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Frequently Asked Questions

Cream for Hair Removal

There are a number of creams on the market that can be used for hair removal. These come in various forms such as gels, lotions and aerosols. The cream works by reacting with the protein structure of the hairs, causing them to dissolve. The majority of patients will find this treatment painless; however, some patients may be allergic to the chemicals used in the creams.

Advantages

Image of depilatory hair removal cream
  • Inexpensive: affordable form of hair removal.
  • Fast: just a few minutes for effective treatment.
  • Safe for most people.
  • Painless for nearly all users.
  • Can be conveniently used at home.
  • Easily available at a wide range of outlets.
  • Can be used on large areas of the body.

Disadvantages

  • Short-term effects (from a few hours to 2 weeks).
  • Hair can still be visible under the skin on some dark-haired users.
  • Some areas of the body require daily use of depilatory creams.
  • Can sometimes cause patchy results.
  • Can burn the skin if the cream is applied in the wrong place.
  • Some creams have unpleasant aromas.
  • This method can be a messy process.
  • Can cause allergic reactions.


Background

The use of creams for hair removal is known as a depilatory treatment. The most common active ingredient in these creams is calcium thioglycolate. It works by breaking down the disulfide bonds in keratin and dissolving the hairs.

A popular medical cream that can be applied to the face is Vaniqa. This method has proved effective in trials where 58% of the women experienced significant hair reduction.

Treatment

Make sure you select the correct cream for the area of body to be treated. Using the wrong cream may result in patchy results or even skin burns. Whichever cream is purchased, the patient must perform a skin test, as some people are allergic or have sensitivity to the active ingredients.

If you have recently shaved then wait 72 hours before you apply the cream. It is also recommended that you perform the treatment before you go to bed so that any rash or reddening has the chance to diminish overnight.

When you are ready, warm the area to be treated with a warm cloth; this opens the pores and helps soften the hairs. Heated hair follicles tend to expand and open up allowing the cream to penetrate better. Make sure you don't leave the cream on for too long - it will state on the packet how long to leave the cream on for best results. Typically, depilatory creams should be applied for a minimum of 5 minutes but for no more than 15 minutes. The duration of treatment usually depends on the coarseness or fineness of the hair being removed. Obviously, the thicker the hair the longer they will take to dissolve.

When removing the cream, apply some pressure with a cloth to help drag the hair from the follicles rather than just showering it off. Once you've washed the cream away, apply a vitamin E cream to help protect and nourish the skin.

The most common depilatory creams are suitable for the legs, bikini line, hands and underarms. There are also creams that can be used for facial hair so it is important to choose the correct one. The results are short term, sometimes up to 2 weeks, but this is still far longer than the results obtained by shaving.

Vaniqa

Vaniqa is a prescription topical cream that inhibits the growth of unwanted facial hairs. The active ingredient in Vaniqa is Eflornithine Hydrochloride. Vaniqa works by inhibiting an enzyme that is required for cell reproduction and other cell functions necessary for stimulating hair growth.

Most people notice results after 4-8 weeks of therapy. However, other hair removal methods must be used during this period until the treatment takes effect. Vaniqa treatment must be continued for as long as the prevention of hair growth is desired. Vaniqa will continue to reduce the growth of hairs for up to 8 weeks after treatment. Once treatment stops the hair will return to its previous level within 2 months. Just over half the women who tried Vaniqa in clinical trials showed improvement.

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