The agony and the ecstacy: using an epilator for the first time

Male to female trans people are beset by the need to remove body hair. This is a source of much anxiety as it is a huge ‘tell’ and a source of much discomfort and dysphoria for us. Whilst many genetic women also try and remove body hair they generally have less, it is generally finer and lighter and they are generally less disgusted by it than we are. We are therefore often looking for better means of getting rid of this loathsome stuff.

I have been shaving my body (from the eyebrows down) for about a year now. I had established a routine of shaving twice a week and exfoliating 4 times a week and moisturising daily. This was a very time consuming process but seemed to offer the best results. It kept growth under control and seemed to offer the best defence against the dark arts (in grown hairs). But then I recently started suffering quite badly from ingrown hairs, especially on my chest and the backs of my legs.

On a month long family holiday I chose not to shave as I did not have the time to devote to this regime. The hair grew back slowly but steadily. By the time we returned I was looking very much like an orangutan. But the ingrown hairs were a thing of the past. The first time I shaved took a very long time and I think I may have clogged the drain with the amount of hair I removed. I know I had to change razor blades mid way through and despite all my best efforts I was afflicted with a shaving rash and ingrown hairs. To add insult to injury and despite my best efforts, there were a few patches that I missed necessitating a second round just a a few days later. Cue worse rash and more bumps. Not exactly a pretty site. I started thinking about alternative solutions, especially as due to time constraints I was unable to shave for 2 weeks and once again the old man of the forest started to emerge from hiding.

I had thought of waxing and last year I even made an appointment at a salon. Unfortunately the salon messed me around a bit changing the time and day of the appointment twice. I relaised that waxing was not for me. My schedule did not allow for the time necessary to grow the hairs to the required length and then finding a gap in my diary at the right time just wasn’t always possible. Laser probably wouldn’t work too well given my colouring and besides it (and electrolysis) just seemed way too expensive.

I tried using a depilatory cream last year. The first few attempts went rather well. The cream was easy to apply and the whole process (legs, buttocks and torso) took about 30 to 45 minutes. The cream was a bit more expensive than razor blades but it seemed to be OK. Then one day I managed to get some cream on my nipples and I also left it on my buttocks slightly too long. Oh my word! Let’s just say it burns. It burns for a long time. My nipples were bleeding and my buttocks were seeping some sort of bodily fluid for about two days. I rinsed in cold water, I applied ice. Chemical burns, not fun. I stopped using the cream. Straight away. For good.

I therefore purchased a Braun Silk-epil 5 epilator last Thursday. This has been an illuminating experience. To be clear an epilator plucks hairs out with a number of tweezers.

The Braun Epilator. (Model 5280 for the technically inclined.)
The Braun Epilator. (Model 5280 for the technically inclined.)

This means that they give a smoother and longer lasting result (in theory). You shouldn’t get any nicks or cuts and you should have a smooth and attractive skin. Unfortunately, given that you are plucking hairs and pulling them out from the root there is some discomfort associated with this method. Well at least that is what the marketing bumf says. In truth epilating can be agony (although not as bad as third degree burns on your butt and nipples).

I read the manual and it said that it was best to have shorter hairs before epilating. They suggested shaving and then leaving the hair to grow for 1 to 2 weeks before epilating. This was perfect as it had been just under 2 weeks since my last shave. On Friday night I had a nice hot shower and prepared for a body hair free paradise. I had an inkling that epilating my torso would be more uncomfortable than my legs so I decided to start with my lower leg first. I plugged the device into the wall (it is not battery powered which is actually very good as the idea of a battery losing power whilst ripping out your short and curlies is terrifying) and got ready to start plucking. The epilator is very clever, it has two settings, a gentler setting and an ‘efficient’ setting. Being a novice I selected the gentler setting and confidently applied the device to my ankle and moved it up to the shin. I stopped. When the screaming subsided I thought well at least I should have about an inch of smooth skin now. I looked down at my shin. It was literally covered in hair. I was disappointed, but undeterred. Thinking that maybe I needed the more efficient setting, I flicked the switch, gritted my teeth and reapplied the device to my shin. Once I had stopped sobbing I decided I should perhaps reassess the situation.

The next morning I had a lovely hot bath and did my all over shave routine. I was smooth as can be. Well not really as there were a few hirstute patches but in general I had removed most of the hair. On Saturday night I had a lovely hot bath, dried my skin well and took two paracetamol tablets. I then took out my tormentor and reapplied it. What bliss. Well not actual bliss but rather than agony I just had some pain as I ran the device up and down my legs. After 12 hours there was sufficient growth for the epilator to sink its teeth in but it wasn’t skinning me alive. It was pulling out some hairs and I was starting to see just how smooth my legs could be. I then tried epilating my stomach.

When I regained consciousness I decided to stick to the legs and buttocks I ran the device up and down my legs. It felt like a weird combination of hundreds of tiny little electric shocks whilst  being simultaneously tickled. After some time I decided to try the inside of my thigh. It was practically hairless so it should be ok. It was suspiciously pain free so I changed direction. At this point I think the cat left the room. Even her sadistic nature could not bear witness to any more of this. Undeterred I continued removing the hair.

On Sunday night I had a hot shower and repeated the process. What a difference. There was still some mild discomfort and when I ran the device over my chest my wife was genuinely concerned for my well being, but I was able to talk to her with the gentle buzzing of the machine in the background.

Last night after my shower I ran the device over my legs and even did my inner thighs again. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling, but it was not sore either. Today my legs really are silky smooth. That thing is well named. I have very few stray hairs left and almost no regrowth can be felt (yet).

So for what it is worth here is my advice based on my (limited) experience to date.

  • Lower your expectations. Rome was not built in a day, you will not become hair free over night. It will take time, patience and some determination.
  • For the love of all things good and decent do not epilate your pubic area. No matter what anyone says just do not go there. I tried my tummy and I think I will carry the trauma with me for the rest of my life. I dare not venture further down that path.
  • Make sure your hair is as short as possible and then epilate gradually. This means that you pluck fewer hairs each time and that means that you can bear the pain.
  • Moisturise. Yes you need to keep the skin supple and smooth.
  • When applying the device pull the skin taught. You do not want to pinch it. You have enough sensory stimulation going on as it is.
  • Focus on one area at a time and aim for steady progress.
  • Make sure you have a hot bath or shower it softens the skin and hair and makes it easier to come out.
  • You will see a rash. This does not last forever in fact it seems to fade quite fast (although I am not sure how much of my rash is razor burn and how much is due to the epilator, I will keep an eye on this and see how quickly it calms down)
  • Paracetamol is useless. Either forego it or find something stronger.
  • Rewards will be forthcoming. Take your time.

I am hoping that as I continue to remove the hairs I will become more used to the sensation and that the hairs themselves will become finer and less well rooted (this is what I hear happens) meaning that it will become more and more pleasant as time passes.

Once I have become used to the process on my legs I will try my torso again. At the very least I will have considerably reduced the time spent on the depilatory process. Epilating my legs takes just a few minutes  so even if I have to continue shaving my torso I will probably have more than halved the time I take. Additionally this model epilator comes with an electric shaver and trimmer. I used this on my chest this morning and initial  results are promising.

In short I can (at least for now) heartily recommend this device. It gives an excellent result and the trimmer/shaver attachment adds a very useful dimension. The in built light that illuminates the bit of body you are currently torturing is also a useful addition as you can see what you are doing even in low light environments.

Some additional thoughts:

  • The next person that calls a transwoman a ‘sissy’ gets to have his leg epilated, just one. Then we will see who is a real ‘sissy’.
  • Beauty may not be skin deep, but it also isn’t without a price.
  • The ‘beauty without cruelty’ people are looking in entirely the wrong place.
  • Those military intelligence types need to stop waterboarding and applying car batteries to the genitals of suspects. All they need to do is epilate one suspect once (without trimming the hair first) and they will be told anything and everything they want to know. A more effective torture device surely does not exist.

I will update you with progress in due course.

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4 Comments

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  1. Well that was an unusual combination of traumatic and hilarious. You are a braver woman than me. I have a few friends who epilate but a razor in the shower followed by immediate all-over body lotion every couple of days does me fine.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh boy do I wish I’d had this article when I first started epilating. So much painful trial and error! I eventually settled into a routine that was similar to yours: slow and steady, gradual progress.

    If I could add: spending the cash to get a really decent epilator makes a huge difference. I started on a relatively cheap model and eventually settled on a Braun similar to yours. It made all the difference!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been using an epilator for several years now but only on arms and hands. Being very much in the closet at home I fear the noise of it if I were to use all over my body would be suspicious. Having said that the most painful areas to epilate are the thighs and chest areas. You mention the pubic areas. Don’t even go there. So my routine is a once weekly arm and hand epilation and a once weekly leg under arm and chest shave. It works for me. What I will say that where I epilate there is no rough subble. Ever. Each regrowth is a touch finer than the last and any sensation of pain diminishes with time. Moisturise regularly is a must

    Thank you for such a funny and informative blog. I was laughing out loud for much of it. Very well put together.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Daniella
    Very funny. I’ve used an epilator on and off for about 10 years. As you say, it’s great if you use it gradually and don’t expect salon smoothness on the first go. And the inner thighs are really sensitive. Talk about suffering for beauty. It’s a good way of keeping body hair manageable, but you do have to use it several days in advance – at least that’s how long the inevitable rash takes to die down on my legs, chest and arms. And the hair does seem to come back less stubbly than if you had used a razor. Great for arms and the backs of your hands. Unfortunately I still haven’t found a solution for the middle of my back. Perhaps I should tape it to a selfie stick.

    Liked by 1 person

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