No lotions or creams permanently stop hair growth; however, they can significantly decrease the frequency that you need to shave or eliminate shaving completely. Consistent use of one of these kinds of lotions can keep your legs free of hair for weeks at a time. Talk to your doctor about these products if you experience any adverse reactions.
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Over the Counter
Lotions and creams that get rid of leg hair are available at drug stores. These products, called depilatories, remove hair from the surface of the skin. The chemicals react with the hair's protein structure, causing hair to dissolve. Depending on the specific product, you may not see hair growth for several days or up to two weeks, according to the Kids Health website. Each product has specific instructions; however, they all basically work by applying a thick layer to the leg, leaving the product on for 15 to 30 minutes, then wiping the hair off.
Lotions and creams containing natural, plant-based ingredients may also prevent hair growth. According to an article published in June 2011 on the Daily Mail website, at least one natural cream may slow hair growth by as much as 70 percent. Plant oils prevent normal growth by weakening hair formation, sending your hair follicles into a resting state. This could mean that you would only need to shave your legs every few weeks instead of every couple of days. Use the product daily. Results may improve over time and can take up to six weeks of consistent usage for full effect.
Depilatory creams contain chemicals like thioglycolate, which is an ingredient in perming solutions. According to DermNet NZ -- the New Zealand Dermatological Society website -- use of these creams may cause a skin condition called dermatitis, a common condition characterized by skin inflammation. Typical symptoms include red, itchy skin, though there are different kinds of dermatitis. The condition is not life threatening, but it may be uncomfortable or embarrassing. Visit your doctor if your skin is painful, you suspect an infection or the discomfort is significant enough to disrupt your sleep or daily routine.
Shaving and waxing are practical ways to rid your legs of unwanted hair at home if lotions irritate your skin. Shaving is quick and painless, but lasts only one to three days. You may see bumps or ingrown hairs on your legs as a result of shaving. Cuts are also a possibility. Waxing is a longer-lasting alternative to shaving; it prevents noticeable hair for three to six weeks. Using wax pulls hair out at the roots, which is painful. Buy a home kit or visit a waxing professional. You may experience red skin or bumps from waxing.