Of the numerous options for the removal of unwanted hair, three methods stand out and so we have the familiar epilator vs. waxing vs. shaving comparisons. Many, if not most, adults have experience one of these methods, usually the shaving method using manual and electric razors because it’s the easiest, cheapest and safest method. But look beyond shaving and experience the benefits of epilating and waxing, too.
All three of these methods fall into one of two major categories of hair removal. First, epilation removes hair from below the skin surface, a technique that includes the use of epilators as well as waxing, sugaring, and threading supplies. Second, depilation removes hair from above the skin surface, a category that includes the use of razors and hair removal creams.
An Introduction to the Three Methods of Hair Removal
Let’s start with shaving, the oldest of the three hair removal methods. Shaving involves the use of either a manual or an electric razor along the skin surface and against the direction of hair growth. Like all hair removal methods, it removes unwanted hair exposed above the skin surface, which can be done either dry (i.e., on dry skin) or wet (i.e., with shower gel or shaving cream).
Waxing involves the application of a skin-friendly, especially formulated wax on the skin, typically in the direction of the hair growth. After a certain number of time, usually just several seconds, a piece of waxing paper is placed on top of the wax and, once it has adhered, both the wax and paper are quickly removed against the direction of hair growth. The unwanted hairs are pulled along with the wax and paper.
Epilating involves the use of an epilator, a small handheld device with several sets of tweezers set on a roller. While the roller rotates, the tweezers grab and pull the hair from the root. While there are several design types of epilators, these work in a similar manner, namely, in grabbing and pulling multiple hair at the same time.
Think of the way that tweezers work albeit faster and easier, as well as with the use of an electricity-powered device.
In the following sections, we will look more closely at the pros and cons of these hair removal methods. We will look at the most important aspects of cost and results (i.e., cost and benefit analysis) including rate of hair regrowth, level of smoothness, and possible side effects (e.g., discomfort experienced).
Epilator vs. Shaving: Cost
In an epilator vs. razor comparison in terms of their initial and continuing cost, both devices can be considered as winners depending on your available budget. You have to decide whether you want to buy an expensive device or an inexpensive product for your first time in hair removal.
On one hand, buying an epilator means a more expensive upfront expense since it’s significantly more expensive than a pack of razors. Depending on the brand, quality and features of epilators, these can range in price from $30 to $300 and up. Many, if not most, of the best epilators are expensive but these are well worth their prices.
Many epilators also come with extra attachments and accessories, which are useful in removing unwanted hair from awkward and hard-to-reach places, as well as rechargeable batteries. These can also be used in dry and wet conditions, sometimes even in the tub or shower. These can also be used in the removal of finer and shorter hairs that shaving and waxing cannot remove as well as expected.
The beauty of an epilators lies in their ultra-low continuing cost. Their only continuing cost is their power, which can either be by plugging into an electrical outlet (i.e., with rechargeable battery) or by buying affordable replacement batteries. These devices also last for several months even with regular use for as long as these are properly used and cleaned.
On the other hand, buying a manual or an electric razor isn’t such a large expense in comparison with the cheapest epilator available. Disposable razors, for example, cost as low as $5 for a 4-unit pack while high-quality, high-moisturizing multipack razors cost about $20. Shaving foam, among other products, can add to the overall cost; these are priced between $2 and $20.
Does it sound like shaving wins, cost-wise? Yes, it does and we understand why many women still choose razors over epilators based on cost alone. But think about it first before jumping to a conclusion.
These low prices on shaving products and supplies are deceptive because the costs add up over time for many reasons. You have to buy new shaving supplies several times a month because disposable razors should ideally be used 1-2 times only. You have to shave more often, too – about 3-4 times a week, if you’re a sticker for smooth, hairless skin – and it adds to your total cost.
It is estimated that an average American woman can spend as much as $10,000 on razors, shaving foam and other related products! Even in an epilator vs. electric shaver comparison, the epilator wins over the long-term period for this reason.
Also, if you don’t want the continuing costs of shaving supplies, you may consider either waxing or epilating. Both deliver better results than shaving, too.
Epilating vs. Shaving: Results
In every epilator vs. shaver comparison, their respective results are the most important because the results matter more than the cost. As with many things in life, you will get what you paid for when choosing between epilating and shaving.
Let’s start with the discomfort experienced with both methods since it’s one of the reasons men and women may be turned off by the use of epilators. But keep in mind that pain is a subjective experience – what may be mildly painful for you may be moderately painful for another.
With epilation, you will feel mild to moderate discomfort depending on your pain tolerance, area of treatment, and skill in using the device. This is normal because the epilator pulls your hair out of their roots with some of them even pulled out with their bulbs still attached at the bottom. But there are numerous ways of decreasing the discomfort during epilation, such as taking a warm bath, exfoliating your skin, and holding the epilator at the right angle.
Plus, you will find that with each succeeding session, you will feel less and less discomfort. You have become familiar with the mildly painful sensation so you can tolerate it. You will also observe that your body hair becomes finer and softer when it grows back, thus, it becomes easier to remove through an epilator.
And the results of an at-home, do-it-yourself epilation are the best you will ever see without spending for laser treatments! When you have properly used an epilator on your face and/or body hair, you will love that your skin feels the smoothest sans unwanted hair it has ever been. You won’t see even a single stray hair marring your skin after a few passes with an epilator over it.
You also don’t have to epilate more than once every three weeks, a convenient schedule for your busy life. Since the hair was pulled off from the root, it will grow back in 3-6 weeks and it will be finer, too, when it does. You won’t even notice stubbles on your skin three weeks after epilating because of the slow growth rate.
With a manual and electric razor, you won’t feel any pain, not even mild discomfort, unless the blade catches your skin and tears it. These shaving products are designed with safety features but these must still be used properly – let it gently glide against your skin and against the direction of the hair growth for best results.
But there’s a catch. Shaving off unwanted hair means that it isn’t pulled off from the root so it will grow back at a faster rate. You have to shave once every three days or so if you want to maintain the appearance of hairless skin. You will also find that the hair doesn’t become finer and softer, unlike in epilation, so the stubbles on your face and body are more noticeable.
Note: If epilators and razors aren’t your preferred hair removal methods for any reason, you may want to read our best hair removal cream reviews. These are suitable products for people who have low pain tolerance or who have issues with using razors.
Both epilators and razors, nonetheless, are convenient methods especially for frequent travelers. You can carry an epilator and/or razor in your purse, as well as use it anywhere you have privacy, even in a public restroom stall. You can’t do so with waxing supplies.
Epilator vs. Waxing: Cost
In an epilator vs. wax supplies cost comparison, both products are more expensive than a pack of high-quality razors. As previously mentioned, buying an epilator requires a higher upfront expense with prices ranging between $30 and $300. Epilators with extra attachments, multiple uses (i.e., suitable for use on face and body), and more tweezers are priced even higher – indeed, an investment in hairless skin.
But waxing itself can be considered more expensive in the long run than both epilating and shaving! If you choose professional waxing treatments at a salon, you will spend $60-$80 for a full leg wax and $15-$25 for an underarm wax. In a couple of months, you can spend as much as $120-$160 for full leg wax services – and because your hair will still grow back, your overall annual costs can be as much as $720-$960!
If you buy waxing supplies for several do-it-yourself waxing sessions, you will also find the continuing costs to be a small fortune. A single wax warmer costs $30-$50 while a pot of wax beans costs about $10-$15, which should be sufficient for two leg sessions or 8 underarm sessions. You may also prefer the microwaveable wax pots ($10-$20) and the cold wax strips ($15-$20 for a 40-strip pack).
The bottom line: In the waxing-epilating debate, epilating wins in the cost department because it doesn’t involve continuing financial costs.
But cost isn’t just about the money either. Cost is also about time, energy and effort that can also be measured in quantitative terms.
In a waxing vs. epilating comparison, waxing’s weakness is epilating’s strength in terms of the time and effort it takes to achieve the desired results. With waxing, you have to find a relatively private room where you can apply the wax and paper on your skin, tear them off from, and dispose the used supplies. You may even have to set aside an hour or so for a full leg session, as well as 15 minutes for an underarm session.
With epilating, you can do it after your shower or bath so it becomes part of your beauty and hygiene routine. You will spend around 20 minutes for a full leg session (i.e., both legs already) and five minutes for both underarms. You can then spend the time you saved on other things, such as applying your makeup or getting dressed for work.
Better yet, you can spend the time saved on earning money or on quality time with your family and friends. Time, after all, is an asset we all need loads of but don’t have enough of, and every little thing that allows us more time for other more important things is welcome.
Even in an epilator vs. waxing for facial hair comparison, the epilator still wins! It’s so easy to use an epilator on your face while applying wax on it can be fraught with danger to your sensitive skin. You may, for example, accidentally apply wax on the area near your eyes resulting in irritation to the sensitive organ and skin.
Epilating vs. Waxing: Results
Is epilating better than waxing? In terms of results, yes, it is definitely better although not significantly. Both epilating and waxing pulls the hair from the roots, a process that causes the hair to grow back at a slower rate. In both methods, the hair grows back within 3-6 weeks, a significant difference in comparison with shaving where hair grows back within 3-6 days.
You will not be using an epilator or waxing your hair as frequently as you would with shaving – and it’s a good thing, too, considering the discomfort involved in both methods and the time required for waxing. You can go hairless for three weeks, at least, before you have to reach for your epilator or wax supplies. You will, however, likely reach for the epilator as it’s easier and faster to use than waxing supplies yet give better results.
And speaking of discomfort, the waxing vs. epilator comparison is a draw in this aspect. You will experience discomfort with both methods since these involve pulling the hair out by the root. You will, fortunately, find that the discomfort becomes more tolerable with each succeeding session although it doesn’t completely go away.
Epilating, however, are more effective than waxing when it comes to the length of hair that can be removed effectively. Epilators can remove body hair as short as 0.5 mm, about the same length as a stubble three days after shaving.
You can then epilate three weeks after your last session, if you’re gung-ho about maintaining a hairless appearance on your body and bikini area. You will like it that the epilator can grab and cut stubbles like a sharp scythe – safely, of course.
In contrast, waxing requires that hair should be about 6 mm in length before it can be effectively pulled out from the root. You must then wait for a longer time before planning your next wax session.
You can see it either as a boon or bane depending on your personal needs, as well as the weather. You can, for example, wait longer during the fall and winter seasons when you can cover up but not so much during the bikini season.
Epilating then becomes a better choice if you want to maintain your hairless skin sans the lengthy waiting time for the hair to grow back.
But there are also waxing and epilator side effects aside from the discomfort that you have to be aware of.
Ingrown hairs can occur, especially when you don’t exfoliate before epilating or waxing. We have a special article about getting rid of ingrown hairs on legs so do read it.
Bleeding, redness and/or bruising, among other signs of skin irritation, may be experienced, particularly in sensitive areas like the genitals
Infections can also happen due to the torn skin
Very dry and/or sore skin when waxing or epilating over the same area more than once (i.e., to get all the hairs out)
There are also specific risks to waxing that aren’t in epilating. When the wax is too cold, it will not be effective but when it’s too hot, it can cause irritations, injuries like burns and skin lift, and even infections. In a skin lift, for example, both the hair and the skin come away as the wax strip is removed – and it’s both painful and ugly!
In contrast, the epilator hair removal side effects are minimal, especially when you already know how to use it properly.
Yet another question that we hear often is, “Does epilation reduce hair growth?” Yes, it does but not in the way that it seems. Unlike in laser hair removal, epilating doesn’t “kill” the hair follicles so the hair doesn’t grow back at its normal rate; instead, it makes the hair grow back in a finer and softer manner, as previously discussed.
So, is an epilator better than waxing? Yes, again!
Waxing vs. Shaving: Cost
In the shave vs. wax comparison, we have to say that both have higher overall costs over several months of use in comparison with epilating. But waxing has a higher up-front costs because there are more supplies needed than for shaving, said supplies of which include the wax warmer, the pot of wax beans, and the waxing strips, to name a few. Shaving requires a fewer number of supplies, such as the manual razors or the electric razor as well as the shaving foam.
Again, in a waxing versus shaving cost comparison, both of these methods eventually become more expensive over time. You have to continually buy the waxing and shaving supplies since these will require replacement for safety reasons (i.e., razors) or these have simply been used up (i.e., wax beans and strips).
In terms of ease of use, which also affects cost, a wax vs. shave comparison will find the latter on the winning side. You only need a sharp razor and shaving foam, as well as 15 minutes for a full leg session, with shaving. But you will need several more supplies and more time to achieve similar results with waxing.
Regardless of whether you choose waxing or shaving, however, you will agree that epilating is still the best choice, cost-wise. With it, you don’t need to spend money on supplies for shaving, wax for melting, and other items.
So, what is better - shaving or waxing in terms of cost in terms of money, time and effort? We have to say that it’s a draw.
If you’re pressed for time, then the choice between shaving vs. waxing legs is clear – you go for shaving. If you want longer-lasting and smoother results, then your choice between waxing vs. shaving legs is just as clear – the former is best.
Shaving vs. Waxing: Results
Is waxing better than shaving in terms of results? Yes, it still is! But keep in mind, too, that waxing is more painful than shaving even when you are already a self-taught pro at it or you get regular professional waxing treatments.
In a wax vs. shaving comparison, the former has an advantage because it pulls hair out from the root resulting in a slower hair regrowth of between three and six weeks; four weeks is the average time, however. The latter only snips hair from the skin surface so the regrowth rate is faster at about 3 to 10 days.
The hair regrowth type in the waxing-shaving comparison is also different that, in turn, affects the frequency of waxing or shaving, as well as the discomfort associated with waxing. Over an extended period, waxing causes the hair to grow back in a finer, thinner and softer manner so it becomes less visible and easier to remove. Shaving may not actually cause the hair to become thicker and coarser – it’s an urban myth, if you will – but the hair doesn’t become finer, thinner and softer either.
If you were to choose shave or wax for sensitive skin, which one would you choose? You will likely choose shaving and you made the right choice!
Waxing can cause redness, burn marks, and other signs of irritation on the skin, especially under the hands of an amateur or a newbie. It isn’t recommended for people with sensitive skin for this reason.
Shaving isn’t as risky for people with sensitive skin. Just be sure to use the razor correctly – use vertical strokes, for example – so that your sensitive skin doesn’t become irritated.
In conclusion, in an epilation vs. waxing vs. shaving debate, epilation wins hands down! We highly recommend it for its excellent results, ease and convenience of use, and hygienic uses.