How It Works
Depilatory creams or hair removal creams have chemicals in them that break down the proteins in the hair until it turns jelly-like and the hair becomes weak enough to fall loose from it’s follicle and can be wiped away or washed off. They effectively remove hair at or just below the surface of the skin close to the root.
Depilatories usually come in a cream form, but they can also come as gels, lotions, sprays or roll-ons (check out our recommendations here). A depilatory is used by applying it to the area of skin that you want the hair removed from and then it is usually left on for around 5-10 minutes before being removed (see this post on how to use a depilatory cream). A light tingling sensation is normally felt whilst the depilatory is working.
Using a depilatory is generally painless although you may feel burning if your skin is sensitive, you’re allergic to one of the ingredients or if you leave it on for too long.
It’s relatively quick and easy to use as well as being inexpensive. It leads to softer regrowth and the chemicals in depilatories also dissolve dead skin cells so there’s less of a chance of getting ingrown hairs.
It may not be suitable for sensitive skin and you have to be careful not to leave the product on for too long otherwise it can lead to stinging, blisters, burns, itchy rashes and peeling skin.
Although you’re less likely to get ingrown hairs since depilatories dissolve dead skin cells, there’s still a chance of getting them.
Since using a depilatory doesn’t remove hair at the root, you’re likely to see some regrowth in a few days depending on your hair’s rate of growth. It usually lasts a bit longer than shaving but you would still have to use it more frequently than other methods of hair removal.
Like shaving, if your hair is dark and thick, you may see little black dots under the skin which are the hairs under the skin since they haven’t been removed completely at the root.