8 best epilators for removing hair on legs, underarms and bikini lines

·11-min read
We’ve tried and tested cordless, corded and battery-operated designs (iStock/The Independent)
We’ve tried and tested cordless, corded and battery-operated designs (iStock/The Independent)

When it comes to hair removal, there are many options to choose from, ranging from shaving, waxing, laser and IPL.

Epilating is another. This is the process of removing hair directly from its follicle without pulling on the skin. It can give you a smooth, hair-free finish for as long as four weeks and remove the shortest hairs, so there’s no awkward in-between growth phase.

Because it involves multiple tweezers pulling hair from the root, there is often discomfort with epilating – it’s a similar sensation to waxing. One way to reduce this is by epilating in warm water, either during or post-shower.

If you’re new to epilating, start with your legs because it’s the flattest surface and will allow you to get used to the sensation.

You can sometimes experience bumps or irritation, but there is a way to avoid this: hold the skin taut when epilating to improve the chances of removing the hair completely from its follicle rather than just breaking it above the skin. Using a moisturising cream afterwards can also be soothing. Find our top-rated body lotions and creams in our guide to the best.

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How we tested

We’ve put a variety of epilators to the test over several weeks to find the very best. Whether you’re shopping on a budget, are particularly prone to sensitivity, or want to invest in a sophisticated kit to master epilating at home, there will be a machine for you.

We’ve considered any included accessories and add-ons, as many high-end devices come with trimmers to allow you to alternate between different types of electric hair removal.

While we cannot guarantee they won’t hurt, we’ve also tried to be objective on how comfortable or uncomfortable they are to use. In our guide, you’ll find cordless, corded and battery-operated models, with varying speed settings and number of tweezers.

The best epilators for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Braun beauty set 9 flex with facespa: £184, Currentbody.com

  • Best for underarms – Philips satinelle essential: £66.00, Boots.com

  • Best for beginners – Panasonic ES-ED53 4-in-1 wet and dry epilator: £89.99, Currys.co.uk

  • Best for pain-free use– Philips series 8000 wet and dry advanced epilator: £55, Argos.co.uk

  • Best for legs – Braun silk-epil 9 skinspa 9961 wet and dry epilator and exfoliator: £146, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best budget buy – ElectriBrite cordless epilator for women: £21.99, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for face – Braun facespa pro 911 facial epilator: £129.99, Lookfantastic.com

  • Best dry epilator – Braun silk-epil 5-825 power dry use corded epilator: £80, Argos.co.uk

Braun beauty set 9 flex with facespa

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

The most luxurious epilator we tried, this offering from Braun comes in a suede zipped case with a succinct and easy to follow guide, making it simple to store and get started in seconds. It’s a sophisticated kit that comes with a massage roller cap, which makes for a gentler experience when removing hair, a skin contact cap to speed it up, and a facial cap for sensitive areas, along with two exfoliation brushes, a body massage pad, shaver and trimmer. Braun’s electrical facespa brush with a spare battery and brush head is included too. It’s still compact, however, and you don’t feel like you’re overflowing with accessories and add-on bits.

The epilator is flexible and can be tilted forward, backwards and side to side, which is especially handy when tackling your bikini line and the contours of the inner thigh. The handle has an anti-slip grip, so it won’t fall through your fingers if you’re using it with wet hands in the shower. It’s a lot less painful to use on wet skin. It has a red indicator light that lets you know you’re applying the right amount of pressure, so it’s hard to go wrong if it’s your first time epilating.

Our only gripe is that it takes two hours of charging for 40 mins of cordless use, so stick on Netflix while you wait. Keep in mind too that it doesn’t come with a UK three-pin plug, so you will need a two-pin plug adapter to get it going.

Buy now £184.00, Currentbody.com

Philips satinelle essential

Best: For underarms

Rating: 8/10

For £44, you get seven accessories in this Philips kit, including a shaving head, shaving comb, massage cap, trimming head, bikini comb, exfoliating glow and cloth pouch. It’s a versatile tool if you’re shopping for an epilator on a budget.

It’s slim, fitting comfortably in your palm while being lightweight and ideal for removing hair from underarms. Loud but powerful, it has two speed settings, and we found there were no ingrown hairs for two weeks after using it on our legs. It is slightly painful but not unbearably so; it just takes some getting used to if you’re new to this.

Unlike the other Philips device we tried, it has to be plugged into a socket for use, so you are somewhat limited on where you can put it to work. We’d recommend using this on shorter hair to limit pain and increase effectiveness, but we were pleased to report it didn’t snap hairs at all and instead simply plucked them out as we’d hoped.

Buy now £66.00, Boots.com

Panasonic ES-ED53 4-in-1 wet and dry epilator

Best: For beginners

Rating: 8/10

This epilator has dual wide discs with 48 tweezers on, so it’s not for the faint-hearted. It takes an hour to fully charge for 30 minutes of cordless use, and a red light will blink when you’re running low on juice. There’s also an LED light to detect any missed hairs.

The head pivots 60 degrees, which helps effectively remove hair from crevices and is easy to guide along body contours. We especially liked using it with shower gel as the instructions detail. If you wet the discs and add a drop of shower gel, it will foam once turned on and glides smoothly along the skin. It only needs light pressure, and the epilator head is easy to clean under running water, as long as it’s not attached to the electrical device.

It comes with a head for legs and arms, a gentle cap, shaver head and bikini comb, so you can use it to remove hair from all the main growth areas. There are two speed settings, standard and soft, but if it’s your first time epilating, stick to the soft setting until you get more familiar with the sensation.

Buy now £89.99, Currys.co.uk

Philips series 8000 wet and dry advanced epilator

Best: For pain-free use

Rating: 7/10

With this epilator, you’ll find five accompanying accessories: a delicate area cap, optimal contact cap, shaving head, comb and pouch. It’s cordless and allows for 40 minutes of use on a full charge, which takes 90 minutes, or 10 minutes when charged for a quarter of an hour.

The instructions provide detailed imagery to show which direction to use the epilator in depending on the area you’re removing hair from. The longer handle comes in handy to help you avoid the need to be in uncomfortable twisted positions to get to those harder to reach areas, such as your bikini line. We also appreciated the light, which comes on automatically when the device is turned on, so you can spot tiny hairs you might have missed. There are two-speed settings, and it’s quick: in 10 minutes, we had epilated our legs from the knees down. We did see fine hair regrowth after a fortnight, but it’s much longer-lasting than shaving.

As the name suggests, it can be used on wet or dry skin. We found it felt less painful on wet skin-post showers and the curved epilator head is useful for catching hairs on contours and curves on your body. It’s a sharp sensation that is initially a bit of shock but is easier to get used to than most. It is, however, loud – perhaps not a tool to use late at night to avoid waking up flatmates.

Buy now £55.00, Argos.co.uk

Braun silk-epil 9 skinspa 9961 wet and dry epilator and exfoliator

Best: For legs

Rating: 7/10

This is an extensive kit full of add-ons to tackle all the areas you’d want to remove body hair from, and it can be used on wet or dry skin. Along with the epilator, it contains an exfoliation brush and protection cap, shaver head, trimmer cap, facial cap, skin contact cap, pouch, cleaning brush and charging cord.

It’s cordless, lightweight, simple to set up and seamless to switch between different heads and caps. The exfoliation head helps keep skin smooth and feel less dry once you’ve removed hair, so it’s as close to a salon treatment as you can get from the comfort of your home.

It is quite fiddly, as there are so many different accessories, but it’s a great kit if you’re looking to invest or are an experienced epilator and want to upgrade your current device. While it’s not totally pain-free, the sensation is similar to tiny static shocks, and the epilator head is wide enough to make it much speedier and longer-lasting than shaving. The trimmer head is excellent for getting those hairs you might have missed or if you are too short on time to epilate.

Buy now £146.00, Amazon.co.uk

ElectriBrite cordless epilator for women

Best: Budget buy

Rating: 7/10

This cordless epilator comes with three detachable heads: an epilator, a shaver and a callus remover for hard skin on heels. It has 18 built-in tweezers and two speed settings, with a handy flashlight on the end to clearly show the areas you might have missed. On a full charge, it runs for an hour. Like many on our list, it can be used wet or dry; we found using it in the shower was less painful and, despite our anticipation, was less jarring than expected. After a fortnight of use, we were able to comfortably glide it up our legs while watching Netflix without any bother. Not bad for a budget-friendly buy.

Buy now £21.99, Amazon.co.uk

Braun facespa pro 911 facial epilator

Best: For face

Rating: 7/10

If facial hair is your bugbear, this compact, slightly-bigger-than-a-pen facial epilator is an effective hair removal tool. It’s a neat little set with a cleansing brush, travel pouch, stand, protective cap, slim head and microvibration head. It’s designed with 10 micro-openings and can be used on wet or dry skin. We found it least painful on the sides of our face, chin and forehead – it also came in handy to shape eyebrows with a sensation similar to threading. However, we found it a tad too uncomfortable to use on our upper lip hair.

Buy now £129.99, Lookfantastic.com

Braun silk-epil 5-825 power dry use corded epilator

Best: Dry epilator

Rating: 7/10

The final Braun device on the list is this corded epilator designed for use on dry skin. It’s made with 28 tweezers, which allow it to pluck hair as short as 0.5mm in length. It also comes with a bikini styler for smaller, trickier areas and a massage cap, which goes a long way to reduce pain and discomfort. Because it’s corded, you don’t need to spend any time waiting for it to charge. There was a little redness after use, but it faded within a few hours, and we found it didn’t leave any patches of hair missed.

Buy now £80.00, Argos.co.uk

The verdict: Epilators

The best of the bunch was the Braun beauty set 9 flex with facespa. While it’s not cheap, you get what you pay for here, and if you have the budget and want to seriously invest in hair removal, it’s a versatile and well-thought-out tool. The packaging is compact and feels luxurious, while the versatility between heads, massagers, trimming tools and facespa brush make it a fuss-free device that is least painful when used on wet skin.

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