I hope I'm not the only one here when I say depilatory creams are tricky. I mean, yes, sometimes they work as they should to leave my legs stubble-free. But other times I'm left wondering if I even read the directions right. After all, depilatory creams are pretty different from shaving or waxing. Instead of using some physical mechanism that you can control to cut or pull out hair, you have to rely on the chemicals in a depilatory cream to actually dissolve your hair. So to find out some common mistakes and tips for using depilatory cream to ensure more consistent results, I emailed with Robyn Safran, Group Brand Manager for Nair.
While, at the end of the day, there aren't any secret instructions for yielding better results with a depilatory cream, there are some little details worth taking note of, and small extra steps you can take to ensure your hair-removal cream works every time. Because, let's be honest, you probably just don't have time to go back over your depilatory cream with another form of hair removal if you still have some leftover stubble. So you can dissolve your hair off with confidence, here are seven suggestions if depilatory creams haven't always worked for you:
"The effectiveness of depilatory creams can vary depending on your hair thickness and skin sensitivities," says Safran. Generally speaking, she explains, coarser, thicker hair that is more prone to ingrown hairs and razor bumps will benefit more from depilatories, and those with extremely sensitive skin may want to opt for a hair-removal method that is potentially less irritating such as shaving.
Hair can have different thickness in different areas though. So in addition to conducting a patch test to insure your skin isn't irritated by a depilatory cream, Safran suggests also conducting patch tests in a few different zones "to see what areas and application times work best for you and your skin."
When removing your depilatory cream, it's best to use a damp washcloth or sponge and gently wipe in the opposite direction of hair growth, says Safran. Once all hair has been removed, she adds, make sure to rinse your skin thoroughly with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry to ensure there is no lingering cream to cause irritation.
Although it can be tempting to leave a depilatory cream on longer just to make sure every last hair has been dissolved, Safran stresses that exceeding the total recommended application time can irritate your skin.
If you still have some stubble after using a depilatory cream for the maximum amount of time, Safran says to wait at least 48 hours before trying to remove the remaining hair.
When applying a depilatory cream, the reason instructions call for a thick, even layer of the stuff is because it needs to coat the hair you're trying to remove, explains Safran. "This is best achieved if hair length is between stubble and a quarter inch," she says. So, like waxing, if your hair hasn't reached a certain length, removal may not be as effective.
According to Safran, "When removing hair from different areas of the body, you want to make sure you're using a product that is intended for that specific area." That is, your bikini or facial depilatory cream may not be strong enough to remove hair from your legs or underarms, and your leg or underarm depilatory cream may be too harsh to use in your bikini area or on your face.
Because even though this hair-removal method can be tricky, the little things can help make it easier.