I am often asked if hair removal creams work as well as waxing? 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, which now come in several varieties for various parts of the body, including the face, legs, pubic area and so on.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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!
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!