How to Use Hair Removal Creams and Gels

Before you Start

There are a huge variety of cream depilatories available today, at an array of costs ranging from around $5 upwards.

When deciding which to buy, however, there are more things to consider than just the cost.  So don't think you can just pick one off the shelf that suits your pocket and off you go - it's not quite that simple!

It is important to recognise the limitations of hair removal creams - they are not suitable for all parts of the body e.g. eyebrows, female genitals, ears and nose.​

Also, they contain strong chemicals and it is necessary to carry out a skin test prior to use, so you will need to think about the time to allow for this - at least 24 hours prior to use.​

Choosing the Right Product

In order to choose the right product you first need to think about where you wish to use it.

Many of the products are gender specific, formulated specially for either male or female use.​

Naked male and female facing away from camera

Hair is different​, in texture, thickness, strength etc. depending on where it is located on the body.  Thicker, coarser hair e.g. chest hair, requires a higher strength cream, whereas fine ladies facial hair can be removed with a gentler cream.

​The other thing to think about is whether or not you have sensitive skin.  If you do you are more likely to have adverse skin reactions to the chemicals in depilatory creams.

There are a number of specially developed depilatory creams available for those with sensitive skin, so be sure to check the box to see:

  • For which area of the body is it recommended
  • Is it suitable for sensitive skin (if required)
  • Is it unisex or gender specific

If you know that you are allergic to a particular chemical, check the product ingredients to make sure that it is not present.

If you have any skin condition, diabetes, circulatory problems or any medical condition that may be affected by compromised skin seek medical advice prior to use

Skin Test

​It is important to carry out a skin test prior to use of any chemical depilatory to ensure that you have no allergic reaction to any of the ingredients.

​All hair removal creams and gels etc. will come with a full set of instructions as to how to carry this out for each individual product, and these should be followed carefully.

​Each product may differ slightly in how you are required to do this, and how long you need to wait, but we have outlined the main general points:

  • Apply a thick layer of cream to a small, inconspicuous part of the treatment area and spread evenly, usually with fingertips
  • Wash hands thoroughly immediately afterwards
  • Leave cream on for the recommended time (usually between 4 - 8 minutes) the instructions will state a maximum time which MUST NOT be exceeded.
  • Remove cream with a dampened cloth or cotton wool
  • Rinse area thoroughly with lukewarm water and pat dry
  • Wait for at least 24 hours (or whatever length of time is recommended) and if no irritation occurs you can proceed to use as directed

Possible Side Effects

It is quite common to feel a very mild tingling sensation, but it should never be any more than that.

Adverse reactions can range from irritation to severe chemical burns, so it is important that if you feel irritation or stinging you remove the product immediately, rinse the area thoroughly and do not use it.

The reason that it is extremely important that you only use these products as directed and never for more than the maximum time is that they can cause severe burns and blistering.

General Usage Instructions

As previously mentioned, each product will come with its own set of instructions, the following is intended as a general guide only:

Woman using depilatory cream on leg
  • Do not use any soaps or astringents for at least 2 hours before or after treatment
  • Do not sunbathe for at least 24 hours prior to or after treatment, and do not use on sunburnt, irritated or broken skin
  • Apply cream thickly and evenly - either with fingertips or spatula as directed (there are some spray-on depilatory creams now available)
  • Never Rub In
  • Always wash hands thoroughly and immediately
  • Replace cap straight after use and store safely out of the reach of children
  • Wait for the allotted time as per manufacturer's instructions
  • Do not leave for longer than the maximum recommended time and do not allow to dry on the skin
  • Remove product with a damp tissue, cloth or cotton wool and then rinse thoroughly with running water (no soap)
  • Gently pat dry
  • If an aftercare lotion is provided, use as directed


Here we have listed some universal precautions which should always be observed when using depilatory creams.

There may be others specific to individual products - so be sure to check the instruction leaflet.​

No sunbathing for at least 24 hours before or after use

  • Do not use if you are undergoing any dermatological treatment - seek medical advice
  • Do not use on any area for which the product is not recommended
  • Not to be used around the eyes, vaginal, perianal or breast areas, for nose or ear hair or on open, irritated, sunburnt or otherwise compromised skin.
  • If product comes into contact with eyes, flush well with water and seek medical advice
  • Not to be used on moles or warts
  • Do not sunbathe or go swimming for at least 24 hours after treatment
  • If adverse reaction occurs remove the product immediately and rinse thoroughly with water - if irritation persists seek medical advice
  • For external use only - dangerous if ingested, seek medical help immediately
  • Store safely out of reach of children

And Finally ..

Having pointed out all the precautions, it is worth pointing out that millions of people regularly use depilatory creams perfectly safely with no problems.

Read our article to check out the pros and cons.​

Providing that you are not allergic to the ingredients and use them carefully as directed, they can be a great, pain-free method of removing unwanted hair.​

If you are one of the unlucky ones who cannot use depilatories, see our complete guide to hair removal for men or for women to check out your options.​


For the past 12 months, I have been testing and playing with all sorts of hair removal products for Hair Free Life. My goal is to provide the most accurate and up-to-date hair removal consumer information on the internet. When I'm not photographing, reviewing and researching hair removal products I play the drums in a samba band and am a volunteer for the Swindon Lions! Got any questions? Write to us below: