Tired of using a razor to shave your body hair? There’s another way. Several, in fact, and none of which involve excruciating – and expensive – trips to the salon. We explore the pros and cons of epilators vs waxing vs IPL so you can work out which one is best for you.

From simple wax strips to high-tech gadgets, DIY hair removal has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, meaning there’s a method for every budget (and pain threshold).

Epilator vs waxing vs IPL

We asked the experts for their advice to help you find your ideal at-home hair-removal solution…

epilator vs waxing
Smooth operators (ThinkStock/PA)


Can anyone do it?

“In general, everyone can do at-home waxing,” says beauty expert Nichola Joss.

“However, if you are prone to being very sensitive or have an existing skin condition, it’s best to seek out professional advice for the best type of waxing or hair removal.”

Which is better for beginners – wax strips or hot wax?

“I think it’s more personal preference, but I find both are appropriate for beginners. Both are easy to use, effective and results driven, compared to shaving, epilating or laser – all of which can be aggressive and damaging to skin.”

How long does it last?

“With waxing, you can have smooth hair-free skin for up to 6 weeks, depending on the coarseness and density of your hair.”

Does it hurt?

“It can be slightly uncomfortable, depending on the area of the body you are treating. The best way to minimise pain would be to completely prep the skin by cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising beforehand.”

Is it expensive?

“Waxing is far more cost-effective and time-efficient to do at home than in the salon, and you are also far more in control of your treatment.”

Any other tips for beginners?

“Make sure you have all your tools and products to hand. Read through the instructions completely and allocate enough time. And always remember to carry out a patch-test 24 hours before.”

Try waxing at home with:

Veet Stripless Wax (available on Amazon)


Nair Japanese Cherry Blossom Body Wax Strips (available on Amazon)


What is it?

Epilation devices feature a rotating head that catches and plucks hairs out one by one.

Can anyone do it?

“Women with all skin types can use epilation as their method of hair removal,” says GP and skin expert, Dr Anita Sturnham.

“But people with more sensitive skin may prefer to epilate as there are a number of ways to ease the initial pain some may experience, which cannot be replicated when waxing.”

Does it hurt?

“Epilating allows you to reach all areas of the skin easily with the stretch of one arm, so the other hand can be used to hold skin taught to ease the pain some experience as they first start to epilate.

“Some epilators can also be used in the bath or shower, which softens the hairs and desensitises the skin for a gentler epilation experience.”

Why is it better than waxing?

“Waxing requires approximately 2mm of hair regrowth, which is inconvenient and can lead to women wanting to cover up during this awkward in-between stage.

“The Braun range captures hairs as short as a grain of sand (0.5mm).”

Is it expensive?

“While the purchase of an epilator is an initial expense, this should be seen as an investment purchase to last for countless hair-removal treatments.

“A recent survey by Braun found that by conducting hair-removal treatments at home, women in the UK can save up on average £567 per year.”

Any other tips for beginners?

“Exfoliate first, to lift hairs that may be hiding under dry skin, avoiding the risk of ingrown hairs and ensuring every hair is captured.

“Don’t apply products straight after – avoid the feel of irritation by allowing the pores to close for a time after hair removal.”

Try epilation at home with:

Braun Silk-Epil 7 7-561 Wet and Dry Epilator (available on Amazon)


Panasonic ES-ED92 6-in-1 Epilator (available on Amazon)


What is IPL

IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. In terms of hair removal, a flash of light is absorbed by the pigment in a hair, which then ‘zaps’ the growing cells beneath it.

Can anyone do it?

“We don’t recommend it for very dark skin, or very light body hair,” says Leah Richards, director of clinical affairs at SmoothSkin.

“This is because very dark skin has a considerable amount of pigment and will absorb more light than the skin can handle, therefore it can potentially burn, discolour or scar your skin. Very light body hair is the opposite, as in this instance, there isn’t enough pigment in the hair shaft, which IPL heavily relies on.

“We don’t recommend that you use IPL over your tattoos, as it can burn and blister the skin due to the colour of the ink.”

How long does it last?

“As with all home-use IPL treatments, one treatment won’t last forever. You will need to keep treating the hairs every once in a while to avoid hair growth starting up again. 

“We recommend to treat the area once a week until you start seeing the desired results, and then top up treatments when and if you need them.”

Does it hurt?

“IPL doesn’t hurt. Granted, you’ll feel a slight sensation, perhaps a tingling feeling, but it won’t be painful. However, the sensation varies from person to person.

“The feeling might be a little more intense for those who have coarse, dark hair, but it’ll feel like a gentle flick of an elastic band.”

Is it expensive?

“At first thought, IPL might seem like an expensive way to de-fuzz, but we’ve done the maths, and over time you can make a huge saving compared to other more conventional (and more painful!) hair-removal methods.

“The average razor blade lasts just a month – if you include shaves, blades and foam, you could soon be spending around £8 per month. For a one-off payment of just £199, SmoothSkin Bare offers unlimited flashes so it will last a lifetime.”

Any other tips for beginners?

“Always do a quick patch-test before getting started on your treatment. This will help you get used to the sensation of IPL, as well as finding out if you have the right skin tone ahead of using.”

Try IPL at home with:

SmoothSkin Bare Plus (available on Amazon)


Panasonic ES-WH90 IPL Hair Removal (available on Amazon)


Iluminage Touch Permanent Hair Reduction System (available on Amazon)


Philips Lumea Prestige IPL Device SC2007/00 (available on Amazon)

Epilator vs waxing vs IPL – which is best?

So, which is best?

IPL is your best bet if you’re willing to invest now to save in the long-run.

For the next spot, it’s down to epilator vs waxing. The two products do largely the same job by taking the hair from the follicle. An epilator is another investment (albeit a lot cheaper than an IPL machine!), but you don’t have the constant costs like you do with waxing.

For us, it’s IPL, then epilating, then waxing.

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