Tweezers, razors, waxing, laser treatments: these are the solutions that come to mind when thinking about facial hair removal. But there’s another contender that is faster than tweezing, cheaper than laser hair removal, less irritating than waxing and lasts way longer than shaving: using a facial epilator.
Epilators look like electric trimmers, but they actually have a series of small tweezers that rotate and pluck hairs right from the root as you glide the device over your skin. The process is similar to tweezing, but instead of plucking hairs one by one, a bunch are removed simultaneously.
Using an epilator is simple and fast and keeps hair from growing back for about four weeks or more, much like waxing. Best of all, the tiny tweezers don’t tug or pinch your skin, leaving skin smooth and less irritated.
As perfect as using an epilator sounds, you should know that the method is not completely pain-free — plucking multiple hairs simultaneously won’t ever be. However, epilator fans swear that the pain decreases over time the more frequently you epilate, and that it's not any worse than waxing.
Facial epilator buying guide
Most epilators have a wide head with tons of tweezers, ideal for removing hair on large areas like legs or arms in 10 minutes or less. These models, however, are not suitable for the face, as their size makes it difficult to target areas like the upper lip or eyebrows. They may feel too rough on more sensitive facial skin, as well.
Facial epilators, on the other hand, are lightweight and compact and designed to be as gentle as possible. They can be used on other sensitive areas (like armpits and bikini line), and, unlike body epilators which are aimed at hairs 0.5 mm or longer, can grab hairs as short as 0.2 mm.
Facial models are also typically cheaper, averaging between $20 and $50 — although there are pricier models for around $100. Body epilators, which generally start at $40 and reach upwards of $100, often include several attachments like trimmers and exfoliators.
While the epilator’s size and design are important when it comes to dealing with tight spots and tiny hairs, these are some other factors to take into account when shopping:
• Tweezers. The more tweezers an epilator has, the more hairs it can grab at once and the faster you’ll finish. Most body epilators have 40 or more tweezers. That can feel a bit rough on sensitive areas, so facial epilators usually have 10 to 20 tweezers.
• Speed settings. Most facial epilators operate at a single speed, though some high-end models have two or more speed settings. An epilator with multiple settings to choose from will allow you to customize the experience, for a gentle, slower session or a quick one. Faster speeds may feel more painful for some, but are more effective with coarse hair.
• Wet/Dry Epilators. Epilators designed for both wet and dry conditions are waterproof and can be used in or out of the shower. Some people prefer epilating while they shower as warm water can soften hairs, open up hair follicles and reduce pain.
• Power source. Battery-powered facial epilators are less expensive than rechargeable models, going for around $40 or less. However, many users complain that batteries can drain in as little as a single use — especially if they have more than 10 tweezers. Corded epilators cost around the same, without the benefit of portability, of course.
For the best performance and quality, go for a rechargeable model. These can run anywhere between 40 minutes to up to around two hours before needing to be charged, and can sometimes also be used in the shower. Expect to pay $70 or more, though.
• Body epilators with face attachments. Some body epilators include an attachment specifically designed to target facial hair. The attachment is basically a cap that covers most of the tweezers on the epilator’s head. Reducing the number of tweezers that come into contact with your skin makes the application more targeted, which can reduce pain. However, since the epilating head is meant to be used in wider areas, you may still struggle in tight spaces like the upper lips.
Best facial epilators
1. Best overall: Braun Face Epilator Facespa Pro 911
The Facespa Pro 911 is a three-in-one rechargeable skin care tool that epilates, cleanses, exfoliates and massages. It's part of the epilator line from Braun, a brand known to produce some of the most popular electric shavers and grooming products around.
The Pro 911’s epilator attachment is designed to be gentle and precise, targeting even the finest facial hair on areas like the chin, upper lip, forehead and eyebrows. The cleansing brush deep cleans skin, removing dirt, oils and other buildup. This brush also exfoliates pores, which can be particularly helpful since exfoliating before hair removal can improve the epilator's contact with hair strands and lessen the chance of ingrown hairs. A third attachment produces soft vibration — 25 per second, to be exact — that can help serums, creams or oils penetrate the skin more effectively.
2. Best overall runner-up: Braun Face Epilator Facespa Pro 910
If you’d love the Facespa Pro 911 but its price ($100) is a deal-breaker, take a look at the Facespa Pro 910. Often selling for $20 less than the Pro 911, the Pro 910 includes the same epilator and cleanser/exfoliator attachments as its more expensive cousin, meaning it can also prep skin, reduce ingrown hairs and pluck even the thinest hairs.
The only difference between the two is that the Pro 910 doesn't feature the vibrating massager the Pro 911 has.
3. Editor’s pick: Gillette Venus Face Perfection
For those who are not ready to spend big money on an epilator, the Venus Face Perfection perfectly combines quality and affordability. Gillette’s popularity is a top brand in the realm of hair removal, and this facial epilator is powered by another such brand, Braun (both labels are owned by the same parent company).
The Venus Face Perfection has a small tip, which users mention is precise enough to pluck out even the lightest peach fuzz. This facial epilator delivers 10,000 tweezing movements per minute. While that’s 2,000 less than the Braun Facespa 911 and 910, and it does mean it takes a bit more time to do the job, it’s still a respectable speed for about $40 less than the cheaper Braun model mentioned above.
4. Best for low prices: Emjoi Epi Slim e18 Epilator
Retailing for about $30, the Emjoi Epi Slim e18 is affordable, compact and powerful. While most other facial epilators have 10 tweezers, the e18 has 18 that generate over 32,000 tweezing movements per minute (540 per second) — more than double the rate of the three previous picks.
More tweezers and plucking motion per minute shortens the overall time spent epilating — although it may hurt a bit more for some. The eight extra tweezers also make it suitable for use on armpits and the bikini line, according to some users.
5. Best for low prices runner-up: Emjoi EpiPower e24 Epilator
The Emjoi EpiPower e24 is another affordable epilator that packs plenty of power. It costs $30, just like the Epi Slim e18, and it has a similar design. But the e24 has 24 tweezers, six more than the e18. More tweezers gives the e24 an extra punch to deal with tough-to-pluck hairs not only on the face, but also armpits, bikini line and legs. However, it might sting a bit more than the e18 when used in sensitive areas.
6. Best non-electric facial epilator: R.E.M. Spring Facial Hair Remover
Epilators are usually either battery-powered or rechargeable and have a spinning head with 10 or more tiny tweezers that pull out hairs. The R.E.M. Spring, on the other hand, is a simple stainless-steel coil that basically operates as a manual facial epilator.
The spring-like device can be used anywhere on the face, effectively plucking hairs at the root like any other epilator would. Just bend it to form an upside-down U and roll the ends between your fingers. This, paired with an up-and-down movement, traps hair between the coils and pulls them, tweezing multiple strands at once.
Since it’s not an electric epilator and it doesn't make any noise, the R.E.M is the perfect facial epilator for quick touch-ups on the go, pretty much anywhere.
7. Best multi-use epilator: Philips Beauty Epilator Series 8000 BRE740/14
The rechargeable Philips Beauty Epilator is not just ideal for your face. It comes with nine attachments (including a sensitive area one for your face, of course), all aimed at making your skin smoother and removing hair as painlessly as possible. There’s also an exfoliating brush, a shaver/trimmer combo and a rotating pedicure file.
This epilator provides over 70,000 tweezing movements per minute, which means you can cover large areas (like your legs) quickly. It holds a charge for up to 40 minutes, has a built-in light to help spot fine hairs, and can be used in the shower. That's nice because some users prefer epilating during hot showers as it can help open up pores and lessen pain.