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Composition crème dépilatoire.

The composition of a depilatory cream.

Body hair removal becomes a routine with the arrival of warmer weather. The use of depilatory cream is often a preferred alternative for those with sensitive skin, as this method is the least painful among all existing hair removal methods. But what is a depilatory cream made of to achieve this result? Let's explore this together in this article.

Published February 8, 2024, by Manon, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

What is depilatory cream?

Hair removal cream is a treatment used to easily remove hair from certain areas of the body and face. This treatment is the least painful among the many existing hair removal methods. It is suitable for sensitive and busy individuals who have a low tolerance for pain, and who do not have enough time to dedicate to body hair removal. Hair removal with cream is not only painless, it is also comfortable. You can apply the treatment and carry on with your daily activities calmly while waiting for the product to work.

The cream targets the keratin in hair by breaking down the sulfur bonds, which are sensitive to strong alkalis and deoxidizing agents, thereby causing their dissolution in just a few minutes. The hair is thus removed at the skin's surface. Consider testing a dab of cream on a small area to see if your skin does not react negatively to contact with the treatment. Also, remember to cleanse your skin before the session so that the cream can act quickly.

Use a suitable spatula to spread the depilatory cream. You can also use your fingers. Apply a thick layer to the areas to be depilated, then let it act for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the cream with the same spatula before thoroughly rinsing the affected areas with clear water. However, hair regrowth is faster than after waxing, but it leaves you hair-free for 5 days, which is not the case with shaving.

The ingredients that make up a depilatory cream.

A depilatory cream is composed of chemical agents that destroy the keratin found in hair, but not the bulb. The chemical attack of the treatment softens the hairs, which fall out after a few minutes when you remove the cream. Thethioglycolic acid is dominant in a depilatory cream. This chemical component and its salts act as a reducer by acting on the sulfur bond of cystine, an amino acid of keratin that allows to cut the hair at the surface of the epidermis. Thioglycolic acid is typically combined with alkalinizing agents, such as calcium or strontium hydroxide. These alkaline agents help maintain a high pH, which enhances the effectiveness of depilatory agents by facilitating the breakdown of the hair's protein bonds.

Theurea, typically present at a concentration less than 10%, has a keratolytic and moisturizing action. It leads to the dissolution of hairs by exfoliating those on the skin's surface. It is also a humectant that is capable of attracting water at the skin level, thus preserving hydration. A depilatory cream also consists of glycerin, which contributes to skin hydration by creating a film on the surface of the epidermis, and vegetable oils. It also contains thickening and moisturizing ingredients that include alginates, cellulose derivatives, poly(vinyl alcohol), casein, sorbitol, glycerol, and propylene glycol. Their role is to give a thicker and creamier texture to the depilatory cream. This allows for easier application on the skin in a uniform manner and helps keep the product in place for the recommended time.


  • CLAUSEN T. & al. Hair preparations. ULLMANN'S Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry (2000).


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