Skin Care Products Depilatory Creams

Depilatory creams are a popular alternative to shaving or waxing. In the earliest days of marketing, these products attracted a wide audience of women. Now, depilatory creams are also finding growing popularity among men who want smoother hair-free skin on their faces and bodies.

How Depilatory Creams Work

Keratin, a protein found in toenails and fingernails, makes up hair shafts. Acid-based chemicals in depilatory creams break down this hard protein at the skin’s surface or just below it, typically leading to softer-feeling skin following a treatment. The process is convenient and painless for most individuals.

Application is simple for almost all types of depilatories. The cream is applied by hand or with a special tool included with some products. After a designated amount of time, usually 10 minutes, the hair is removed with a damp cloth or a provided plastic tool.

On average, hair will not grow back for five to seven days.

Types of Depilatory Creams

Chemical depilatories are available in a variety of forms, including:

  • aerosol
  • cream
  • gel
  • lotion
  • powder
  • roll-on.

Depilatory creams also come in different formulas for different parts of the body, including:

  • arms
  • back, chest and buttocks
  • bikini area
  • face
  • underarms.

Never use a depilatory on any part of the body that is not specified on the label. The face is a particularly sensitive area that can react to harsh ingredients.

Most depilatory creams incorporate skin moisturizers into their products. These ingredients include aloe, chamomile and a host of other softening agents that leave the skin in better condition as opposed to shaving or waxing. If you have dry or sensitive skin, opting for these types of creams will decrease irritation that you may experience.

Pros and Cons of Using Depilatory Creams

Depilatory creams have several advantages over other traditional hair removal methods. The main advantages include that they:

  • act as skin defoliators, removing dead skin cells
  • are convenient for use at home
  • are easy to apply
  • are inexpensive
  • are less painful than waxing
  • can be used where razors are difficult to maneuver
  • eliminate razor cuts
  • remove hair longer than shaving would in most cases.

Men who have curly and stiff facial hairs find depilatories to be helpful, especially when shaving leads to ingrown hairs and unsightly bumps. Products designed specifically to replace shaving in the neck and face areas are gaining favor and proving to work better than traditional razor shaving, for some.

However, depilatory creams are not for everyone. Some users have had negative experiences using depilatory creams, reporting:

  • increased ingrown hairs
  • mild to severe stinging sensations
  • skin irritation or allergic reactions
  • skin darkening
  • strong, lingering odors
  • the need for multiple applications to effectively remove hair.

Tips for Using Hair Removal Creams

Regardless of the area of hair removal, some general methods of use can help make the process easier:

  • Apply depilatory cream to clean skin.
  • Test the product for allergic reactions on a small patch of skin before using it on an exposed or large area of skin.
  • Never leave a depilatory cream on longer than recommended.
  • Never use on broken or irritated skin.
  • Wash immediately if skin feels as if it is burning.

Overall, hair removal creams continue to expand in product offerings and in quality. Painful stinging and messy applications are mostly a thing of the past. However, some trial and error could be beneficial, as selecting the right product to do the job has a direct impact on the outcome.


Rovny, Chris (n.d.). Your Guide to Body Hair Removal. Retrieved April 5, 2008, from the Web site: (2008). Depilatory Cream. Retrieved April 5, 2008, from the Web site: (2006). Hair Removal Solutions. Retrieved April 5, 2008, from the Web site: