Do Depilatory creams make hair growth worse?

I have a question about Depilatory creams.
Do they make hair growth worse the more you use it?
I’m asking because I’m a man and i have used it ‘down stairs’
quite a bit and have noticed more hair growing after a long
period of time not using the cream?
I know it isn’t supposed to be used there but it hasn’t caused
me any harm.

Any irritation or “assault” to the skin may cause hair to grow to protect the skin. We see increased hair growth after a person has been wearing a cast for 6 weeks or more, as an example.

Depilatory use certainly qualifies for the possibility of increased hair growth. It is a harsh chemical that dissolves protein and it can have skin side efforts, too, such as hyperpigmentation and the burning of the top layer of skin.

It may be a coincidence that you have noticed increased hair growth that is not related to depilatory use? Who knows for sure, but the possiblity does exists.

Depilatory creams are essentially a "chemical shave.’

There is no clinical evidence showing such creams induce more hair follicles to produce more hairs (same with shaving). What you are experiencing is visual: from zero to "original amount’ of hair … the amount only appears more than the original; it’s not.

Could the skin inflammation from repeated depilatory use awaken sleeping follicles (via increased blood flow)? Somebody’s going to make the case. I don’t know. It is somewhat conceivable.

The chemicals in a depilatory are similar to chemicals used in what was called a "permanent wave’: a process to curl (or straighten) a woman’s hair. (The chemicals were exactly the same in those "good old days.’)

Doing a "salon permanent,’ a depilatory-like chemical is applied that dissolves the hair’s outer "shell’ which frees-up the shingle-like hair cuticle (outward pointing over-lapping scales). At the right time, a neutralizer is applied to stop the chemical reaction. The hairs are then wound around a "curler.’ While on the “curler,” a "setting’ solution is applied that somewhat reestablishes the hairs bond and holds the curls (but not really permanently).

In effect, the depilatory is analogues to a "salon permanent,’ except stronger: the entire hair is dissolved (above the skin).

Both products present a potential hazard if used improperly (usually: left on too long). The depilatory can, after dissolving the hair, dissolve the skin. In most cases, only the epidermis is dissolved because at that point your skin would burn like "holy hell!’ There are gazillions of nerve endings located in (just under) the epidermis. You WILL feel it … YIKES! And the old “scrotes” will turn bright red, burn and swell: lovely!

Similarly, if the "permanent wave’ is left on too long, the hair becomes lighter in color (almost always). Or,OMG! … the woman’s hair "fall outs’ in chunks. Combining hair dye and a permanent wave almost always results in a "hair disaster!’ Maybe that’s how the "Bob’ hairstyle got invented? Or maybe those wigs of the 1960s (I still have one of Cher’s wigs) … or my favorite, a SNOOD!

Bring back the snood … very sexy! Lana Turner in a snood! WOW!

Oh … up early with DEE DEE?

I guess we answered this question reeeaaallllyyyy good, Mike!

People are going to think we’re “in cahoots!”

I know I would like to be! Tee hee!

It’s just like shaving, except with chemicals, so no, it won’t make hair growth worse.

Theoretically, anything that irritates the skin, especially over a period of time, can create the POTENTIAL for stimulating hair growth. Shaving test studies have shown there is no effect on hair growth. I don’t believe I have seen studies on the effect of chemicals that dissolve the hair and skin, but I think the possibility may be there because it can be more irritating than shaving, depending on the many factors, hair coarseness, length of time left on the skin, frequency of use.

There’s actually a treatment that’s called alkaline wash that uses the same principle and it claims to be permanent. Alkaline wash will dissolve the hair using a strong base that will weaken the hair root after a couple of treatments, and eventually it will be gone permanently. It would be a shame if it did the exact opposite.

Cream depilatories are basically a very strong alkaline wash, but in cream form. Depilatories and alkaline washes will have no long-term effect on hair growth, as they only dissolve hair above the skin surface.

Alkaline wash is only good on fine, downy hairs. It is not strong enough to dissolve many coarse hair types.


IF you are worried about excess hair growth, you may want to consider laser treatments for permanent removal. They are sage and effective. Ask your dermatologist.

Laser hair removal = permanent hair reduction
electrolysis = permanent hair removal

Laser is cleared - not approved - for permanent hair REDUCTION, not removal.

From the site:


The popularity of laser hair removal has increasingly grown, prompting many laser manufacturers to conduct research and seek FDA clearance for their lasers for this indication. The market is growing so quickly that FDA cannot maintain an up-to-date list of all laser manufacturers whose devices have been cleared for hair removal, as this list continues to change. To learn if a specific manufacturer has received FDA clearance, you can check FDA’s Website at Medical Device Databases under the 510(k) database. You will need to know the manufacturer or device name of the laser. You can also call FDA’s CDRH-Division of Industry and Consumer Education (DICE) (formerly DSMICA), at 800-638-2041, fax your request to 301-847-8149 or send an e-mail to:

Manufacturers should be aware that receiving an FDA clearance for general permission to market their devices does not permit them to advertise the lasers for either hair removal or wrinkle treatment, even though hair removal or wrinkle treatment may be a by-product of any cleared laser procedure. Further, manufacturers may not claim that laser hair removal is either painless or permanent unless the FDA determines that there are sufficient data to demonstrate such results. Several manufacturers received FDA permission to claim, “permanent reduction,” NOT “permanent removal” for their lasers. This means that although laser treatments with these devices will permanently reduce the total number of body hairs, they will not result in a permanent removal of all hair. The specific claim granted is “intended to effect stable, long-term, or permanent reduction” through selective targeting of melanin in hair follicles. Permanent hair reduction is defined as the long-term, stable reduction in the number of hairs re-growing after a treatment regime, which may include several sessions. The number of hairs regrowing must be stable over time greater than the duration of the complete growth cycle of hair follicles, which varies from four to twelve months according to body location. Permanent hair reduction does not necessarily imply the elimination of all hairs in the treatment area.

FDA does not make comparisons between systems or how well or safely they work compared to another company’s system. FDA does not recommend one laser system over another.

Lasers cleared for body hair removal are also cleared for facial hair removal.