The Pros And Cons Of Epilating Over Shaving

If you choose to remove body hair, there are many options nowadays. You have the classic staple of shaving with a razor in all places you don't want hair, such as your legs and armpits. Then there's the option of waxing, which is more painful but often offers a better result afterward. There are also other methods like laser hair removal or dermaplaning. Whichever way you choose will be based on how much money and time you'd like to spend on removing body hair.


Another option that's been around since the 1980s is called epilating. An epilator is a handheld device with coils acting as tiny tweezers plugging hair as you roll it over the desired area. Healthline reports that there are a few different types of epilators, but whether they use coils, tiny tweezers, or rotating discs, the epilators are still essentially doing the same thing. Think of epilating as waxing, but without the mess. But it's not a rip-like-a-bandaid type of movement, so it'll likely sting or hurt way more than waxing. But is it worth the switch if you're a die-hard shaving fan? Let's look at the pros and cons of epilating versus shaving.

Epilators can be tricky to use at first

As you would probably assume from the fact that an epilator is a bunch of coils pulling body hair out as you roll it along, it can be tricky to get the hang of. And you must take your time learning how to use one so that you don't hurt yourself more than necessary. New users should read the instructions and know that not all epilators are created equal, so even if you've used one before, you should get acquainted with your personal model. Users also have to clean them thoroughly after every use to reduce the risks of infections or bacteria buildup so that the device has a long life.


Hair should also be long enough for the epilator to grab onto, but not too long. Otherwise, you'll have to go over the area more than once, and that's a bigger "ouch" waiting to happen. Maybe it's obvious, but don't start on your bikini area if it's your first time. Go for the arms or legs first, and then work your way up to doing a patch test on more sensitive areas. Lastly, Healthline reports that you have to go slow and in the direction your hair grows because otherwise, you can break it and not pluck it out.

Epilators can stop ingrown hairs, but only if done correctly

A big problem that many people who remove body hair have are ingrown hairs. Those suckers always seem to pop up whether you shave or wax, although shaving is known to create more ingrown hairs than most methods. Are epilators the cure for stopping ingrown hairs? Possibly, but it's kind of tricky. Epilators can be either the cure for your ingrown hair problems or they will be the opposite if not done correctly. Dermatologist Christine Choi Kim, MD, told Byrdie that while all forms of hair removal run the risk of causing ingrown hairs, epilators don't have "built-in" exfoliation. This means that you're running a high risk of severe ingrown hairs. "Epilators remove hairs by the roots without exfoliating the stratum corneum, so when the hairs start to grow back there is a higher likelihood of them getting trapped underneath the surface of the skin, curling under, and becoming ingrown," Choi Kim said.


You would think pulling hair out from the root would cause fewer ingrown hairs. And that actually is a possibility if you properly prepare and take care of the skin. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Horn told Byrdie that ingrown hairs shouldn't be a big issue with epilators as long as you exfoliate before and after.

Epilators are less likely to cause cuts and can save you money

Even the most experienced shavers get nicks and cuts sometimes. And if you're shaving fast, are on the go, or just get too comfortable, you can seriously hurt yourself with a razor, no matter how dull. But with epilators, that's not as much of a worry. "Epilation is less likely to cause nicks and cuts compared to shaving and is probably less traumatic than waxing hairs from delicate, sensitive areas like genital skin," dermatologist Christine Choi Kim, MD, told Byrdie.


In addition to not having to put band-aids on all the time, Femina points out that epilators can save you money in the long run. If you buy disposable razors or need new razor heads every few months, that's an extra cost you don't have with epilators. These devices are reusable and don't need new parts every so often to work.

Epilators can be painful

One of the biggest reasons epilating isn't the next big hair-removing trend on TikTok is because it's excruciating. Healthline wrote that if plucking hair from its roots sounds like it hurts, it's because it does. It isn't very pleasant because it's basically tweezing in several spots simultaneously. If you get your eyebrows threaded, that's another way to look at epilating. As written before, waxing is a similar concept — ripping out a section of body hair in one go — but you don't get the luxury of quickness with epilating. You have to go slow with an epilator not to break the hair.


Plus, certain areas are far more painful than others. If you want to switch to epilating your bikini area in hopes of wiping out ingrown hairs, it will be a tough transition in pain levels. But Healthline wrote that the process becomes less painful or bearable after a few tries. So if pain is not your thing, or you don't think you can handle it in certain areas, epilating might not be for you. But some people have found that the pros of epilators outweigh this con.

Epilating for a long time will reduce the amount of hair you grow

All in all, one of epilating's biggest pros is that, if done over a stretch of time, it can reduce the amount of hair you grow on the parts of your body that you use it on. "Prolonged use of an epilator can cause thinner or sparse hair," Shari Sperling, DO, told Byrdie. Even if it's not true that shaving makes your hair grow back thicker and darker, shaving won't give you the type of long-term results that epilating will. Not to mention that along with less hair over time, the regrowth period is a lot longer than with shaving. Healthline writes that you get soft skin for up to four weeks. Even though it varies from person to person, epilating is pulling the hair out of the root, allowing anyone who epilates a more extended period between hair removal than if they were to shave in the same spot.


With the pros of getting smooth skin and less hair over time because you're ripping it out, epilating has similar effects to waxing, which is a big appeal. But with epilating, you can do the same thing with less of a mess and less of a learning curve.