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Frequently Asked Questions

Hair removal cream FAQs

Here are some of your frequently asked questions that relate to prescription and non-prescription creams, effective as hair removal products:

What is hair removal cream?

Depilatory creams are formulated to dissolve hair when they are applied to the skin's surface. Some are available in gel, lotion and aerosol, as well as cream form. Often they are specifically designed to treat a particular area of the body, such as the face.

What should I be aware of when using these creams?

Before you apply a hair removal cream consider the following points:

  • The creams are specifically formulated for different parts of the body, so make sure you are using the correct type.
  • Perform a skin test on the area that you intend to treat. If the area is on the upper lip you might be better trying a skin test on the inside of your forearm rather than risk having an adverse reaction for everyone to see.
  • If your skin has an adverse reaction, wash the area with an anti-bacterial solution and apply an antibiotic to stop or reduce the inflammation.
  • Use them in the evening rather than the morning, so that any irritation can go down overnight, especially on holiday, when exposure to the sun or chlorine can cause reactions.
  • Do not apply the cream on an area that has any cuts, abrasions or other wounds as this may cause pain and infection.
  • Do not use around the eye area as the alkaline chemicals can cause extreme pain.

How do I use at home?

Wait at least 72 hours after shaving before trying a cream. Before going ahead with any home treatment it is best advised that a small skin test is performed first. Apply a small amount of depilatory cream to the area that you want to treat and follow the manufacturer's instructions explicitly. Then wait 24 hours to see if you have an adverse reaction.

You should also check that the cream you have purchased is appropriate for the area you want to treat. The creams that are designed to remove hairs from legs are typically harsher than those that are intended for facial hair.

First apply a warm cloth to the area to soften the hair and open their follicles. This allows the cream to be absorbed properly and also act on the roots of the hairs. If the pores are closed then the cream will only dissolve the part of the hair that is above the skin's surface.

Apply the cream to the area and leave on for the recommended amount of time (usually a few minutes). Do not exceed the recommended time as this will not improve the results but may cause skin problems due to the caustic nature of the cream.

To remove creams, use a washcloth to wipe off rather than rinsing it off. The wiping action will also help pull hairs from their follicles, resulting in better results. Wash the area well to make sure all of the residue has been removed. The effects of the treatment should last for several weeks if performed in this way, making it one of the longest lasting home techniques available.

How does depilatory cream work?

The cream works by reacting with the hair's protein structure, causing it to dissolve. The active ingredient is a high alkaline chemical, commonly calcium thioglycolate, which breaks down the bonds in the hair's keratin. Many of the other ingredients act to soothe the skin during and after treatment, as the skin is also affected by the alkaline chemical. The majority of patients will find this treatment painless; however, some patients may be allergic to the chemicals used in the creams.

When these chemicals mix with the hair, there's often an unpleasant sulphur-like odour that dissapates when the hair removal cream is rinsed off.

If you have had a hair removal disaster or accident then find out what you can do to set things right.

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