Before we dig into the topic of electric shavers vs. epilators, let’s discuss the many perspectives regarding the topic of hair removal. Some practice it for a variety of reasons including but not limited to hygiene and aesthetics. Regardless of the reason people have in the removal of body hairs in various parts of the body, the practice is widespread and undergone by many.
Why Hair Removal is Practiced
Outlined below are the reasons people would opt to have hair removed:
Depending on where you live, hair removal is likely practiced because it has always been practiced. Hair removal is usually driven by normative or culture-dependent standards of hygiene and appearance. According to an article by M. Tiggermann and S. Kenyon, the notion that people must remove hair from certain parts of the body is hugely grounded in norms such that the reasons underlying the practice are seldomly examined but followed nonetheless.
People also practice hair removal due to the preferences to their partners. According to a paper published by T. Gaiter, et al. both men and women’s grooming habits are similarly influenced by what their partners like and do not like.
Hair removal can help reduce body odor and give people an increased feeling of cleanliness. Body hair especially in the underarm and pubic area serves as a breeding ground for bacteria. This bacteria breaks down sweat and creates that unpleasant body odor. Hair removal in these areas can significantly reduce body odor.
Basically, it all boils down to people’s preference. Some cite reasons of personal hygiene, others because they have always been doing it. Others still, practice hair removal due to aesthetics. Removing your body hair is your personal choice.
Hair Removal Procedures:
There are a lot of methods used in the process of body hair removal. Procedures include:
Shaving: In classic shaving, the part of the hair shaft that is exposed is cut as close to the skin as possible.
Waxing: The hairs are removed root and stem using a strip coated with adhesive, usually wax. The strip of wax is applied to the skin and is pulled out along with the body hair in one quick motion.
Tweezers: Tweezers are used to pull out the hairs usually one by one. This is done usually for grooming eyebrows.
Epilating: The way epilators work are similar to waxing such that the hairs are removed from the root. Epilators are essentially multiple motorized tweezers removing multiple hairs in a single pass.
Depilating: Depilatory creams use chemicals to dissolve the hairs and make it easy to break off and remove. These penetrate deeper into the skin a shaver could
Laser treatment: Specialized lasers are used to eliminate the hair follicle without harming the surrounding skin. This reduces the amount of hairs growing in a specific area.
Some of these procedures can be done only by specialists. Two however; namely shaving and epilating can be easily done at home using the right tools.
Electric Shavers vs Epilators: How Do They Work?
Generally, the two most common electronic devices used for hair removal are electric shavers vs epilators. Both are capable of removing large amounts of body hair very quickly but the method used by both are very different.
You are probably familiar with shaving. When you shave, you trim the exposed part of the hair from the skin using a sharp razor. In traditional shaving, a straight razor or safety razor is used in conjunction with a shaving cream. The shaving cream is used to soften the hairs being cut and to lubricate the skin to prevent the blade from causing irritation.
Electric Shavers automate this process. Electric shavers are powered by a motor which power a razor mechanism to trim hairs. The mechanisms used by electric shavers to trim hair are usually divided into to types; Foil and Rotary. Foil shavers work by running an oscillating blade underneath a thin layer of metal which is covered in holes. As you run the shaver across your skin, the holes in the foil capture the hairs which are then trimmer by the blades under the foil. Rotary shavers on the other hand are usually distinguished by three rotating blades covered by a outer guards. The outer guards catch the hair and the blades underneath it do the trimming.
Epilators work very differently from electric shavers. Instead of trimming, epilators pull out the hairs. Epilators work by running a spinning wheel powered by a motor across the surface of the skin. The wheel in covered in grooves which catch the hairs and pluck them out as it spins.
Electric epilators are usually divided into two types; wet epilators and dry epilators. The main difference between these two are that wet epilators are watrproof and could be used on wet skin or while in the shower. Dry epilators of the other hand cannot be used near water and obviously in the shower.
Although the devices look similar, the process of using an epilator is closer to waxing or tweezing than to shaving. An epilator is essentially multiple automatic tweezers that pluck out the hairs as you run it across your skin.
Given how epilators work, using these would involve quite a bit of pain similar to waxing.
Electric Shavers vs Epilators: Pros and Cons
These two devices are both readily accessible and are very easy to use. However the methods used by both for getting rid of body hair are quite different. Given this, electric shavers vs epilators have unique sets of pros and cons. To decide which or these are better for you, we should go through the benefits and detriments of each.
- Quick: Using an electric shaver is quick and easy. Turn it on, run it across your skin, and it will shave your hair. As long as you regularly maintain your electric shaver, and make sure the blades remain sharp for maximum trimming efficiency, using electric shavers are a quick way to trim down hairs.
- Painless: The main advantage of shavers in the electric shavers vs epilators debate is how painless shaving is compared to using epilators. Since there is no pulling involved, electric shavers are relatively painless as long as the shavers does not accidentally pull on the hairs you are shaving. Regular maintenance help to avoid having your hairs pulled by shavers.
- Can be used for all skin types: Shavers are much more forgiving on people with sensitive skin. Shavers are built in such a way that its use would be cause the skin the least harm possible. Compared to epilators, which pluck out hair from the root, shavers trim the upper part of the hair shaft.
- Improper maintenance can cause irritation: Maintenance and replacement of the blades used by electric shavers must always be done in order to prevent skin irritation. Dull blades cannot trim hairs as well are new and sharp blades which could lead to skin irritation.
- Hairs grow back faster: Since all you are doing when using an electronic shavers is trimming the exposed hairs, these can grow back much faster than hairs which are removed via the use of epilators. Shaved hair will be visible again after just 3 to 7 days and sometimes much quicker depending on how fast your hair grows.
- Hair grows back much longer: Epilators operate by pulling the hair including the root. Because hair is removed this way, the follicles will have to produce a new strand of hair which will take up to 3 to 4 weeks depending on how fast you grow hair.
- Thinner hair growth: The hair that grows back after using an epilator tends to be much thinner. This is because the individual hair strands that grow back are new.
- Smoother skin: Because hairs are plucked out entirely, the results you get when using an epilator tends to be much smoother than when you an electric shaver. Electric shavers leave quite a bit of hair under the outer layer of the skin which contribute to roughness.
- May result to less hair regrowth: In time, the hair that will grow back after using an epilator for a while will take much longer to grow. At any given time, you will have less visible hair growing outside the skin.
- Pain: This is could potentially be the biggest challenge and con of using epilators. Especially for first-time users. This informative and entertaining video shows how unpleasant it could be. Depending on your pain tolerance, using epilators can be quite painful because epilators pluck your hair as you run it over your skin. You might also have to do several passes on the area you are using the epilator on because it might not remove all the hair after the first pass.
- Could take longer than shaving: If you can steel yourself and take the pain of using an epilator, it could still take a bit longer than using a shaver. Multiple passes are sometimes needed to remove all the hair in an area. Preparing yourself for another pass can also take quite a bit of time.
- Skin irritation right after using an epilator: Mild skin redness and/or bumps are to be expected after using an epilator. This is the skin’s natural reaction to having the hair pulled out and it will ease up after a while. This natural reaction will be obvious and noticeable so if you were to use and epilator on your legs, you might not be able to expose it right away.
If you are interested in getting an epilator, check out our review of epilators.
Electric Shavers vs Epilators: FAQs
Is an epilator better than an electric razor?
If you could tolerate the pain of using an epilator, epilators are generally better to use that electric razors in terms of hair regrowth. Because you pluck out the hair when using an epilator, hair grows back much slower than when you shave. The hair follicles will have to grow a new strand of hair which will take up to 3 to 4 weeks.
Do epilators leave stubble?
No. Since epilators cleanly pluck out the strand of hair from the follicle, epilators won’t leave stubble unlike shavers which trim the hair but leave the root intact.
Is epilating bad for your skin?
Epilators are relatively safe to use. Bumps are redness may form on your skin right after you use an epilator however, this is just the natural reaction of the skin to having hairs plucked out. This will go away on its own after a while. If have sensitive skin or are concerned about the possible adverse effects of using epilators, you can always ask your doctor about using epilators.
Can I use an epilator on my pubic hair?
Yes you definitely can! It will be quite painful though especially for first time users because the genital has a lot of nerve endings and is a more sensitive area compared to your legs or armpits.
To Shave or to Epilate?
Whether you prefer shavers or epilators would depend on what you think works best for you. In any case these are both great for easy and convenient hair removal that could be done by anyone at home.
Brian is a barber from Orange County, CA with over 10 years of experience cutting and shaving. With all of his training, he is the go-to for any advice on beard and men’s hairstyles. When Brian’s not working, he spends his free time fishing or spending quality time with his wife and son.