Epilator vs Shaving: What’s the Difference and Which is Better?

Last updated on August 15th, 2018 by Garrick Dee

For most women the default option for hair removal would be shaving. It the grand scheme of things, shaving makes a lot of sense.

Of all the hair removal methods, it is perhaps the most cost effective, shallow learning curve and the least painful.

One big issue with shaving would be the frequency. Depending on how fast your hair grows, you’ll need to shave once or twice a week (sometimes more).

In this article, we’ll be comparing two popular and cheapest options – epilators and shavers.

It is a detailed guide where we’ll be looking at the pros, cons and which method would suite you best.

Hair removal methods

There are two methods of hair removal – epilation and depilation. The first method involves removing hair below the surface or from its roots. These methods include epilating, waxing, threading and sugaring.

Depilation is the process of removing hair from the surface. Shaving is a good example of depilation as it cuts hair follicles leaving the root intact.

One big advantage of epilation would be the longer lasting results. Epilating for example can last for weeks on end.

I hope this article will give you an informed decision on which method will work best for you. If you have any experience with either, please drop a comment below.

The deal with epilating

A lot of women say that epilating will bring a level of pain to the table. But don’t mistake this for a torture device that will bring you to tears, although some women say that it’s pure torture. Again this would depend on your tolerance for pain.

It would be prudent to expect a level of pain because this device plucks hair instead of cutting it on the surface.

Prep and technique

Another factor that determines the success or failure of epilating would be what you do before and after the process.

Prepping for shaving and epilating are similar. These include cleaning the area to remove any surface dirt and dead skin cells.

Technique for epilating is much different than shaving. You’ll have to hold the epilator at a 90 degree angle from the skin to give the tweezers maximum contact on skin.

Don’t put too much weight on it and go slow. Doing so will allow the tweezers to pluck hair efficiently so you’ll do less passes.

Put too much weight and you’ll risk the epilator pinching the skin.

Using the right settings

Most good quality epilators like Braun and Philips come with 2 speed settings. The lower setting would be ideal for thinner hair growth. And the higher setting would be for thicker growth.

Long term solution

You’ll notice that the pain will be worth it because the results will last longer – up to weeks on end.

When done right, you’ll be epilating between 2 and 4 times a month. But you may need to epilate every other day during the initial phase to remove hair and to master proper technique.

Advantages

1. Longer lasting results

Using an epilator will hands down keep hair away for a longer period.

How much longer?

That would vary depending on how fast your hair grows. Results may vary from a week to a month.

2. Smoother results

An epilator will pull hair from the root so results will be much smoother versus a blade that just cuts hair at the surface.

Take note that if you’re using an epilator for the first time there will be an adjustment period.

Your skin may have rough patches and redness but that’ll be just a first time event (usually).

As your skin gets used to the plucking, it won’t be as painful as the first time.

3. Thinner hair growth

Hair usually grows back thinner using an epilator versus a razor because again, it is pulled from the roots.

And since hair is less noticeable, your legs and armpits will look better.

You’ll have more confidence wearing that two piece swimsuit for summer or that nice tank top you’d always want to show off.

4. No more dark shadows

One big disadvantage of shaving is it does not completely remove hair. Surface hair follicles will remain.

On armpits it’ll have a shadow effect that can be embarrassing.

5. No more stubble

Even though it’s more painful, epilators pull hair out from the root. This means no more prickly stubble that can be both uncomfortable and unsightly.

A lot of women would prefer epilating their underarms because this area is very sensitive. The difference in terms of smoothness is night and day.

When hair grows, it comes out softer and won’t have that same prickly post shave sensation. Ditto with epilating the pubic area.

6. Great for sensitive skin

If using a dragging a multi-blade irritates your skin then epilating is a good alternative to try.

7. More cost effective

Using an epilator will definitely be more cost effective. Whereas you’ll have to constantly buy cartridge refills, an epilator will last for years depending on the quality. Make sure that you buy something of good quality.

8. No more razor burn

Since you’re not raking your skin with 5 pieces of sharp metal, there will be no more razor burn.

Disadvantages

1. Expect pain

First time users should expect a level of pain using an epilator. Whether or not the experience will be bearable will depend on your tolerance for pain. If you have a high pain threshold, the higher the chance you’ll use this device long term.

2. May cause ingrown hair

There is a risk of the tweezers not completely pulling the hair from the root. This would depend on the quality of the epilator you’re using and technique. So it is important to buy a good epilator and learn how to properly use it.

One way to counteract this would be to regularly exfoliate and apply moisturizer after epilating. Also avoid over use as this can irritate and dry up skin.

3. Expect redness and bumpiness (at least initially)

During the first few sessions expect some redness and bumpiness. Expect this to subside as your skin gets used to it. One of the big reasons why experts recommend epilating at night is to allow time for redness to subside.

4. Epilators can be difficult to clean

This will be subjective depending on the brand you use. Make sure to choose an epilator with removable tweezers that you can wash. A cleaning brush will also come in handy to remove stubborn hair follicles left on tweezers.

5. Noisy

Lower end epilators can be really annoyingly loud. If you have kids, this device might scare them.

6. Takes longer than shaving

Aside from the pain, another downside to epilating would be the time it takes to complete the process. It will take longer than shaving. To give you an example, epilating both legs can take up to an hour. But as you master the proper technique that timeframe can go down to 45 minutes or less.

What’s the deal in shaving?

Of the two hair removal methods, shaving is hands down easier. It has a shallower learning curve and faster to do. But hair will grow back faster, usually in a day or two. So you’ll have to shave more frequently.

For some women this can be an issue because of the frequency. If you have hair legs, arms or pits, it can be a chore to drag a razor over and over.

This can lead to razor burn and irritation, especially on sensitive areas like the armpit and pubic area.

Another issue with shaving is how the hair grows back. Since blades slick and cut surface hair, it will leave a prickly feeling that can be uncomfortable.

This won’t be much of an issue on legs but in sensitive areas like the armpit and groin, it can get uncomfortable.

It is important to remember that what you do before and after shaving also plays an important role. These includes taking a hot shower, exfoliating, etc. before shaving and applying witch hazel and moisturizing cream afterwards.

Advantages

1. Quick and easy to do

Shaving is one of the quickest ways of removing hair on any part of the body. It won’t take more than 10 minutes to shave one leg. Compare it to an epilator that’ll take around 30 minutes, it’s night and day.

2. Not as painful

Using a razor wouldn’t be as painful as using an epilator to pluck hair. Manufacturers like Schick and Gillette have done a good job at their razors that it is almost idiot proof.

3. Great to use on underarms and legs

Two of the best areas to use razors would be flat surfaces like the armpit and legs. Razors will do quick work of these two areas. If you find yourself lacking time to epilate, shaving can be a stop gap solution.

Disadvantages

1. Hair grows back faster (sometimes thicker)

Perhaps the biggest downside of shaving would be the rate hair grows back. According to some women, it grows back thicker. Since the razor only cuts hair above the skin, expect to shave again after a day or so.

2. Can be an eyesore

Another downside of shaving is it leaves behind stubble. You’ll see small dots on your skin. It can be an eyesore on the armpit area and to a much lesser degree, the legs. Not a big issue if you have light colored hair but for brunettes it can be one.

3. Risk of cuts, bumps, irritation and razor burn

One of the biggest risks of dragging 3 to 5 sharp blades on the skin is the occasional nick and cut. If you’re not careful shaving this is an inevitability that is preventable with the right prep and technique.

It can also be a source of irritation and razor burn, especially on highly sensitive areas like the groin and armpit.

4. Cost of refills will add up

Cartridge refills of women’s razors aren’t cheap. Combine that to the high turnover (you’ll need to replace it every 2 or 3 uses max) and you’ll potentially spends hundreds to thousands of dollars in a 5 to 10 year period.

Real world tests

No let’s look at several examples in the real world of women comparing the results of shaving and epilating.

Case study 1: The Epilating vs Shaving Experiment Fail

In this article, External Voyager did an experiment where she used a razor on one leg and an epilator on another.

She shares that initially she thought that shaving was better because it looked better after a day. However in the second day onwards, the shaved leg did not look worst.

Shaving it every other day meant tiny irritation. The clincher was her husband’s “yowl of pain” when he accidentally rubbed his leg on her shaved leg. There it was, epilating won.

Case study 2: I Quitted Shaving and Moved on to Epilation

Danisa shares her experience using an epilator versus a razor over an 8 year period. One of the reasons that drew her to shaving was the absence of pain. Sure there were occasional cuts but fortunately no scars.

But she didn’t like how she had to shave once every 2 days or so. It isn’t time consuming but since you’re doing it more often, time spent will add up.

Epilating on the other hand, while painful at the beginning isn’t as time consuming because you don’t need to do it as often.

Shaving looks great initially but over the long haul the benefits of epilating stand out. You will not see black dots on your underarms. The skin also feels smoother for longer. In the end, the advantages of an epilator far outweigh bad features.

To wrap up

I hope this article helps you know the basic differences between shaving and epilating. The bottom line is shaving brings a lot of convenience to the table because it’s easier to do and faster. However, expect to spend more over the long haul. There’s also a risk of irritation and razor burn. The results also won’t be as longer lasting as it would be using an epilator.

Using an epilator is all about using the right technique and pain tolerance. The results will be well worth it because you’ll have smoother, better looking skin and it’ll last for weeks on end.

If you have any more tips to share please drop them in the comment sections below.

Garrick spends his days researching and writing about grooming. When he’s not in front of his computer, you can find him hanging around with his wife and son.

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