The Best Tweezers
I use the Tweezerman Slant Tip to yank out my unibrow hairs. These tweezers cost about $20, are easy to grip, and have a blade sharp enough for precision work. Tweezerman will also resharpen the blades for as long as you own the tweezers. For special cases, we also have a recommendation for tweezers for removing splinters and ingrown hairs.
You need tweezers to remove unwanted body hair, typically around the eyebrows, as well as aberrant strands elsewhere on the body. Tweezers are best for eyebrows. Save on threading or arching services and pluck as much needed to get the brows to frame your face correctly without crossing into Sharpie-brow territory, unless that’s your style. Do it after you shower, when the pores are opened and relaxed. Applying a hot soaked wash cloth to the plucking area will suffice, too—similar to best practices for shaving. Some beauticians recommend putting the tweezers in the freezer beforehand so the cold metal numbs the skin and reduces plucking pain, but that sounds like overkill to us.
A good set of tweezers will make it easy to get rid of unwanted hair. If you have an Eastern European unibrow like I do, tweezers are a toiletry essential.
(But leave nose hairs alone. Plucking exposes the tender nasal surface skin under the hair root, which can lead to infection. Trim those instead.)
Styles and features of tweezers
The first step for picking tweezers is deciding on a shape for the tip. In an interview for Shape Magazine, esthetician Kristie Streicher, a celebrity brow expert at the Warren Tricomi Salon in New York and LA explains: “Opt for a sharp, slanted style. Unlike pointy versions, they grab tiny strays quickly and won’t pinch your skin along with the hairs.” After testing round-tip and pointed-tip variations, we agree.
The slant tip can handle fine hairs and large patches just as well as application-specific tips like rounded or fine-point tweezers. So save your money and buy just one pair; a slant tip model will serve you for almost all hair-removal. Since you can tilt the slanted edge, you can use the pointy tip for precision removal of fine hairs, or your can grab multiple hairs by angling the slant so that it’s parallel to your skin.
You have the option of pointed-tip tweezers, which are designed specifically for plucking ultra-thin or in-grown hairs, or square-edge tweezers, which have broad edges to grab multiple hairs at once. But only beauticians who spend all day plucking lots of human bodies need the additional types.
A slant tip blends the best of both styles, making it the industry standard and best-selling style.
The grip style is your next consideration, but really there’s not much variety. Different models from various manufacturers have generally merged into a design that has a slightly wide grip area (around a quarter-inch across) coated with some non-slip material. You’ll find models with large ovals where your fingers can grip the tweezers more securely, but unless you have large hands, it’s an unnecessary feature that’ll cost you a few bucks extra and take up real estate in your travel bag or on your bathroom shelf.
Another option is scissor-grip tweezers, which look like eyelash curlers, but with tweezer tips. Unless you’re working with arthritic hands and have a weak grip, you won’t need this setup. For us, the same goes for tweezers with lights in them. It’s a superfluous feature that adds price and provides a functionality that’s just as well solved by a decent bathroom light. Plus, what you lose in maneuverability and ergonomics isn’t worth the little blast of light. Peter Martin, grooming editor at Esquire, told us, “I’ve seen people posting about tweezers with a light built into the joint. Seems helpful, but not something that I’m ready to try.”
Length is a consideration. Tweezers with a handle of under three inches require you to grip close to the tip, which can cause your hands to obscure your view. For that reason, we’d advise against mini travel tweezers.
As for the material composition of the tip, as long as you go with a good brand like the Tweezerman, any sort of metal will work. You can get 24 karat gold tips—they’re softer than steel, can more securely grip hair—but that’s an unnecessary extravagance.
Do bear in mind, however, that keeping tweezers working well means storing them carefully. When they leave the factory, tweezers are aligned so the tips close flush. When aligned like this, they can grab hair with each edge of the point. Most tweezers, like our pick, come with caps to put over the tips that you should leave on whenever you’re not using them. Be careful of dropping or letting your tweezers shake around while traveling, which can bend the arms and make them less adept at plucking.
The Tweezerman is the top pick across the board by publications covering beauty products.
Allure has awarded the Tweezerman Slant Tip a “Best of Beauty” award for 13 years and counting, saying, “These really are the best tweezers we’ve tried: They firmly grip hairs at the base to ease them out without pinching; they come with a lifetime guarantee and free sharpening. And the bright colors make them easy to find in a crowded makeup bag.” InStyle lists it as a Best Beauty Buy: “These are ‘the Swiss Army knife of the beauty world,’ says L.A. makeup artist Amy Strozzi. At first pluck, the tapered side grabs the wispiest hairs; the flat end makes fast work of longer ones.”
Not coincidentally, the Tweezerman ends up as the best-selling model for most vendors. Beauty Bar has the Tweezerman Slant as their top-selling tweezer, and Beauty Assist, a grooming reference site, picks the Tweezerman as their recommendation for the best tweezers. W magazine blogger Justin Breton lists the Tweezermans as one of the “five beauty products I live for and use every day.”
Our own Erika Stalder, a beauty and fashion veteran, seconded the opinions: “The Tweezerman is amazing and definitely the one to beat,” she says.
The Tweezerman Slant Tip is made of stainless steel and, in the specific model we like best, coated with a matte finish along the handle. The ends are precision-milled to line up flush along sharp edges that close around fine or thick hair. The tension in the handles leaves space to see your hair between the blades for careful plucking. The arms are about 3.5 inches wide, which is enough room to grip with a thumb and forefinger far enough away to keep from obstructing the line of sight over the hairs.
Tweezerman also offers a lifetime guarantee and will sharpen (or replace) worn out tweezers for free. If the Tweezerman Slants are bent—from a drop, say—they’ll send you a coupon for half-off a replacement pair.
If you need tweezers to remove foreign objects or tough ingrown hairs, get the Tweezerman Splintertweeze. Besides high reviews from users on Total Beauty and Amazon, Wirecutter founder and ocean exploration journalist Brian Lam used them to dig out foreign objects that other tweezers couldn’t snag. “I’ve used some slant nose tweezer to try to remove sea urchin spines from my palm, but it wasn’t until I had the Tweezerman Splintertweeze that I could really dig stuff out,” he says. “The tips are sharp like little knives and they can easily dig deeper stuff out like ingrown hairs or splinters. They have a wide grip, too, so they’re very stable.” Stash one in your bathroom and you’ll be able to extract wood splinters—or urchin spines—better than with the Slant Tip.
There are dozens of other tweezer options, but none seem to have as ubiquitous acclaim as the Tweezerman Slant.
The closest contenders come from Revlon, which has its own slant tip tweezers that retails for $8. They end up unable to beat the Tweezerman because of customer complaints that the ends don’t line up correctly, and the edges are so sharp that they snip hairs rather than gripping them. Rather than risking $8 to try one of these, we’d suggest buying the Tweezerman once. Revlon products mention a “Guarantee for Life” policy, but after searching for nearly an hour, I couldn’t find a clear explanation of their rules. Tweezerman’s guidelines are much more explicit. Some of Revlon’s other models have mixed responses, too. Tweezerman, on the other hand, gets unanimous love for nearly all of their creations.
Another contending brand is Mehaz, which makes the popular Rubis line of slant tweezers. They typically run at just over $30 a pop, and their line doesn’t feature a special coating for the stainless steel arms, which makes them get slippery when used with bare hands.
Sally Hansen makes the popular line of LaCross tweezers, most notable for the models with oversized grips. If you have big enough hands to require these grips, we’d recommend this model. They get lots of customer love for their ability to grasp thin hair. Unfortunately, it has no obvious warranty or guarantee like the Tweezerman, and it isn’t reviewed by professional beauty critics. If we were buying, we’d pay a bit more for the Tweezerman and its sharpening program.
There are plenty of lesser-known brands making tweezers that don’t get any recognition from major beauty publications or experts. On Amazon you might be tempted by a handful of tweezers that have an average of 4- to 4.5-star reviews, like the $15 Shessentials Fusion Beauty Tweezer and the $7 OceanPure Slant Grip Textured Tweezer. But those averages are based on relatively few users reviews; just a dozen or two compared to the 500+ mostly positive user reviews of the Tweezerman.
Wrapping it up
To pluck hair cleanly, you need tweezers that are sharp, aligned correctly, have grippy handles, and are affordable. The Tweezerman Slant Tip meets every requirement. As long as you avoid dropping them too many times and keep the edges covered, they’ll be the last tweezers you buy.
Best of Beauty, Allure,"These really are the best tweezers we've tried: They firmly grip hairs at the base to ease them out without pinching; they come with a lifetime guarantee and free sharpening."
Best Beauty Buys, InStyle, 2012"At first pluck, the tapered side grabs the wispiest hairs; the flat end makes fast work of longer ones."
Bloggers Without Filters, W magazine, April 1, 2013,"Nobody wants a unibrow… Enough said.Tweezerman Slant Tweezers are available at Target locations and most drugstores nationwide for $20."
Originally published: May 8, 2013