7 Steps to Depilate Correctly with Depilatory Cream

Do you need some quick hair removal? Depilatory cream is designed to help you save time, but you have to respect the step-by-step instructions if you want effective results without any unwanted reactions.
7 Steps to Depilate Correctly with Depilatory Cream
Vanesa Evangelina Buffa

Written and verified by the dentist Vanesa Evangelina Buffa.

Last update: 23 November, 2023

Waxing, laser, blades, threading, pulsed light… There are many ways to get smooth skin free of unwanted hair. Depilatory cream is one of the simplest, most effective, quickest, painless, and accessible options.

However, you should know that for this method to be effective and safe, there are some precautions to consider. We’ll explain everything you need to know here!

How does depilatory cream work?

Depilatory cream is a cosmetic product that contains chemical substances capable of reacting with the hair. Its main effect is to break the sulfur bonds of the keratin that makes up the hair. Thus, it allows for its easy removal.

With this product, the hair isn’t removed from the root, as is done with waxing and threading, but is removed just above the surface of the skin. The cream reacts and, when you remove it, what you do is to detach the hairs that have reacted.

The effects of the method usually last up to 4 days. They don’t last longer precisely because of their principle of action, which leaves the root in the skin.

How to use depilatory cream correctly

Depilating using creams is simple, quick, and painless. However, to achieve the expected results and prevent the product’s components from damaging your skin, you must apply it correctly. We’ll tell you all about how it’s done here.

1. Choose the right depilatory cream

Before depilating with cream, it’s essential to take your time to find the right product. There are many options on the market designed for different skin types, hair characteristics, and areas of the body.

To buy a depilatory cream, consider the following:

  • Your skin type and whether it is normal, dry, oily, combination, or sensitive.
  • The body area you want to depilate, such as the legs, face, underarms, or bikini area.
  • The type of hair to be removed: normal, fine, or coarse.

Also, it’s important to consider whether you suffer from allergies or sensitivity to certain ingredients. In this case, check if they are part of the product.

Depilatory creams are available in different presentations: emulsions, gels, aerosols, and roll-ons. The last two usually don’t make as much of a mess. On the other hand, emulsions and gels allow you to better control the thickness of the product applied.

Keep in mind that some depilatory creams have an unpleasant odor – like rotten eggs – when they react with the hair. If you’re bothered by strong scents, you can buy a scented option.

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2. Perform a sensitivity test

Once you have decided on a depilatory cream, and if it’s the first time you are going to use it, you should perform a sensitivity test. This is to verify that the product’s ingredients will not cause allergies or unwanted reactions on your skin.

Apply a small amount of cream on the area of the body you want to depilate and remove it after the time specified in the instructions. If after 24 hours you don’t experience any redness, itching, or irritation, you can probably use the product safely.

However, if you notice that your skin becomes red, irritated, flaky, or itchy, you should not use it. Consult a professional to evaluate whether you should change your hair removal method or purchase another type of special cream for sensitive skin.

3. Examine the area to be waxed and prepare your skin

It is important that you carefully examine the area to be waxed for cuts, scrapes, herpes, and irritated or sunburned skin. If you have any of these lesions, you should wait until they are completely healed before using the product.

You should never apply depilatory cream to the nostrils, ears, eyebrows, and skin around the eyes. Also never apply this cream to the genitals, anus, or nipples.

Before you start, make sure your skin is clean and dry. If you have very long hair, it’s a good idea to trim them first with scissors to facilitate the hair removal process.

4. Apply the depilatory cream

A woman applies cream to her legs.
A thick, even layer of cream is usually placed on the area to be waxed. Make sure to completely cover all the hair with the cream.

To apply the product correctly, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, a thick, even layer of cream is placed on the area to be waxed, making sure to completely cover the hair.

Avoid rubbing the cream on the skin. The application is all about even smearing. In fact, some commercial presentations come with a spatula to facilitate the task.

The key is to place the cream in the opposite direction of hair growth, to facilitate the contact of the hair with the product. When you finish, wash your hands immediately.

Like this article? You may also like to read: How to Remove Unwanted Leg Hair with this Natural Method

5. Leave the depilatory cream to act

For the product to do its job, it needs to act for a few minutes. Pay attention to the time recommended in the instructions. This can vary between 3 and 10 minutes, depending on the area to be depilated.

The cream can cause damage to the skin if left on longer than recommended. Don’t think that if you prolong its action the results will be better or that it will take longer for the hair to grow. On the contrary, you could end up with severe injuries, such as burns.

You should also not remove the cream before the stipulated time, as you run the risk of not removing all of the hair. Set a timer or an alarm on your phone to be on the safe side.

It’s common to feel some tingling in the area while the product is working. However, if you notice burning or irritation, remove the cream immediately.

6. Remove the cream and hair

After the indicated time, it is time to remove the product. Use a spatula or a damp towel, making gentle movements in the direction of hair growth. Make sure to remove all the cream and all the hairs that have come out of your skin.

7. Cleanse and moisturize

Once the depilatory cream has been removed, wash your skin with warm water to remove any residue. If you don’t rinse off the product, the chemicals could continue their action and cause burns.

Then, gently pat your skin dry without rubbing. Finally, apply a moisturizing lotion or cream to prevent dryness and irritation.

Tips for effective and safe hair removal

If you follow all the steps outlined here, you’ll be able to remove unwanted hair effectively and safely. However, it’s important to pay attention to the following extra tips to avoid side effects:

  • Check the expiration date of the product. Do not use it if it has expired.
  • Wash your hands after applying the cream and avoid touching your eyes or face when using it.
  • Do not shave or reuse depilatory cream on the same area for 72 hours after application.
  • Avoid sunbathing, swimming, tanning, and using antiperspirants or fragranced products for 24 hours after depilatory creams.
  • Do not use this type of hair removal if you have sensitive skin, use acne medication, or have medical conditions such as rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis.

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Folliculitis prevention

As experts say, folliculitis is one of the most common side effects associated with hair removal. This is the inflammation of the hair follicle, which is the structure where the hair grows.

This inflammation manifests itself as small white pustules. They can be accompanied by itching and pain, and, in severe cases, can even lead to scarring and boils.

In general, the condition disappears on its own without the need for treatment. However, there are more complex situations, with persistence and expansion of pus, in which it is necessary to use antibiotics.

To prevent the complication, in addition to following the advice already mentioned, gently exfoliate your skin on a regular basis, two or three times a week. Also, make sure to avoid sun exposure immediately after waxing.

Smooth, radiant skin in minutes

Waxing with depilatory cream can be an excellent alternative to achieve smooth, hair-free skin in just a few minutes. By following the steps and tips that we’ve shared with you in this article, you can enjoy effective, painless, and safe hair removal in the comfort of your own home.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.