Does Epilation Reduce Hair Growth? The Science Behind Hair Removal

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Grooming and hygiene practices have evolved so much over the years. We now have easy access to a variety of hair removal options.

Some hair removal treatments are done at the spa by an esthetician, but these could easily take a huge chunk of your budget since hair removal treatments are often done once every few weeks.

Cropped view of woman using pink epilator on her legs in a gray background

Luckily, some hair removal methods — like epilating — provide a more budget-friendly option. And if you’re more comfortable removing unwanted hair by yourself at home, epilation is the way to go.

The testimonies that using an epilator reduces hair growth over time might have made you consider switching to this method.

But does epilation reduce hair growth? We’re here to answer this question for you and give you the lowdown on epilation. 

So keep reading to discover if epilating is the right hair removal method for you. 

What Is Epilation?

Epilation is the method of removing hair by pulling each strand from its root. It involves the use of a handheld electric epilator with multiple rotating discs that grasp several strands of hair at a time.

An epilator’s mechanical design functions like a good old tweezer, but the key difference is that it can gently pull out several strands simultaneously. It’s much easier, more convenient, and less painful to use.

There are battery-powered and cordless epilators, which are easier to use in the shower.

Epilation is also quite similar to waxing. But if you want to skip all the steps of melting wax and spreading a warm, sticky substance on your skin, epilation provides a virtually mess-free option.

Plus, while waxing effectively removes hair from the root, epilation can do this more precisely. 

Unlike waxing, it can also remove shorter hairs.

Benefits of Epilation

If you find laser hair removal treatments way too expensive for your budget, epilation is one of the best options you have, especially when compared to shaving and waxing. It’s beneficial in terms of cost, permanence, and effect on the skin.

Here are just a few of its advantages:

Fits Your Budget

What we love most about epilation is that you’ll only have to pay for it once. An epilator can last and remain in good condition for several years!

You’ll find plenty of decent epilators that cost as low as $25. But epilators from some of the best and most trusted brands can go for $35 to $150. 

Since high-quality epilators can last long, it’s still more cost-effective than other hair removal options.

Has a Longer-Lasting Effect

When it comes to choosing a hair removal method, the amount of time the hair will grow back is a very important factor. Epilation shines in this aspect as well.

How long hair grows back can vary for every person. But hair growth after epilating takes longer than most hair removal methods.

With epilation, you can expect your skin to be smooth and stubble-free for up to four weeks on average. One clinical study even indicates that the results of epilation can last for up to eight weeks

This means it lasts much longer than most hair removal options. As a bonus, the same study noted that epilation is the least expensive option too!

Suits Sensitive Skin

While waxing is undoubtedly effective in removing unwanted hair, those with sensitive skin must be more careful when choosing this method. Choosing the wrong type of wax can irritate your skin and cause adverse reactions. 

This is something you don’t have to worry much about with epilation.

As mentioned, epilators are more precise because they grab onto each hair and not the skin. So if you have sensitive skin, there’s a reduced risk of irritation.

Doesn’t Require Specific Hair Length

Here’s another area where epilation wins out over waxing. For the latter to be effective, you’ll have to wait until the hair is one-fourth to three-fourths long.

Epilators, on the other hand, don’t press down hairs onto the skin, allowing them to grasp much shorter strands than waxing. So it can effectively catch and remove even short stray hairs in the process.

Guarantees Fewer Mistakes

Epilation requires very little preparation and, more importantly, it has fewer risks compared to waxing. You won’t have to worry about accidental nicks and burns because you’re not working sharp razors or hot wax.

Most epilators also have built-in protective caps to prevent contact between the rotating tweezers and your skin. So it’s arguably safer (and obviously much easier) to use than conventional tweezers.

Does Epilation Reduce Hair Growth?

Apart from being low-cost and safe for most skin types, epilation has been considered a great choice for hair removal for many years due to its reported effect on hair growth over time. 

So before switching to this method, the biggest question you should ask is, “Will epilation reduce hair growth?”

In most cases, yes. Because epilation pulls hair directly from the root and damages hair follicles with repeated use, it’s more likely to alter how fast unwanted hair grows back to the surface. 

So epilation is more effective than shaving if your main goal is to reduce (or slow down) hair growth.

Nevertheless, you can’t expect reduced hair growth to be noticeable after just one epilation session.

Using an epilator regularly can have a more prominent effect on the hair growth cycle. By epilating once every few weeks, you’re practically interrupting the normal pace at which unwanted hair grows back. 

Plus, since epilators can pull hair shorter than a millimeter, you can use it again as soon as you see tiny unwanted hairs appear on the surface. 

And with more hair pulled per session, you can expect your skin to be smooth and hair-free for longer and longer periods of time.

As many epilator users have experienced, you may notice slower hair growth after sticking in the long run. That means you’ll have to use your epilator less frequently as time goes on.

However, take note that the rate of hair growth is different for every person. Many factors contribute to this. Aside from age, your diet can affect how fast unwanted hair grows back. Genetics is a key factor too.

In short, how effective epilation is at reducing hair growth may vary from individual to individual. 

Does Epilating Make Hair Thinner?

But wait — does epilation reduce hair growth in other aspects, such as making it look thinner after a while? 

Many long-time users of epilators will say yes.

A pink and white epilator trimmer on a white fabric on top of a pink surface

Before we go into the details of how epilation makes hair thinner, let’s clarify a common misconception. 

It’s important to establish that hair removal methods — even shaving or dermaplaning — don’t make your hair grow thicker or faster. 

That said, epilating has its advantages over shaving in terms of the hair’s characteristics when it grows back.

You’ll find tons of epilator reviews saying their hair grows back finer, softer, and less bristly after epilating than it does after shaving. 

Some health experts also attest to epilation’s effectiveness in this regard, stating that it may be the result of hair follicle damage caused by frequent epilation. 

It’s worth noting that even with frequent hair removal procedures, it’s almost impossible to fully stop hair regrowth. This is because hair follicles have self-reparative properties

But when they suffer long-term damage from epilation and other hair removal methods, the hair can grow back thinner. 

Can You Use an Epilator on Facial Hair and the Bikini Line?

Epilators can be used safely on the face and the bikini line. 

Regular epilators are typically easy to use on the bikini area as well without needing special epilation heads or attachments.

Likewise, using an epilator to remove facial hair can be equally safe and effective. But most regular epilators may not be the best option for this purpose. 

While you have other options to remove facial hair, using an epilator can be equally safe and effective. 

Most regular epilators may not be the best option for this purpose. The good news is there are plenty of epilators specifically designed to remove hair from your face.

Some of our favorites are the Philips Epilator Series 8000, Braun FaceSpa Pro 910, and Remington Smooth & Silky Facial Epilator.

What to Do Before Epilation

An epilator, regardless of its brand, is very easy to use because it doesn’t require a lot of prep work. 

That said, it’s best to follow a few guidelines to get the best results from epilating. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind before using an epilator:

1. Set the Right Schedule

While epilating is possible even when you’re pressed for time and going out, it’s best to set a time on a less busy day to relax.

Let’s not sugarcoat it — epilating can cause pain. So whether you’re a beginner or an expert with epilators, you’ll likely want to take breaks during the session. 

Thus, it would help to find a comfortable space in your home to use your epilator.

We’d also advise using your epilator at night. While it’s safe even on sensitive skin, remember that it still plucks your hair strands. There can be temporary redness after epilating, so it helps to let your skin rest afterward.

2. Take a Warm Shower

Taking a warm shower exposes your skin to a warm temperature, which can make your pores dilate and loosen your hair follicles. This makes it easier for the epilator to remove unwanted hair. 

Plus, a warm shower can also help you relax and calm your nerves.

When you combine these benefits, using an epilator can be less painful. This is a great way to prepare if it’s your first time epilating.

3. Exfoliate Your Skin

There are just a couple of important steps you must do before epilating, and exfoliating is somewhat of a necessity in this case.

One benefit of waxing is that it can remove dead skin cells while removing hair. Because epilators only target the hair shaft, you can’t skip exfoliating before epilation. 

Exfoliating can be extremely helpful as it can reduce the risk of getting ingrown hair after epilation.

4. Decide Whether to Dry Your Skin Before Epilating

The advice you’ll commonly hear is to dry your skin before using an epilator. This tip is helpful, especially if you’re epilating before going out. Also, earlier models of epilators were designed only to be used on dry hair and skin.

Note that many epilators are now designed for dry and wet use. The latter can be used even when you’re in the shower or taking a bath. Many epilator users have said they experience less pain when epilating with wet skin.

So the choice is up to you and your needs.

How to Use an Epilator

Now that you’re ready to use the epilator, here are some tips to follow while using it to ensure a smooth and problem-free hair removal session:

1. Read the Instructions

All epilators work practically the same way, but some brands may have designs or mechanisms unique to their products. Don’t forget to read the label and follow the instructions for the best experience.

2. Follow the “90-Degree” and “Opposite Direction” Rules

Whichever epilator you’re using, you have to use it at a 90-degree angle perpendicular to your skin.

Similar to waxing, you should run the epilator from the opposite direction of your hair growth. If the hair grows downward, as is the common case on our legs, glide the epilator from the ankle up to the knee.

This will allow the epilator to grasp every strand efficiently and get as much hair as possible in every glide.

3. Don’t Rush

Epilators do well in grabbing hair strands, but they won’t perform properly if you glide them too fast. 

Rushing may prevent your epilator from pulling hairs from their roots or cause it to break a few strands, making you repeat the entire process multiple times. 

Spare yourself the unnecessary pain and take it slow.

What to Do After Epilating

While every skin is different, you’ll probably experience slight redness right after epilating. The important thing is to employ some aftercare steps right after and days after using epilators.

1. Cleanse With Cold Water

This may be one of the most neglected parts of this hair removal procedure, possibly due to some misconceptions that you’re supposed to keep your skin dry after epilation completely.

Cropped view of a woman using shower head on her legs in bathroom

You’ll only have to wait a couple of hours, then you can cleanse the area where hair has been removed. You can simply run cold water on your skin to re-tighten your pores.

If you want to use soap, it’s important not to overdo it. You have to use mild, unscented cleansers to avoid adverse reactions.

2. Moisturize Your Skin

Your skin is naturally aggravated after plucking out a bunch of hair, so it’s a must to use a moisturizer to help it relax.

You can use your favorite lotion. It’s best to use moisturizing products with soothing ingredients that can reduce inflammation, such as aloe vera, chamomile, and witch hazel.

3. Exfoliate Again

Your first exfoliation session after epilation should happen at least 48 hours after using your epilator. 

Exfoliating has to become part of your weekly routine once you begin your epilation journey. This will help prevent you from getting ingrown hairs and bumpy stubbles.

4. Keep Your Epilator Clean

Your epilator will be reliable for many years if you give it the proper love and care. The easiest way to maintain it after use is by using a cleaning brush, which is usually included in every purchase.

Some epilators have detachable epilation heads, like the Braun Silk-épil 9-720 and the Philips Satinelle Essential, which make cleaning them under running water much easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Okay to Use an Epilator Daily?

Yes, using your epilator every day can be done safely. Just don’t forget to put extra effort into aftercare to keep your skin smooth.

It’s advisable for beginners to epilate daily or every other day for the first week or so because it may help alter the rate of regrowth of your unwanted hair. 

After epilating daily for the first week, you can reduce your use to once a week. Then observe whether your hair grows back at a slower pace. 

Using epilators daily for the first few months can have positive effects in terms of reducing hair growth. After this period, you may end up needing to use your epilator much less frequently, like once every three to four weeks.

Does Epilation Reduce Hair Growth on the Face? 

Facial epilation, when done correctly, can have the same long-term benefits as epilation done on other areas of your skin. 

Because you’re also removing hair from the roots, the rate of facial hair regrowth is significantly slower than shaving. Epilating can also make facial hair grow back finer and softer.

Do Epilators Remove Hair Permanently?

While epilators can slow down hair growth, there’s no guarantee that unwanted hair won’t ever grow back for the rest of your life.

Cells always grow in the hair bulb. They harden over time and stimulate hair growth. So even hair removal as effective as epilation can’t certainly fully stop hair from reappearing.

Is Using an Epilator Better Than Using a Razor?

Epilators have several advantages over razors for removing hair. A single purchase of an epilator is all you need to remove unwanted hair for years, so it’s more economical than a razor.

Shaving also just cuts the part of the hair shaft visible on the skin’s surface, while epilators pluck hairs from the roots. That means epilating will give you much smoother skin for weeks, and hair grows back much slower as well.

And as long as you don’t press down the epilator too hard, your skin will be safe.

Does Using Epilator Have Side Effects?

Epilation is generally safe for all skin types, but it’s not completely risk-free. Don’t let that stop you, though, because the side effects are fairly minimal.

Because epilators work very similar to tweezers, expect temporary redness and irritation after removing unwanted hair. Your skin may also get slightly inflamed or feel bumpy after using an epilator.

Applying a soothing gel like aloe vera can help relieve slight pain or irritation.

Does Epilation Cause Ingrown Hairs?

Almost all methods of hair removal, particularly waxing, can cause ingrown hair. While you have a higher chance of avoiding it by using an epilator, it can still happen, especially if your hair tends to grow sideways.

There are ways to lower your risk of getting ingrown hair. One of them is by making sure you use your epilator correctly, such as gliding it at a 90-degree angle so you pluck hairs from the roots.

Once you’ve started using an epilator, make exfoliating a regular part of your skincare routine. Exfoliation is crucial because it’s a great way to keep your pores clean, thus increasing your chances of avoiding ingrown hair.

Does Epilating Stop Hair Growth, and Is It Worth It?

It’s virtually impossible to completely stop hair from growing back, regardless of your hair removal method, because hair follicles can repair themselves even when they’re damaged from repeated epilation, waxing, or laser treatments.

That said, epilation can greatly affect the rate of how fast unwanted hair grows back. 

Two pieces of epilator on a purple fabric on top of a gray surface

So does epilation reduce hair growth or not? Yes, it can, because consistent use of epilators makes your hair grow back slower, thinner, and sparsely. 

It’s also economical and generally safe to use. And a single epilator can be used on almost every part of your body with unwanted hair.

Regularly using an epilator to reduce hair growth is one of the best options out there. So, yes, we think it’s still unquestionably worth it!

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Authors

  • Ashley Pena

    Ashley Pena brings over 13 years of seasoned writing and editing expertise, fortified by her Bachelor of Science in Management. Esteemed in the beauty domain, her content captivates readers with its depth and authenticity. While she navigates a broad spectrum of beauty trends, Ashley shines particularly as our resident K-beauty guru. Her articles are a harmonious blend of passion and profound knowledge, inspiring readers on their unique beauty journeys.

  • Kelly Goforth

    With ten years in the beauty industry, Kelly Goforth has mastered the art of hair and makeup. Trained at The Redken Exchange in NYC and mentored by industry legends like Sam Villa and Lauren Hagan, she's a sought-after bridal specialist in Colorado Springs. From managing a Denver salon to now offering bridal hair, makeup, and airbrush spray tans, Kelly's expertise shines.

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