To Epilate Or Not To Epilate: Here's my experience on DIY machine hair removal

The year: 2013. The mission: leg hair removal. I was a college student on a hunt for a waxing salon in Quezon City. When a sugaring salon had no more slots, I decided to try my luck at a nearby salon whose name I cannot remember anymore. My plan was to get a half leg wax, something I started doing at 14, and considered myself to be a veteran waxee. I remember technicians saying “masakit ‘yan ‘di ba?” to each other while I nonchalantly read a magazine as they ripped my hair away.

The ladies at this salon gave me a menu of their services and I saw a new term, epilating, below waxing, and it was cheaper by 20 pesos. I thought I had struck gold, my baon not totally depleted. I inquired about this process and the ladies showed me a device (which I think is the same one I’m reviewing, if not, very similar) that had rotating tweezers that pulled hair out. They said it was like waxing since it pulled hair out, not cut it. So I said, okay, how bad could it be when I don’t mind leg waxing at all.

Then I was sent straight to hell. It was indeed torturous. I have pulled out hair on the legs individually before (with my bare hands) and it did hurt, but apparently not as much as multiple tweezers hacking away at my poor legs. I never tried it again.

Until this story.

We were sent the Philips Satinelle Essential (HP6549/01), a set that included a plug-in epilator for large areas, a battery-operated mini epilator for more sensitive and hard-to-reach areas, tweezers, and a cleaning brush. When my editor asked me if I wanted to do an epilator story, a spirit possessed me and said, “Yes, do it. Put yourself in pain… for money! But mostly for gags.”

The epilator has 21 discs while the mini epilator has 8 tweezers. They can supposedly catch the shortest of hair at 0.5mm, with regrowth taking up to four weeks. The set also comes with tweezers for areas you can’t epilate such as brows. I tested the set for about a month, with two epilating sessions two weeks apart just to see if their claim of me getting used to it was true. Here’s what happened:

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Legs

I prepared myself for the worst. Turning the epilator on sent a shiver down my spine; the loud buzzing sound was incredibly intimidating. Was it going to be excruciating like the last time? Am I sending myself to a world of pain? As I grazed my lower leg for the first time, I was not shocked - it was exactly as I expected. It pretty much felt like a bunch of tweezers tweezing my thick leg hair. Definitely worse than a wax, especially when you don’t stop (like mowing a lawn continuously in one line). When done in quick succeeding motions (similar to gradually shaving sections), it is more tolerable and definitely less painful. Still, people with a low tolerance for pain should really do a patch test before purchasing any type of epilator.

I dreaded to finish the other leg, but was pleasantly surprised with the results. My legs were smooth (but no smoother than after waxing or shaving) with not a hair in sight. While I appreciate the thoroughness of removal (when cleaning the epilator head you will see hair down to the root), while in use I did see hair break instead of plucked. On the next round in the same area though, the hair that broke is levelled but (probably) not plucked. Some areas, like areas with hair more stuck down on the skin rather than upright, shorter strands, and mildly damp hair, needed multiple passes in order to be eliminated. By this point you will have gotten used to the pain, no big deal.

According to the manual, redness is to be expected but shouldn’t be a problem if it dies down within 2-3 days. More than that will be a cause for concern. Mine reddened as expected but died down the next day.

Philips also claims that you will get used to the “epilation and regrowth becomes thinner and softer.” Epilating areas with thin hair already didn’t hurt during the first session (more on this later) so I was excited to try again a couple of weeks later. The prospect of skipping a waxing salon for legs and the underarms were so attractive. I didn’t notice regrowth to be thinner and softer. While I kinda got used to the epilation, I was surprised with how much it still hurt - more painful than a slap or a seasoned bikini waxing, but not as threatening as the first time. I remain optimistic that future sessions will be better.

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Underarms

The SatinPerfect mini epilator is the must have of the set. I barely felt anything on my underarms, and I’m glad to have such a smooth surface after. The same was true when I used it again a couple of weeks after. Sure, the mini epilator was still loud, but way less frightening than the bigger epilator. It is also meant for more sensitive and hard to reach areas such as the bikini line, ankles, and knees. I didn’t dare use it in the bikini area before a full wax, but was happy to find that it didn’t hurt at all on the bikini line (a.k.a. away from the most sensitive parts). It’s a great companion for after-wax maintenance since the growth isn’t thick enough (remember: epilating hurts more when the hair is thicker). I’m happy I'll never have to pay for underarm waxing again!

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Other notes

  • The mini epilator is not for use on facial hair (especially on lashes and brows) and the scalp area. Yes, I am dumb and tried it on my chin and it got irritated.
  • The cleaning brush is an essential tool that mustn’t be lost. It takes out everything, and is the only way to clean the mini epilator since they shouldn’t be submerged in water. I like to spray the brush with alcohol before cleaning the heads but that didn’t stop my chin from getting irritated.
  • The detachable head on the bigger epilator can be cleaned with water. Just don't wet the body, and definitely don't get it wet while plugged in.
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  • Exfoliation is still needed days after use. Similar to other forms of hair removal, epilated areas must be exfoliated (with a wet towel, scrubs, or acids) days after a session in order to avoid ingrown hair. I neglected to do that after my second session, and maybe 50% of my leg hair was trapped in skin. I used a salt scrub to set them free but had to do it more vigorously than I should have. This could’ve been avoided if I did it earlier.
  • I didn’t experience ingrown hair in the underarms. I don’t typically experience hair trappage under there so results may vary.
  • You need to use this in a well-lit area. I did my first try on a day that was overcast and in a room that wasn’t particularly well-lit. I thought I got everything on my leg but the next day there was still a patch that had hair. And it was in my line of sight, too. Other epilators have LED lights for better results.
  • The epilator will not work on wet, damp, or sweaty parts of the body. Again, it works better when the hair isn’t stuck to the skin. You don’t want to risk getting the machines wet anyway.

I think I could genuinely get used to this. The dread of epilating has significantly died down, and I am comforted by the fact that I never have to pay for hair removal again. The whole process just takes a couple of minutes and a quick calming down of the nerves.

The Philips Satinelle Essential set costs P5,999. That’s just 6 sessions of underarm (~P400) and half-leg (~P600) waxing so it's a worthwhile investment!

Have you tried epilating? How long did it take you to get used to the process, and gimme your best tips!