Do Hair-Minimizing Body Lotions and Butters Really Work? 2 Experts Weigh In

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Waxing, laser, shaving — there's no shortage of hair-removal methods out there, but when it comes to budget-friendly, store-bought products (aside from shaving, of course), the options get a bit more limited. You can give at-home waxing kits a go, but they take a little practice to get the hang of. Not to mention, it takes a strong mind and determination to rip a waxing strip off of yourself; it's not for everyone. Which leaves the question: do hair-minimizing body butters and lotions work?

How Hair-Minimizing Body Lotions Work

"[Hair-minimizing lotions] usually work by altering the structure of the hair follicle, making it weak in order to slow down the production of hair," said dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD. There are different ingredients that can be used in products to minimize hair growth, but capislow is one of his favorites.

Karly Fitzgerald, the senior manager of product strategy and development at European Wax Center, further explained how the brand's products work. "The hair-minimizing ingredients work by slowing hair regrowth at the root," she said. "This means that the technology only works on skin that has been waxed or plucked because waxing pulls hair out directly from the root, vs. shaving, which simply cuts it off at the skin's surface." These products use naturally derived narcissus tazetta bulb extract to slow regrowth.

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The Results From Hair-Minimizing Body Lotions

"The results vary by person as everyone's hair grows in at different thicknesses and rates," Fitzgerald said. The technology in the European Wax Center products, as well as the ingredient capislow, work to make regrowth come in thinner and finer than it was before, but those with naturally thin, light hair will probably see quicker results than those with thicker and darker hair.

Unlike waxing and laser hair removal, hair-minimizing body products like lotions and body butters will not give you long-term results. "There is no evidence that using topical treatments with capislow will eliminate hair altogether," Dr. Gross said. "Typically, once you stop using it, hair will begin to grow back."

The best way to see how your hair growth reacts to minimizing ingredients is to try them after waxing or plucking. "Because most are formulated from plant enzymes, most people don't experience negative side effects," Dr. Gross said. "However, I always recommend doing a skin test before applying to a larger part of the body. Pick a small patch on your arm or leg, and apply the product. Wait 24 hours, and check if you have an allergic reaction or irritation."

Depilatories, On the Other Hand, Are Different

Unlike hair minimizing body lotions and butters that work to slow regrowth, depilatories offer more immediate results. "Depilatories work to gently dissolve hair below the skin's surface to not only remove hair and stubble, but also gently exfoliate, resulting in skin that stays smoother longer when compared to shaving," said Elena Petrovicova, research and development director for Nair. "To use Nair Hair Remover Lotion, simply apply an even layer of the product, wait three minutes, and wipe off the lotion and hair with a damp washcloth." This product will eliminate hair immediately from the skin's surface but will not affect the rate of hair regrowth or its thickness.