With the ‘au-natural’ look now locked behind closed doors and a thing of the past, cosmetic scientists are producing more options for hair removal. And it’s not just for ladies, with many companies, including Nair, now producing products marketed at men. Nair’s Tough Hair Hair Removal Cream for dark coarse hair is a popular off-the-shelf choice for hair removers. But does it really differ from the other hair removal creams?

The constituents of hair-removal creams are shown on the package of the product, which can look slightly disconcerting. The main active ingredient in hair care depilation is thioglycolic acid in various salt forms, such as calcium thioglycate and potassium thioglycate. Whilst Veet usually use potassium thioglycate, Nair have opted for calcium thioglycate, but this does not alter the chemical reaction for hair removal.

So what is the beauty science behind these compounds?

Firstly, we think its best if we give you a quick run down of some hair anatomy to understand how these creams can remove the strands altogether! The hair structure consists of a network of proteins and one of the main proteins is called keratin. Proteins are made from long chains of different molecules called amino acids. There are 20 different types of amino acids and the main one found in keratin hair fibers is called cysteine. The proteins coil around each other (think of a hair braid) so the neighboring cysteine amino acids bind to form a bridge, which is called a disulphide bond. These bonds are responsible for the hair’s strength and structural integrity.

The hair removal products work by using thioglycolic acid to break down the keratin disulphide bonds so the hair can be easily scraped off where it emerges from the hair follicle.

But surely we have the protein keratin in our skin…

True! And we don’t want to risk damaging our skin, seen as that’s what we’ll be baring to the world after our hair removal session! Unsurprisingly, there’s some science behind this hair-targeted keratin breakdown. Formulators found that using thioglycolic acid in the presence of a strong alkali speeds up the degradation of keratin, and that in this high-speed setting the product can be used to degrade keratin in the hair quickly whilst leaving the skin virtually unaffected. Hydroxides (sodium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide) are used in Nair’s (and many others’) formula to achieve a strongly alkaline pH (alkali conditions are a pH is greater than 7).

So, what is the difference between the different hair removal creams?

It first occurred to The Geeks that a difference in hair removal cream products could be the concentration of thioglycate salts. However, from a Danish Health and Safety report, it has been shown that products are only permitted a max of 5% by weight/volume of thioglycolic acid, and a limited value for the maximum permitted pH value (pH=12.7). The differences between products mainly lay in their additional ingredients that aren’t involved in hair removal, such as the rice oil and grape seed extract included in Nair’s Tough Hair Removal Cream. Rice oil is included as a skin moisturiser to leave skin soft after hair removal, whilst grape seed extract helps soothe the skin with its anti-inflammatory benefits.

Ingredients like aloe vera are often included in other hair removal product, particularly those designed for sensitive skin, and it’s ingredients like these that really mark the difference between different products on the market!

The Verdict:
It seems that there’s a lot of beauty science behind the bottle, but it is not so specific to Nair hair removal creams. It’s common to use thioglycate salts to weaken bonds within the hair, and this has been shown to be very effective for the vast majority of users! When choosing hair removal creams, it might be best to take a look at the additional ingredients included, such as those to soothe and moisturise the skin. Be very careful to use these products exactly as directed, as the high pH used for the science of hair removal can damage the skin if you don’t follow the instructions properly!
At less than a fiver, Nair’s Tough Hair Hair Removal Cream looks like a good options for hair-removers! To get your hands on yours, click HERE!