Monday, February 6, 2017

Hair Removal Options: Depilatory creams

Please first read Thoughts about Hair Removal Options for some important preliminary information.

Depilatory creams are creams or lotions that contain a chemical that dissolves hair, basically causing it to break off. Like shaving, this method only takes the hair off at the skin’s surface, so depending on how fast your hair grows back, the results won’t last long (no more than a few days to a week), and repeated applications will be necessary for continued results. Most brands contain irritating ingredients such as calcium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide. Potassium thioglycolate (derived from thioglycolic acid compounds), one of the key ingredients in depilatory creams, causes hair breakage (depilation), but also has the consequence of severe allergic reactions in some people.

Depilatory creams have come a long way in recent years and many include soothing ingredients to help offset the rather harsh, caustic chemicals that remove the hair. Still, these products can cause even the most non-sensitive skin to feel irritated; they can possibly even cause a reactive chemical burn. As with any new products, especially those that contain harsh chemicals, you need to do a patch test on a small section of your leg. By doing so if you are allergic or intolerant to the cream, you will avoid having an allergic reaction on your entire leg.

The safest place to use a depilatory cream is the upper and lower legs. You can use it on other areas such as your bikini line, but you absolutely need to do a patch test first for this area. Depilatory creams tend to work most effectively on finer, lighter hair and since the hair in the bikini area is much courser and stronger, it may not respond as well as the hair on your legs. Add to this the natural sensitivity of the skin around your bikini line, and putting a chemical composition there may cause mild to severe irritation.

I rarely if ever use depilatory creams. But if I have gotten out of my normal routine or don’t want to shave my legs for some reason, using a depilatory cream once in a while seems to work well for me. I am more apt to use this technique during the hotter summer months when I want to quickly get rid of the hair all over my legs, not just the lower half. By applying one of these creams, closely following the directions (or else irritation will surely follow), within a few minutes my legs are smooth without having to go through the possible nicks and cuts of using a razor.

Nair® is probably the most commonly known depilatory cream available. It’s like Reynolds Wrap® is to tin foil; you think of the brand name as the product itself. There are several other companies that manufacture similar products so you will have a lot of variety to choose from. If one brand causes problems, you may want to try another company’s product, and see if you can find one that works for you.

Using a washcloth in the shower is the best way to thoroughly remove the cream and hair from your legs. The slightly abrasive nature of the wash rag helps to complete the process of hair removal, and since you will be rinsing your body off in the shower, it makes for an easy cleanup. Just be sure you have a washcloth with you. Also, don’t rub so aggressively as to cause irritation. Use just enough pressure with the washcloth to help the hair come off.

Your skin will probably be irritated after using a depilatory cream and anything, even a moisturizer, can cause further irritation on sensitive skin. So, you may want to skip applying moisturizer or at least wait a while. How long you should wait will be up to you to decide, but don’t put lotion on immediately after removing the hair, or you may be sorry.

Also, I do not recommend using a depilatory and then immediately applying either sunscreen or a self-tanning product. And definitely don’t be exposed to the sun directly after depilating. Given the many potential irritants involved in all of these products plus radiation from the sun, there is no telling how potentially problematic using all these chemicals at one time could be. If you’re going out in the sun, do the hair removal the night before to ensure a safe outdoor experience.

There are many ways to get rid of unwanted hair, depilatory creams are just one of the ways. Like shaving, you will grow stubble almost immediately, but these creams can be a quick and easy way to “shave” without shaving.

For more information, see: