Depilatory creams work by dissolving keratin in the hair shaft at the skin's surface. Although they use chemicals to remove the hair, they are still gentler on the skin than other methods of hair removal and are completely painless. They are ideal for sensitive areas such as the bikini line, upper lip and underarm area and especially where it can be difficult to follow the contours of the skin with a razor.
How to Use a Depilatory Cream
- You should always do a patch test before using a depilatory creme on a whole area in case you are sensitive to the chemicals. If the test is successful and you have no undue irritation, burning or redness you can continue treatment of the area. Manufacturers of depilatory creams and lotions usually provide instructions on how to do this. Never apply to broken or irritated skin
- You apply the depilatory cream or lotion to the area where you want to remove excess hair ensuring that skin is clean before you begin. Oils in the skin and hair shaft can prevent clean contact of the cream with the hair. A warm washcloth applied before the cream will help soften the hair and ensure the area is clean. Dry the skin before applying the cream. You need to apply the cream generously covering all the hair growth that you want removed and avoid rubbing into the skin.
- Leave the depilatory cream for the length of time stated in the instructions. It is important that you never leave depilatory cream for longer than the time specified to avoid irritating and possibly burning your skin. Keep a timer handy so that you don't go over the time. If the area starts to sting or burn before the time is up remove the cream early to avoid damaging your skin.
- You remove the product, generally by scraping the residue with the plastic tool if one is provided and rinsing away the rest. If you use a damp wash cloth in a downwards motion to clean away the final residue you will also break away more hair.
- Avoid using harsh products or treatment after using an depilatory cream for a day or two.
Hair remover creams contain a mixture of mildly caustic chemicals that contain sodium and calcium thioglycolate and the chemical smell is quite pungent. Although many products contain perfume to mask this, none of them quite manage to take away the full power of the chemicals. You will probably find standing around in your bathroom with parts of your body covered in smelly, messy cream for a few minutes is not your favorite activity of the week but it is a relatively cheap and easy way to remove unwanted hair.
Hair grows back within a day or so, slightly slower and less stubbly than with shaving (as hair removal is at a slightly deeper level) but the treatment needs to be repeated regularly if you wish to remain hair free.
Advantages of Depilatory Creams
- quick and easy to do at home
- can use in awkward and sensitive areas
- for women it may feel more feminine than shaving
Disadvantages of Depilatory Creams
- messy and smelly
- may cause allergic reaction
- treatment needs to be repeated frequently - maybe within a day or so depending on hair growth though it lasts a little longer than shaving
- the finer the hair the better it works but there are different strengths for different parts of the body. You need to get different products for face, bikini line, legs etc
- can't be used for removing hair near the eyes or on broken skin