OK, I admit it. When it comes to using an epilator I'm a virgin. Well, I was until last night.
Don't worry, I'm not going to share photos - or even worse, videos - of my hairy man-legs, I wouldn't inflict that on anyone. But let's just say I have hair issues. My hair is dark and it grows ridiculously fast. I mean ridiculously fast. When I shave my legs, there's already stubble growing by the time I've got out of the bath and got dressed. It gives me major problems in the summer because much as I'd love to run around free and wild and super-hairy, I'm just not one of those people. The armpit hair revolution is to be applauded for helping women break the stigma, but until it becomes totally mainstream I'm not going to be the one that gets laughed at. Sorry if I'm letting my feminist buddies down here, I'm just being honest.
Shaving my legs is a nightmare. To keep them relatively smooth I'd have to do it every day, and I just don't have the time. And anyway, when I do, like on holiday for example, they soon become sore and angry and I have that awful plucked chicken look and bright red dotty legs - especially if I go in the salt water of the sea - ouch.
I've tried hair removal creams and they are even more of a faff. Added to which you walk around smelling of that tell-tale hair-remover cream aroma. Either I get a reaction and end up red and chickeny again, or I spend ages doing it only for it to grow back in a couple of days. For this reason I've never attempted waxing - I mean who wants to go through the pain and humiliation for just a couple of days of baby-smooth skin? Not me.
Epilators have always scared the bejesus out of me. I mean, rolling something over your skin which pulls your hairs out by the root - sounds like torture right?
But I've finally taken the plunge, and agreed to try out the new Braun Silk Epil 9 epilator. I mean, how awful can it be?
It charged up very quickly using the mains cable into a shaver socket in the bathroom, and holds its charge for 40 minutes from just 1 hour of charging. It comes ready assembled to no fiddly pieces to put together. There are lots of different heads for various parts of the face and body, but let's not get carried away, we'll start just with the legs shall we?
I read somewhere that you should down a couple of paracetamols before getting waxed, and this nugget of information bubbled into my mind when I was perched on the side of the bath about to go in for the first time. Would I need them? Would they have been helpful? Well maybe, but I took a deep breath and decided to go for it.
The Braun Silk Epil 9 can be either wet or dry, but I chose to use it dry for the first time. I think a soak in a hot bath would have helped because it relaxes your skin and opens up the pores making the discomfort less, but I thought doing it dry would mean if I chose to wuss out I could just roll my trouser leg back down and nonchalantly carry on with my day like nothing had happened - no big deal.
So, the Silk Epil 9 is actually a lovely bit of kit to handle. It fit comfortably into my hand, was very ergonomic, and let's face it who doesn't like a sexy new gadget. I was momentarily distracted by the pretty sparkly glitter and the shiny light.
But back to reality. I was going to do this. I'd read the instructions, mentally prepared myself and I was ready - oooh glitter...
The booklet says that you should stretch your skin to avoid too much discomfort, and I have to admit, stretching my leg skin over my calf in the comfort and privacy of my own bathroom was much less humiliating and contortionist-like than stretching my face in the middle of a shopping centre to get my eyebrows threaded.
Following the instructions, I started at the bottom of my leg, moving the epilator in an upwards directing, gliding it over the skin. Error. As I later found out, the area around my ankles is probably the most sensitive part and by gods I nearly stopped right there and then. It felt like a thousand sharp needles going into my skin. By this point I was getting all hot, sweaty and a little panicky, so I took a little break, made a cuppa, momentarily reconsidered the paracetamols then recomposed myself before going in again.
The second time, I started further up my lower leg. And do you know what? It wasn't too bad. The rollers on the epilator massage the skin and the little vibrations almost numb it. It felt kind of like a nettle sting, but without the lingering sensation. As soon as I stopped or moved to another area, the tingling stopped.
There are 2 speed settings, and as advised as a first-time user, I went for the slower one.
I was on a roll. It wasn't long before I'd done the whole lower leg, and I was pretty impressed with my bravery. You've just got to get over that initial wince and then honestly it's fine. Apparently future sessions will be even easier as my skin gets used to it.
One leg done, much quicker than I expected, I moved on to the other leg. By this time my daughter was in the bath, and I was able to stand there doing my de-fluffing while she had her nightly ablutions - see multi-tasking. Doesn't every busy mum need to be able to deal with her maintenance while doing something else with the other hand? This was actually a huge positive for me. It means I can fit it into my life without having to take an hour out to have a bath.
The Silk Epil 9 was actually incredibly easy to use. The light was far from a gimmick, it was really helpful for seeing any hairs you'd missed. The moveable head glides easily over your skin contours - so much better than a razor where you always have the danger of nicking yourself. Those little MicroGrip tweezer rollers that I've always thought of as instruments of torture actually became a thing of wonder - even beauty - as it skimmed over my legs whipping out the pesky hairs. It was very satisfying.
Both legs done, time to stand back and assess the results. First up, the smoothness test. Well, they were't totally silky - I don't think I could have dropped a fine French silk stocking down them without it catching. But I guess those must just be tiny newer hairs I can feel because I certainly couldn't see them. Visually they looked totally hair free, and although they didn't feel 100% smooth, the feel hadn't changed by the next morning meaning I hadn't suddenly sprouted stubble overnight like I do with shaving or depilating.
My legs were a little red, but the instructions said this might be so and advised to do them in the evening, and they were right - by the next morning the redness had more or less gone.
Not using the epilator wet did mean my skin was left particularly dry afterwards, but nothing a good slather of moisturiser didn't fix.
I have to say, I'm hugely impressed. Both with myself for braving it (it really wasn't that bad after all) and with the end results.
In contrast to shaving, the positives are that you can use it dry as well as wet. There's no danger of cutting or nicking yourself like with a blade. The epilator doesn't pull the skin, just the hairs, so if you have any pimples, bumps or blemishes it will glide over them rather than shave the top off like a razor does.
I'm curious to see what the regrowth will be like both in terms of speed (the advertising suggests it lasts for 4 weeks, but nothing ever does with me) and the thickness of the hair, and also whether this does get easier and easier each time, but overall I'm very happy. The biggest plus for me will be how long the results last for - I'll report back.
I'm just now left staring at all the other adapters wondering if I've got the guts to try it anywhere else...
Disclosure: I was kindly sent a Braun Silk Epil 9 epilator for the purposes of this trial. All opinions are my own and are completely honest.