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Depilator vs. Epilator: What’s the Difference?

By Laura
December 3, 2023
8 minutes
Depilator vs. Epilator

As body grooming trends continue to gain traction, so also certain words and vocals. Examples of such words in the grooming space are depilator and epilator. Sometimes, you find two similar products with these words written on them, leaving you to wonder if they are the same. Both words sound alike and are used interchangeably most times, but are they the same?

We often use them when referring to hair removal, but they differ in their meanings. The two terms vary in their modes of operation, the results they give, and the type of skin they are ideal for. To enable you to choose the right hair removal product, knowing what these two words stand for is important.

This article helps to shine more light on the meaning and differences between depilator and epilator, so you can know what to expect and what not. Keep reading to have your questions answered.

Table of Contents:

What is Depilation?

What is DepilationDepilation is the removal of body hair above the skin. It does not involve removing or destroying the hair follicles, as only the hair above the surface of the skin is targeted. This makes hair removed during depilation grow back within a short period.

The devices or products used to carry out depilators are called depilators, and they are categorized under two broad terms: chemical depilators and non-chemical depilators.

Chemical Depilators

These are commonly called depilatory creams, which are in the form of pastes and lotions. They contain a combination of some chemicals that can dissolve the protein in your hair. As soon as they are dissolved, the hair comes off easily.

Depilatory creams work perfectly well on fine hair, but there has been a report of some performing below expectation with coarse and thick hair. So, you might want to check the track record of the brand you wish to purchase.

Additionally, these creams contain chemicals that may be harmful to your skin. Therefore, Before using any of these creams, you are advised to test it on a small portion of your skin to see how your skin would react to it. If it ends up irritating the part you carried out the patch test, then you might want to consider another brand or even the non-chemical depilators.

Chemical DepilatorsThey are also messy in comparison to the non-chemical method. This is because you have to deal with the creams or paste that may end up in the wrong places if not properly handled. They can even mess up your bathroom or wherever they are kept if caution is not taken to cover and store them properly.

But, looking at chemical depilators on the brighter side, they are easy to use and provide more lasting results than non-chemical epilators.

Non-Chemical Depilators

As the name implies, it does not involve the use of chemicals that may be harmful to your skin. It consists of the use of tools like razors to remove hair from the surface of your skin. While this seems safer than chemical depilators, it is worth noting that they give different results.

The results obtained with razors through shavings are more temporary than those obtained through chemical depilators.

What is Epilation?

Epilation is the hair removal method that involves the removal of hair from the root and hair follicles. During epilation, hair is pulled out from its source, delaying regrowth as the source will have to get regenerated first before hair growth.

Some epilators target the hair follicles and destroy them to ensure no further hair growth. This is why long-lasting hair removal is possible with epilation.

Because hair has to be pulled from the root during epilation, it tends to be more painful than depilation. People who pull hair are also exposed to the risk of developing ingrown hair, as the hair can break halfway and curl back.

To remedy this, there are lots of modern epilating devices on the market today that reduce the risk of ingrown hair and pain. These devices leave the hair and go after the pigment in the hair or the hair follicle, so you will not have to feel your hair being pulled from the root.

Types of Epilators

Epilators and Tweezers 

Epilators and Tweezers The popular epilators that we know are made up of pincers that can pluck several hairs at the same time. It works similarly to tweezers but differs in the sense that it is electronically operated and can pull lots of hair at once. Tweezers are used to pluck out hair strands one at a time.

Whenever the word epilator is used, most people cast their minds on this electrically powered device. Manufacturers of these devices also write ‘epilator’ boldly on them for everyone to see. But they are not the only epilators in the market. An epilator is supposed to be the general name for devices used to epilate.


Threads are strategically twisted and made to move against the skin and pull out hair. This method pulls out hair from the root, just like tweezing, but requires more skills than tweezing. You need to be able to twist the thread properly and hold it against your taunt skin to avoid damaging your skin.

Waxing and Sugaring

Waxing and SugaringSugaring and waxing work similarly. When the wax is applied to the skin, it sticks to the hair, and whenever the wax is pulled off, the hair goes with it. As the wax strip is being pulled from your skin, the hair is pulled alongside from its root.

In sugaring, the mixture is sugar-based, and it’s a bit gentler on your skin compared to wax. As the sugar mixture is pulled from your skin, the hair goes with it from the root.

Laser Epilator

This involves the use of a laser to destroy the hair follicles and prevent the hair from growing back soon. Laser works by targeting and eliminating the hair follicle. As the laser enters the skin and goes down to the hair follicles, the pigment absorbs it, leading to the destruction of the hair follicle.


Electroepilator or electrolysis is the use of electricity to remove hair. It’s a long-lasting way of damaging the hair follicles to ensure that hair does not grow back. During the process, an electric current is passed into the hair follicles via a needle or wire. The current destroys the hair follicles like a laser, but its damage is more long-lasting.


PhotoepilatorsThese are the IPL devices that are used to destroy hair follicles. The devices send intense pulse light to the hair follicles, and their pigment absorbs it. IPL destroys hair follicles with light the same way lasers destroy them.

But unlike laser or electrolysis, there are IPL devices like the Ulike device that you can use at home and obtain the same result you would have obtained in salons. Most at-home laser and electrolysis devices give results inferior to the ones obtained through the same processes in salons.

So, among the more long-lasting epilation methods, IPL is more convenient as you can easily use it at home to obtain good results. It’s also very easy to use and cost-effective, as one IPL can be used for years without the need to change it.

Depilation or Epilation?

If you know the difference between these two hair removal methods, you can determine which is best for you. As such, let’s consider what separates them in the following subheadings:

  • Result: the hair removal method that is best for you depends on the result you hope to achieve and several other factors. Epilation is the sure method for people looking for long-lasting hair removal or a result close to being long-lasting.
  • Cost: apart from the result, epilation tends to be more expensive than depilation. So, choosing between both can be made easier by looking at your budget.
  • Pain: your pain threshold is also another vital factor to consider while choosing. Epilation is more painful because the hair is being pulled from the root. Depilation seems like a friendlier option for people with little or zero tolerance for pain. Except you want to go for the more long-lasting epilators like electrolysis and IPL.
  • Convenience: some of these methods require going to the clinic and spa to see a trained technician to get the best result. So you cannot use them to remove body hair whenever it’s convenient for you. But methods like depilatory methods, tweezing, and IPL can be used to remove hair at home whenever you want to.
  • Hair and skin type: methods like lasers may not be for people with certain skin tones and hair colors. Depilatory creams are also not recommended for people with sensitive skin. Some may not be effective on coarse hair. So, your choice should reflect on the method that works well for your skin and hair type.
  • Part of the body: certain methods are more convenient for certain body parts because they are easy to use there. Although exceptional methods like shaving and IPL are easier to use on all body parts.
  • Medical condition: certain medical conditions make some methods not suitable for everyone. People with medical conditions such as cancer are not advised to go for a laser. Additionally, Laser, electrolysis, and IPL hair removal are discouraged in people under medications that make them light-sensitive.

IPL: The Hair Removal Method You Can Trust

ulike-sapphire-air3-ipl-new-hair-removal-deviceIntense Pulsed Light (IPL) qualifies as one of the non-chemical depilatory methods based on our discussion thus far. It essentially destroys the hair follicles from which hair grows using lights of different wavelengths. As new, effective, and nearly painless hair removal methods, many players, or should we say makers, are already producing it.

One IPL gadget you can trust amidst several others is the Ulike Sapphire Air 3 Hair Removal Handset. It’s not like any other that you’ve heard about. Besides being cleared by the FDA and notable dermatologists for safety and effectiveness, it has certifications and endorsements from around 30 other bodies globally.

The patented ice-cooling tech that this IPL device showcases also sets it apart from others. With it, there is no discomfort during treatment, and even those with sensitive skin can enjoy it effortlessly. That’s not all; you only need a waiting time of two weeks to observe around a 64% reduction in your hair length and volume, compared to others that will take you four or six weeks for the same result. If you try this handset and it doesn’t meet your expectations, you can return it and request a refund within 90 days of receiving it.


The significant differences between depilators and epilators are in their modes of operation. Depilators will remove hair at the surface level. On the other hand, epilators will remove hair from the root and sometimes down to the hair follicles.

Epilators give more lasting results as the hair is tackled from the root and hair follicles. Long-lasting hair removal can also be achieved with an epilator, but you will need to visit a trained electrologist for that. This is why we recommend an IPL device for people who want to achieve neat and lasting results from the comfort of their homes.

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