Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Product Review:
Smooth Away

I don't usually go in for "as seen on TV" products. As a matter of fact, when I first saw Smooth Away I thought it was about the silliest thing I'd ever seen; an over sized nail file that was supposed to magically and painlessly buff away hair. I wouldn't have given it a single thought, but when it began making the beauty mag editorial rounds, it was garnering some surprisingly decent reviews. When I found a $2.00 off coupon in my Sunday paper, I decided that I'd try it.

I purchased Smooth Away at my local Walgreens. After my coupon, I paid $7.99 plus tax for one large and one small applicator, 5 "flex-crystal" replacement pads of each size, and a travel case. The Smooth Away system consists of a flexible plastic oval shaped mitt that you stick the hair removal pads to. The pads feel and look like an old-school blackboard and kind of gave me the willies when I handled them. The self adhesive pads are fairly easy to apply, just peel and place. The adhesive is pretty heavy duty, so I had to take a second to make sure I was placing it correctly on the applicator. The package also states that it's important to make sure there are no air bubbles under the pad, which was easier said than done.

Being the instant gratification person that I am, I ignored the package directions that stated that skin should be thoroughly cleansed and dry before using the Smooth Away. After all, I figured: "The major benefit of this product is that it can be used anytime, anywhere. If I have to shower right before I use it, why not just use a razor while I'm in there?" The directions also state that hair should be no more than 1/4" long. Sorry if this is TMI, but I failed on this directive as well. Was I supposed to shave, then wait another 3 days before I tried my new toy? I think not.

After prepping my Smooth Away and practicing the suggested buffing pattern (3 rotations clockwise, then 3 counter clockwise) I went to town on my lower leg. As I buffed, I noticed that the fine regrowth on my leg was actually disappearing! Though the circular buffing pattern did feel awkward at first, I noticed no discomfort as my hair was being removed, and no redness afterward. I had read Smooth Away reviews that listed the amount of time it takes as a con, and I have to say, I agree- it took much more time to use this product than it would to shave, not to mention the physical exertion of the wax on/wax off buffing method. My second issue arose just minutes later, as I realized that the pad seemed to have stopped working- one large pad only removed hair from about half of my lower leg. Of course, it occurred to me that the pad's short life could have something to do with my failure to follow directions, so I decided to try again another time.

After seeing that the Smooth Away did indeed remove some hair without any apparent irritation, I decided to take a chance and use the small applicator on my upper lip. I followed directions to the letter, cleansing my skin, pulling it taught and gently buffing the area. The package insert states that it is normal to notice a bit of redness after hair removal, so I didn't think much when my lip began to look rosy- there was still hair to be removed, so I continued. When my skin began to burn (with plenty of hair left) I decided that this was not for me, and stopped. That's when I noticed a little spot of red seeping out from the corner of my lip-I had actually drawn blood!

Anyone who follows me on twitter may remember the post "Smooth Away? More like abrade away". This pretty much sums it up for me- though I had no ill effects on my legs, the product left me with a severe friction burn on my lip- the skin actually formed a scab (yuck, sorry, but you should know, right?) and remained dry and broken out for over 3 weeks (it's still not back to normal!) To literally add insult to injury, the hair in the area wasn't even gone! I did try the large pads on my legs several more times, this time closely following the package directions. I ended up with the same results no matter how I used it- while the hair was removed from a small area, the removal was not as close or as uniform as shaving- I was always left with errant hairs, and it would have taken me around 5 pads and probably 2 hours to do both legs. Refill pads cost $9.99 for 12 large and 6 small- about 2 or 3 uses. A refill pack of my Venus razors are also $9.99, but since one razor lasts me several weeks, they are definitely the more economical option.

I give Smooth Away a 1/2 out of 10. If you have infinite time to buff away at your legs and don't mind having to change pads every 3 minutes, go for it. For $8 I'm not going to complain about wasting my money- though the Smooth Away may be destined for the yard sale basket, at least I get to save you all from spending your hard earned cash- skip the Smooth Away and put the ten spot in your rainy day jar!

- Really, none. This is a hair removal device that barely removes hair. It does exfoliate somewhat, how's that?

- Limited availability
- buffing method is awkward and does not uniformly remove hair
- caused extreme irritation on my face
- pads have a very limited usage life-you'll need several to do both legs.
- very time consuming- each area needs to be buffed repeatedly to remove all hair.


Ashley! said...

haha I remember when something similar hit the market about ten years ago...maybe longer ago then that. I was 12 years old, and my mom bought me something like this to get rid of the hair on my legs. I vividly recall them not working, and being, as you said, way to much work. They will probably try to sell these stupid things ten years from now, too. haha.

Unknown said...

No Doubt! I guess the reason I keep buying is that you never know when they will come out with one that will work. I know when I worked the dept. store counters there was nothing that could actually make lashes grow- no matter what the product claimed. Now, low and behold, there's a product that actually can. A lot of people (my fiance) don't understand that the beauty industry is a pretty science heavy one, so it's constantly evolving.

I just want to know: when can I start beaming from place to place?

:) Jessica

Unknown said...

I've always wondered about these and I ALMOST bought some yesterday at Target. I'm so glad I didn't! If my lip started bleeding because of these, I would've had to hurt someone. lol!

Anastasia said...

Ahahaha. After reading this, I adore you.

I remember seeing something similar on QVC or some other completely inane shopping channel, and their optimistic cheeriness got to me, so I actually went to look at reviews for it online. The ones I read said that they didn't remove hair from face even with the proper pads, only from legs, it was slower than shaving, and still left shaving rash, so I decided to pass.

I bought some wax strips to do my lip and sideburns (I'm not an ape, they're not visibly noticeable, but I'd like to be totally smooth to make contour powder application better, etc) but after the box suggested that I should "adjust to the sensation on my legs first if new to waxing" I'm too scared to use them.

Maybe I can get a job as a wookie.

Acrylic Makeup Organizer said...

It looked dodgey, and it sounded dodgey, it was dodgey. I feel for you it must have been really bad getting around with that scab on your lip.

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