Let’s talk hair removal creams. I’ll be honest, I’ve never got on all that well with them myself – although they claim to leave hair smoother for longer than shaving, I’ve always found it tricky to get the same perfectly smooth results as, say, shaving or waxing, and I can’t say I noticed that my hairs stayed away any longer than when I whip a razor over them. That said, we’re all different and there are plenty of reasons why you might want to reach for the cream over anything else (shaving can irritate, and waxing HURTS!), so let’s look at how you should go about choosing the best hair removal cream for you.
How it works
First off, a little overview of how hair removal (or depilatory) creams actually work. They generally contain strong alkaline chemicals (calcium thioglycolate is one that’s often used) that break down the protein bonds that form the structure of the hair. Once your hair removal cream has been left on for the recommended amount of time, the treated hairs will have been broken down and left with an almost jelly-like texture, allowing you to simply wipe them away.
The strong chemicals needed for this process to work do also mean that hair removal creams can cause skin irritation, so it’s really important that you do a patch test before slapping it all over, to make sure your skin doesn’t react badly to it. Not only can hair removal creams cause your skin to tingle, let’s face it they’re also generally pretty stinky. As with self tan lotions, there’s no real getting away from the fact that the chemicals needed just get a bit smelly as they react, so all manufacturers can really do is try to reduce the stink factor as best they can by including other scents to mask the bad odours.
Choosing the best hair removal cream
So which hair removal cream works the best, and which brand or variety should you choose? As always, different products will always suit different people, but as a starting point the ‘best’ cream for you will simply be formulated for the area of the body and type of hair you want to apply it to – tough enough to do the job but gentle enough not to harm your skin. It’ll probably take a bit of trial and error to find your perfect product, but keeping reading because here are a few thoughts and suggestions to get you going.
Best creams for legs?
If you plan on battling with your leg hair, you’ll want a hair removal cream that can easily cover a larger area. Look out for creams that come with a plastic spatula, very handy for making sure you wipe away every last hair.
Veet Spray-On Hair Removal Cream and Veet Mousse are great at covering larger areas quickly, though reviews are mixed for both. The products don’t smell great and some reviews have warned that the spray application, though handy for speed, can leave your shower or bath ultra slippery, so do be very careful with your footing while using them.
Tackling the bikini line
If you want to keep your bikini area spruced, hair removal creams can be a gentler alternative to shaving, just remember to go careful. Always use creams that are specifically formulated for the delicate skin there, and avoid trying to use depilatory creams for anything but those outer bikini areas – getting carried away and attempting to give yourself a Brazilian carries a very high risk of ending up with embarrassing and, more to the point, damn painful chemical burns. (You do also have to be a bit careful with the application, when you’re dealing with creams it’s easy to get rid of more hair than you bargained for!)
So what’s the best hair removal cream for the bikini line? Veet’s Bikini and Underarm Kit has a gentle formulation plus loads of added moisturising ingredients. It’s had mixed reviews and wasn’t effective enough to get rid of all unwanted hair for some, but others have been really pleased with the results.
Nair Cream for Coarse Hair has also had plenty of good reviews and is described as being gentle enough for the bikini area, so if you’re battling with thicker hairs it’s a product worth giving a try.
For sensitive skin?
If you’re a sensitive soul, it’s important to look for really gentle hair removal cream formulations that won’t irritate your skin.
Veet Hair Removal Gel Cream has had some great reviews from customers whose skin has reacted to other brands, their sensitive skin formulation has even more moisturisers added to it.
Creams for the face and upper lip
You really have to be careful when choosing the best facial hair removal cream, most general depilatory creams are going to be far too harsh and if you want rid of those rogue hairs on your upper lip, the last thing you want to end up with is a bright red, inflamed ‘moustache’ effect! Always, always carry out a patch test somewhere discrete first.
Try out Avon Skin So Soft Fresh and Smooth Facial Hair Removal Cream – these reviewers were pleased with its results on a variety of skin types, although the smell isn’t fantastic.
Hair removal cream for men
When it comes down to it, there’s not really much difference between your standard hair removal creams for women and those for men, aside from – of course – the very manly packaging and far more masculine aroma (if you’re actually able to smell it above the pesky chemical odour, that is). That said, if it’s a hair removal cream for men that you want then why not give one of these a try (just keep them away from more .. uh .. sensitive areas because, yes, they will sting like mad and leave you raw. You have been warned!)
Veet for Men Hair Removal Gel Creme has had plenty of glowing reviews. Nad’s For Men Hair Removal Cream has also had positive write-ups, though it can be a bit messy and goopy to wash off and the smell isn’t that great.
And the best permanent hair removal cream?
I’ll keep it brief as ‘permanent’ hair removal creams really need a post of their own, but suffice to say no hair removal cream has ever been proven to permanently remove hair – in fact, only electrolysis can be described as a permanent hair removal method.
The only cream that has FDA approval and has been proven to help inhibit hair regrowth when applied topically is Vaniqa, a prescription cream for use on unwanted facial hair. I’d be very wary of any other brands that promote their own hair inhibitors without any real evidence of how effective they are.
Phewph, so there you have it. Hair removal creams aren’t for everyone – they aren’t as quick as shaving, can be smelly and irritate skin, but for some they’re a can’t-live-without tool for wiping out unwanted hair. With a bit of trial and error (and always a patch test) hopefully you’ll find your perfect hair removal cream.