How Do Depilatories Work?


Even though I prefer shaving, I use depilatory creams sometimes. Despite the fact that depilatories are supposed to prevent unwanted hair from growing for at last 4-5 days, this is not the case for me and my hair grows again sooner than that.

In addition, they take longer to use and have never given me such a close shave like razors do, but still they get the job done and are easy to use. But have you ever wondered what there is in these products that removes hair?

What are depilatories?

Depilatories are liquid or cream products used to remove unwanted hair from the body. They remove hair from the surface of the skin, or just very little below it, but not the hair follicle, so that’s why the results don’t last long.

Ingredients used in depilatories

Depilatories contain calcium or potassium thioglycolate, which are chemicals that dissolve the bonds of keratin, a protein found in skin, nails and hair. This causes hair to become so soft that it breaks off when you remove the cream from your skin.
Another ingredient used in this kind of products is calcium hydroxide. It increase the ph and helps deliver thioglycolate in the hair.
Some creams also include moisturizing ingredients like aloe or chamomile.

How to use depilatories

Apply the cream on the desired area either with your hands or the spatula usually included in the box. Remember that depilatories should never be applied to irritated or open skin.
Wait the amount of time indicated on the instructions, usually about 8-10 minutes and then remove the product with the spatula or a damp cloth.
After all the hair is removed, rinse thoroughly and apply a moisturizer. This will help diminish irritation.

Side effects

Depilatories can cause irritations, allergic reactions and burns. Some people also experience skin discoloration.
Before using a depilatory cream, it is always best to test it by applying a tiny amount on a small patch of skin to see if you experience any negative reactions. If that is the case, wash it off immediately.
Also, remember to use a depilatory on the part of the body indicated on the box. Some areas, like the face, are more sensitive than others and can react differently to the harsh chemicals used in these products.

Have you ever used depilatories? What do you think of them?

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  1. Danielle says

    I’ve used several different types of Nair, but I still prefer to shave since it smells a whole lot less and it’s faster. Although Nair makes me smoother, it takes too long, it smells, and I get burned in the bikini area of I apply it wrong! Ack! I’ve heard of a plastic device that you can insert into the ahem, area, which is supposed to reduce burns.

  2. beautifulwithbrains says

    Anastasia: tingling is not a good sign! You should wash it off immediately if start doing that. I bought a Veet cream once but when I did the patch test, my skin was all red and tingly and now I stay well clear of that brand. But when I use other brands, I always leave the cream on a couple of minutes more than necessary or they just do nothing otherwise :(

    Danielle: I prefer shaving too, I hate having to wait before removing the cream and the smell isn’t always nice. Plus some of the cream’s side effects can be nasty.
    I had never heard of such a device but I don’t think I’d be as ahem adveturous to try it. I’d rather stick to razors instead.

  3. says

    I used Nair but it stinks to high heaven! For those who have sensitive skin, it can burn but for those who have really thick coarse hair, depilatories are greater than shaving, I guess.
    .-= Dao´s last blog ..Daybreak Aeval FOTD =-.

  4. says

    I’m allergic to a lot of things like, sun tan lotion, spray-on-tan etc, so it might be that. A doctor suggested I was allergic to lanolin but I’ve used products since with lanolin in with no problem. Weird.

    I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to tingle, so I guess I panicked. Shaving seems so much easier, and cheaper.

    Best thing about having a boyfriend overseas is not having to worry so much!
    .-= Anastasia´s last blog ..EOTD: Guild Wars – Warrior Character =-.

  5. beautifulwithbrains says

    Dao: shaving is not the best and most recommended hair removal method and if you can, you should explore other options, but it’s the quickest and works really well so I guess it’ll always be popular. With depilatories, patch tests are alwyas necessary cos some of the chemicals are quite harsh, esp for sensitive skin.

    Anastasia: Lanolin can cause negative reactions, but I think if you were allergic to it then all products containing it would cause a reaction. Maybe it was the way lanolin reacted to another ingredient in the formula or maybe that produts contained a higher concentration than most other product and that’s what triggered the reaction?
    I hate trying new depilatories cos some give me negative reactions and others don’t. So I usually stick to depilzero, not the best on the market but I never had allergies yet.
    I prefer shaving too, it’s easier, faster and you don’t have to worry about burns or allergies. Just use a moisturizer afterwards to diminish the irritation and you’re good to go.

    Anastacia: seems like most people don’t like Veet. I tried one of their depilatories once and it gave me a negative reactions so I don’t dare try more from them. You’re right, shaving is much better :)

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