epilator, you’re pulling out that thicker follicle which will hurt more than if you were pulling out a follicle that had been yanked out recently and regrown. Tweezing out those hairs can be painful.

If you want to epilate long term instead of wax, but have only shaved to date, we recommend that you wax off all the hair once then epilate the regrowth. The epilator will hurt far less in this way.

That brings us to the pain of waxing. High powered epilators can have close to 100 tweezers and can pull a lot of hairs with each pass. Waxing also pulls out a lot of hairs at once. However, the process of putting warm wax on your skin, pressing, and then quickly removing the wax sends a lot of sensory information all at once to your brain and a lot of people find that waxing can hurt less. Some waxes are soothing to the skin as well and can reduce redness while conditioning the skin. Compared to epilating for the first time, waxing hurts less and is easier.

Winner: Waxing

Waxing hurts a little less than an epilator. The sensations are different however, and many people find that they are quickly accustomed to epilator pain and find it easier to deal with than waxing.

4. Compare – How long each takes

Using an epilator is very easy. You plug it in or it is battery powered and ready to go. Pass the epilator on your skin against the hair growth and it will remove double digit numbers of hairs with each pass.

With wax, you have to do some planning to get ready for waxing. Namely, you need to warm your wax which can take 5-15 minutes depending on the wax.

Winner: Epilator

If you account for warming up wax, the epilator can remove hair faster. However, once the wax is warmed up, an experienced waxer will remove hair just as fast as someone who uses epilators regularly.

5. Compare – Skill needed

If you’re a beginner, you probably will remove the same amount of hair faster with an epilator than waxing.

But if you’ve waxed frequently, it will take you the same amount of time to remove hair as if you were using an epilator.

So there is less of a learning curve with an epilator than waxing. However, that learning curve might be worth it because you are far less likely to break hair during waxing because wax does a good job of pulling hair out at the root with little effort. With an epilator, it is easy to get started but there is some skill involved with actually pulling the hair out and not just breaking it. A good quality epilator also helps with this.

Winner: Same for BOTH

6. Compare – Convenience

Lay down a towel and you can epilate anywhere. Especially if you have a battery charged epilator. You can epilate in front of the tv while you catch up on the latest show. You can even take an epilator with you when you travel and epilate in a hotel.

To wax, you need to cover the floor with a disposable cover of some kind (newspaper, a paper bag, etc) to catch drips. You also need a dependable heat source and may need to be near a microwave to reheat your wax or an outlet to plug in your wax warmer. It would definitely be cumbersome to try to take your wax kit with you while travel. However, none of these are are inconveniences if you’re home.

Winner: Epilator, barely

The epilator wins only because it is easier to pack for travel.

So what’s the takeaway?

The epilator wins barely overall. If you’re looking for a quick, easy electronic gadget, have a pain tolerance, and like the convenience of being able to remove hair on the go, then the epilator is your friend. If you have extra sensitive skin, don’t mind the additional prep of waxing, and prefer a tried and traditional method of hair removal, then waxing is your go-to.

That said, you may prioritize one feature or characteristic over the other, so only you can decide which can be a better method of hair removal for you. We hope this breakdown helped you determine which feature was more important and make an informed decision.

Learn more about epilators or waxing at home

Is this the first time you’ve heard of an epilator? If you want to learn more, check out our Complete Guide to Epilating with reviews of the best epilators here.

Or you want to try your hand at waxing at home because those salon visits are adding up? We’ve written a handy Guide to Waxing at home here. Check it out for tips on getting started as well as which wax options are available for different skin types or lifestyles.

How to prevent ingrown hairs after waxing

And how to treat ingrown hairs after they show up

When you wax your hair, you pull it out from it’s root or follicle. Sometimes, when the hair regrows, it can regrow inward rather than outward like normal. This results in an ingrown hair which can be annoying to deal with. So how treat ingrown hairs before they happen?

In this article:

Waxing Technique

I’m going to assume its not your technique of waxing your hair, and move onto how to prevent ingrown hairs on legs, arms, face, bikini, or other parts your body via exfoliation. But before I do, a quick explanation.

Sometimes if your professional waxer is in a rush or maybe you’re waxing at home
and you haven’t quite figured out the technique, the hair might be breaking instead of being pulled out. This can cause ingrown hairs. Notice if your professional waxer is pulling the wax or wax strips off your skin surface at a 45 degree or lower angle. This means, let’s say your leg is laying horizontal on a table. The waxer should not be pulling the wax strips off in a motion that goes up vertically, but the removing wax motion is also more horizontal like your leg than vertical. I remember when I first started waxing at home, afraid of the pain, I’d pull up towards the ceiling. So bad technique could be a reason for ingrown hairs.

Why Exfoliate?

However, everyone, despite technique, is prone to some (or many) ingrown hairs when the hairs grow back in. So how to prevent them? One word with many methods – Exfoliation.

Exfoliating the top and dead layers of your skin can help remove those layers before they trap hairs underneath and cause ingrown hairs. Rather than waiting for ingrown hairs to happen, and then dealing with them, it’s better to exfoliate as a preventative measure. Exfoliating helps speeds up the shedding of your outer layers, which happens naturally but at a slower pace.

There are 2 types of exfoliation, physical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation, that can help prevent ingrown hairs as your new hairs grow back in.

Let’s take a closer look at physical and chemical exfoliation.

Physical Exfoliation for Ingrown Hairs

Physical exfoliation manually rubs off your outer layers of dead skin faster than they fall off so that new hairs do not get trapped beneath those layers of skin.

There are several ways to physically exfoliate and most of them happen during your shower or bath. You can dry brush before showering, but loofas, hand sponges, exfoliating scrubs all help remove dead skin while you are showering or bathing.

Here are some recommendations and short reviews of good physical exfoliators:

1. Exfoliating Gloves

These are gloves that you can wear in the shower and have an abrasive texture. You put the gloves on, grab your body soap and lather up the gloves. Then you rub your soap lathered gloves over your legs, arms, and rest of body like a loofah. While you soap your body, the abrasive texture of the gloves helps exfoliate each limb of your body.

This is a great, lazy man’s way to physically exfoliate in the shower because it combines soaping and exfoliating. We also throw our exfoliating gloves into the washing machine with our weekly laundry to sanitize. It takes a much longer for these to wear out to need replacement than loofas or other sponges.

2. Exfoliating Scrub

Only a few years ago, a lot of exfoliating body scrubs had tiny plastic beads in them that you would feel as the exfoliating beads. Then when you rinsed off in the shower, those plastic beads went down your drain and out into rivers and oceans and started collecting and harming fish populations. Finally, they banned these plastic microbeads. Still, we are not comfortable recommending brands (ahem, rhymes with “hives”) that used to use those beads, but yes those brands do work, and yes they are cheaper. We aren’t about shaming you for your purchases, but we wanted to explain why we aren’t recommending a more obvious brand.

Personally we’ve found that whatever they’re using as the new natural replacement for those beads are still too hard or too big to properly exfoliate. In contrast, charcoal, sea salt, or brown sugar make for a great and natural exfoliant that dissolve after long contact with water.

We can recommend Natural Activated Coconut Charcoal body scrub and Himalayan Salt Body Scrub.

Here are more exfoliating body scrubs. Search for “natural body scrubs” or “exfoliating body wash” to find specific products that might work for you.

3. Loofah

This one you probably already use or know of. Wet and lather your loofah with body soap and then rub your limbs in a circular motion to soap and exfoliate simultaneously.

This is a cheap, economical solution. If you change out your loofah every 3 months like you’re supposed to, this costs you a total of $10-15 per year.

We can recommend this pack of Ecofriendly loofahs. Purchased once a year, they’ll last you a whole year without having to think about buying a replacement.

4. Dry brushing

Dry brushing is another multi use option for physical exfoliation. It’s commonly used as a preventative for cellulite by stimulating your lymph nodes and skin, and is done before stepping into the shower while you are still dry. Physical exfoliation is actually a side effect benefit of dry brushing.

So if you want to target both physical exfoliation and cellulite, dry brushing is a great option.

We like the dual purpose of this Wet and Dry Brush for days where you don’t have time to do a full body dry brush before your shower.

Downsides of physical exfoliation

It’s very easy to get overzealous about physical exfoliation and end up damage your skin’s moisture barrier. Physical exfoliation gives you immediately smooth skin and so you might be inclined to enthusiastically scrub your skin daily and by the time you realize you over did it, it’s a little too late.

So we highly recommend that you start with a 1-2 times a week schedule. Moisturize once you get out of the shower and pay attention to your skin. Is it feeling tight during the day or visibly showing dry skin? Scale back. No? You could add a 3rd session in the week if you want to, but again pay close attention to your skin.

If you’re using a loofah or a glove sponge, be sure to replace or sanitize them regularly.

Chemical Exfoliation for Ingrown Hairs

Chemical exfoliation uses an acid to help remove a certain layer of outer shedding skin with each use. These acids can include AHAs or Alpha Hydroxy Acids, BHAs or Beta Hydroxy Acids, or even ASAs or Acetylsalicylic Acids.

There are further types of AHAs or alpha hydroxy acids, BHAs or or beta hydroxy acids, and ASAs or acetylsalicylic acid – like glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid , and even aspirin. Each of these acids have different sized molecules and target the skin in different ways, that we’ll cover shortly.

AHAs are commonly used for antiaging functions because they help increase skin cell renewal, or help remove outer dead skin to show the inner younger skin. Learn more about alpha hydroxy acids via our guide to AHAs.

BHAs are another penetrative acid that helps remove the outer layer of skin. Learn more about beta hydroxy acids via our guide to BHAs.

And ASAs can be used to help unblock pores and reduce inflammation, and act as a painkiller.

Note: This might be obvious to some readers, but we still wanted to make note. Do not use chemical exfoliators immediately after hair removal! It will hurt. Give your skin a chance to heal, at least 24 hours and even 48 hours to be sure. Then proceed with chemical exfoliation.

Here are some recommendations and short reviews of good chemical exfoliators:

1. Amlactin Body Lotion


This is our favorite everyday chemical exfoliator for ingrown hairs because it is a body lotion not just a treatment and so it is easy to use this daily as your post shower moisturizer and ingrown hair preventative at the same time.

It has 12% lactic acid and most people are able to use this lotion every day without over exfoliating their skin. That’s another great thing about Amlactin Body Lotion – it was made for daily use so it’s amount of acid is effective enough to exfoliate but not so high that you could run into problems with over exfoliation. Lactic acid is also considered a mild acid because its molecules are bigger than say, glycolic acid. The smaller the molecule of the acid, the more likely it is to penetrate your skin and the riskier it is to use on a daily basis.

Finally, there is a BIG WARNING about using AmLactin daily we must share: YOU HAVE TO WEAR SUNSCREEN on top of using this lotion. We cannot emphasize that enough! Never use an AHA acid (lactic, glycolic, mandelic acids) on your skin without using sunscreen as well. These acids speed up the turnover of skin cells but also make your newer skin underneath very sensitive to sun damage. You don’t want to be getting rid of the top layers, getting nice young baby skin, only to be aging it faster and causing irreversible damage to your skin. For more on AHAs, check out our skincare guide to AHAs.

So if you do not wear sunscreen or are likely to skip sunscreen, DO NOT USE this. If you plan on using it only in an area that will not see sun (like bikini area), then it’s okay to use.

Read more verified reviews of Amlactin Body Lotion here.

2. Tend Skin


Tend Skin is our favorite ingrown hair preventative and treatment. Unlike Amlactin which acts as both a body lotion and an exfoliator, Tend Skin is specifically an ingrown hair product that can used only on your ingrown hairs or you can treat any larger area that is generally prone to ingrown hairs to get them before they begin.

Tend Skin uses an ASA, or Acetylsalicylic Acid, which is another word for aspirin. Yes, aspirin. It acts as both an anti inflammatory and unclogs your pores and so is highly effective on ingrown hairs, both as an ingrown hair treatment and as an ingrown hair treatment. It’s an industry favorite and for good reason. It does what it says it does!

Read more verified reviews of Tend Skin here.

3. Other AHA acids for ingrown hairs

We like Amlactin but we also wanted to make note that you can use almost any AHA acid or chemical exfoliator that you use on your face as an ingrown hair treatment with the proper care and attention. Amlactin makes it easy to moderate the strength of lactic acid in a formula for everyday use. But if you use lactic, glycolic, mandelic acid at home for your face and skin, you can use it on say, your bikini line, to deal with ingrown hairs as well. For more on AHAs, check out our skincare guide to AHAs.

The key to using these acids for ingrown hairs to make sure you’re not overdoing it. Pay attention to your skin. Is it a extra strong acid that you use once a week on your face, like a 50% lactic acid peel? It might be too strong for as a regular ingrown hair treatment. A 10-15% acid that you use as part of your nightly routine might make for a better regular treatment.

Again, if you’re using an AHA anywhere where it will see the sun, wear sunscreen!

We like Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Lotion with 8% Glycolic acid and CosRx AHA 7 Whitehead Power which also has glycolic acid.

Here are some more of the gentler AHA options. Use keywords like “10% glycolic acid” or “15% lactic acid” to see more specific products.

4. BHA acids for ingrown hairs

Have you tried AHAs and found them to be too hard for your sensitive skin? Or you don’t wear sunscreen regularly enough to use an AHA?

You can use a BHA, beta hydroxy acid, that act as a gentler exfoliator and does not make your skin sensitive to sunlight. You have probably heard of BHAs like salicylic acid and azelaic acid being used commonly as acne medications and in anti aging formulas. Their main role is to penetrate pores and clean them out from the inside, which can make BHAs very effective for ingrown hairs. They can target the ingrown hairs before they become inflamed. Like AHAs, they help speed up skin cell renewal. For more on BHAs, read our skincare guide to beta hydroxy acids or BHAs.

Pregnant women should not use BHAs. Unlike AHAs, BHAs are most effective at low dosages.

We like CosRx BHA Blackhead Power and Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Gel with 2% Salicylic Acid.

Here are other BHA options. Use keywords like “2% BHA” or “2% beta hydroxy acid” to see more specific products.

Treatment: How to treat ingrown hairs after they show up?

In an ideal world, you stop getting ingrown hairs altogether. But sometimes all of our best efforts to prevent ingrown hairs, you wake up with an angry red spot marking the beginnings of a hair that didn’t grow up and out.

To treat ingrown hairs that are already showing, we recommend more of the preventative measures – physical or chemical exfoliation. If you’re using chemical exfoliation, you could also spot treat.

Once the ingrown hair’s head starts to show (it will start to look darker because the hair is visible), you could also use an extractor to encourage it come out altogether. Use this very gently however. Press the looped oval around the hair and if it doesn’t come out easily, leave it, spot treat and try again the next day.

The solutions for preventing and treating ingrown hairs are mostly the same. But its better to start before they appear. It is a bit more effort but make it a routine and it will be worth it long term to not have to treat ingrown hairs.

Home Remedies for ingrown hairs

Alright, so it’s late at night and there is nothing you can buy that will show up immediately. What to do? Here is how to treat ingrown hairs after waxing with home remedies in a pinch.

1. Aspirin

As we mentioned, in the industry favorite ingrown hair preventative and treatment – Tend Skin – aspirin plays a major role. Do you have any aspirin laying around? Crush a tablet of aspirin on a flat hard surface using the back of a spoon. Gather up the powder and add a few drops of water. Mix until it forms a paste.

You can apply this paste on your ingrown hairs to help reduce redness and encourage the pore to open up. Is this recipe a total replacement of the benefits of Tend Skin. No, but this great for reducing irritation right this minute.

2. Witch Hazel

Some people swear by witch hazel as an ingrown hair treatment. So how does this work?

Witch hazel is an astringent. It helps shrink your skin and pores and by forcing this constriction, it helps the pore push the irritating hair to the surface.

So this is another great way to treat ingrown hairs after waxing with home remedies. It may not be strong enough but it is worth a shot if you have some witch hazel at home.

Try a Different Method of Hair Removal

Sometimes no matter what we do, the ingrown hairs do not lessen or go away. If that’s the case, it’s worth considering a different method of hair removal. Other than waxing, you can look into using an epilator. Or you can look into a more permanent method of hair removal like IPL or laser hair removal.