I'm sorry for having this knowledge and not answering you sooner, but you have to understand my hesitence to encourage using an epilator. Epilators are far, far wiser than waxing, and they can give a good smooth feel. But I strongly believe that anyone should take very concrete steps for permanent hair reduction, not fool around, scout laser types and places, or electrolysis types and places, and go that route. At least that way, you're dealing with less hair no matter which route you choose after that. But just plain shaving, creams, waxing, or epilating, will give you a 'incoming hair stubble storm' right after you stop doing it. If laser or electrolysis comes out of your food budget, great, because most of us Americans spend too much on food anyway.
Anyway, to epilate remember three things in this order:
1) You want the follical pores loosened up: a shower.
2) You want the skin smooth and dry so the machine head can spin freely: no lotions, leave a fan pionted at you to evaporate sweat.
3) And, you want the hair standing up on end to allow the epilator's pinchers to grab it with ease: get a dry brush and brush against the grain all over any area so it gets the hair away from the skin.
As you can see, there's an element of timing involved in the prep, get out of the shower, turn on your fan, set up your system, by that time your skin is dry, then brush the hair then start. Afterwards use Tend Skin, or something like it
, or witch hazel. I'd best advise you that being a perfectionist and epilating don't go well together. If you miss hairs, just leave it alone, get out of the bathroom. You can stay in there for hours trying to get everything and it's not gonna mean anything in several days as the new crop starts sprouting. Some people touch up days later, but why bother. You might as well do what Andrea does here, mix epilating with shaving. That's not bad because you can get the missed hairs quicker without repaeating all the fuss, you can exfoliate in the process which will reduce ingrowns, and you're dealing with shaving far less hairs because whole growth cycles have already been pulled out. Good luck, epilate with the grain so you don't damage follicals.
If I was on a desert island with no laser or laser technician and I couldn't make one out of coconuts and vines like the Professor on 'Gilligan's Island' I'd:
Epilate once every two weeks or every month, shave on all other days in between.
This would give good smoothness, and less hair to deal with at any given moment.