If you choose to remove body hair, we’ll save our lamenting about the lack of options that aren’t painful, time-consuming, expensive, or a triage of the three because we’re sure you're familiar. Still, depilatory creams are a glimmer of hope to resolve our hair removal woes, rewarding us with skin free from ingrown hairs and razor burn.
Seems too good to be true right? Dr. Hope Mitchell of Mitchell Dermatology in Perrysburg, Ohio, says the solution is partly thanks to the primary ingredient in most hair removal creams, thioglycolic acid, which degrades the hair protein keratin when combined with other acids and ingredients, she explains. And, with advanced formulations that include soothing ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin E, and chamomile, the hair removal process can leave skin softer and more polished.
We conducted hours of research on the best depilatory creams, evaluating formulas safe for sensitive skin, fragrances, and application. We also took into consideration how each product uses hydrating ingredients because these creams can moisturize and nourish your skin while dissolving hair.
Veet Legs & Body Gel Cream Hair Remover
Includes skin-soothing ingredients like aloe vera and vitamin E
Safe for sensitive skin
Coarse hair requires a thicker layer
Thanks to its dermatologist-tested formulas that efficiently dissolve body hair Veet is so ubiquitous that it’s practically become a proprietary eponym for hair removal. Dr. Mitchelle name checks the century-old brand as one of the top ones she recommends for hair removal because, “the formulations have advanced with ingredients that help minimize irritation like vitamin E, aloe vera, and argan oil.” Sure, this is a boon for those with sensitivities, but everyone will appreciate how moisturized their skin feels after using these hydrating emollients.
Most importantly, the cream eliminates everything from underarm stubble to long-leg hair in under ten minutes—just note if you have coarse hair, it may require a thicker layer. Another standout feature is the pump dispenser, which allows you to neatly and evenly distribute the gel-like cream on your legs, arms, underarms, and bikini line minus any mess.
Price at time of publish: $9
Size: 13.5 oz | Leave On Time: 5-10 minutes | Cruelty Free: No
Best for Face
Flamingo Face Hair Removal Cream with Aloe Vera Calming Serum
Precision tip applicator
Aloe-vera-infused calming serum
Includes added fragrance
There are a dizzying amount of ways to remove hair from your face like dermaplaning and even using an eyebrow blade, but the Flamingo depilatory cream is a stellar alternative for those not keen on having sharp objects or hot wax near their money maker.
Aside from its eye-pleasing lavender packaging, the dermatologist-tested cream also feels luxe thanks to included ingredients such as shea butter and glycerin, which hydrate the skin as it quickly removes hair. Satisfyingly, the precision tip applicator makes it easy to target specific areas like your upper lip or lower chin. After you’ve let it sit for up to five minutes, wash it off and apply the aloe vera-infused calming serum to turn a process that’s typically a chore into a self-care situation.
We want to add that its formula does contain a small amount of added fragrance which some people find irritating, so proceed with caution if you have especially sensitive skin.
Price at time of publish: $8
Size: 1.35 oz | Leave On Time: 5 minutes | Cruelty Free: Yes
Best for Underarms
Nopunzel Hair Removal Cream
Good for sensitive skin
Not fast acting
Trying to awkwardly maneuver a razor around the contoured area of our underarms often leaves us with a couple of battle scars—i.e. nicks and cuts. The results? Razor burn and painful ingrown hairs. Nopunzel Hair Removal Cream enriches its formula with ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin E, and baby oil that are gentle on this sensitive spot. We have to mention its lack of chemical smell is quite the triumph for a product in this area too. Although you may have to sit a little longer before rinsing the cream off, we don’t mind the extra phone-scrolling time if it means shaving less often in the long run.
Price at time of publish: $25
Size: 4 oz | Leave On Time: 8 minutes | Cruelty Free: Yes
Best for Bikini
WooWoo Tame It! Vegan In-Shower Hair Removal
Vegan and cruelty-free
Hydrating, non-irritating, and healing ingredients
Not as effective as waxing
Ah, the Brazilian wax—a ritual that not every person has experienced but one we’re all familiar with due to its infamous reputation. Luckily, you don’t have to go bleary-eyed if you choose to shape up the bikini area with the WooWoo in-shower hair removal cream, which uses a calming vegan formula chock-full of vitamin-rich ingredients like aloe vera and jojoba oil that simultaneously help prevent irritation and smooth skin. As a bonus, the brand says it’s dermatologist-tested and paraben-free, so it should be safe for sensitive skin (but we always recommend doing a patch test to be safe)
Also, keep in mind that because it leaves out strong chemicals some reviewers say they didn’t find it as effective as waxing or shaving, but that’s par for the course with these types of products.
Price at time of publish: $11
Size: 2 oz | Leave On Time: 3 minutes | Cruelty Free: Yes
Best for Sensitive Skin
Nair Bladeless Shave Whipped Creme
Product goes quickly
Our sensitive-skinned friends are all too familiar with the itchy red bumps and ingrown hairs you sometimes see after shaving or waxing. The solution to liberating them from this trauma? Using a depilatory cream specifically formulated to soothe irritation—we could find no better one to achieve this goal than the Nair Bladeless Shave Whipped Creme. Slather on the whipped cream texture, and allow the calming lavender oil-infused formula to gently dissolve hair and reduce inflammation. Sensitive noses will be pleased too, as this one doesn’t contain a strong smell.
Price at time of publish: $13
Size: 5 oz | Leave On Time: 5 minutes | Cruelty Free: No
Best for Thick Hair
SoftSheen-Carson Magic Razorless Shaving Cream
Efficiently dissolves coarse, thick hair
We had to investigate any product with nearly 12,000 5-star Amazon reviews and glowing recommendations from TikTok users, who praise the depilatory cream for dissolving even the most stubborn hairs without leaving a burning sensation. But although its rise in fame is fairly new, the brand made its first foray into hair removal over a century ago (for anyone counting, that’s earlier than Veet and Nair).
The inclusion of moisturizing ingredients like shea butter and sweet almond oil is a nice touch for that smooth legs under clean sheets feeling—and we appreciate that although there is a scent, it’s less strong than other options. Our one wish is they would put the product in a dispenser as squeezing it out of the tub can get messy.
Price at time of publish: $8
Size: 6 oz | Leave On Time: 4 minutes | Cruelty Free: No
Nair Hair Removal Lotion with Baby Oil
Hydrates dry skin
If you’ve ever taken “The Shower,”—you know, the super exhaustive one where you exfoliate, shave, and wash your hair—you understand that the last step of applying lotion can feel like an enormous burden. This emollient-rich lotion will quickly and painlessly dissolve hair and cut another step out of your nighttime routine by moisturizing the skin all the while.
Baby oil, the no-fuss popular ingredient for hydrating hair and even untangling jewelry, plays the leading role in this product as it satisfyingly hydrates parched complexions and sloughs off dead skin. The all-star mineral oil does make the consistency a little runny, so we recommend only applying this in the shower or bathtub to avoid it dripping all over your guest towels.
Price at time of publish: $8
Size: 9 oz | Leave On Time: 3 minutes | Cruelty Free: No
Best for Legs
Nad's Hair Removal Cream
Safe for sensitive skin
If you choose to accessorize your high-slit skirts and skin-baring bikinis this spring with hairless legs, this cream ensures you’re all set to don even the shortest of LBDs. The product pulls its weight in the hair-removal category, but we also applaud its use of moisturizing ingredients like aloe vera, honey, and even avocado oil—yep, it turns out your favorite toast topping is a super hydrator that can leave your legs glowing.
We won’t lie: This one doesn’t smell like anything close to the Baccarat Rouge perfume—however, on the plus side, it works in as little as four minutes, which means exposure to the scent is limited.
Price at time of publish: $6
Size: 5.1 oz | Leave On Time: 4 minutes | Cruelty Free: Yes
Best Spray Foam
Completely Bare Easy OFF Foaming Hair Removal Spray
No chemical scent
Difficult to dispense
Part depilatory cream, part skincare savior, this product has an all-star lineup of ingredients that’ll parch dry skin and leave it looking brighter and well-nourished. Aloe vera and shea and cocoa butter belies the cream’s skin-soothing properties—and with the inclusion of volcanic ash, you’re getting a gentle exfoliator that provides a radiant finish. What’s more, the cream’s unique formula contains a host of plant-based ingredients like sea kelp and vitamin E that can help skin look more lustrous. We must also tip our hat to its reliance on sodium hydroxide and potassium thioglycolate to get the job done without using sulfates, parabens, or phthalates.
Our one gripe is the spray can get stuck in the nozzle, making it hard to release the foam from the can.
Price at time of publish: $13
Size: 5.8 oz | Leave On Time: 4-6 minutes | Cruelty Free: No
Nair Leg Mask Brighten & Smooth
Efficient at removing all types of hair
Requires a lot of product
Just like the ones on your face, the pores on your legs can also become clogged with dirt and oil, resulting in strawberry legs and ingrown hairs. Since shaving can sometimes exasperate these issues, we reach for this charcoal and clay leg mask (thanks for the rec, TikTok) whenever we need to exfoliate the skin below our neck and remove hair in one fell swoop.
Like your favorite face mask, the leading ingredients work in tandem to draw out grime and gently exfoliate dead skin as other chemicals dissolve hair and minimize regrowth. While it does take slathering on a thick coat to get your best results, meaning you’ll use more product faster, we’re glad it’s still more affordable than purchasing a pack of razors.
Price at time of publish: $10
Size: 8 oz | Leave On Time: 5-10 minutes | Cruelty Free: No
Our best overall pick is Veet Sensitive Hair Remover Gel Cream, which contains aloe vera and vitamin E, two soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients that will leave skin smooth. We also love how this cream has a pump dispenser for a mess-free application. For face cream, consider the Flamingo Face Hair Removal Cream with Aloe Vera Calming Serum, a top-rated pick with soothing ingredients and a fast-acting formula.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Hope Mitchell is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder and medical director of Mitchell Dermatology. She has extensive experience in both medical and cosmetic skincare.
What to Look for in Depilatory Creams
As we mentioned, the most common ingredient in depilatory creams is thioglycolic acid. “This thioglycolic acid is added in several different forms, including as pure thioglycolic acid and as salts like potassium and calcium thioglycolates,” explains Dr. Mitchell, who says that it breaks down keratin, a protein found naturally in hair when combined with these acids and other ingredients.
Today’s formulas also include calming and anti-inflammatory ingredients like, “chamomile, aloe vera, vitamin E, calendula, almond oil, cocoa butter,” she adds. These are great at combating any irritation you may feel and can even reduce the appearance of dull-looking skin by hydrating and brightening it.
Ease of Application
Typically offered in a cream or foam formula, hair removal creams can get messy, which is why we look for ones that include a spatula or scraper, like the WooWoo Tame It! Vegan Hair Removal. Some creams are even effective for in-shower use and eliminate the need for any cleanup. To efficiently streamline the process, we also recommend using gloves and looking for convenient dispensers, like spray nozzles or pumps, such as the one on the Veet Sensitive Hair Remover Gel Cream.
Even if you know nothing else about depilatory creams you’re probably familiar with their fragrances, namely, how unpleasant they are. The smell, often compared to rotten eggs, is because of the cream's chemical reaction with your hair, explains Dr. Mitchell, who tells us that “This is completely normal and will quickly fade as you reveal hair-free, glowing skin.” Before you’re totally turned off to trying a hair removal cream, know many brands are experimenting with more tolerable scents to counteract this effect by including fragrances like vanilla, cucumber, and florals.
How does depilatory cream work?
When you apply a depilatory cream, alkaline chemicals like thioglycolic acid break down bonds in the hair’s keratin until they are weakened and thin enough to seamlessly break away as you wipe away the product from your skin.
Is depilatory cream safe?
In general (and if you pay close attention to their instructions) depilatory creams are safe according to Dr. Mitchell, who tells us that while they cause a little atopic reaction in most people, the irritation usually fades quickly. However, like anything that contains chemicals they can potentially cause allergic reactions and skin damage for people with sensitive skin.
“Your skin's pH level is mildly acidic, and the pH level of these creams can negatively affect your skin,” Dr. Mitchell explains, adding that you should use depilatory products with extreme caution if you have sensitive skin. Not sure if you fall into this category? It’s always worth a chat with your dermatologist or doctor to find out before using one of these products.
Does depilatory cream hurt?
The best part about depilatory creams is that they are a pain-free alternative to shaving and waxing, so any burning or discomfort is definitely not normal. If you start to feel irritation while using these products immediately remove it, and consult your doctor or dermatologist about potential allergens you may have to its ingredients.
How often should you use depilatory cream?
Because hair removal creams can cause irritation, Dr. Mitchelle recommends waiting at least 72 hours between applications. The good news is that hair typically grows back slower and softer when using these kinds of products, meaning you shouldn’t need to use them as often as you would if you were shaving.
Why Trust Byrdie
Irene Richardson is a writer covering fashion and beauty trends for Byrdie. For this story, she conducted hours of research on dozens of depilatory creams, analyzing each formula. She also consulted board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hope Mitchell for recommendations and additional insight into how depilatory creams work.