Epilate or Incinerate? At-Home Epilators vs. Professional Laser Hair Removal

Female with smooth, bare legs

We often get asked if there are at-home laser hair removal pros and cons. When it comes to laser – yes! Laser should only be administered by a professional. If done incorrectly, it could damage your skin. But what about other at-home hair removal options like epilators? Let’s compare the two.

How Laser Hair Removal Works

Laser Hair Removal uses a concentrated beam of light (laser) to remove unwanted hair. The melanin of each hair attracts the laser and the hair follicle is destroyed with the heat it generates. After each treatment, fewer and fewer hairs grow back until none at all. A permanent hair reduction treatment will take multiple sessions for maximum results. Once the hair follicle is incinerated, the individual hair may fall out immediately or it may take a few weeks or multiple treatments.

You can (and should) shave between treatments, no need to grow the remaining hair back out. The hair follicle must be present for treatment to work because color, or melanin, is needed for the laser to be attracted to the hair. So, you can shave between sessions but should not pluck or epilate (which would pull the hair follicle out of the root).

How At-Home Epilators Work

An epilator is a device for removing unwanted body hair by pulling it from the root. It’s like an “Electric Tweezer” – similar to plucking but applied across larger areas on the body, not one single hair at a time. It is not a permanent solution and hair will need to grow back between sessions for it to have enough length for the epilator to grab.

An epilator is made up of dozens of tweezer-like pieces that pull hair out as the device is moved across the skin. This leaves the area temporarily hair free. Sometimes, when using an epilator, the hair can be broken off above the root and the root may not necessarily be fully removed.

Is Laser Hair Removal Better than At-Home Epilators?

Depending on what your main priorities are, certain hair removal options may be more suitable than others. There are many ways that Laser Hair Removal is more beneficial than an epilator and vice versa. Here’s a side-by-side chart comparing the pros and cons of Laser Hair Removal versus epilators.

  Laser Hair Removal Epilators
Permanent Results  
Temporary Results
Mild to Moderate Discomfort
Topical Discomfort Relief  
Must Limit Sun Exposure  
Can Shave Between Sessions  
Must Grow Hair Out  
Treats White, Gray & Red Hair  
Results in Lighter, Finer Hair  
Slower to No Regrowth  
Can Prevent Ingrown Hairs  

Which Gives You Better Results, Laser Hair Removal or Epilators?

Professional Laser Hair Removal outperforms epilators for both short- and long-term reduction and permanence.

Which is More Convenient, Laser Hair Removal or Epilators?

Laser Hair Removal and epilators are both convenient, it just depends on your schedule and if you are able to put the extra effort in at the beginning to get long term results later.

  • Professional Laser Hair Removal: Requires time for travel as well as the appointment itself (approximately 30 minutes per body area), but the experience is more spa-like where you can sit back and relax while a medical professional performs your treatment and after care. Once you’ve completed your rounds of treatment, you should enjoy hair reduction for life. No more waxing, shaving, plucking or epilating! See our comparison of Laser Hair Removal to waxing.
  • Epilator: This can be performed any time is convenient for you, but you’ll still be investing time and effort into performing the task. It can also be more difficult to treat hard to reach areas, forcing you to be a bit of a contortionist to reach the backs of your thighs or your bikini area! It is also a non-permanent solution, so you’ll be growing back hair and ripping it out again and again for life.

How Are Epilators Better Than Laser Hair Removal?

Epilators offer slightly more flexibility, and can treat light white, gray, blonde and red hair – hair colors that professional Laser Hair Removal can’t treat.

  • You can epilate as little or as much as you want on any part of your body at any time at your own convenience and don’t have to worry about sun exposure or tanning. Whereas with Laser Hair Removal with a professional, you’ll need to schedule treatment times and avoid sun between treatments. This is because the laser is attracted to the melanin in your hair and getting a tan can affect that – reducing your results and possibly leading to side effects such as burns and pigment changes.
  • Epilators can also treat any color of hair whereas a laser cannot treat white, gray, blonde, or red colored hair – there’s too little melanin in those hues for the laser to “see” them. However, with an epilator you also have to wait for hair to grow out unlike with Laser Hair Removal where it is actually recommended that you shave before appointments.

Which is More Cost Effective, Laser Hair Removal or Epilators?

Both Laser Hair Removal and epilators are cost effective. Epilators are more cost effective in the short term, while Laser Hair Removal is the most cost effective long term solution for unwanted hair.

  • Short term: Epilator. Ranging from about $20 to $200, purchasing an epilator is a small investment but you’ll be spending your own time and effort quite frequently over your lifetime. You’ll also be replacing your devices often as they have their own limited lifetimes.
  • Long term: Professional Laser Hair Removal. With Laser Hair Removal you are investing in your future and saving a great deal of time and effort in the long run. What you spend now will equal many hours of saved time compared to shaving, waxing, plucking and epilating. In fact, we’ve compared Laser Hair Removal to all these forms of hair removal and it wins there, too.

Which Targets Hair More Accurately, Epilators or Laser Hair Removal?

Compared to epilators, Laser Hair Removal is hands-down the better option when it comes to targeting small areas of hair like those on the face or eyebrows. Epilators are not devices made for targeted hair removal – it is a device that is run across the skin and pulls out all the hair it can grab in that area.

Which is More Uncomfortable, Epilators or Laser Hair Removal?

Both Laser Hair Removal and epilators result in similar levels of discomfort. This discomfort can vary based on your individual sensitivity and pain tolerance, as well as the location being treated. An epilator rips the hair out of the root, similar to waxing, and has to be done time and time again. Laser Hair Removal feels similar to a rubber band snapping against your skin, and once you have completed all your treatments, you shouldn’t ever have to wax, shave, pluck, epilate or laser again.

Hair Removal At Home or a Professional Clinic?

When deciding to remove hair yourself or to trust your results and safety to a professional like Ideal Image, it’s important to weigh your priorities: Time? Convenience? Privacy? Permanence? Price? We have clinics throughout the US and offer morning, evening, and weekend hours to accommodate your schedule. If needed, we also offer financing, through our trusted providers, to help manage your payments and allow our services to be accessible to everyone.

Set up a free consultation today and we can help explain your options and tell you about our current promotions. We can’t wait to speak with you!

Also in this series: Laser Hair Removal vs. Electrolysis. Check it out.