Hair Removal Creams 101

Choosing Hair Removal Creams

Deciding which hair removal cream to use depends on a number of factors. Believe it or not, your gender is the least important issue. Certainly, men tend to have coarser hair, and that may affect which product they buy, but there are several other issues to consider.

The most important factors in selecting a chemical depilatory are skin sensitivities and allergies. If you are prone to rashes and breakouts or have had reactions to other topical ointments and skin products, you should check with your doctor before trying any hair removal cream. Some creams are formulated specifically for sensitive skin, and they may include moisturizer and aloe to soothe irritated skin. Other creams contain stronger formulations for coarser hair that may cause greater skin irritation.

The next factor to consider is the area of unwanted hair. For example, you should never use hair removal cream designed for your back on your pubic area. You're best off using a depilatory specifically designed for your bikini line, because the skin around your genitals is so sensitive. You also shouldn't use a chemical depilatory on any area that your underwear covers, since this can cause additional irritation [sources: Segal].

You'll also need to decide whether you prefer roll-on creams, gels or other types of products. It's easier to apply roll-ons more neatly than other products, but they may not be as thick as you need them to be. If you don't like the feel of creams, gels are a potential option.

When in doubt about your decision, ask a dermatologist for recommendations. Now that you know what to look for and what to ask, you're ready to make the best choice possible for your hair removal needs.

For more research on depilatories, see the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Bernhardt, Gale. "Body-Hair Removal Methods for Athletes." (Aug. 18, 2009)
  • Cressy, Susan. "Beauty Therapy Fact File." Google Books. 2004. (Aug. 25, 2009) dq=depilatory+cream&lr=#v=onepage&q=depilatory%20cream&f=false
  • Gibson, Lawrence. "Hair Removal: Does Shaving Make It Grow Back Thicker?" Mayo Clinic. Oct. 20, 2007. (Aug. 25, 2009)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Chemical Burns: First Aid." Jan. 5, 2008. (Aug. 25, 2009)
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  • Mayo Clinic. "Hirsutism." Jan. 23, 2009. (Aug. 25, 2009)
  • Segal, Marian. "Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow." FDA Consumer. Sept. 1996. (Aug. 25, 2009)
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