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What’s The Difference Between an Epilator and a Shaver?

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There are many ways to control unwanted body hair. Waxing, shaving, laser hair removal, all of these are effective, and all have their advantages and disadvantages. Epilation is yet another option for hair removal. These units look extremely similar to razors, but there are significant differences between the two.

To make things more complex, some of the best epilators will shave, epilate, buff, and do your taxes as well.

In this article, we’ll look at the Difference Between Epilator and Shaver. We’ll discuss the best ways to use both, and which is the right choice for your needs.


Managing Unwanted Hair

For most people, shaving is a part of their daily routine. No matter what race you are, what gender you are, where you’re from, or even what religion you are- everybody shaves

Of course, shaving customs vary significantly from one culture to another. 

For example, Jewish men are prohibited from shaving their beards

In France, women didn’t begin shaving their underarms until well after Americans popularized it. 

In military cultures around the world, shaving and hair/beard grooming is required

Managing unwanted hair is something you will devote a considerable amount of your life doing. One statistic calculated that the average woman spends around 72 days of her life shaving her legs. 

As Americans have become increasingly more thoughtful about time management, inventors have created new ways of dealing with hair that are designed to save time, energy, and money. In today’s article, we will be taking an in-depth look at two very specific hair removal methods- shaving (short term) and epilation (long term). 

Never heard of an epilator before? Well, you’re about to learn everything that you ever wanted to know about them! 


Difference Between Epilator and Shaver

Braun Epilator Silk-épil 7-7561

Most everyone knows what a shaver is. A razor blade is scraped along the skin, slicing off the hairs with the blade.

An epilator looks quite similar to an electric razor, but functions differently. It is a mechanized tweezer, which quickly pulls out hairs from the root. In this way, epilators actually rip out the full hairs, which significantly slows down the process of regrowing hair.


Short Term vs. Long Term Hair Management

shave girl

When it comes to managing hair, the critical difference between most methods is how long the results last. In other words- “How long until I have to do it again?”

Shaving, for example, is considered a short term treatment. You’ll have to shave repeatedly throughout the week to keep your hair under control. 

For ever.

When it comes to long-term hair management, though, there are several more options at your disposal. The most traditional forms are sugaring and waxing. These methods involve applying a sugar paste or wax on the skin. The sticky substance binds to your hairs, then you rip them out. After you do that, the hair grows back more slowly, and thinner.

For smaller areas (such as the face or bikini line), many people use a classic pair of tweezers to yank hairs out at the root to prevent them from growing back for a month or so.

With recent advancements in lasers and modern light-emitting technology, there have also been a number of developments for permanent hair removal. Treatments such as clinical and even home laser hair removal and at-home IPL (Intense Pulse Light) devices are becoming more popular by the year. 

Today, though, we’re just going to be focusing on two methods- shaving and epilation. These are two of the most popular methods and are by far the most natural. You’re not applying chemicals or light radiation to your skin’s surface. 


Shaving: The Pros and Cons

exercise girl

The most popular method of hair removal throughout history has been with the blade. The invention of the razor blade in 1901 by King Champ Gillette and his partner William Nickerson changed the course of history. They formed The American Safety Razor Company, which was later renamed, Gillette. 

Up until then, straight shaving razors were very expensive as they had to be made by hand from super-high-quality steel. The technology to cheaply invent a “razor-sharp” edge did not yet exist.

To put it simply- if you had a good straight razor, you did not want to lose it. 

With the invention of affordable, disposable razors, everybody could easily shave. You didn’t have to go to a blacksmith to polish your razor or pay a barber anymore. You could buy a sharp razor, use it a couple of times, and then toss it out without batting an eye. 

At first, razors were just single blades. Today, however, the dominant style is a multi-blade razor. Single-blade razors cut the hair off right on the surface of the skin, but multi-blade razors pull the hair up slightly and then cut it, resulting in a smoother shave. 

Now that you know the backstory let’s take a look at the pros and cons of shaving the traditional way. 

Pros of Shaving

Doctors always say that you should deliver the good news first, so we’ll start with the good points. 

It’s Already Habitual

One of the main reasons why so many Americans continue to shave is that it’s a habit. Shaving is a time-honored tradition. It’s something that’s shown to us in movies. It’s something we grow up watching our parents do. Every time we turn on the TV, there’s an ad for razors. 

When you think about it, the way that shaving razors have been advertised for the past 100 years isn’t all that different from cigarette advertising!

Many young teenagers start shaving at an early age because a razor and shaving cream are the only tools they have. It’s not often that you meet a 13-year-old who can afford high-tech hair removal systems, and you can’t go to a hair removal clinic until you’re at least 18. 

Point being- by the time you’re an adult capable of making your own decisions, you’ve likely developed the habit of shaving for years. This means that shaving is something you will seldom “forget” about. You’ll do it whenever you need to because that’s the way you’ve always done it. 

It’s Fast

Another reason why so many people use a shaving razor is that it’s fast. A woman can easily shave her legs and underarms in less than 5-minutes, and a man can do the same with his face. Certain more intimate areas take a bit more time, but other than that, you can’t beat shaving when it comes to speed. 

It’s Painless (Mostly)

Modern shaving razors have advanced considerably in design from the original Gillette safety razor. With today’s modern razors, it’s almost impossible to cut yourself. Many of the other long term hair removal methods can be painful. While you’ll do them far less often, the thought of the pain is enough to deter a lot of people. 

Cons of Shaving

Now that we’ve examined the pros, it’s only fair we talk about the negative side of things. 

Hair Grows Back Fast

The worst thing about shaving? 

It grows back every single day

No matter how perfect your face or legs look after you shave, you’ll likely have to shave again sometime in the next 24 hours. 

Razor Burn

For people who have sensitive skin, having to shave multiple times a week can be bad as repeatedly exposing the skin to a razor can cause irritation known as razor burn. This happens when the razor scrapes the skin just enough to irritate it. 

It can also happen with modern multi-blade razors that yank the hair follicle upwards before cutting it. While these blades offer a closer shave, the extra pulling can irritate the skin. 

Ingrown Hairs

Another problem with shaving is that it can sometimes cause ingrown hairs. If you shave regularly, then you must have a good skincare regimen. Even with the best skincare regimens though, hairs can still become ingrown. This happens when the hair cannot grow through the skin’s surface and continues to grow under the skin, causing a pimple-like bump. 

They’re unsightly, frequently painful, and annoying.

Plastic Pollution

Single-use razor blades are a huge contributor to landfill pollution. The only part of a razor that can be recycled are the blades, but unless you have one of those traditional-style shaving razors with the removable blades, you’re out of luck. 

This means that around 98% of all the razors in the world go straight in a trash can. One of the biggest reasons to feel good about switching to a long term hair removal method is that it’s better for the environment. 


Epilators: The Pros and Cons

Philips Satinelle Advanced Hair Removal Epilator

Epilators look somewhat simlar to an electric razor, but functions differently. These small handheld devices are basically “tweezer machines.” The epilator’s body looks a lot like an electric razor, but the head features a spinning cylinder with around forty to sixty small tweezer nodes. The device speed-tweezes all of the hairs in its path, quickly yanking hairs out by the root. 

Yeouch!

Most epilators are battery-operated and have multiple speed modes depending on how fast you’re trying to go. The faster it is, the more painful it will be, so most first-time users start slow. 

Most epilator kits on the market also come with several precision head attachments that are designed to target smaller areas such as your bikini line or underarms. Additionally, many epilators have razor attachments for those times when you just want a quick shave.

Pros of Epilators

Here are some of the top benefits of using an epilator for long-term hair removal! 

It’s Long-Lasting

Since epilators pull your hairs up by the root, it takes a lot longer for them to grow back compared to traditional shaving. Shaving just cuts the hair off at the surface level, which is why it grows back almost instantly. 

However, by pulling it up by the root, the follicle has to grow an entire hair from scratch. This typically takes four to six weeks. When it grows back, your hair will be thinner and lighter, which means that it will be even easier to remove the second time! 

It’s a great choice for the bikini area, and for Brazilians. No one likes to do that frequently.

You Can Epilate In The Shower

Most electric epilators are water-resistant, so you can use them in the shower. This is nice because the water can help soothe any pain caused by the epilator, and it’s cleaner because you can just wash the hairs down the drain. 

Another great reason to epilate in the shower is that the steam from the shower will open your pores and follicles. Open pores will allow the epilator to pull the hair out a lot easier and without as much resistance. 

Remember that epilators are usually water-resistant, not waterproof. Make sure that you never fully submerge your epilator in bathwater or your sink. 

It’s All Natural/Chemical Free

If you have sensitive skin or you just don’t like the idea of putting synthetic chemicals on your skin, epilation is an excellent solution! Although epilation goes smoother with water, you can also use it dry- making it one of the few 100% natural hair removal solutions. 

Even shaving uses chemically-derived shaving cream that can irritate some skin types. Waxing uses almost entirely synthetic paste and wax that requires even more synthetic solvents to remove afterward.

While laser hair removal is effective, no studies have been performed regarding the long term effects of light radiation exposure on human skin. 

If you’re committed to being environmentally friendly, living a natural life, and not using synthetic chemicals, or laser radiation, then an epilator is easily your best option for long term hair removal. 

Save Money On Razors

The average person goes through one razor blade per week, for a total of around 50 to 75 razors a year. If you’re using cheap $1 razors, it won’t cost much in the long run. However, these cheap razors are more likely to cause razor burn, ingrown hairs, and topical irritation. 

If you want a good razor that’s going to be friendly on your skin, then you’ll need to shell out $4 or $5 per disposable razor. If you do the math on that, you’ll spend anywhere from $250 to $500 per year on throwaway shavers! 

With that money, you could purchase an epilator kit for your entire family. 

Cons of Epilators

We’re committed to being fair and balanced, so we figure that it’s only right to mention some of the drawbacks of using an epilator for hair removal. For more detail, see our article on the disadvantages of epilators.

It’s Painful

If you go on YouTube and watch a few of the influencer reviews of epilators, you’ll see that one of the most common comments is- “It hurts like hell the first time!” The epilator pain scale is significant.

Imagine the pain of tweezing yourself. Now, imagine fifty tweezers at once, yanking fifty hairs out of your leg. It doesn’t exactly sound like a walk in the park, does it? 

That being said, though, the first time is the most painful since you’ll be ripping out the thick hairs that have grown stronger from years of shaving. Once the fully removed hairs grow back, they’ll be a lot thinner and weaker, making them far easier and less painful to epilate in the future. 

It’s Time-Consuming

As we mentioned prior, one of the top benefits of shaving is that it’s fast and easy. Just slap some cream on your legs, whip out your razor, and make a few swipes. Five minutes later, and you’re all good to go! 

Epilators can take a good deal more time to use, especially the first time when there’s more pain. Once you get used to them, it will go a lot faster, though. You’ll be able to set the spin speed to high and epilate your legs in five to ten minutes. 


The Consensus

Shaving may be a “time-honored tradition,” but that’s no reason to keep doing things the old-fashioned way. Advances in modern hair removal technology now give us the power to stop shaving altogether. 

While epilation can be a bit painful the first time that you do it, you’ll barely notice it the next time. In addition to this, epilation is long-lasting, so you won’t have to worry about your hair for at least another month! For the most part, epilators are also affordable- so why not try one out? 

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