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 Waxing is the process of hair removal from the root by using a covering of a sticky substance, such as wax, to adhere to body hair, and then removing this covering and pulling out the hair from the follicle. New hair will not grow back in the pr ...
, although unlike waxing, they do not remove cells from the
epithelium Epithelium or epithelial tissue is one of the four basic types of animal tissue, along with connective tissue, muscle tissue and nervous tissue. It is a thin, continuous, protective layer of compactly packed cells with a little intercellul ...
of the
epidermis The epidermis is the outermost of the three layers that comprise the skin, the inner layers being the dermis and hypodermis. The epidermis layer provides a barrier to infection from environmental pathogens and regulates the amount of water rele ...
. Epilators may use an electric motor or be manually powered with a spring. They may also come with various attachments, like a smaller head to help with epilation of hard-to-reach areas, or an exfoliation head that may help exfoliate the skin before and after epilation. 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. Pain from epilation is sometimes mitigated by reducing the speed of the device, relaxing the skin with a hot shower or bath, or using a numbing cream on the skin before epilation.


Spring type

The first type of epilator was the original ''Epilady'' released in
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
, and manufactured by Mepro in
kibbutz A kibbutz ( he, קִבּוּץ / , lit. "gathering, clustering"; plural: kibbutzim / ) is an intentional community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. The first kibbutz, established in 1909, was Degania. Today, farming ha ...
HaGoshrim HaGoshrim ( he, הַגּוֹשְׁרִים, ) is a kibbutz in the Galilee Panhandle in northern Israel, 5 km east of Kiryat Shmona. The kibbutz is adjacent to the Hurshat Tal National Park and bisected by tributaries of the Jordan River, t ...
in 1986. The design incorporated a
coil spring A selection of conical coil springs The most common type of spring is the coil spring, which is made out of a long piece of metal that is wound around itself. Coil springs were in use in Roman times, evidence of this can be found in bronze Fi ...
, 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 through hair follicles. 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 that do not use a power supply. This design consists simply of a coil spring with two 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

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 Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a subcontinent of Eurasia and it is located entir ...
due to a conceptual similarity to the spring type epilator. The UK patent infringement case is known as '' Improver Corporation v Remington Consumer Product Limited
990 Year 990 ( CMXC) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. Events By place Europe * Al-Mansur, ''de facto'' ruler of Al-Andalus, conquers the Castle of Montemor-o-Velho (mode ...
F.S.R. 181''.

Tweezer type

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 Shaving is the removal of hair, by using a razor or any other kind of bladed implement, to slice it down—to the level of the skin or otherwise. Shaving is most commonly practiced by men to remove their facial hair and by women to remove th ...
, 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.

Wet use type

Many modern epilators have a built in rechargeable battery and are designed to be used either wet or dry. These types of devices are built to be used in or out of the shower or with an optional cream or gel. The use of a skin cream or gel is said to be helpful with reducing the pain and irritation associated with the dry use only devices.


{{Home appliances Hair removal Israeli inventions Products introduced in 1986 20th-century inventions