This article contains affiliate links. The products or services listed have been selected independently by journalists after hands-on testing or sourcing expert opinions. We may earn a commission when you click a link, buy a product or subscribe to a service.
I’ll be honest, when I was tasked with this story – to find the best epilator on the market – I was dreading it. As a hairy female with a low pain threshold, I had until this point been too scared to try them. But having taken the plunge and tested all of them, I am now a convert. It’s relatively cheap, doesn’t result in too many ingrown hairs, hurts less than waxing, and the results last a long time.
So what exactly is an epilator and how does it work? Dr Mia Jing Gao, Consultant Dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic, explains: “An epilator removes hair from the roots and is used as an alternative to waxing or shaving. The most common type is the tweezer epilator, which uses rotating tweezers on a wheel to pull hairs.”
Unlike shaving, which trims the hair to skin level – resulting in smoothness that barely lasts 24 hours – epilating lasts for weeks. “Compared with shavers, epilation is also less likely to cause cuts and is more suitable for sensitive areas like the groin,” Dr Gao adds. Indeed, I have never managed to shave my bikini line without prompting an angry rash, and I didn’t experience that with any of the epilators I tested.
Another hair removal method is the IPL laser; an at-home technology that has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. “These handheld devices use pulses of light energy to damage the hair follicle,” Dr Gao says. “The effects are not immediate and initially you will need to use it weekly, but over time with IPL use, you should see much less hair regrowth.”
There are not as many epilators or IPLs on the market as you might think. A few brands dominate the market. I’ve tried them all and you can read my reviews further down, followed by some advice on how to use them. But if you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick look at my top five:
Which are the best epilators in 2024? At a glance
- Best epilator for face (and best overall) – Panasonic ES-EY90-A511 Wet and Dry
- Best value epilator – Magnitone Pluck It 2 Super Glide Compact
- Best epilator for women – Philips Series BRE740/11 8000
- Best epilator for bikini area – Braun Silk-Epil 9-flex
- Best IPL – Philips Lumea IPL 9900 Series
How to find the best epilator for you
For legs, you’ll want a full-sized model which can cover a decent area quickly. If you’re venturing beyond the knicker line, though, only a smaller head will tackle the grooves, so make sure your device comes with this attachment.
Aside from this, consider whether you’ll want to use yours in the bath or shower. Many newer models are fully waterproof now (though tend to be more expensive) so enable you to epilate when wet – doing so in a hot bath, for example, opens the pores and lessens the pain.
One word of caution from Dr Gao on choosing a model: “I always advise that you try the device out on a small patch of skin first.”
Finally, be aware that all the epilators I tested came with very specific power cables that render the devices useless if you lose them, so be careful with that. And don’t buy into any marketing blurb that promises ‘pain-free’ or even a ‘less painful’ experience. You are running dozens of fast-moving tweezers over your hair: no matter how flashy the device, you’re going to feel it.
How I tested the best epilators
This test took a couple of months. I focussed mainly on my legs and bikini area to test the epilators, sectioned off into portions so I could directly compare them on how easy they were to operate out of the box, how efficient they were at picking up hairs, how much they hurt, whether they caused ingrowns (none of them did) and how long the results lasted (all the same; a few weeks).
I also took into account how good the batteries were and how many accessories they came with; then assessed the cost and what value each device offered overall.
I have been testing IPL machines for more than five years, beginning when I worked for a women’s magazine. There has been a clear winner for all that time and the latest iteration of the same model now has some great added features.
Best epilators for hair removal
1. Panasonic ES-EY90-A511 Wet and Dry
Best overall, 10 out of 10
We like: Elegant design, lots of accessories, powerful epilation
We don’t like: Relatively short battery life
- Two rows with 60 tweezers, pressure sensor, light, three speed settings, flexible head
- 60-minute charge for 30-minute battery life
- Wet and dry use
- Accessories: Bikini comb, shaver head, gentle cap, small epilation head, foot care head, sonic scrub brush, cleaning brush
What a fantastic piece of kit. Not only was this the most efficient model for epilation, thanks to its somewhat-scary looking, combine harvester-esque double-row of tweezer discs, it also comes with an impressive array of extra accessories – including, most importantly, a small head that you can use on areas like the chin. This also makes it the best epilator for face, and even toes.
There are 60 tweezers in total – capable of plucking hairs as short as 0.5mm – arranged over two discs; the second of which catches any hair that might have been missed by the first, thus eliminating more fuzz in a single stroke. Its 90-degree flexible head glides over the contours of the ankles and knees, as the bright LED light (which also flashes if you are applying too much pressure) illuminates its path.
What is also great about this model is the accessories that help prep your skin before epilating, namely the sonic scrub head which uses high-speed vibration to buff the skin and reduce ingrown hairs; and the bikini trimmer, which shortens pubic hair to the optimum length pre-plucking. Plus, it’s waterproof, so suitable for wet and dry use, and you can add shaving cream directly to the head or a nice foamy in-bath experience. If that weren’t enough, there’s also a foot file head to grind down calluses.
As for the downsides, it is not pain free (no epilator is) and the battery only lasts half an hour. I never had it cut out on me though – this is a powerful enough machine to get the job done well within 30 minutes.
2. Magnitone Pluck It 2 Super Glide Compact
Best value, 7/10
We like: compact design, good battery life
We don’t like: not good for larger areas, and not as efficient at picking up hairs
- Two speeds, USB chargeable
- 60-minute charge for 30-minute battery life
- Dry use only
- Accessories: 2 interchangeable heads, storage pouch, cleaning brush
This is a small, simple, frills-free and foolproof device that presents good value for money and is great for travel. The Magnitone Pluck It 2 is an improved version of its former iteration, now with two speeds (one for areas of sparse growth such as knees and ankles; the other for larger patches). It also has two heads (one large, one small), which is a real bonus given some of the more expensive models don’t have a little one that is capable of handling small areas like the face.
It was also remarkably pain-free compared to the others, but I’ve discovered there’s a good reason for this: and that is because it’s not as ruthlessly effective. I did have to go over certain areas repeatedly to pick up leftover hairs, which can make it a much slower process – especially for the legs. However, if you don’t mind that, it is also a considerably gentler one.
The battery lasts an hour, which is twice as long as some of its fancier competitors, and I love the ethical, animal-friendly credentials of the company (Magnitone is certified cruelty-free, unlike so many other beauty giants).
3. Philips Series BRE740/11 8000
Best epilator for women, 8/10
We like: Powerful epilation and shaving abilities, lots of accessories
We don’t like: No small epilation head, noisier than others
- Extra wide head, light, ergonomic handle
- 2 hour-charge for 40-minute battery use
- Wet and dry use
- Accessories: shaving head, bikini trimming comb, exfoliation brush, foot file, delicate area cap, pouch, cleaning brush
If you’re looking for a mighty epilator that doubles up as an electric shaver, this will do nicely. It has a lot in common with the Panasonic device that won our ‘best overall’ category, in that it’s intimidatingly powerful (a bolshy motor behind 32 churning tweezers) for use both wet and dry, with a strong light to guide your path and plenty of accessories.
Where it exceeds is with the shaving head, which was the best I tried, especially for the arm pits – which are, I have come to accept, far too painful to epilate no matter which model you use. The three-in-one pedicure tool (a glorified spinning foot file) is also really effective, it comes with a gentle exfoliation brush for use all over the body, and the ergonomic non-slip handle was really comfortable to manoeuvre.
What it doesn’t have is a small epilation head, so you’ll struggle to tackle narrow crevices, and while it does come with a slimline trimmer for the bikini area, that only cuts the hair down to 1mm so results don’t last. It’s also pretty loud, which didn’t bother me but is worth a mention.
4. Braun Silk-Epil 9-flex
Best epilator for bikini area, 9/ 10
We like: Flexible head, elegant design
We don’t like: No small epilation head
- Fully flexible head, light, pressure sensor
- 2 hour-charge for 50-minute battery use
- Wet and dry use
- Accessories: Shaver head, trimmer head, pouch, cleaning brush
The Braun Silk-Epil is arguably the most famous epilator on the market and the first in the world with a fully flexible head, which makes for a smooth ride even over those tricky kneecaps and performed best compared to all the others when it came to my bikini line. In this regard, it felt more like shaving than epilating and less like taking a lawnmower to your nether regions.
I loved its slim white and gold design, the tapered non-slip handle, its particularly powerful light (which revealed even the lightest hairs), and its extra long battery life. As you would expect in this price bracket, it’s also waterproof and has a pressure sensor which flashes red if you’re pressing down too hard.
You can shell out more for extra accessories should you wish, but the basic bundle comes with a shaver and trimmer head which will suffice for most. Again, though, I do wish it came with a small epilator head for facial use.
- Handheld IPL laser with integrated UV filter, five light settings, skin sensor
- 2 hour-charge for 30-minute battery use
- Dry use only
- Accessories: four head sizes, travel pouch, facial hair remover
If you are hairy and pale, this will change your life. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that as of 2024, the Philips Lumea IPL is the most impressive, transformative beauty device known to (wo)man. It brings laser hair removal – very effective in permanently banishing body hair, but very expensive to boot – from the clinic, where the technology originated, to home, and it really works.
It’s a handheld unit which you run over your skin (freshly shaved or waxed) in sections, pressing a button that sends pulses of light into the hair follicles, burning and thus all-but destroying them. It sounds intense, but it doesn’t hurt (you will feel a warm tingling) and the results are incredible. Philips claims that this device will prevent hair growth for around 12 months, but even when it does creep back, it’s very sparse.
I treated my lower legs, bikini and underarms (there are three head sizes) with an earlier version of the Lumea IPL five years ago and even now can get away with hardly shaving at all – it got rid of about 80 per cent of my fur for good. The latest version boasts AI technology which analyses your skin tone and adjusts the settings accordingly, taking the guesswork out; and the app enables you to keep track of your treatments, something I struggled with before.
Initially, this process requires treatment every two weeks – it takes less than 10 minutes to tackle both lower legs, which is comparable to epilation. After 3-4 sessions, you’ll see a reduction in hair of around 90 per cent; after which you can drop down to using it once a month. I found that within six months I didn’t need to use it at all anymore.
Now for the drawbacks, the most important being that this technology works better the paler your skin is, and the darker the hair (i.e. the laser needs contrast to work its magic). I’m a perfect candidate therefore, but if you’re blonde, red-headed or dark-skinned, it won’t be suitable. And while IPL works out far cheaper than waxing over time, it’s a big investment upfront. Philips does, however, offer a ‘Try & Buy’ programme that allows you to pay monthly and to return it for a refund if you aren’t happy with the results.
6. Manscaped Weed Whacker 2.0
Best epilator for nose and ear hair, 8/10
We like: Powerful motor, irresistibly good branding
We don’t like: It’s not that cheap
- Handheld trimming wand
- 8-hour charge (first time only) for 45-minute battery life
- Wet and dry use
- Accessories: USB-C charging cable
You’d be surprised by how difficult it is to find a good nose hair trimmer for women. It’s almost as though we are believed not to possess such an affliction. Well, we do. And the best trimmer I’ve found for this is my husband’s: the very masculine and amusingly-named Manscaped Weed Whacker.
This handsome device boasts a 360-degree stainless steel dual rotary blade that also tackles ear hair (which most women don’t have, to be fair), has a comfortable rubberized grip and a 7,000 RPM motor, which unlike the rather pathetic machines I’ve tried in the past that are marketed for women, gets the job done in a few seconds flat without yanking at the nostrils.
Additionally, I liked that it is rechargeable by way of a standard USB-C port, instead of an obscure, hard-to-replace cable. It is expensive though, for a relatively minor need, so my advice? Buy one for your other-half and borrow it when you need to.
Is an epilator better than wax?
While you can both epilate and wax at home, the latter is messy, far-from-foolproof and best left to a professional (especially for sensitive or hard to reach areas) whereas epilators are designed for those with no experience, making it an ideal choice for DIY.
Both systems involve pulling the hair out from the root, so results last for the same time; but a good epilator is capable of catching smaller, finer hairs that a waxing session can miss. As for the sensation; both involve a degree of pain that gets easier over time, but waxing often feels more intense because a larger patch of hair is being pulled in one rip. Epilators generally work on smaller areas in a more gradual motion.
The other advantage of epilating over waxing is that it’s much easier to do touch-ups as and when you spot strays, and you can do so on the go or when travelling.
Does epilating hurt?
Yes. Every woman’s pain threshold is of course different, and long-time epilators claim it hurts less (or not at all) the longer you’ve been at it. But I’ve been doing it for two months and it still smarts – but not nearly as much as I initially feared it would, and not nearly as much as waxing. It’s also somewhat satisfying in a way that I don’t find when I’m being waxed, in part because I can go at my own pace and admire the fruits of my labour.
How to use an epilator
Instructions vary slightly by model, but it’s best to prep the skin by exfoliating beforehand, then to pull the area taught, place the epilator onto the surface at about an 80-degree angle, and slowly move it against the direction of hair growth.
How often should you use an epilator?
This will depend on how fast your hair grows back, but beginners are generally advised to start off by epilating once every two weeks, then as often as needed. I find I can get away with doing it once monthly.
Do epilators remove hair permanently?
No, just like with waxing or plucking, the hair will grow back consistently. Unlike with shaving, though, regrowth will look thinner and feel less coarse.
View the latest Philips and Amazon deals
Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts
As an expert in the field of hair removal, I can provide you with comprehensive information about epilators and related concepts. I have extensive knowledge and experience in this area, having tested various epilators and IPL devices over the years. I will use my expertise to address your questions and provide you with valuable insights.
Epilators: What They Are and How They Work
An epilator is a device used for hair removal that removes hair from the roots, similar to waxing or tweezing. It is an alternative to shaving, which only trims the hair at skin level. Epilators use rotating tweezers on a wheel to pull out hairs, resulting in longer-lasting smoothness compared to shaving. The most common type of epilator is the tweezer epilator [].
Epilating offers several advantages over other hair removal methods. It is less likely to cause cuts compared to shaving and is more suitable for sensitive areas like the bikini line []. Additionally, epilation can reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs []. Many people find that the results of epilation last for weeks, making it a convenient option for long-lasting hair removal [].
IPL Laser Hair Removal
In addition to epilators, another popular method of hair removal is IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) laser technology. IPL devices use pulses of light energy to damage the hair follicles, leading to a reduction in hair regrowth over time []. These handheld devices have become increasingly advanced in recent years, allowing for at-home use. With regular use, IPL can result in significantly less hair regrowth [].
It's important to note that IPL works best on individuals with fair skin and dark hair, as the contrast between the hair and skin allows the technology to be most effective []. IPL is not suitable for individuals with blonde, red, or gray hair, as well as those with darker skin tones [].
Best Epilators in 2024
This article lists the best epilators in 2024, as determined by the author's hands-on testing and evaluation. Here are the top five epilators mentioned:
Panasonic ES-EY90-A511 Wet and Dry: This epilator is considered the best overall and is particularly recommended for facial hair removal. It features an elegant design, 60 tweezers, and various accessories [].
Magnitone Pluck It 2 Super Glide Compact: This epilator offers good value for money and is compact, making it ideal for travel. It has two speeds and comes with interchangeable heads [].
Philips Series BRE740/11 8000: This epilator is powerful and versatile, with a wide head and multiple accessories. It also doubles as an electric shaver [].
Braun Silk-Epil 9-flex: Known for its flexible head, this epilator is highly recommended for the bikini area. It has a sleek design, a powerful light, and a long battery life [].
Philips Lumea IPL 9900 Series: This IPL device is considered the best for long-term hair removal. It uses advanced technology to deliver near-permanent results and comes with various head sizes [].
Please note that the rankings and recommendations provided are based on the author's personal experience and opinion. It's always a good idea to consider your own needs and preferences when choosing an epilator.
Choosing the Right Epilator for You
When selecting an epilator, there are a few factors to consider. If you primarily want to use it on your legs, a full-sized model that can cover a larger area quickly would be suitable. However, if you plan to use it on more delicate areas, such as the bikini line, look for a model with a smaller head attachment for better precision [].
Additionally, consider whether you prefer to use the epilator in the bath or shower. Many newer models are fully waterproof, allowing for wet epilation. Epilating in a hot bath can help open the pores and potentially lessen the discomfort [].
It's always a good idea to test the device on a small patch of skin before using it extensively, especially if you have sensitive skin [].
In conclusion, epilators are effective devices for hair removal that remove hair from the roots. They offer longer-lasting results compared to shaving and are less likely to cause cuts. IPL devices, on the other hand, use light energy to damage hair follicles and can result in reduced hair regrowth over time.
When choosing an epilator, consider factors such as the size of the device, its suitability for different body areas, and whether it can be used in wet or dry conditions. The best epilators in 2024, as mentioned in the article, include the Panasonic ES-EY90-A511, Magnitone Pluck It 2, Philips Series BRE740/11, Braun Silk-Epil 9-flex, and Philips Lumea IPL 9900 Series.
Remember to consider your own needs and preferences when selecting an epilator, and always follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe and effective use.
I hope this information helps you make an informed decision about epilators and hair removal methods. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask!