Depilatory creams act like a chemical razor blade. They contain thioglycolate, a chemical that dissolves the protein structure of the hair, causing it to separate easily from the surface of the skin — they don’t remove hair from the root as wax and epilators do.
They’re often smelly and messy to apply and regrowth can be bristly. All depilatories can be irritating to the skin, so follow the instructions carefully. Don’t apply them to broken or inflamed skin, and always perform a patch test before using a new product.
Our trialists tested creams, mousses and sprays and found that overall, depilatories were second from the top. They were also found to be the least painful form of hair removal trialled.
Surprisingly, the cheapest product, Marzena Hair Remover Lotion for legs and body received the highest rating and the most expensive product, Andrea Extra Strength Hair Remover Lotion for the body, was least favoured by trialists.
One trialist said of the Andrea lotion, “You need to wait about 12 minutes … to end up with a poor result and need to repeat for decent hair removal.”
Profiles - what to buy
The recommended models are listed below. See the results tables for ratings of other models.
Marzena Hair Removal Lotion for legs and body
Price: $3.70 (per 100 g)
- This is the cheapest product from this category and received a very good overall score. It’s very easy to both use and remove.
- “I would use this product (depending on cost) instead of shaving or waxing. I wouldn’t [have] considered using a depilatory product on my legs previously, but I would definitely use this one. Very time-efficient and effective.”
- ”My legs felt very smooth afterwards despite the stubbornness of a few fine hairs.”
Veet In-shower Hair Remover Cream
Price: $6.55 (per 100 g)
- This was a fast product to use, with 32 trialists saying it took 10 minutes or less to use. It can be applied in the shower so that waiting time passes while soaping up, and uses water-resistant ingredients, so you don’t have to keep your legs completely dry.
- “Great, although I found it annoying to keep my leg away from the running water prior to removing hair.”
- “This was the best to use. Easy to use in the shower, very effective and I was left with an excellent result. I would continue to purchase this product myself.