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Depilatories are a chemical preparation in liquid or cream that is used to literally melt hair. A depilatory removes hair at the surface, whereas using tweezers removes the hair follicle from beneath the surface.


  • Easy and fast application

  • Over-the-counter

  • Inexpensive (anywhere from $1.00 to $8.00 a bottle)

  • Ideal if you need hair removal right away

  • Possible allergic reaction

  • Unpleasant odor during application

  • Effects are short term (expect to use it two or three times a week)

  • May irritate sensitive skin

How it works:

Chemicals in a depilatory have a high degree of acidity. These chemicals react with the protein structure of hair to break it down. Within 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the coarseness of hair, the hair is dissolved and can be washed away. It is generally recommended that the hair be wiped away with a towel so that more of the hair from within the follicle is removed, rather than just rinsing the surface. When purchasing a depilatory, note that a cream runs less than a liquid, making application less tedious if you want spot removal.

Depilatories and skin smoothness:

After you use a depilatory, you may find that the skin feels softer and smoother. Depilatories help exfoliate the skin by removing dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. In addition, many depilatories contain moisturizers that contribute to softer smoother skin.
How long do the effects last?
Results vary according to the individual. Some have experienced hair removal effects lasting only a few hours. In general, most will see results that lasts several days or a week. Depilatories tend to keep hair removed longer than just using a razor because the chemicals can remove hair deeper in the follicle, whereas a razor only removes hair above the surface of the skin.


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