Depilatory Creams: Pros and Cons of Hair Removal Creams

People have been trying to get rid of unwanted hair for a long time in a lot of different ways.

Not every hair removal method works the same for everyone, and depilatory creams are no exception.

Depilatory” simply means a method of removing hair, and could be used to describe shaving, waxing, or epilating. The most popular depilatory creams, however, are Veet, Sally Hansen, Olay, and Nair and each offers a variety of depilatories such as gels, roll-ons, sprays, mousses, powders, and creams. But it’s important to find out if depilatory creams are the best option for you before committing fully to this method.

The chemicals in depilatory creams specifically target the keratin protein in hair and destroy it. After the keratin is melted, the hair falls from its follicle. The end result washes the hair away easily. It’s that simple! Like shaving, hair removal creams are a temporary solution for getting rid of hair but it’s definitely effective if used properly.

In order to find out if hair removal creams are best for you, let’s go over some pros and cons.


It’s fast and easy

This is definitely one of the best parts of hair removal creams. It’s so easy that if you know how to apply a cream then you’re set. All you do is spread the depilatory cream over the area of hair you want gone, wait a few minutes, then use a washcloth soaked in warm water to rub off the cream. Of course it depends on which cream is used and the type of hair you’re removing, but the cream typically only takes three to fifteen minutes from start to finish. While waiting, you can get other stuff done like reading, brushing teeth, taking off makeup, etc.

depilatory creams

It also works on most areas of the body! Hair removal creams are great for getting rid of large areas of hair as well as hard to reach areas.  Depending on the cream, you can use it on leg hair, arm and armpit hair, facial hair, and chest hair, even the bikini area. While every cream is different, some consumers have claimed the results can last longer than shaving! Some people only have to use the creams once a week.  When the hair grows back, it won’t be as stubbly. Studies have even shown slower and thinner hair growth in some areas. It’s important to read and follow the directions carefully, but hair removal cream instructions don’t take long to follow and extremely convenient compared to other methods.

Pain Free

Unlike shaving, depilatory creams don’t cause nicks, cuts, or razor burn. The only problem is that not everyone agrees that hair removal creams are pain free. It all depends on which cream is used and how sensitive your skin is. This is why it’s crucial to do a patch test to determine if it’s right for your skin before fully committing to that particular hair removal cream. Some people are more allergic to the chemicals than others but if no side effects occur, the cream is perfect for you! To be on the safe side, don’t use the hair removal cream if you’ve recently shaved. Sometimes razor nicks and cuts are there even if you can’t see them and they could irritate the skin if the cream gets into them.

In addition to being painless for a majority of people, it can also be great for the skin. Because of how depilatory creams work, they also exfoliate skin. Dead skin can build up on the surface, and exfoliation removes those cells. So not only are you removing hair when you rub off the cream, you’re also revealing healthy, new cells.

Because some people have more sensitive skin, depilatory companies offer specific creams for different kinds of hair (either coarse or fine) and with milder formulas featuring moisturizers and aloe. It’s best to find the cream that suits your hair and skin type, just like with any hair removal method.

Inexpensive and Easily Accessible

Everyone deserves to have the hair free skin they want, but not everyone can afford frequent trips to the salon. So compared to salons, hair removal creams are a great affordable option. Some people can’t even use razors because of their sensitive skin. Hair removal creams are available at a majority of retailers or drugstores, and they’re relatively inexpensive. This makes it perfect for any budget range since they generally cost $4-$10. And the best part is if you purchase a cream and it doesn’t work for your skin, you haven’t spent an arm and a leg and can always try a different brand.

Because there are so many different options of creams available almost everywhere, hair removal creams can work for everyone if used correctly!


Chemicals Can Cause Problems

One of the biggest problems people have with hair removal creams is the smell. Because they are made with so many chemicals, it does not have a very pleasant odor. It tends to be strong too, so it’s best to find one you don’t mind the smell of.

While a lot of people say hair removal creams are pain free, others have opposite results. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully. If the cream is left on the skin too long, it can cause chemical burns. The alkalis present in the creams can also irritate or burn the skin or even cause an allergic reaction. Some people have complained of rashes, skin peeling, stinging sensations, itchiness blisters, or burns. If used too frequently, the cream can harm the skin or even darken it. Darker hair can even leave behind a residual shadow under the skin. It’s also been known to cause ingrown hairs.

This is why it’s extremely important to do a patch test first. If any redness or itchiness occurs in the test area, throw the cream out and try a different one. Everyone has different reactions so it’s best to find out what’s best for you.

depilatory creams

Can Be Uneven and Messy

Hair removal cream may be easy to apply but if you don’t spread it evenly over the entire area, you could end up with some uneven hairless areas. A lot of people complain of patchy stubbly areas even in the hair free areas. It can also sometimes work great on finer hair but not as well on coarser hair.

Also, it can be annoying to work with. Even though the overall process doesn’t take long, it takes a while for the cream to set and before it does, the cream can be messy and runny.

Not Suitable For Everyone or Everywhere

Even though it can work on a lot of areas, even the areas that are hard to reach with a razor or wax, it definitely doesn’t work everywhere. But it’s not safe for use on the eyebrows because the chemicals could cause damage if they get in the eye. It’s best to not use the creams anywhere near the eyes, nose, or ears. This means only using hair removal creams may not be best so don’t throw out the wax strips or razors.

Another issue is that you’ll need to purchase different types of depilatory creams. Although creams work in a lot of areas, most hair removal creams only work on specific areas of the body. For example, don’t use cream made for thick leg hair on the thinner hair on the upper lip. While hair removal creams aren’t expensive, this could still be inconvenient for people.

Hair removal creams also don’t last very long. They don’t last as long as waxing but some last longer than shaving. However, it does need to be repeated regularly.


Essentially, depilatory creams can be a great investment! It’s a temporary hair removal method but if used correctly, it’s certainly effective. As always, find a hair removal method that works best for you, your budget, and your skin!


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