Best Hair Removal Creams (Depilatory Creams)

Best Hair Removal Creams (Depilatory Creams)

While waxing, epilation and laser treatments are popular hair removal methods, primarily because they treat the hair growth at the root level and have long-lasting results, they admittedly aren’t for everyone. Everyone has a different pain threshold, and while some people may have no issues with having their hair pulled out at the root (especially with painless methods like waxing beans), some just can’t tolerate the feeling. In such cases, you may turn to alternative painless hair removal methods, such as shaving or hair removal creams.

best depilatory creams

What is a hair removal cream / depilatory cream?

Also known as depilatories, a hair removal cream, or depilatory cream, is a formula designed to remove unwanted hair from the face and different parts of the body. The method is simple – spread the cream on the unwanted hair, keep it on for the amount of time specified by the manufacturer, then remove it with a plastic spatula, wipe it off with a damp wash cloth, or simply rinse it off in the shower.

Hair removal creams remove hair via a chemical reaction. Depilatory creams are composed of a formula of multiple chemicals, including sodium/potassium/calcium hydroxide, titanium dioxide, strontium sulfide and thioglycolic acid. When spread on to unwanted hair, this strong alkaline-based product breaks down the protein/keratin bonds of the hair, turning it into a jelly like substance which can then easily be wiped/washed off the skin.

This entire process can take 3-10 minutes – however, since the chemicals are strong, it is important to follow directions and remove the cream in the amount of time specified, before it starts to harm the skin. The amount of time the cream takes to work will also depend on the strength of the formula and the thickness of the hair, i.e. thicker hair will take longer to dissolve.

Many creams also come with additional added ingredients, e.g. for moisturizing and soothing the skin, such as aloe, lavender or chamomile.

Pros and Cons of hair removal creams

Like all hair removal methods, depilatory creams have their advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a quick low-down, to help you decide if this method is right for you.

PROS

Painless

Hair removal creams do the job comfortably and painlessly. While this method is similar to shaving in that it is painless, with shaving you risk nicks whereas this is not the case with creams – there are no sharp objects or edges involved here. In addition, while other methods of hair removal may dry out the skin or temporarily strip it of its natural oils, most hair removal cream formulas are designed to moisturize and hydrate the skin while removing the hair, and contain ingredients such as aloe to calm and protect the skin.

Quick

While the amount of time required to remove hair with a depilatory cream will depend on the size of the zone you’re going to be working with, the entire process should take no longer than 15-20 minutes. All that is required is for you to spread the cream over the hairy zone, wait for the formula to do its thing, and then wipe it off. 

Easy

There are no elaborate procedures involved or additional equipment required when using a hair removal cream, nor are any special skills needed. Simply spread the cream on, wait for the appropriate amount of time, and then wipe it off however you find it easiest. As long as you follow the directions that come with the product, using a hair removal cream is an easy, fuss-free process.

CONS

They stink…literally

Whether the hair removal cream boasts a rosy or lemon-y scent, the fact of the matter is, it’s gonna smell and it’s not gonna be pretty. It’s an annoyance for sure, but there’s a reason behind the odor of depilatory creams. As explained previously, these products contain multiple chemicals, all of which are responsible for dissolving your hair, so they’re all necessary components. However, they are also the reason behind that awful smell, which increases once the chemical reaction starts to break down the hair. So the smell is, unfortunately, pretty much unavoidable.

Short-lived effects

While you may escape the nicks and bumps of shaving and the sensation of having your hair waxed out from its roots, the smooth hair-free effects of hair removal creams are short-lived. At most, you may be able to go 2-3 days before the hair starts working its way back out again (the length of time will depend on the hair’s color and texture). When it comes to longevity, hair removal creams last a little longer than shaving, but pale in comparison to methods such as waxing or epilation – while depilatory creams do work a little below skin level (unlike shaving, which is strictly surface-level hair removal), they do not pull the hair out by its roots. However, the comfort and painlessness of using a depilatory cream is often seen as a way to balance out this disadvantage.

Say hello to the shadows

Since depilatory creams do not remove hair from the root, you may notice a shadow underneath your skin after you remove the hair. This is a disadvantage that hair removal creams share with shaving – both methods do not remove the hair from the follicle, as a result of which the hair is still visible under the skin, and this is especially so with dark, thick hair. There are not many solutions to the dreaded shadow (short of covering it up with foundation), and if it is a complete no-no for you, you might consider other hair removal methods such as waxing or threading.

Best Hair Removal Creams

Top hair removal creams by brands such as Veet and Nair are popular and have become household names. However, for best results and to avoid rashes and injuries, it is essential to keep in mind that all hair removal creams are not created equal. Different types of formulas are best suited to different areas of the body. A cream that is formulated for body hair removal, for example, would probably be too strong and harsh to apply to your face. Similarly, a hair removal cream for the face will probably not be able to tackle the thicker hair on your underarms, therefore, always go for a product intended for the specific area you are looking to work on.

Here are my top recommendations for hair removal creams best suited to each area of the body:

Body Hair Removal Creams

This includes creams designed for areas like the legs, arms, underarms, back, stomach, etc. These are mid-to-strong formulas, designed to target everything from medium to incredibly coarse hair. Top picks include:

Veet Gel Hair Removal Cream

Veet Hair Removal Gel

If you’re looking for a gentle, yet effective hair removal cream for your body, the Veet gel hair removal cream is a great all-round option. Veet has more than 80 years of experience in the hair removal niche, and is trusted by 30 million women globally, owing to the fact that their products are designed in tune with women’s specific hair removal needs. However, this product works equally well for men!

This Veet hair removal cream can be used on the legs, arms, underarms and even the bikini line. It has loads of great features, including:

  • Fast-acting gel: Veet’s gel hair removal cream is designed to work quickly, and can remove hair completely within as little as 5 minutes, which means you can attain smooth, soft, hair-free skin in next to no time.
  • Sensitive, calming formula: This Veet gel hair removal cream formula is designed to be easy on the skin – it is sensitive, calming, and has nourishing properties, thanks to ingredients such as aloe vera and vitamin E. As a result, your skin is left both hair-free and moisturized. The formula is dermatologist-tested.
  • Hair removal close to root: Veet’s special formula ensures that hair is removed closer to its actual root, unlike shaving. This means you remain smooth, silky and hair-free for longer, and hair takes twice as long to grow back as compared to methods like shaving.
  • Pump bottle design with spatula included: This allows for easy application and removal of the cream.

PROS

CONS

Fast acting sensitive formula

​Not suitable for facial use

Hair removal closer to root

Plastic spatula included

Nair Cocoa Butter Hair Removal Lotion

lotion for hair removal

Nair has a bit of a reputation for the smell of their products (think a tiny room filled with many, many women getting perms). However, props to them for having majorly worked on issues, and come out with a significantly improved product! Nair’s cocoa butter hair remover lotion is a top-notch depilatory cream which can leave you with silky, hair-free skin in no time.

This depilatory cream works great for legs, arms, underarms, and the bikini area, and has a number of standout features:

  • Quick & easy: This Nair hair removal cream is fast-acting and simple to use. Simply apply it to the skin, wait for it to do its thing, then wipe it off and rinse the area to reveal silky, hair-free skin! The lotion takes as little as three minutes to do the job.
  • Moisturizing: Infused with nourishing ingredients such as 100% natural extracts of cocoa butter and vitamin E, Nair’s hair remover lotion is designed to not only get rid of unwanted hair, but also leave the skin feeling smooth and moisturized and far from irritated. Rich cocoa butter has nourishing, hydrating and anti-ageing properties, which benefit your skin while the cream works its magic.
  • Fresh scent: Nair’s new and improved fresh scent ensures that you do not have to hold your breath while you’re taking care of business.
  • Long-lasting results: Nair’s hair remover lotion gets rid of all unwanted hairs, both fine and coarse, for results that last for days, as compared to shaving.

PROS

CONS

Quick and simple to use

May not suit every body type so a patch test is recommended

Infused with cocoa butter and vitamin E

Results last for days

Gigi Hair Removal Lotion

Gigi lotion for hair removal

Gigi is a well-known name in the hair removal industry, and their hair removal lotion reflects their experience. A gentle, yet effective formula designed to remove hair effortlessly and completely, the Gigi hair removal lotion works wonders with minimal fuss and hassle.

Gigi’s hair removal lotion can be used for the arms, legs, and even the bikini area, and has loads of great features:

  • Effective: Gigi’s hair removal lotion does the job well. Simply spread it on your skin, allow it to stay on for the amount of time required (do not exceed 10 minutes) and then simply wipe and rinse or wash it off in the shower.
  • Gentle, moisturizing formula: This hair removal lotion is designed to be loving toward your skin. With products such as cocoa butter, vitamins E and C, and other natural oils, it keeps the skin nourished and protected while removing unwanted hair.
  • Long-lasting: The results are long-lasting, and you can go for days with smooth, hair-free skin, as compared to the effects of shaving.

PROS

CONS

Leaves skin silky, soft and hair-free

Takes a little longer to work than most hair removal creams (7 minutes)

Contains cocoa butter and other beneficial ingredients

Results last longer than shaving

Nads for Men Hair Removal Cream

hair removal cream for men

While most hair removal creams will work equally well for men, Nad’s For Men Hair Removal Cream is designed specifically for the male body, and works to target all sorts of thick, coarse body hairs. Painless and thorough hair removal results that last long, Nad’s For Men hair removal cream is billed as a far superior alternative to shaving.

This hair removal cream for men works great for the body, chest, arms, and legs, and has a bunch of standout features:

  • Painless: Unlike shaving, Nads hair removal cream does not cause, nicks, cuts, bumps and painful stubble during the re-growth phase.
  • Extra-strength depilatory formula: This cream is specially formulated for coarse hair on the male body, and makes even the thickest of hairs vanish without a trace.
  • Fast-acting: This quick performance cream ensures that your hair, whether it is coarse or fine, is removed effectively in as little as four minutes, leaving behind fresh, smooth, and hair-free skin.
  • Quick and easy DIY: The process of using this cream involves minimal fuss and hassle, it is infinitely less time-consuming than shaving, and the formula is ready to use. Simple spread it onto your desired area, allow it to do its job, and then wipe it off to reveal hair-free skin. Its no-drip formula also makes it easy to use in the shower.
  • Suitable for all skin types: The is the best hair removal cream for men and contains natural ingredients (such as aloe vera to provide a soothing effect), and is suitable for all skin types.
  • Long-lasting: Since the cream dissolves the hair just below the skin surface, the results are long-lasting and you remain hair-free for days.

PROS

CONS

Extra-strength formula for coarse hairs

Since the formula is extra strong, extra care is needed in timing applications

Effective in 4 minutes

Suitable for all skin types

Best Facial Hair Removal Cream

Fuzzy foreheads and sideburns, mini-mustaches, and chin hairs – be gone! Facial hair removal creams are designed specifically for use on the face, and their gentle yet effective formula helps you attain smooth, hair-free skin – at least for a while. Top recommendations include:

Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal

best facial hair removal cream

The Olay Smooth Finish facial hair removal duo is an incredibly effective and long-lasting cream. The package comes with two products which work in conjunction with each other to deliver smooth, soft, and visibly hair-free results. This product is specially formulated for fine to medium hair (for thicker hair you can try the medium-to-coarse hair kit by the same brand).

The standout features of Olay’s facial hair removal cream include:

  • Double action: This facial hair removal cream comes with a skin guarding balm which is applied before you use the cream. The balm guarantees that your skin is protected from the harsh but necessary chemicals, while the hair removal cream works to gently remove unwanted facial hair and leave you with smooth, glowing, and hair-free skin.
  • Quick and easy to use: This Olay hair removal cream requires a maximum of 8 minutes to work its magic and completely transform your skin. In addition, the product is incredibly easy to use – apply the protecting balm, spread on the hair removal cream, allow it to do its job, and then wipe it off!
  • Dermatologist-tested: This product is dermatologist tested, which means it is suitable for most skin types. However, do conduct a patch test before you start using it, just to be safe.
  • Long-lasting: This little kit goes a long way, and one box provides up to 3 months of usage (approximately 12 upper lip treatments).

PROS

CONS

Two products included – skin guarding balm+hair removal cream

A little on the pricey side, but the fact that it is effective and long-lasting makes it worth it!

Leaves face smooth, soft and hair-free in no time

Results last long

Avon Facial Hair Removal Cream

facial hair removal cream

Avon’s facial hair removal cream is another top-quality product for a smooth, hair-free face. This 15ml tube is the answer to your upper lip fuzz, hairy side burns and forehead, and chin hair. Thanks to its hydrating and moisturizing formula, this hair removal cream gives you a little TLC while it does its job.

The standout features of Avon’s facial hair removal cream include:

  • Super quick: Avon’s depilatory cream will remove all sorts of facial hair within 2 and ½ minutes – this means it is the perfect quick and convenient solution to facial hair.
  • Works for all skin and hair types: Avon’s facial hair cream has been specially formulated to suit all sorts of skin types. In addition, it will also work effectively on everything from fine to coarse hair.
  • Nourishing ingredients: While chemicals are unavoidable, Avon’s facial hair removal cream also contains nourishing ingredients which can help to hydrate and moisturize your skin – these include Meadow foam oil and Shea butter.

PROS

CONS

Leaves you hair free in 2 ½ minutes

The tube is a little on the small side

Nourishes skin while removing hair

Suitable for all skin and hair types

Pubic Hair Removal Cream

Missy Elliot might resort to shaving her chocha when she’s in a fix, but the prospect of nicks, cuts and stubble ‘down there’ is just not a fun one. The area can be problematic for hair removal purposes – it is both sensitive, and covered with hair that tends to be more stubborn than it is on the rest of your body.

For south-of-the-border sprucing, it is best to use a specially formulated hair removal cream for women’s privates on the bikini line only. The genital area is sensitive, and hair removal experts do not recommend using vaginal hair removal cream on the labia, because the skin can easily get damaged by the chemicals. Here are a couple of good, tried-and-tested bikini hair removal creams:

Avon Bikini Line Hair Removal Cream

Bikini hair removal cream

An excellent depilatory cream for those sensitive areas, Avon’s SSS fresh and smooth bikini line hair removal cream works wonders for your grooming needs. If you’re looking for an effective and easy to use genital hair removal cream, this one is a good bet.

Some of the best features of Avon’s bikini line hair removal cream include:

  • Suitable for sensitive skin: This hair removal cream is designed specifically for the bikini line. The formula is suitable for extra sensitive areas, and if use correctly (don’t forget to do a patch test beforehand) will not cause any redness or irritation.
  • Works on all hair thicknesses: Despite its special formula for sensitive skin, this depilatory cream is designed to remove hairs of all kinds of thickness, ranging from fine to coarse. Hair ‘down there’ can be coarser than it is on other areas of the body, and this cream is specially designed to tackle that.
  • Thick, creamy formula: This hair removal formula has a thick and creamy consistency, which allows you to easily spread it over specific areas. It is not runny or liquid, which means it won’t drip down into unwanted regions or create a mess.
  • Fragrance free + nourishing ingredients: Avon’s bikini line hair removal cream is fragrance-free, free of any unnecessary chemicals, and also contains ingredients to hydrate and soften the skin, including aloe and Meadowfoam oil.

PROS

CONS

Suitable for sensitive skin and all hair types

The bottle size could have been a little bigger

Thick formula for easy spreading

Contains moisturizing ingredients

Nair Bikini Cream Glides

Nair bikini hair removal cream

If you’re looking for THE best bikini hair removal cream, you might want to give these Nair Bikini Cream Glides a try. A unique product, these glides comprised of hair removal cream in the form of a stick, which can be twisted upward to reveal the product.

The Nair Bikini Cream Glides have plenty of great features:

  • Easy twist and use: Their unique stick form makes it super easy to use Nair’s bikini cream glides. Simply twist the bottom to push the product upwards, and glide it over your chosen area. This means ease of use and minimal fuss and mess.
  • Sensitive skin formula: These glides contain a special formula that goes easy on the skin – since they are designed for use in sensitive areas, Nair’s cream glides ensure that the delicate skin in these areas is not adversely impacted, and does not break out in redness or rashes (provided you use them as directed and conduct a patch test prior to use).
  • Max effect for the coarsest hair: Nair’s bikini cream glides are designed to suit all kinds of hair – whether your hair is fine or coarse, this hair removal cream will ensure it vanishes without a trace, leaving you with smooth, soft, hair-free skin.
  • Contains moisturizing ingredients: The glides contain nourishing Moroccan argan oil and orange blossom, so your skin feels great during and after the application.

PROS

CONS

Twist-and-use stick form for easy glide application

The smell may be a little off-putting, but it is temporary.

Effective on fine to coarse hair

Contains Moroccan argan oil

Tips and Tricks for How to Use Hair Removal Creams Effectively

Despite the fact that it is one of the simplest, most straight-forward methods for hair removal, even depilatory creams can take a couple of tries to master. How thick to spread on the cream, how long to wait for optimal hair removal without hurting your skin, and the best way to remove the hair and skin – these are all techniques you will master after having a go or two at the method. Meanwhile, here are a couple of super-useful tips and tricks to help you out.

DOS

Do a patch test 24 hours before use

Owing to the ingredients they contain, certain hair removal creams may not suit certain skin types, leading to an allergic reaction or worse. Therefore, it is important to do a patch test 24 hours before you plan to use the cream. Simply take a tiny amount, and spread it onto an inconspicuous and small area (I recommend the inside of your elbow) – leave it on for the amount of time specified by the instructions, and then wipe it off.

If, after 24 hours, the area is normal and free of irritation, redness, rashes or worse, you’re good to go (however, feel free to do multiple patch tests until you’re satisfied – just not on the same spot!). Also note that when you use the cream, a light tingling feeling is normal (this means the formula is working) – however, if you experience intense burning/pain/irritation and see redness, this means you are sensitive to the ingredients in the cream and need to remove it immediately.

Check your skin and hair type

In order to ensure the complete effectiveness of the hair removal cream, you will need to match the cream to your skin sensitivity and the thickness of your hair. For areas with thicker, coarser hair, stronger formulas will be more suitable. Meanwhile, if your skin is particularly sensitive, consider milder formulas which cater to sensitive skin and contain ingredients such as aloe.

Wait before second application

Owing to the harshness of the chemicals in hair removal creams, it is recommended that you wait 72 hours between each application on a particular area. Reapplying frequently, or directly after an application, can lead to skin irritation and damage. If you find that the cream has left you with a few stray hairs, pluck them after 24 hours, or shave them off 48 hours later.

Trim before applying if required

Just like waxing, your hair needs to be a certain length in order for the hair removal cream to work effectively. If the hair is too short, the cream will not have much impact and if the hair is too long, the cream might not be able to remove it all evenly and/or take longer to work, which may result in redness, discomfort, or burns.

The optimal length of hair for depilatory creams should be something between stubble and a quarter inch. Then, when coated with an even, thick layer of depilatory cream, the hair will be removed easily without a trace.

DON'TS

Don't exceed the specified time limit

Because of the strong chemicals it contains, hair removal cream cannot be left on for longer than is recommended by the manufacturer. If left for too long, it can cause chemical burns, blisters, itching and stinging, rashes, and skin peeling. Make sure you read the instructions that come with your depilatory cream carefully – each hair removal cream will have its own unique instructions.

Do not exceed the time limit they specify – in fact, it’s best to remove the cream a minute before the maximum time limit. With repeated use, you’ll get the hang of finding the perfect balance between allowing the cream to do its work and removing it in a timely manner.

Don't use on broken/irritated skin

If your skin is broken or already red/irritated for some reason, do not apply hair removal cream – unless you want to add scabs to your list of woes, that is. Before application, you must check the area you intend to work with for any cuts, scrapes, scars, moles, cold sores, or sunburn – if you find any of these, do not apply hair removal cream, and wait until your skin is fully healed before you do so.

In addition if you have a temporary or chronic skin condition or are using medication that makes your skin extra sensitive, definitely consult with your doctor before use. Another factor to keep in mind – if you’ve recently shaved, you are likely to have tiny cuts in your skin, so wait at least 48 hours after shaving before applying hair removal cream.

Don't rub the cream into your skin

It might be called cream, but it is not meant to be absorbed by the skin! Remember those harsh chemicals we discussed earlier? When applying, spread a thick, even layer of the cream over the hair you wish to remove, using a spatula or even just your fingers. The aim is to spread it, not rub it into the skin. On a related noted, make sure the layer is nicely thick and even – an uneven spread will result in patchy hair removal.

Don't apply to sensitive areas

This goes without saying, but in the quest to be hairless, many lose their common sense! Hair removal cream is a concoction of harsh chemicals, and unless you want permanent scarring, burns, or worse, it is not meant for the more sensitive areas of the body. No-go areas include the skin surrounding your eyes, the inside of your nostrils, ears, nipples, anus and genital areas. Also, this is kind of obvious, but please don’t use hair removal creams on your head.

That's it for now girls (and guys), if you have any questions about depilatory creams or hair removal in general, leave them in the comments section below!

About the Author Isabella Avon

Hardcore beauty enthusiast, fashion maven, fitness fanatic, and aspiring dermatologist, Isabella is a long-time-frequenter-of-waxing-salons turned DIY-er. Always on the lookout for depilatory products that are painless and easy to use, she's a waxing beans convert and determined to teach you everything she's learned about achieving perfectly hairless and smooth skin!

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