Is It Bad To Use Hair Removal Creams?

Hair removal creams are a popular method of removing body hair. Unlike waxing or shaving, these creams promise a hair-free experience without pain, razor burn, or ingrown hairs. Are these creams safe to use or should you stick to traditional methods instead? Here's what you should know.

Also called depilatory creams, hair removal creams are thick substances that are spread on the skin where you would like your hair to be removed. After letting the cream sit for a few minutes, it can be rinsed off and leave your skin smooth. Depilatory creams typically use thioglycolic acid as their main ingredient, which breaks down keratin (via WebMD). Keratin is a protein found in hair. Once the keratin is dissolved, each strand of hair becomes too soft and weak to stay in your skin and can easily be wiped away.

Hair removal creams give similar results as shaving, and you can expect body hair to start growing back within a few days. However, when used correctly, depilatory creams should not leave any irritation on the skin that you can sometimes experience from razors.

Like many products, hair removal creams have potential side effects

Even the best products can cause issues when used incorrectly. It is important to follow the directions when using hair removal creams and not leave them on longer than directed. These products contain chemicals that can cause irritation, rashes, and burns when exposed to the skin for too long (via Byrdie). Some people may be allergic or extra sensitive to the ingredients in some hair removal creams, which can also cause irritation and rashes. Always perform a patch test on your skin before slathering a cream all over your arms or legs.

Hair removal creams may also not be the best option for people with sensitive noses. These creams tend to have a strong odor that might be unpleasant for people. "If you have [a] sensitivity to strong smells or asthma, the fumes from chemical depilatory creams can cause reactions," Jodi Shays, a licensed esthetician based in California and the owner of Queen Bee Salon & Spa in Culver City, told Byrdie.

If you can handle the smell, follow directions, and choose a high-quality product, hair removal creams are a safe and effective way to remove body hair.