How does hair removal cream work?
Don’t want to deal with the pain and hassle of waxing? Don’t want to shell out lots of money for laser treatments? No problem – hair removal creams (or depilatory creams) might be just the ticket.
Hair removal creams contain either calcium thioglycolate or potassium thioglycolate, which can break down the bonds in the keratin (a type of protein found in hair, skin, and nails). Basically, these active ingredients dissolve hair so it can simply be wiped away!
So lets look at why hair removal creams are so popular, and then you can decide whether they are right for you.
How to use hair removal creams
Using a depilatory cream is much easier than most hair removal methods. But there are still a few guidelines you should follow to get the best, safest results.
1. Choose the right product
The first thing you should do is look at the ingredients to see if you’re allergic to any of them. In addition to the active ingredients, many hair removal creams add things like moisturizers and scents, and every cream has a different recipe. You may also want to ask your doctor for advice, especially if you have sensitive skin or allergies.
You should consider the area where you’re going to apply the cream. For example, if you’re mainly using it on your face, there are facial hair removal creams that are better suited for that purpose.
2. Clean up the area
It’s a good idea to clean the area of skin that’s going to be treated. Using warm water also helps to soften the hair and open your pores, which can help the cream work more effectively.
3. Test it
Before applying the cream all over your body, test it by applying a little bit to a small area of skin. Then, wait a few minutes and wipe it off.
After 24 hours, see if the product has caused any redness or irritation in that spot. If everything is ok, you can go ahead and start using the cream.
Of course, just because it works well in that area doesn’t mean you should necessarily use it on every part of your body. You may want to test it again on sensitive areas before using it there. As we mentioned above, you can use a more specialized cream on some areas if needed.
Are hair removal creams permanent?
No, they aren’t. However, the results can last longer than shaving because more hair is removed – it can even remove hair a bit below the surface of the skin.
Remember, hair removal creams work by dissolving the keratin in the hair. It doesn’t prevent the hair follicle from growing a new hair.
The benefits of hair removal creams
Hair removal creams might be the “laziest” method for getting rid of unwanted hair. Here are a few of the benefits:
- Cheap: A typical hair removal cream can cost around $4-$15. That makes it cheaper than epilators or IPL devices (at least at first). The downside is that you’ll need to buy more cream at some point, so the costs can add up over the long term.
- Fast: Depilatory creams only take a few minutes to use, even if you’re treating a larger area like legs or arms. All you have to do is apply the cream, wait a few minutes, then wipe it off with a warm washcloth. Some creams include a plastic scraper that can make it even faster to remove.
- Pain-free: When used correctly, hair removal creams are pain-free. They can dissolve the hair without damaging your skin. However, if you leave it on too long it can start to burn your skin. As long as you follow the directions carefully, you’ll be fine.
The downsides of hair removal creams
Depilatory creams do have some downsides. Here are the main ones:
- Messy: Hair removal creams can be messy, and they require cleanup afterwards. But some of the best methods (like waxing) are messy, so that should be expected.
- Not permanent: Depilatory creams last a bit longer than shaving, but nowhere near as long as waxing, epilating, or IPL/laser treatments.
- Side effects: Depending on your skin, there may be allergic reactions or irritation. That’s because the chemicals have to be strong enough to dissolve hair.
- The smell: All hair removal creams smell bad. There’s really no way to avoid this. Some creams have perfumes to help mask the smell, but you’ll still want to clean the area thoroughly after using the cream to remove any lingering smell.
So, does hair removal cream work?
Yes, as long as you know what to expect. They work great if you want to get rid of unwanted hair before an important event such as a wedding or just a night out with friends.
Some women use creams as their main hair removal method, so they don’t have to deal with the pain of waxing or the disadvantages of shaving. And that’s totally fine, as long as you don’t mind using the cream pretty frequently!
But if your main goal is to stay hair-free over the long term, you may want to check out waxing, epilating, IPL, or laser treatments. These methods last longer, so you won’t have to remove hair as frequently.
If you want to learn more about hair removal creams, you can check out our review of the best depilatory creams.