Depilatory Hair Removal
Chemical Depilatories For Hair Removal - Creams and Waxing
Depilatories are creams, lotions, and gels that sever hair just below the skin’s surface by chemically dissolving the strong sulfur bonds that try to keep your hair shafts in one piece.
What To Use Where
Lotions and gels are designed for use on the body; creams, for use on the face.
Gentler on the skin than shaving or waxing, depilatories are especially good for sensitive or bumpy areas such as the bikini line, the upper lip, and the under- arms. Plus, the results last for a week or more, so you will save yourself sometime in the maintenance department, versus shaving.
In theory, depilatory hair removal should render your skin smoother than shaving, because the chemical process breaks hair off below the skin’s surface.
In practice, we find that women offer mixed opinions: Some prefer the look of razor-shaved skin; others swear by their cream or gel. Also, some depilatory hair removal products can prove irritating to the skin, especially if you have sensitive skin or use the wrong formulation in the wrong place. To play it safe, always apply a smattering of an untried product on a small test area to see how your skin reacts.
If redness or stinging occur, you may need to switch to a different hair removal method, select a different brand of depilatory, or change to a gentler formulation. On the whole, creams will be gentler than lotions, lotions gentler than gels. Some to try: Sally Hansen’s Sponge-On Hair Remover, Nair 3-In-1 Lotion, Nair Cream Hair Remover For Face, and Nair Roll-On (great for legs!).
Depilatory Hair Removal ~ Waxing
Waxing removes hair at or near the root, and so will keep your skin hairless for four to eight weeks at a time6 when done properly. In this process, a thin layer of warm or cold wax is applied to the skin and then stripped off, thus tearing unwanted hairs out of their follicles. Warm waxes are applied in a melted, semi-liquid state; cold waxes (which are generally sold as adhesive strips), straight from the package.
The main advantages of waxing are twofold: first, you spend far less time on maintenance than with any other conventional hair removal method; and second, the resulting look is exceptionally clean and smooth. On the down side, waxing can not only be somewhat painful, but can also prove difficult to do well at home because a certain degree of dexterity is required. In addition, you must allow the hairs to grow out at least ¼ inch above the skin surface before waxing again, a length some women find unacceptable, even for short periods of time.
For those who swear by waxing, the critical question is whether to do it at home or go to a salon. The salon route, of course, is the more expensive of the two. Rates will vary from place to place, but typical salon pricing runs from about $10 for an eyebrow treatment to $50 and up for legs. Most aestheticians, by the way, like to use hot wax, so you’ll probably need to request cold wax if you have sensitive skin or simply prefer cold wax to hot.
If salons are too pricey or just not your style, several at- home kits will allow you to remove plenty of hair for under $10. The best of the best:
Marzena Genuine Wax Strips. No mess, no fuss, just press and pull. The Petite Strips are great for your bikini line and facial hair; the Leg Strips, for areas where more coverage is needed. Available at many beauty supply, drug, and grocery stores.
My-epil’s Cold Wax Strips or Sally Hansen’s Hair Remover Wax Strip Kit. Both come packaged against a sheet of cellophane, so you don’t have to touch the sticky stuff at all. Nice goods; and cheap to boot, at under $10 each.
Nair Salon-Style Wax Kits. Easy to find and easy to use; available in both warm and cold varieties.
Depilatory Hair Removal ~ Hot Waxing
Hot wax usually comes in a tub, and remains hard until heated. For best results, heat the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions; then apply a thin, even coat where desired, using a wooden tongue depressor. Remove wax as it cools, with a clean cotton washcloth to lift hairs.
Since you can’t allow the wax to get cold on your skin, work on one limited area at a time, and be sure you have everything you need at hand. Finally, remember that your first efforts will probably not be your best, because applying the wax skillfully takes a little practice (that’s why women go to salons). But stick with it: Your third or fourth try will generally give you a much better idea than the first of the results you can expect going forward.
Depilatory Hair Removal ~ Cold Waxing
Though hot waxes are considered the big challenge for at home use, cold wax kits require nimble fingers, too. When working with them, keep these simple guidelines in mind:
(1) follow the instructions on the package to the letter
(2) do your level best not to handle the tacky side of the strip
(3) peel the strip back from the top—don’t pull up—when you remove it
(4) screw up your courage and peel the rip back quickly—like when you remove a well-stuck Band-Aid, it’s more efficient and less painful that way