The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (2024)

Jump to:

  • Depilatory cream
  • Waxing
  • Epilating
  • Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
  • Shaving

For those who choose to remove their hair, the beauty admin can be exhausting. So, finding the best hair removal method to suit your needs can save valuable time (as well as regular trips to a beauty salon).

No matter which area you’re treating — legs, underarms, bikini-line or facial hair — there are plenty of options to choose from to make de-fuzzing a smooth and (mostly) pain-free process.

Below, we look at the different solutions available, from creams and waxing to epilators and IPL machines. We’ll bring you the top-scoring products along the way, which have been thoroughly tested by our reader panels and our experts in the GHI lab.

Depilatory cream

Ideal for anyone looking for a gentle way to remove hair, depilatory creams work by using high pH chemicals to dissolve and remove hair at the skin’s surface, so you can effectively wipe it away. This method is for anyone looking for painless, easy at-home results. But, as with a razor, you’ll need to keep using the cream on a regular basis, as the hair grows back relatively quickly. Creams can also be messy and often leave a few hairs or stubble following treatment.

In the past, many depilatory creams had a rather off-putting smell, but the latest formulas are more pleasant to use. It's quick and easy to apply, but always read the instructions before use and carry out a patch test first to make sure you're not allergic to the product.

You can buy area-specific creams, so don’t use formulas developed for the body on your face, and never leave it on for longer than specified.


As with epilating, waxing removes hair at the root. It should give you longer-lasting results compared to shaving and hair-removal cream, and you should also see a slow-down in regrowth.

Home DIY kits range from relatively inexpensive wax pots with strips, through to more expensive, refillable cartridge roller-based systems and heated pods inspired by salon technology.

Cold wax formulas are easy to use and are activated by rubbing the strips between the palms of your hands to warm them. Some work on hair as short as 1.5mm.

Waxing can cause in-grown hairs. To help prevent them, gently exfoliate both before waxing and the day after if you don't have any redness. Dabbing a natural antiseptic onto the area will also help ease inflammation.


How do epilators work?

Epilators are small hand-held gadgets fitted with rotating blades or close-grip tweezers, which can lift and remove hair as fine as 0.5mm from the root. Epilating can give a really smooth finish, which may last for weeks. You can get epilators that are suitable for wet and dry use and come with attachments suitable for your legs, bikini line, underarms and face.

Fans of epilating love the fact you can enjoy all the plus points of waxing — slow regrowth and no unsightly stubble — without any fuss or mess. However, it can be uncomfortable when treating sensitive areas — some epilators now come with a special attachment you pop in the freezer several hours before use to numb the skin being treated.

With epilating, the hair is pulled from the root, so when it grows back, the tip tends to be tapered, which gives it a finer appearance. Used frequently, you will gradually see a reduction in regrowth over time, with hairs becoming weaker, as well as fewer in-grown hairs. The pain may also reduce as the hairs weaken over time.

Features to look out for if you’re buying an epilator

When choosing your epilator, consider the areas you want to treat. The models on our list come with a variety of different attachments. These are the most common types to consider.

Exfoliation brushes: These remove dead skin cells from the face and body, rejuvenating skin and helping to reduce the chance of in-grown hairs.

Shaver head: This is useful for when you want to revert to shaving.

Trimmer head: This allows you to shorten the length of hair, rather than fully removing it.

Bikini trimmer: This is specifically designed for the bikini area. Generally, it will have a narrower applicator head to allow better precision. Standard trimmer heads tend to be wider, although they can be used in the bikini area if you’re careful.

Skin precision cap: These attach on top of either an epilator or shaver head to refine the area you’re treating. Epilators may come with caps to treat different body parts — for example, one for narrow areas, such as the face and bikini line, or body attachments, which will help you treat a larger surface area in one go.

Massage pads: These are used on the face or body to massage targeted areas, helping to improve blood circulation and visibly improve skin appearance.

Cleaning brush: This is a small brush used to remove any stray hairs from applicator heads after use.

Also worth considering is whether you want to use your epilator on-the-go. If so, look for a model that isn't reliant on a mains plug source. And if you would like to use your device in the shower (which can also help to ease discomfort), then you’ll need one that's safe to use both wet and dry.

How we test epilators

We assessed how effective (and hopefully painless) the devices were at removing hair, how easy they were to control and how simple the process was from start to finish.

Panellists were given a choice of trialling the epilator in either wet and/or dry conditions and were sent all the attachments that came with the device, so they had the option of using it on any or all areas of the body, including the face.

They tested the device for a period of 12 weeks and were asked for feedback on design, ease of set up and use, and any discomfort experienced. They gave feedback at four, eight and 12 weeks to assess the hair regrowth over time (a slower hair regrowth would be expected over the trial period with regular use) and noted any in-grown hairs during the trial period.

Best epilators to buy in 2023

Best epilator

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (1)

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (2)

Braun Silk-épil 9 Epilator, Hair Removal, Cordless

Score: 85/100

According to Braun, epilation can remove hair up to four times shorter than waxing can, so you don't have to wait for furry regrowth in between sessions in the same way.

This winning model worked effectively on both dry and wet skin, and didn't hurt too much when used on sensitive areas. It's lightweight and compact, so lengthy pre-holiday grooming sessions won't hurt your arm, plus it slots easily into your luggage for trips away.


The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (3)

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (4)

Braun Silk-épil 9 Flex Beauty Set Epilator With Flexible Head

Now 50% Off

Score: 82/100

After eight weeks of using this epilator, testers told us their hair had not only disappeared, but the regrowth had slowed down too. They were pleased with how well it worked on even the shortest of hairs, and loved the little light feature, which helped them see where they'd missed a spot.

This one's water-resistant too, so it can be used in the shower for an ultra-convenient smooth-skin spa experience.

Best multi-use epilator

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (5)

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (6)

Remington EP7700 7-in-1 Cordless Epilator - White

Score: 79/100

This device comes with a range of nifty attachments that make it a great option if you're keen to epilate all over (well, not all over).

Our panel said it was quick to work and reduced hair growth for many after only four weeks — less than half the trial period

Best for beginners

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (7)

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (8)

Braun Silk-épil 9 9/980 SkinSpa SensoSmart Epilator

Now 53% Off

Score: 79/100

This device has a smart sensor that makes sure you're applying the right pressure to remove your hair. A red light tells you if you've pushed too hard, so it's perfect for newcomers to epilating.

Our testers found it effective for quickly removing hair and noticed a reduction in regrowth by the end of the test period. It also has a good range of accessories, including an exfoliating brush head to help eliminate those annoying ingrown hairs.

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (9)

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (10)

Philips Series BRE740/11 8000 Epilator

Now 48% Off

Score: 74/100

This epilator claims it can leave your legs hair-free in just 10 minutes. Our testers found it effective and long-lasting, reducing hair regrowth over the eight-week trial period. In fact, one of our panel said their hair had almost disappeared in some spots on their legs, underarms and bikini line. It's also equally effective when used wet or dry.

Read our full list of best epilators here.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

How does an at-home IPL machine work?

Another effective form of hair removal is an at-home IPL device. This is a hand-held machine designed for permanent hair reduction. It works by scattering “intense pulsed light” (a broad-spectrum light) across the skin. It directs light at the melanin (the pigment that gives the skin/hair its colour) in the hair follicle, damaging the root and helping to break the cycle of regrowth. Energy, frequency, skin and hair colour are all determining factors in the efficacy of the treatment.

Most IPL devices are suitable for the body and face. They work with a gliding or stamping motion across the skin, emitting light as they go. Gliding is convenient for larger surface areas of the body (such as your legs). Stamping (pressing onto a specific area) is better for smaller areas where you need to be more precise.

These devices aren’t cheap — the most affordable one on our list is the Silk'n Infinity 4000 at £236 — but buying one should mean you don’t have to make regular trips to the salon anymore.

Don’t expect instant results, though. It takes a minimum of three months' regular use to ensure all the hair has been treated and it can take up to 24 months to capture every single hair, due to its growth cycles. So, top-up sessions are needed (typically every two to four weeks) for any regrowth. You can expect permanent hair reduction, but not permanent removal without ongoing maintenance.

Who should use an IPL?

IPL devices aren’t suitable for everyone, as they’re only able to identify and target hair pigment that is a contrasting shade to the skin. Light blonde, red, white and grey hairs contain little pigment, so IPL typically isn’t effective on people with these hair shades, whatever their skin colour. They also don’t work on dark skin tones. Typically, those with pale to medium skin and dark hair are the best candidates for IPL.

Generally, it also isn’t suitable for pregnant women, those with certain skin/hair conditions and those undergoing particular treatments — check the fine print before you buy.

Is IPL hair removal safe?

IPL is considered safe to use, as long as the device is from a reliable, trusted brand and you follow the instructions as advised. Occasionally, some people may experience side effects such as redness, discomfort, and very rarely blisters or burns. If any irritation occurs, please consult a medical professional.

How to use IPL devices

For IPL to work effectively, some hair is required to allow the light to target it, but if hair is too long, it runs the risk of burning the skin. Therefore, it's best to shave beforehand, as the light can target hair directly in the follicle, rather than waxing or epilating, which completely removes the hairs.

For best results, regular IPL sessions are required. Follow the manufacturer's advice on how often to use your device, and when you can expect to see results. Typically, most recommend a 12-week programme followed by top-up sessions as and when needed.

Does IPL hair removal hurt?

The level of discomfort varies from person to person, but it can feel quite tingly and hot (similar to the feeling of being flicked with an elastic band). The process is quite quick, though, so any discomfort doesn’t last long. Most devices also have a range of settings, so you can find the most effective – and comfortable – for you.

What to consider when buying an IPL device

The number of flashes: Most devices have a minimum of 100,000 flashes, and once the lamp runs out, a replacement will be needed. You can’t get replacement lamps for all devices, while some offer unlimited flashes.

The number of treatment heads: If you plan to use the device on the face or bikini line, look for a device with specific attachments for those smaller areas.

The level of intensities: This impacts how often you’ll need to use the device and whether you can adapt the intensity to suit more sensitive areas.

The number of modes: Most devices offer glide and stamp modes, with some also offering a “gentle” mode.

Speed: The shorter the time between flashes, the quicker the treatment time.

Automatic skin tone sensor: Some devices have smart sensors that will tell you the optimum intensity and safe settings for your particular skin tone.

Corded or cordless: Some devices can be used cordless for ease of use.

How we test IPL devices

The Good Housekeeping Institute recruited over 80 women across the UK to help us test out a range of IPL devices in their own homes. The length of the test was 12 weeks, so we could see if our testers experienced the results they were hoping for.

The testers followed the recommended instructions, found out how effective the devices were at removing hair on the legs, bikini line, underarms and upper lip, when any regrowth appeared, how easy the devices were to control, how simple the process was, and how comfortable it felt when removing their hair.

Best IPL devices to buy in 2023

Best IPL device

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (11)

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (12)

Bondi Body Laser @ Home V2.0

Score: 90/100

As well as permanently reducing hair, this device claims to help improve skin texture and reduce pigmentation and broken capillary veins. We tested it for its hair removal capabilities and our panel found it pain- and irritation-free. It moved easily over tricky areas, such as the knees and chin, and was comfortable to hold. Our panel was pleased with how quickly it reduced regrowth and most noticed a difference after three weeks of use.

It has a eight settings so you can find the right one depending on the area you're targeting. It was quiet to use and testers appreciated the travel pouch and safety glasses included.


The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (13)

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (14)

Philips Lumea IPL Hair Removal 9000 Series

Score: 88/100

Our top-rated Philips model, this cordless option offers all the features we'd expect from a Philips device – a SmartSkin Sensor that detects your skin tone and selects the correct light setting, and a free app where you can get a tailored treatment plan.

All our testers were pleased with the lack of regrowth after just three weeks and found it worked well on the body, including the bikini line, and facial hair, thanks to the different attachments for extra precision. They also found it easy to use.

Best for quick results

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (15)

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (16)

Philips Lumea Prestige IPL Cordless Hair Removal Device - BRI954/00

Score: 87/100

This machine also boasts Philips' SmartSkin tech and has three attachments for use on different areas. It claims to give results in as little as four treatments, with top-up sessions helping to prevent regrowth, so this is a great pick for fast results.

Our testers noticed significant hair reduction, with most noticing a difference after just four weeks. After the 12 week trial period, the majority said they were mostly hair-free, with any stubborn hairs growing back finer.

Best pro-ageing IPL hair removal device

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (17)

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (18)

JOVS - Venus II Hair Removal Machine (100-240V) - 1pc

Score: 86/100

This machine comes with a razor for easy hair removal and, thanks to its clever LED attachment, it can also be used as a rejuvenation device to target signs of ageing such as dark spots and wrinkles. Plus, it uses ICE tech to keep the skin cool during use, which our testers said made it pain-free.

As for hair removal, our testers were satisfied with the hair reduction after six weeks. They also found the rotating head made it easy to tackle more hard-to-reach areas and loved the device's high quality finish.

Best value

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (19)

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (20)

SmoothSkin Pure Fit IPL Hair Removal Device

Now 10% Off

Score: 86/100

Despite being one of the most affordable devices on our list, this impressed with its slick design and performance. Our testers found it quick and easy to use, noticing reduced growth after just four weeks, with any remaining hair growing back thinner and slower after eight weeks.

It's a little noisy, but testers liked the range of settings and the light on the side to ensure they were making sufficient contact with the skin.

Read our full list of best IPL devices here.


You may prefer the ease and convenience of shaving over other forms of hair removal. If so you can still ensure a smooth finish with a manual razor by hydrating the skin first (soaking your skin in a warm bath for shower for a few minutes will help soften the hairs), applying shaving gel and using a sharp razor (brands recommend changing the razor head after two weeks if you shave every day.)

Should you try a shaving subscription box?

If you worry about using disposable razors because of their impact on the environment, shaving subscription boxes can be a more sustainable option. As well as ensuring you never run out of your hair removal essentials, some are completely plastic-free and most come in recycled and recyclable packaging.

Are electric razors better?

This is really down to personal preference as both manual and electric razors will remove your hair effectively. You can get a closer shave with a manual razor as they cut closer to the surface of the skin, but an electric razor will get the job done more quickly. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to opt for an electric shaver as the blades are more protected, so there's less chance of cuts or scrapes.

What to look out for when buying an electric razor

We spoke to internationally-renowned hair stylist and founder of Arkive Headcare, Adam Reed, about what qualities to look out for when investing in a shaving device. “There are three main things you've got to be aware of when buying a new electric razor, and this applies to both women and men, wherever you may be planning on using it,” Adam explains.

“You've got to make sure it's a good weight. You won't want to use something that's heavy in your hand and bulky as it will just mean you do a shoddy job when attempting a close shave,” he tells us.

“It's got to have a good motor that isn't going to die on you after a few uses and it's vital to get a razor with the right guard length(s) for the kind of shave you're after."If you're just using the tool to trim longer hair, then longer guard lengths could be best, but for a close shave you'll want to have the option of using a shorter guard,” Adam explains.


The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (21)

Florence Reeves-White

Senior Beauty Writer

Florence is our Senior Beauty Writer, specialising in expert-tested beauty and grooming reviews — from toothbrushes to the latest skincare launches. She’s committed to sharing recommendations for products that truly work and make people feel confident and healthy. Prior to this she was at Tropic Skincare, where she worked closely with biochemists in the lab, delving into the functions of each fresh, natural ingredient and conveying its efficacy to her audience in easy-to-digest terms.

With over five years’ experience in beauty and health journalism, Florence has written for ELLE, Women’s Fitness, Sister Magazine, National Geographic Traveller and many more, with a strong sustainability angle thread through much of her work.

When she isn’t packing for a trip away, working out, eating out or reading up on retinol serums, you’ll probably find her experimenting with her film camera and building her portfolio of portraits. Florence’s photography can be found at, her Instagram is @florencereeveswhite and her twitter is @floreadsnwrites

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (22)

Tested byMaria Kumar

Beauty and Grooming Testing Manager

Maria is our Beauty and Grooming Testing Manager, and since joining in mid-2022, she has managed the testing for mutiple categories including scalp scrubs, collagen supplements and retinol serums. In addition to her master's degree in chemical engineering and a diploma in cosmetic science, she recently received her MBA from the London College of Fashion, focusing on case studies within the beauty industry. Prior to joining the company, she worked within the global technical team at the Estee Lauder Companies for over six years, collaborating with the chemists and engineers to launch luxury beauty products at scale and to quality. She has also worked as a formulation scientist within the pharmaceutical industry and takes this evidence based approach into all her product testing.

The GHI guide to the best hair removal products for epilating, shaving and IPL (2024)
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