Do Depilatory Creams Work? Hair Removal Cream Pros and Cons

Hair Removal Cream Pros and Cons

A depilatory cream can be a powerful tool in your hair removal arsenal. These products are a popular and effective hair removal option and an alternative to waxing or shaving. If you’re prone to razor burn or don’t want to go to the salon every time you need a wax, a hair removal cream might be right up your alley!

Want to know more about the pros and cons of hair removal creams before trying one out? Keep reading!

How do hair removal creams work?

All of your hair from head to toe is made from a protein called keratin. Hair removal creams use various chemical formulas to break down keratin and weaken the structure of individual hairs. These types of creams have existed as far back in time as 4000 B.C, while the popular hair removal brand Nair released its first depilatory product in the 1940s.

Although your skin also contains keratin, your skin is more resilient to the formulas used in hair removal creams, so it is less likely to be affected (but we always recommend patch-testing before going all-out!).

Want to know exactly what is doing the hair-dissolving? Most likely, it is a chemical called thioglycolate combined with calcium, sodium, or potassium hydroxide. If you’re worried about irritation, look for calcium thioglycolate, which is less irritating than other combinations.

If you are looking to dissolve dark or coarse hair, a sulfide-based depilatory may be more effective and work faster. However, these can also be more irritating to your skin, so patch test carefully!

Depilatory cream

How long do the results last?

With most hair removal creams, when used properly it can take 10-14 days for hair regrowth for 4-10 minutes of work! Usually, it will take twice as long for hair to grow back compared to shaving.

  • Compared to shaving, the results of depilatory creams last longer and produces softer hair regrowth.
  • Compared to waxing, epilating, or sugaring, a hair removing cream produces shorter-lasting results. But a cream is less painful!

Hair Removal Cream Pros and Cons


Formulas for every skin and hair type

It’s easy to choose the best cream for you when there are creams specially designed for different types of body hair, from the bikini line to the upper lip! There are also sensitive skin formulas if your skin is on the delicate side.

Cheap and effective

There are tons of cheap depilatory creams out there to help you get smooth and hair-free! Other methods can require expensive salon trips or at-home equipment. A hair removal cream is generally simple to use and inexpensive.

No razor burn or ingrown hairs

Especially around the bikini line and the face, shaving can result in razor burn and irritated bumps even when you do everything right! Hair removal creams don’t tug or scrape the skin like a razor does.

Faster than depilating and other methods

Depilatories take moments to apply and a few minutes to do their magic. Epilating and waxing can take more prep and work to get the same results.

How does hair removal cream work


Patch-testing for a reaction

It’s hard to know how your skin will react to a cream for hair removal ahead of time. Before using the cream for a hair removal session, apply a small amount of the cream to your skin and wipe off after the specified time. Then wait at least 24 hours to see if your skin reacts to the cream.

The smell

Depilatory creams can have a strong chemical smell that some people find unpleasant. Applying the cream in a well-ventilated area or at least turning on the bathroom fan should help!

Not one-size-fits-all

We don’t recommend using a cream designed for the legs and body on your face, for instance. Meanwhile, a face cream may not be as effective on body hair. If you have an extensive all-over hair removal routine, you may need multiple creams!

Areas to avoid

Depilatory creams should not be used around your eyes or lips. If your skin is broken (cut or scraped in some way) or irritated, avoid using depilatory creams until the skin is fully healed. When using a cream on your bikini area, avoid contact with the labia and genitals.

Depilatory cream side effects

Upper Lip Hair Removal Cream

First of all, the best way to avoid an allergic reaction or irritation is to patch test and follow the directions that come with the cream. Rinse the area thoroughly after use to avoid unnecessary irritation. Waiting 24 hours or more between applications can help avoid irritation as well.

What’s generally normal:

  • MILD stinging and/or tingling during the session that stops or lessens after rinsing the skin.
  • Dryness, irritation, or itching after the session (using the mildest formula possible and using an aftercare lotion or moisturizer can help with this.)
  • A lingering smell after applying is normal and should fade in a few hours.
  • The area feeling like it has a mild sunburn is also normal.

If you’re worried, stop and rinse off the cream! Rare side effects usually caused by an allergic reaction, a highly concentrated product, or improper use include chemical burns, pain or burning, and swelling or redness. A chemical burn may also show up in the form of blisters, stinging, or skin peeling.

Dispelling the Depilatory Mystery!

Now that you know more about how depilatory creams work and how best to use them, you can saunter into the drugstore to buy your first box with confidence! Brands like Veet, Nair, and Magic Shave are just a few of your options. If you’re tired of shaving, try out a hair removal cream and see how you like it!

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