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Epilators or Waxing – Which at home hair removal method is better for you?
We get common questions like “do epilators hurt?” or “which is better?”. Epilators and waxing both remove hair from the root, so they’re similar in their end result. But the process is different for each. So here’s a guide that compares epilators vs waxing on some key characteristics, like waxing vs epilator pain or which costs more, that can help you determine which of these hair removal methods can work better for you.
An epilator is an electrical hair removal machine that removes hair from the root. It has a set of tweezers on a rotating wheel that quickly removes many hairs with each pass of the epilator on skin. The tweezers grab hair and pull it out. There can be anywhere from 20 to 100 tweezers on an epilator, so the epilator can pull out 2 to 4 times the hair with each short pass.
Epilators can be plug in devices or rechargeable battery powered, for dry use only or for wet/dry that let you use them in shower, and come with a number of helpful accessories that can help reduce the pain.
Waxing is the process of applying a soft or hard wax on skin in the direction of hair growth, and then then removing the hair from its roots by quickly pulling the wax off. A good quality wax will cling fast to the hairs and not the skin, taking the hairs with it when it is pulled off. Waxes come in two main consistencies – soft wax and hard wax.
Soft wax is the gentler version that is removed with wax strips made of cotton or recycled paper. Hard wax is considered better for waxing coarse hair. It is somewhat less sticky and can be pull off as it cools by gripping the edge of the applied wax and so you do not need any strips for hard wax hair removal.
All waxing also lightly exfoliates the skin by also removing a layer of the topmost dead skin cells.
This is often the factor that is considered most important. It is also one of the problems that epilators solve.
With waxing you have 2 options: you can go to a salon for a professional wax, or you can do it yourself at home. A professional wax is not cheap, and even though it is something that only needs to be done once every few weeks, the costs add up. Waxing by yourself at home is cheaper (especially with Veet Wax Strips but again, is something you have to buy over and over).
An epilator might cost a bit more up front (around the price of a professional wax), but once you buy it you won’t be paying anything more for at least a year. Epilators can cost anywhere from $40-150, depending on the features you desire.
After epilating you are very likely to get a number of red bumps on your skin. This is normal and is because of the irritation of pulling hairs individually from their root. This redness usually subsides after an hour or two (so don’t epilate before going out!) and we recommend moisturizing right after.
Waxing actually serves more than one purpose. Not only does it pull your hairs out but it also removes dead skin cells from the surface of your skin like exfoliating does. This leaves your skin feeling silky and smooth as the fresh skin cells are revealed. It can also result in some irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin, but it ultimately happens less than with epilation. Using a wax warmer will help the process go more smoothly – pun intended.
Waxing has been used for centuries due to its effectiveness. It pulls hairs from the root and takes dead skin with it, leaving your body nice and fresh (if a little sore!). The only downside is that the wax presses hairs down against the skin, making it more likely that they won’t be pulled. There is also more of a chance that hairs will be broken instead of pulled. This is normally remedied by tweezing those left-behind hairs.
Epilating takes this process and mechanizes it. Hairs are pulled directly from the root, leaving it damaged and causing the hair that grows back to be thinner and weaker. With epilating, you can easily go over a section where some hair was missed. Though when epilating wet, you may find you’ll be doing this often as wet hairs are also weighted down against the skin making them difficult to grasp.
How long each of these methods takes is ultimately up to you. A professional wax might be faster and more effective than what you can achieve at home, but you have to travel to get it done. Both waxing and epilating will take less time the more you do them and the better you get at doing them.
On average, waxing will take up to an hour or an hour and a half to do your legs and arms. Epilating will take under an hour and also doesn’t require any messy clean up time afterwards. Personally, I find using my Braun epilator in the shower to be much less time consuming than waxing.
It’s hard to argue against the epilator for this one. Waxing requires preparation, whether it be heating up the wax or making an appointment. Cold wax is another option and while it is certainly convenient, it is far less effective and is more likely to result in ingrown hairs and irritation. With an epilator you can simply press a button and begin. Perfect if you don’t have time to book an appointment or wax yourself. Most modern epilators are cordless and so can be used anywhere. Make sure you have enough battery though!
Some say that epilation is more painful, some say waxing is. This category is very subjective. What we can say is that both methods get less painful as your skin gets used to the sensation.
It can be argued that waxing is able to cover a larger surface area at a time and so overall the pain is less. It can also be argued that epilators can be used wet, or at a lower speed setting to minimize pain. I personally use the Braun Silk Epil 9 Epilator. I use it in the shower, and find it painful only for the first few seconds each time.
Frequency of Use
This was a difficult one to decide.
On the one hand: waxing can keep you smooth for up to 8 weeks, while epilators can usually give you around 2 weeks to 1 month of hairlessness.
On the other hand: you need to wait for hair to grow back to a certain length before you can wax again, which is a nightmare if you don’t time your waxing right. There’s nothing worse than having to get to a certain level of hairiness before you can rip it all out.
With an epilator you can literally use it whenever. See a couple of hairs peeking through?
Seek and epilate. These devices can pull hairs as small as 0.5mm in length.