There are two methods of hair removal that outshine the rest. It has been hotly debated for a long time which is better, though each come with their advantages and disadvantages. The epilator vs waxing.
What is an epilator?
An epilator is a device similar to an electric shaver. It consists of a rotating head of tweezers that traps hairs and pulls them from the root as it is run across the skin. It is a modern solution to an ancient problem.
To learn more or to find out which epilator is best for you, check out our comprehensive epilator guide!
What is waxing?
Waxing is a hair removal technique that has been used for centuries. Egyptians like Cleopatra started the trend as far back as 60 B.C. with oil and honey, and considered being hairless as proper hygiene. This was later mimicked by the Romans, where being hairless was a sign of wealth and class.
How does it work?
To get rid of unwanted hair, hot wax is spread across the skin. A cotton strip is placed on top of the wax pressing the cloth into the wax and the wax onto the skin. The cloth is then ripped off along with the wax, and the hair.
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So which is better?
Instead of going through the advantages and disadvantages of each method we felt it would be better to look at all the characteristics that make a hair removal technique great and judge which is better, one by one.
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.
Epilator 1 – 0 Waxing
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 moisturising 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.
Epilator 1 – 1 Waxing
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 mechanises 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.
Epilator 1 – 1 Waxing
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.
Epilator 2 – 1 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!
Epilator 3 – 1 Waxing
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 minimise pain.
See How To Reduce Epilation Pain for a more comfortable session.
Epilator 3 – 1 Waxing
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.
Tip: Hair grows back at different rates. Use your epilator as soon as you see any hairs coming through to maintain smoothness at all times.
Additionally, hair growth is stunted when using an epilator so with continual use you will actually have to epilate less and less.
Epilator 4 – 1 Waxing
Epilating is pretty straightforward. There are a number of things to keep in mind when epilating to get the best results – see our Guide to Perfect Epilation here.
Waxing is a little more complicated. Cosmetics expert Paula Begoun recommends that you see an aesthetician before trying it out yourself. When waxing at home you have to wait for the wax to get to the correct temperature (be careful about burning your skin) and then make sure you’re spreading it properly without getting it everywhere! It will also leave a sticky residue, but this can be wiped away with a few drops of oil.
With this in mind, both of these methods require more skill than going to a salon 🙂
Epilator 5 – 1 Waxing
Final Score: Epilator 5 – 1 Waxing
The epilator was created to remedy some of the issues that waxing had, and to make the process simpler. We feel like it succeeded. Waxing is still widely used by women all around the world due to the fact that it has been a good solution to a problem for thousands of years. Epilators have become more and more popular over the years and may one day replace waxing as the dominant method of hair removal.
Still, every woman is different and everybody has their preferences. Waxing has been a popular hair removal method for so long for a very good reason. It works, well.
There is a huge variety of products catering to these 2 methods, which have a direct impact on the technique’s reputation. Epilators come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Some are designed for sensitive areas and for facial epilation, some for the whole body. Waxing can be done at home with hot wax or cold wax, or by a professional at a salon. All of these options will vary in quality.
For this reason the answer to the question of epilator vs waxing cannot be absolute. We can tell you that epilation is the modern solution to the problem of unwanted hair, but you might not get the results you wanted with a $5 epilator. Our advice to you is to read some reviews and decide on a balance between price and quality.
- Never wax within 24 hours before or after tanning. Sun exposure damages your skin and makes it easier to peel off layers of skin when you wax, it also increases the risk of bruising.
- Try not to swim in public pools or get into hot tubs until a few hours after waxing. Your sensitive skin coming into contact with possibly unclean water could lead to infection.
- Consult with your doctor about waxing if you have sensitive skin, a skin condition, or acne problems. Epilator is the ideal choice.
- Livestrong – Epilator vs Waxing
- Heart UK – DIY Hair Removal Systems
- Braun – 6 Reasons To Epilate
- thefashionspot – 8 Common Hair Removal Blunders
- Buzzle – Are Epilators Better Than Waxing?
- eHow – Epilator vs Waxing