Here is a pop quiz. What is the item pictured above?
A. a screaming success.
B. a demonic vibrator.
C. a massaging shower head.
D. the world’s first epilator.
E. a telephone receiver
If you answered d you are correct. If you answered a, you are also correct. If you answered b, c, or e, you probably don’t know what is an epilator. This is the Epilady Classic Coil Epilator. It was the world’s first epilator. It was developed by two Israeli engineers, Yair Dar and Shimon Yahav, in 1986. The company behind the Epilady was Mepro. It was introduced to the American market by three South African sisters, (aka the Krok sisters) -Loren, Sharon, and Arlene.
According to the New York Times, when it was launched it created a big splash and frankly a great deal of pain. It was a screaming success in the most literal sense. It sold 200,000 units in the first year. In 1987, sales totaled over $30 million. In 2.5 years, it had sold 6 million units. Since 1986, the company has sold about 30 million units. Even the late comedian, Joan Rivers joked about it saying” I walk down the hotel corridor when I hear screams, I say, ‘Is it a murder—or is it an Epilady?’ Despite Johnny Carson and Arsenio Hall talking about how painful it was, women continued to buy it.
It became an International success and really revolutionized the hair removal market. Like Kleenex, soon the word Epilady became synonymous with epilators. Some consider it to be one of the greatest devices for hair removal, but others still curse it to this day. Back when it was released it was marketed as a luxury product sold in department stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Bullocks.
If you or your mom grew up in the 1980s, you will probably recognize the original Epilady. For two Christmas seasons, it was one of the most popular gifts for Christmas. Today, the very sight of it might cause the original victims to develop goose bumps. Back then, it was a device filled with so much promise. Today, it is probably stashed somewhere in the back of a drawer as a distant memory.
Here is a commercial for the Epilady Classic Coil epilator:
The commercial starts with two women walking down the street. A man in a very expensive car rolls down his window. One women says to the other, “Honey your legs look great.” The other lady lifts up her leg on a fire hydrant, pulling up her skirt to show off her epilated legs. The other lady rubs her leg saying, “Feel how smooth.” A waiter holding a glass misses the glass, pouring out a bottle of champagne on a bald man’s head. The mesmerized waiter says “Smooooth.” The bald man says, “Extremely smooth.” The lady explains, “No cords. No shaving. Hair is gone from the root.” The commercial cuts to her epilating her legs as she says, “See how easy it is. Just Circle.” A bystander says, “No Nasty cuts.” The camera backs out as the entire town including a police officer has stopped to see what all the commotion is about. She says “With Epilady Ultra I am smooth for weeks.”
Here is another commercial for the epilator at Macy’s:
The commercial begins with a woman dressed in a red gown and a man in a suit. By the rings on their fingers, the couple appears to be married. It appears the woman has her legs up on a bed. The words flash across the screen: “Introducing a revolutionary idea called Epilady. Better than shaving. Easier than waxing.” The man says: “Your legs — they feel so smooth,” as he rubs his hands on the woman’s legs. The woman reaches her hand to touch his, saying “You noticed.” He says: “They feel silky, soft. How did you do it?” The lady lets out a “hmmmmm.” The announcer says:”Introducing Epilady. Epilady is not a shaver. Epilady removes hair at the root and that last about 3 weeks. The man continues to rub her legs saying, “I have never felt legs so sexy.” The woman says:”That’s what everyone says.” He says, “right” as he taps his finger on her legs.
Part of the device’s success had a lot to do with the tremendous and innovative marketing. There was a huge advertising budget considerable to that of a start up. The epilator was in magazines and on TV. There was even a sexy billboard on the Sunset strip that screamed “No more stubble. No more trouble.” People Magazine had a spread with a woman posed bare legged declaring “In the war against unwanted hair, Epilady is a screaming success.”
The original Epilady had a revolving electric coil design. The spring attached to the body of the epilator was mechanically twisted into an uneven loop. The motor in the Epilady twisted the spring, causing it to flex. As the spring twisted, one side of the spring was squeezed tightly while the other side released the tension. Moving the rotating spring across your legs, caused the hair to get caught in the spring, pulling it out much like a tweezer. Those who managed to get through the pain enjoyed smoother legs for longer periods of time. There are still original Epilady fans that have never parted from their original epilator. It was one of the most popular epilators and Epilady actually brought back the Classic for die hard coil epilator fans.
However, most women did not have a pleasant experience. It was bad enough that the epilator took 16 hours to charge, but most women could not handle the pain. Remember the scene in the 40 year old virgin where Steve Carrel had his chest waxed. For many women the pain was like that. They could not bear the pain and stopped using the device entirely. The story goes even men that epilated with it gave up. The company soon faced unfavorable publicity with people returning the product to the store, complaining of pain. There was an ugly collapse of the company in the early 90s.
The original Epilady was only designed as an epilator for the legs because it had a nasty habit of pulling up loose skin up with the hair. Remington was the first to introduce a competing product with the Smooth And Silky epilator. While epilators still hurt, epilators have come a long way since the original Epilady was launched in 1986. In 1966,the original Epilady was replaced with a new design that used a tweezer system instead of a coil. Epilady called this epilator the “Discrette.” Since then other brands such as Braun, Remington, Emjoi, Philips, and Panasonic have created similar epilators based on the revised design. While the Classic Epilady did work, we recommend one of the newer epilators especially on the face, underarms, and bikini area.