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Hair Removal Techniques

Temporary Hair Removal - Depilatory Creams

Depilatory creams are somewhere between shaving and waxing in terms of hair removal. They go slightly deeper than shaving does in removing hair, but not as deep as waxing does and yet are on the whole painless and don't cause stuble. So what are they?

A depilatory cream is a mixture of mildly caustic chemicals that contain sodium and calcium thioglycolate. Scary as it may sound that these were patented in the 1930s for removing the hair from cattle hides, they are gentle and risk-free enough to be widely available for home use. So you need not be a hairy cow to use them!

When applied to the skin, they dissolve the keratin in any hair shafts, giving a hair removal that goes just below the surface of the skin. They do tend to smell pretty unpleasant, but you can clear large areas of hair quickly and they'll stay hair free for longer than if you shaved.

If you are going to use a depilatory cream here is what to be on the look out for:

  • Always clean the skin first to open the folicles and check that oils are not preventing clean contact

  • Begin by trying a test patch on your forearm just in case you have a reaction. It's fairly rare, but these are caustic chemicals and you will need to aware that in some people they can cause skin irritation, discolouration or allergy

  • Always read the instructions. They will state a maximum length of time you should leave the cream on for. Don't exceed it.

  • When removing the product, use a damp wash cloth in downward strokes. The extra pressure will help break away more hairs and you can shower after you've cleared away as much hair as possible

  • Never apply depilatory cream anywhere near a cut or other skin break

If you are thinking of using them on your face, do be certain you've chosen a depilatory cream that allows you to apply it there and keep well away from the eyes. Depilatory creams for the face do tend to be gentler (well it is only your face after all) and work better on soft, fine hair. Those who can grow a beard in an afternoon may find that they simply aren't effective on such resilient, coarse hair. Naturally, the results are better for women who only have soft peach fuzz to remove and for Orientals who also tend to be less heavily fuzzed.

Depilatories aren't for everyone as they are smelly, need regular application, may not always be strong enough for coarse haired people and can be messy. Yet for many, they are one of the quickest ways to remove large amounts of hair in a pain free fashion without stuble. Worth a try once at least!

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