Buying personal care products

Information on dental care, shavers and hair removal, and hair care products

A Philips body groomer.

A Philips body groomer.

More than ever before, there's a growing range of personal care appliances that bring professional grooming results right into your home. Whether you want that "just been to the dentist feel" after cleaning your teeth or silky straight locks or hair trimming between salon visits, personal care devices can deliver great results for a fraction of the cost of visiting a professional. If you're planning to upgrade your bathroom and grooming products, take a look at what new products and features are right for you!

Dental care

Electric toothbrushes offer improved removal of plaque than manual brushing alone, and there are now products available for children and families too. The choice of what powered toothbrush is best for you will ultimately depend upon your personal preferences, but let's look at some features you need to consider.

Some toothbrushes are powered by alkaline batteries, whereas others use rechargeable batteries and an AC adaptor. Alkaline batteries are great if you want to take the toothbrush travelling, although rechargeable batteries will offer lower running costs over time. A charger indicator light is a handy feature so you can easily see if the toothbrush is charged and ready for use, and a variety of speeds will offer variable brushing options for you and your family (the controls should be easy to access and control). If you want to time your teeth cleaning, a timer feature will alert you when you've passed the two-minute clean time (Most dentists recommend 2 minutes as a minimum brushing time). Pressure sensors on the toothbrush can prevent gum damage through over brushing. The sensor will automatically reduce or halt the toothbrush movement if you press the brush too hard on your teeth or gums.

A range of heads should be available for the toothbrush (for example soft, medium or hard), and some advanced brushes may offer multi- or double- brush heads, tongue cleaning and teeth whitening options. Some devices can store multiple brush heads in a special container, with a coloured tag to identify the brush's owner. Most toothbrushes can be used in the shower and can be immersed in water for easy cleaning.

Shavers and hair removal

Shavers and hair removal products offer a myriad of ways to groom ourselves from our heads to our toes. Most brands offer specific products designed for use by men or women, and these products have evolved in recent years to include body products as well as use in wet areas and showers.

Men's shavers and hair removal: Generally men's electric shavers will use either a rotary or a foil blade system. The rotary system uses rotating heads that lift the hair away from the skin and then cut the facial hair close to the skin level. Foil blade shavers have oscillating blades located beneath a perforated foil case. While they both do the same job what will work best for you will depend on your face shape, personal preference and shaving needs. While a close shave used to be the norm for many men, electric shavers now include a variety of features such as facial trimmers for maintaining a short stubble look, trim beards and sideburns. Some electric shavers will also dispense skin conditioning lotions for a close shave, as well as a self cleaning system. Some electric razors are designed for mobile use when travelling, on the go, or fresh grooming at the end of the day!

A new product in hair removal is the body groomer, which features a trimmer and a blade and it's designed for all over body use. Many of these products can be used in the shower, so look for this feature too.

Women's shavers and hair removal: These devices broadly include electric shavers (featuring wet and dry shavers) which remove the hair on the surface and epilators (which remove hair at the hair root). Most electric shavers use the foil blade system to shave the hair, and many offer a long hair trimmer too. In addition to special attachments for the bikini line, as well as a moisture strip for easy gliding along the skin's surface. Most electric shavers are cordless and the battery is charged using a rechargeable dock.

Epilators use a series of tiny tweezers (often up to three) to remove the hair at the root, and they are designed for use on the legs, arms, underarms and bikini line. The hair removal usually lasts longer than the electric shaving method as the hair is removed at the root. Epilators may feature moisturizing strips to aid hair removal, as well as a light to highlight the hair. Most will have a separate attachment for the face, bikini or underarm areas.

General features: Be sure to check how fast the shaver or hair remover can be charged, as some models will take longer than others to be ready for cord-free use. Some models will feature an LCD display to indicate how much charge and hence shave time you have left. Most models will use a Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMh) or a Lithium Ion rechargeable battery.

If you like to shave or remove hair in the shower, look for a wet shaving option. Clearing the device is very important, and some docking stations can recharge and clean your device in between daily use.

Hair care and clippers

Whether you have long or short hair, curly or straight, you with find a huge selection of affordable hair care products designed to give you salon style effects at home. Whether you need to trim your family's hair, or are looking a great hairdryer and straightening iron for a groomed looked, there are plenty of products with great features. Let's look at what you need to consider.

Hairdryers can in a range of sizes and weights. Ideally look for a dryer that is easy to use and handle, and that doesn't feel heavy after a few minutes using it. If you plan to take these devices with you, a smaller travel size option may be a useful choice. The hairdryer heat settings should be easy to read and understand, and ideally a good range will offer at least two heat and flow settings. Many hairdryers will also offer a cool shot setting to set your style. Some hairdryers may use either ionic or ceramic technology, or a combination of both, which may reduce drying time and hair frizz.

Most hair dryers operate at between 1800-2000Watts, providing adequate power to heat the element and dry your hair. Check how loud the hairdryer is at its highest setting in store, if you think the noise level may be a buying consideration. Many hairdryers include extra styling attachments such as a diffuser and concentrator, as well as brushes for specialised styling. Many will have a hook to hang it on the wall when not in use.

Hair straighteners and stylers

Hair straighteners and stylers give you that salon finished look at home, and ideally they should be easy to use and glide through your hair. In order to style your hair, these products should heat up quickly and maintain an even temperature when styling. Look for products that feature an 'on' and 'ready to use light' and if possible an auto-off switch when not in use. These features not only tell you when the styler is ready to use, but a safety off can save you from leaving them on unnecessarily. Adjustable heat settings are useful your hair type and its condition will dictate the best heat setting to create the desired effect. For example you may want to use less heat on coloured or chemically treated hair.

Most straighteners and stylers will use ceramic or ceramic coated plates (sometimes with additional titanium, aluminium, tourmaline or Teflon coatings) to protect your hair and provide an even distribution of heat.

Professional clippers

DIY hair clippers can save you and your family the expense of professional cuts. Most hair clippers offer corded and cordless versions, for ease of use and manoeuvrability. The rechargeable batteries generally take 8-10 hours to charge and will provide up to an hour of use. Features to look for include a range of combs and length settings so you can create a range of looks and cuts. An ear guard is useful when clipping around the ears.

Check if the product is easy to clean and maintain. Some hair clippers can be rinsed under the tap for easy cleaning, and many clippers have self lubricating blades, as well as self sharpening, stainless steel blades, so the device is always ready to use when you need it.

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