The Chinese Torture Instrument I Would Definitely Use Again

I'm serious, it's worth it.

Illustration by Itzy Ramirez

Blondes and redheads are often told that they have been spared the indignity and cost of facial hair removal, because blonde hair is invisible. Invisible you say? My grandfather, from whom I inherited my red hair, was said to have a marvelous ginger beard. So, too, was his sister, my great-aunt Muriel. I have tried waxing, plucking, buffing and infinity scarves as a means to deal with my “invisible” mustache, and until recently, had made my peace with threading, which costs all of about $6 in Queens, where a diverse cross-section of women from across the world come together to banish sideburns, monobrows and staches in turquoise vinyl recliners, returning to the streets to purchase chaat and empanadas with our aloe-slicked beardals (we are the world).

But that was before I discovered the “Fashion Girl Facial Hair Epicare Epilator Epistick Remover Threading Stick Tool.” Made in China”, and “come from Japan,” the epicare epilator epistick is just $2.62 on Amazon and promises a hair-free complexion. It also turns out to be one of the best hair removers available on the market (the best remains the Conair Quick Braid Hair Braider).

I trust China’s commitment to physical beauty, and was thrilled to find the item available for immediate purchase, even if I didn’t understand a word of the instructions. The online testimonials seemed positive (“^_^”) and I felt the item placed me in good consumer company (“Customers who bought this product also bought Coombs Family Farms 100% Pure Organic Maple Syrup, Grade B, 32-oz.”).

It arrived less than two weeks after I placed my order, and came with extensive diagrammatics.

Although I cannot read Chinese, I understood that chief to the operation of the fashion girl threading stick tool (a coiled spring with handles) were: bending of the tool, upward movement, and smiling. From the product packaging, I also ascertained a counter-narrative to the pro-facial-shaving camp: shaving does not remove the root of the hair, nor does shaving service the blue and pink parts of the face (lower right; maybe).

The arrows appeared to encourage upward movement and/or rotation of the pink handles on either end of the tool. Twisting the handles didn’t seem to achieve anything, nor did moving the arched spring upward or smiling. Thankfully, snagging your hair in a spring is a rudimentary beauty skill any seven-year-old with a bunk bed will have mastered. The reasoning behind it is that the force exerted by a helical spring increases proportional to the length the spring is stretched beyond its’ equilibrium (JK I totes looked that up!). I pioneered a technique in which I bent the tool over the designated area of hair to be removed, then rotated the tool, allowing it to straighten. The hair was torn from the root with the speed and comfort of a Band-Aid, leaving my skin as dewy, clean and inviting as a slice of apple that has fallen on the carpet and then been rinsed under the faucet.

Here, I demonstrate the correct technique:

Image courtesy of Janet Manley.
Image courtesy of Janet Manley.


As you can see, smiling is unnecessary for successful hair removal.

Hair removal began at my “upper lip,” branched out to my “handlebars,” and soon turned into a vast lawn mowing operation that reached from the apples of my cheeks down to my jawline and recalled the decimation of old-growth forest in the wedding of Sean Parker. The pain level was equal to or less than a salon wax, and included the added satisfaction of seeing the hairs caught in the tool’s brass knuckles. This fashion girl was able to clear as much as 1.5 centimeters of old-growth at a time, including very short and very fine hairs.

One benefit to using a device that looks like it fell from a plumber’s toolkit is that you don’t have to pay much attention while operating it. Hair will get stuck in hardware and, other than the odd piece of balayaged hair finding its way into the spring, I mostly wasn’t worried when I accidentally ripped out something from a different zip code—no one really wants or needs hair below the eyebrows anyway. (What I told myself after getting an undercut in 1994.)

At $2.63, there is virtually no room for buyer’s remorse (I have lost more money on accidental Chipotle guacamole purchases). If you decide to try the Fashion Girl Facial Hair Epicare Epilator Epistick Remover Threading Stick Tool, especially if you are a fashion girl or have a face that isn’t made of eyelid skin. There is also something about the simple utility of something you would get from aisle 5 at Home Depot that speaks to my innermost desire to one day go through a car wash makeover machine a la the Tin Man. All I need at this point is a new heart. Overall, the tool has been a fine addition to my cosmetic drawer of chance, and I give it five out of five newtons.
Images by Janet Manley; backgrounds by iStock

READ MORE: 8 At-Home Hair Removers That Actually Work