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This article is not about devices intended to permanently remove one hair at a time. Those devices are Electric tweezers.
Closeup of the head of an epilator

An epilator is an electrical device used to remove hair by mechanically grasping multiple hairs simultaneously and pulling them out. The way in which epilators pull out hair is similar to waxing, although unlike waxing, they do not remove cells from the epithelium of the epidermis. Aside from the spring in early spring-type epilators, there are no parts in epilators that require regular replacement. Epilators come in corded, rechargeable and battery operated designs.

Epilation can be painful to some people because, as with waxing, it involves pulling hair out of the roots. Because of the pain involved being particularly bad on the first epilation of an area, some people prefer to have the area professionally waxed first, then use epilation to remove regrowth.

Spring type[edit]

Epilator in use

The first type of epilator was the original Epilady released in Israel, and manufactured by Mepro, in kibbutz Hagoshrim in 1986.[1] The design incorporated a coil spring, which was bowed into a curve such that the coils on one side of the spring were squeezed tightly together while on the other side the coils were spread apart. The motor in the epilady rotated the spring, causing it to flex as it rotated. Moving the rotating spring across the skin caused the hairs to be caught up in the spring and pulled out the hair.[2]

Because the springs flexed continuously, they were subject to occasional failure and were sold separately as a replacement part.

Today, there are manual epilators designed for the face depilation, depilating spring, that do not use a power supply; such as the Bellabe [3] which is manufactured in the U.S.A. This design consists simply of a coil spring with 2 handles. The spring is then bowed into a curve and placed upon the unwanted facial hair whilst turning the handles. This caused the hairs to be caught between the coils of the springs and pulled out from the roots.

Rotating disc type[edit]

The Remington Lady Remington Smooth and Silky was designed to operate in a similar way to the spring type Epilady, except that a series of metal discs were used instead of a spring. It was the subject of extensive patent litigation in Europe due to a conceptual similarity to the spring type epilator.

The failure of Epilady to defeat Remington in the patent litigation effectively opened the door for other manufacturers to produce designs based upon rotating discs.

Tweezer type[edit]

Epilator showing 2 different heads, cleaning brush and power adapter

The rotating disc design has been refined such that, in modern designs, the plates are no longer complete discs. The head of a modern epilator incorporates a series of metal plates mounted in a plastic housing. The ends of the plates may be exposed at one or both sides of the housing. As the head rotates, the tips of the plates move together and apart once per revolution. This creates a tweezing effect, where the hair between the plates, when they close, is pulled as the plates rotate away from the skin, then released as the plates separate. This allows a continuous cycle of gripping, pulling, extracting and discarding the hair as the epilator is moved across the skin.

Depending upon the strength and brittleness of the hair, some may snap off rather than being pulled out. Because those hairs snap off just above the skin surface, they can look somewhat like stubble from shaving, but are far more sparsely spread because the other hairs have been pulled out entirely. As with waxing, because of the phases of growth that occur with hair, there is not as much regrowth following the first epilation. Regular epilation of regrowth is less painful than the initial epilation and the number of broken off hairs diminishes with regular epilation.

There are now numerous brands of tweezer type epilator available. Even Epilady discontinued their spring type and now produce a variety of tweezer type models.[4]

Epilation Strategies[edit]

Typically after epilation, the skin tends to get irritated since individual hairs are being plucked from the roots. This irritation can come in the form of redness of the area that was treated or small bumps. However, with time, this occurrence of irritated skin will slowly disseminate as the body becomes more immune to the epilator. In the mean time, there are various ways as to how to decrease the amount of red bumps/redness one will receive from epilation.

  • Putting on lotion (preferably a body cream or body butter because the texture is richer/thicker)
  • Exfoliating regularly (this will help remove dead skin cells and in result, becomes a way to prevent in-grown hairs)

In addition to this, it is easiest to epilate when the hairs are all growing on the same cycle. This can be achieved by allowing the hair to grow out for several weeks. From here, a trimmer (a detachable top that comes with most of the newer models for epilators) can cut each hairs to the perfect length in which the epilator can grab. This way, epilation can be done once every two weeks, rather than one cycle every consecutive week.


  1. ^ "About Epilady". Epilady.com. Retrieved 2012-12-19. 
  2. ^ http://www.law.washington.edu/CASRIP/Symposium/Number6/Adelman.pdf
  3. ^ About Bellabe
  4. ^ "Epilady products". Epilady.com. Retrieved 2012-12-19.