Over the last ten years I, like so many others, have tried everything under the sun to remove the body hair that I was so kindly gifted by the nature gods. In another life I would love to be the kind of no-nonense, ball-breaking woman who decides to banish the razor, but in this one, I am a girl who will do what she can to remove fur from the places that society has told me that I shouldn't have it: most notably from my legs, my vagina and my armpits. I do also 'tidy up' my eyebrows and from time to time do a little moustache maintenance but today I want to talk about the big stuff.
I started, as we all did, with my legs and I did that with a shitty disposable razor aged about 12. I slowly progressed to my armpits (can't remember when that joy worked it's way into my life) and as I got older, my bikini line became my big nemesis. I'm lazy and usually broke and so have, with a few exceptions, spent the last however many years shaving my legs and armpits; my legs, once a month or whenever I remember and my armpits as often as every other day depending on if it's cold enough to wear long sleeve tops every day. My bikini line I neglect a lot, ideally I wax it but I hate the pain, couldn't bring myself to do a DIY job as I know I'd fuck it up and rarely have a spare £40 so often end up emergency-shaving that too.
Now for the last however many years my mum has tried to make me epilate. In fact, she practically begged me to do it. "It's SO much better than shaving, it doesn't even hurt that much, seriously my leg hair doesn't even grow back anymore it's SO worth it!" and my response has always been the same: "stop it, leave me alone, it's MY BODY and it DOES hurt that much and I can't be bothered and I don't want to so leave me alone OK?!" Undeterred, about five years ago she kindly bough me an Epilator in a bid to start be doing it. It comes out about once a year and I normally end up doing half a leg before putting it back in the cupboard of things that we never ever use. (It used to be a draw but between the drill, the epilator and the three fire extinguishers mum insisted we got, it grew...).
So before yesterday, the last time that I used an epilator was in July, I was with my mum and my sister, it was a really hot day and I had the hangover from hell. We were sitting in the sunshine drinking coffee when my mum, in a way that only a mum can, pointed out that I had quite hairy feet (shoot me now), 'stay right there' she said, and appeared a moment later with the epilator. Perhaps I was still a bit drunk but I took it from her and got to work on my legs, she then asked me if I had ever tried doing my underarms with it: No. Of course I haven't, are you insane?! That was another battle I lost though and before I knew it she'd snatched the epilator from me and forcing my arm above my head. And you know what? Although it hurt like hell and even bled a bit (seriously, this thing is lethal!) we got the job done and I shit you not, my underarm hair didn't grow back for about two weeks. Two flipping weeks. Well obviously I was amazed and promised to throw my razor away and only epilate from now on, why wouldn't I? This is so worth the pain: IT'S AMAZING. Even more obviously, I didn't stick to it. Until yesterday when, totally inspired, I spent an hour sitting on my bedroom floor totally starkers putting myself through absolute hell removing all the hair on my legs (of which quite a lot grew this winter!) and what was growing under my arms. Still painful, but no blood this time.
So what is epilating?
To those of you who haven't been bullied by your mothers into trying it, I will explain. So an epilator is basically a device made up of about 20 little tweezers that, as you drive it over your skin, plucks all the hairs out from the root. Whereas shaving simply slices the hair in half where it comes out of the skin, much like with waxing, epilators remove the whole bloody thing. The epilator that I have, as it is a little older, needs to be plugged into the wall to use and I don't think it is waterproof, but so many of the new ones are amazingly clever and portable so you can use them in the shower.
How do you use it?
They advise that you have a hot bath or shower before you use it so that your hair follicles are open and your hair will come out more easily but I have to admit that I usually forget to do this or spend so long psyching myself up that by the time I actually get around to it my legs have long forgotten my shower. After that you literally get your leg/armpit/fanny out and use it like a razor.
Does it hurt more than waxing?
Hm. I think that depends, I think the first few times you use it it definitely hurts more but after a while it does get much easier. Waxing is normally really quick so I suppose the fact that it's over so quickly makes it less painful compared with epilating which does take a bit longer because you're doing it yourself and stopping a lot. As with all things though it gets way less painful over time.
Why is it better than shaving?
It's better than shaving for a few reasons but mostly because it takes so flipping long to grow back after epilating. After shaving I normally find that within a couple of days I am stubbly again but after epilating it lasts for weeks, it also grows back much thinner and the promise is (according to my mum) that after long enough it hardly grow back at all so that's great.
Is it worth the pain?
I'm going to be honest, half way through my first armpit I didn't think it was but now they're both done I can say 100% yes. Shaving IS so easy and convenient and I understand the appeal but as a long term, cheap solution epilating is perfect. I also find that when I shave my armpits you have an almost shadow that appears after a day where the hair is getting ready to come back out, because when you epilate it removes the whole thing right down to the root you don't get this and it really does look SO clean. It also seriously reduces your chances of getting an ingrowing hair as is so common with waxing and that's definitely a plus.
I haven't quite got to the point of throwing my razor away and I'm definitely not brave enough to attempt epilating my bikini line BUT my New Month Resolution (making that a thing) is to only epilate my underarms and legs from now on. To be honest, I think waxing and epilating are sort of equals in 'effectiveness' but simply because epilating is so much cheaper (if like me you can't wax yourself), less messy and easy to do anywhere at anytime, epilating has got to be my hair removal method of choice.
So the one that I have costs £30 and is available here. My mum has a much newer one though that is portable, waterproof and comes with six different heads which means that you can use it on your face (moustache be gone!) and underarms much more comfortably. If you're serious about getting into this and want to save money in the long run on razor heads and salon appointments then that is £150 and you can see it here.