Fact or Fiction: Smooth Away Review It Works No It Doesn’t Yes It Does No it…


smooth_away_fig1The purpose of the Smooth Away Hair Removal System is to rid one’s self of furry follicles from the extremities by way of a “crystallized smoothing pad”.  The main advantages are: removal of said particles without the need for a razor; without water; without soap; without waxing; without pain; and (if you read some product reviews), without success.  But others swear by its performance.

I was interested in the device that had polarized so many people’s opinions.  About half said it worked perfectly and another half said that it did not work at all; the reviews were usually to either one extreme or the other.  What did The Gadgeteer find?

First, the Smooth Away system ($14.99) comes with a set of replaceable smoothing pads and holders, one set for larger areas and one for smaller patches.  The smoothing pads at first glance look like they would remove money from your wallet before they could possibly remove even dust from your skin, let alone fuzz.  It seems like it could not possibly work.

The instructions are to swirl the pads against your skin in a circular motion, ten times clockwise and ten times counter-clockwise.  This does not do anything but take up time.  However, if you increase the dosage of the orbit by ten fold, meaning rotate the pad a hundred times, some results can be achieved.  Not all areas responded well to the hundred or so buffs with the pad; certain parts of the dermis turned angry red and made my yoga moves fairly painful later in the day.  So clearly the product must be deferred for certain defurring.  But the results that I did see made me wonder how those magic crystals worked (yes, not very well of course, but…).  So I decided to experiment with the product for several weeks and then re-assess.

I had to quit the experiment after three days because all of the pads wore down.  They (the advertisements) do not expose the fact that the pads erode so quickly and you need refills.  Refills, I found, although rife on the internet, were expensive, the postage usually exceeding the cost of the product.  But having gotten some success with my one-hundred orbit solution, I was still intrigued and wanted to continue with my experiment.  So I ordered a few refills from Amazon.com, thinking that it was at least worth a try.

Here is where the story takes a twist.  The refill pads were from a different manufacturer.  While the originals had been clearly marked “3M”, the refills had no such identification.  Upon peeling back the adhesive paper from the refill pads, a surprising (to me anyway) set of mysterious hieroglyphs appeared: “1500c Silicon Carbide Waterproof Abrasive Paper Electro Coaeted”.

Mysterious hieroglyphics on the rear replacement pad

Mysterious hieroglyphics on the rear replacement pad

DOH! It’s not made of magic crystals – it’s just sand paper.  Oddly enough, though, the refill pads worked much better than the originals.  It removed flocculent protrusions much better and left the hide very smooth.  But the refill pads wore down just as quickly as the originals, but then again — eh, at least these made the product useful, and I didn’t need any water.  If I were stranded on a desert island and needed to wear my Stilettos in an emergency I could do well by these.

So, does the Smooth Away work?  Yes, with certain grits of sandpaper, er, I mean, uh certain sized magic crystals, and yes it works for certain areas of one’s surface.

Does it cause pain?  Yes in certain locations.

Is it worth it?  I think so in the sense that it can be used without the need for water or other accouterments.  Not a bad thing for hikers, travelers, and (hairy) hermits off the grid.


Product Information

Manufacturer:Smooth Away
  • Simple, no need for tools, water, lather or electricity
  • Portable
  • Needs lots of replacement pads; replacement pads can have different grits.
Posted in: Miscellaneous, Travel Gear
{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Keith Anderson October 14, 2009, 4:06 pm

    Next time, use a DeWalt quarter-sheet sander and about 400 grit paper. It’ll work right quick. Also good for removing calluses, bunions, tattoos…. A stiff brush will clean the gunk out so it will sand a little longer.

  • 1hen2ducks October 14, 2009, 5:25 pm

    What’s next ? Laundry balls maybe ? Veg-a-matic ?

  • ssschmidt October 14, 2009, 7:11 pm

    Well, I remember buying an epilady many years ago. She figured it would be better than using 2 disposable razors when she shaved. As I recall, it was attempted 1 time. After that, it disappeared.
    She has looked at these, and I will pass on your review. Thanks!

  • GourdGeek October 15, 2009, 1:30 am

    Who has kidnapped Julie and taken over the site? Volume of uninteresting way up – useful info way down. Sorry to see a great daily visit required site become so run of the mill. Please bring back the high standards and quality posts that is the Gadgeteer.

  • Fred October 15, 2009, 6:14 am

    I’ve just read a review of sand paper!

  • T. Herm October 15, 2009, 10:35 am

    Thanks for the balanced review – not wasting money on personal care products that don’t work so well means more money for sweet gadgets. 😀 Yessssssssssssssssss.

  • Lori C. November 6, 2009, 1:36 am

    Years ago I bought this same product (or a very similar one) and tried it for the upper lip. I thought it sort of worked but thought that wax strips worked better. Now, due to age, hormonal changes and having been ill recently with the need to take the medication Prednisone for several months, I developed a fuzzy face in addition to other unpleasant medication effects. When I used the wax strip for the upper lip, I thought I looked silly, because the rest of my face was peach fuzz except for the upper lip. To me, it was a noticeable difference. I thought how strange to have more hair all over my face than other parts of my body. I saw the commercial and thought I would give the product a try. I am lucky that I am fair haired and that the facial fuzz is blonde; otherwise, I’d look like I’d need a shave! People didn’t notice my fuzzy face as they were not scrutinizing, and I was wearing makeup, but a few times I had my picture taken and the flash from the camera “lit up” the considerable hair/fuzz on my nec. It looked like a haze on the skin of my neck. When I went to enlarge the picture, I did not do it as you could then tell that the haze was really hair – I mean like hair on a forearm! It distressed me because I knew I would not shave my neck and didn’t feel good about myself. I even have fuzzy blonde hair on my forehead, temples, sideburn area and even a slight amount literally on my cheeks. Today, I got the Smooth Away and I think it is the same product as I tried years ago, but the ‘crystalized’ paper seemed finer in texture. In essence, I think it is like sand paper, but I gave it a try because I could not think of anything else that would work on the neck, jawline, temples and cheeks. I found that this product worked really well, and you do have to do more circular motions on heavier hair growth. As for redness, I believe that is to be expected. If you did circular motions just with your fingers on your face, your skin would get red or pink, so with the exfoliation, I feel the pink colour is to be expected and then it fades after a bit. Just don’t press hard so you get a rub burn. If you get a facial or use facial scrub, your face would get a bit pink also, because the skin is being handled or stimulated. I personally liked the ‘pink glow’. This version of “Smooth Away” worked even better than the version I tried years ago. The texture of the treated paper was smoother and did not pinken my skin as much – it was a light pink for a short while. It was a strange thing to feel my neck was smoother and that the facial fuzz was gone. I did a light ‘swipe’ over my cheeks as well because I had hair there too. Maybe it was not visible to others, but I was shocked by how fuzzy my face had become and was happy to feel smoother facial skin and also see smoother skin. It’s pretty bad when you can see a hairy forehead and temples with the naked eye. I’m hoping that with having finished my course of medication, that the hair growth will diminish and stop, but I found the Smooth Away really worked. I do believe that it would not work so well on dark coarse hair, but for hair that is lighter and fine, I think it works great. I think makeup will adhere better and go on smoother too. It bothered me so much to have a hairy neck, and this sandpaper product, I don’t care what you call it, did the trick and helped me feel better about myself.

  • Factopo November 17, 2009, 6:52 am

    This is just gross. It’s like rubbing sandpaper on your skin. What’s the point? There was someone asking about this over on Factopo.

  • Ouroborus November 19, 2009, 10:02 am

    I’m guessing that the abrasive didn’t wear down. Silicon carbide is tough stuff. Instead, it’s likely that the pads became clogged with dust made up of skin and hair.

  • Jitterbug January 25, 2010, 3:31 pm

    I just got the smoothaway and tried it on my legs. Now I will say, I have pretty fine body hair and only shave from the knee down. For me the smoothaway was perfect. I have not tried the bikini or underarms yet but for my legs it was easy. I just did it while watching tv. I found its exfoliation was also nicer than the sugar scrub I normally use on my legs. I was not red after at all.
    I was very carefull and followed the direction, going 3 times clockwise them 3 counter clockwise a couple of times and I was careful not to apply very much pressure at all.

  • Mary February 11, 2010, 5:27 pm

    Save your money and stick with other hair removal methods. I tried this and while the rubbing certainly made my skin smoother, it didn’t do much removing my leg hair.

  • Suzi February 18, 2010, 10:47 am

    I have a question for Julie C. I hope she sees this. I recently had surgery on my ovaries and in the months since then I look like I need to shave my cheeks, jaw line and upper lip!! It is awful. I have very fine hair, but a lot of it. My husband is now calling me fuzzy. I am ready to try this on my face, but I want to know if it is going to grow back darker or more or if she has had to continue to smooth her face after the first time.

  • Andrea December 9, 2010, 9:44 am

    You could walk into Sally’s or any pharmacy for that matter and purchase one of the square nail files with the 4 different sides and use it to get the exact same results.

  • joshua January 7, 2013, 12:15 am

    Check out this crazy gadget. Looks like they use the same concept, but add it to a rotating, vibrating device. Looks pretty insane. Anyone try this yet?

  • Honest reviewer February 21, 2013, 4:28 pm

    I just used the product and had to find a website that reviewed it. Save your money!!!!!!!!!!!! This product hurts! It is sand paper. Sand paper that ripped off a layer of skin on my upper lip and underarms. I followed instructions and I do not have sensitive skin. I have red bumps and broken blood vessels on one arm pit. Now I have to walk like Frankenstein. Thanks smooth away.

  • Sara August 28, 2013, 1:11 pm

    I’ve used Smooth Away for awhile as an inexpensive (yes you can get it online) way of maintaining facial hair caused by a hormonal imbalance. If you follow the directions on the box you can hurt your face or your underarms, but here’s a trick I’ve learned.

    Before using a brand-new pad, rub it on a towel or a pair of jeans for a minute or so. This will wear down the pad a little bit and keep it from irritating the skin so much. I would also recommend only using a brand new pad in conjunction with an older one – use the new one first (briefly) on stubborn areas or denser hair growth, and then use a used pad at length to finish up.

  • margie ie assante October 11, 2016, 1:17 pm

    Sara above uses the pads exactly like me. using it for yrs. and always good

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