Is hair removal cream safe for all areas?

Woman using depilatory cream on legs.
Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery Hair removal creams are an easy-to-use alternative to shaving or waxing, but are they safe for sensitive areas? See more pictures of ways to get beautiful skin.
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We often get hair in places where we'd rather not have any. Whether it's on our upper lip, our legs or in the most private of areas, it can be a constant and exhausting battle to keep unsightly hair away. Shaving is easy but the results don't last very long. Waxing, on the other hand, is more effective but very painful for a brief moment.

Hair removal creams are somewhat of a compromise. They last longer than shaving, but they're less painful than waxing. The only downside is that they may not be safe for every area you want to keep smooth.


Hair removal creams, also known as depilatory creams, have chemicals in them that dissolve hair just below the surface of the skin. While these chemicals are effective at removing hair, they may also cause a few unwanted reactions. You should always test a cream on a small section of your arm or leg before using it on a large area [source: Cressy]. Another thing to keep in mind is that hair removal creams were originally developed with arm and leg hair in mind. Since then, people have begun using them all over their bodies, and this isn't necessarily safe.

The skin around your eyebrows and genitals is incredibly sensitive. Using a hair removal cream that's meant for your legs and arms in either of those areas could burn your skin and cause a lot of discomfort [source: Bouchez]. If you want to remove hair on your face using a depilatory cream, you'll need to buy one formulated specially for that area. The same goes for your bikini line. As always, test a small area before using a large amount, and follow the instructions carefully. Leaving the cream on longer than instructed could result in irritation or burns as well [source: Hirsch]. Men can generally use a depilatory cream on their chests, although they shouldn't place it near the genital area.

For lots more information on hair removal and skin care, see links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Bouchez, Colette. "For Women Only: Best Options for Hair Removal." WebMD. Feb. 9, 2007. (Aug. 25, 2009)
  • Cressy, Susan. "Beauty Therapy Fact File." Google Books. 2004. (Aug. 25, 2009) dq=depilatory+cream&lr=#v=onepage&q=depilatory%20cream&f=false
  • Hirsch, Larissa MD. "Hair Removal." Kid's Health. Jan. 2008. (Aug. 25, 2009)