Shaving may be the cheapest and fastest way to get rid of body hair, but it's also more likely to cause razor bumps and ingrown hairs. Cornell Medical School dermatologist Harvey H. Jay explains it best: Shaving--as well as waxing and plucking--leaves the tip of your hair with a pointed edge, which is more likely to grow back inward. Chemical depilatories, on the other hand, dissolve the protein structure of the hair, leaving it with rounded tips, which are less likely to cause ingrown hairs. But before you reach for a cream depilatory, first make sure your skin is "good to go."
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Wait for razor bumps and ingrown hairs to heal. Manufacturer's instructions typically warn you that cream depilatories should not be applied to broken or irritated skin. The best thing to do is simply wait for the hair to grow back out and give irritated skin some rest and relaxation, say the cosmetic scientists at BeautyBrains.com.
Choose your product. HairFacts.com points out that depilatories come in various formulations, such as gels, creams and spray-on and roll-on preparations. They're widely available in most drugstores, pharmacies and markets, typically costing no more than $8. Depilatories may be specially formulated for use on the bikini line or the face.
Do a skin test. The chemical ingredients in depilatories--usually calcium thioglycolate, according to HairFacts.com--can be irritating. Skin careexpert Paula Begoun suggests applying a little bit to your arm to make sure you don't experience an allergic response or another reaction to the product.
Prepare your skin. Before using a depilatory, skincare expert Begoun advises using warm compresses on the skin to make hair more malleable.
Apply the depilatory in a thick, even layer. Make sure to coat the entire hair shaft. Leave it on for the designated time, per the product's directions. Begoun states that this may range from between four and 15 minutes.
Remove the depilatory. Using a little elbow grease can help you make sure the hair is removed as close to the skin as possible, Begoun says. Take a washcloth and rub it on your skin using an up and down motion.