Personal Deforestation and other Hygienic Pursuits

Remember Nair?

Don’t worry – I’m not wearing short shorts. Unless you need nightmare fuel, then visualize away.

If you’re a female and were aware in the late 70s to the whole of the 80s, then you most likely do. And if you ever used it, it is very likely a difficult-to-shake memory. Imagine a pile of singed hair marinating in ammonia. That was the smell of the stuff, and you had to sit around with this cream slathered on for about 10-15 minutes, trying desperately not to touch anything with your beNaired limbs. Then came the rinse-off. You’d think this would be a relief, but actually, it just introduced a new set of problems. The dissolving hair pudding wasn’t particularly kind to drains and the remaining slick film coated both your legs (or other areas; I’m not judging) and the tub/shower surface, making for an unpleasant feeling on the skin and a treacherous shower floor.

Extra added bonus: if you have thick, dark hair, you still had to razor shave afterwards.

So Nair didn’t seem to be a product that delivered on the promised results. I used it once or twice, but the benefits didn’t really outweigh the drawbacks. And that was a long time ago.

Fast forward at least 13 years from my last use of depilatory cream. It’s been a long winter and I needed the extra hair for warmth, but Spring is here now and I had to wear a dress last week. No, seriously, there was a concert with a dress code. So I was off to the Drogerie for razor blades, when I spied this product:

Click the image and read the reviews - maybe not at work, though. Thanks, Tammy & Penny!


Normally, my eyes would slide right past it, but for two things. It had a plastic, vaguely razor-shaped scraper packaged with the tube. I could have used one of those back in the day. Plus, it claimed it only needed 4 to 6 minutes to work. Given that it was being marketed to fellas, who ostensibly have large amounts of hair to remove, I found this a bold claim. So I grabbed the tube and ran to the checkout before I could change my mind.

Folks, Science has been busy on hair removal in the last 13 years!

It WORKED. Gangbusters. No acrid chemical smell, no skin irritation and the scraper is shockingly effective. The 6-minute maximum worked exactly as promised. There is still a bit of a hair vs. drain issue, but that was quickly alleviated with a liter of boiling water from the electric kettle. And our drains are a little wonky at the best of times, so I wasn’t too bothered by it.

Have any other expats out there found drugstore, hygiene or cosmetic products over here that exceed the ones from home? I’m kind of drugstore (chemist, for non-North Americans) junkie, so I love suggestions!

7 thoughts on “Personal Deforestation and other Hygienic Pursuits”

  1. Carrie B

    I’m glad your deforestation went well. ;-) I’ve never been a shaving fan, but it’s faster, cheaper, and has less chemicals than other methods, so that’s what I choose.

    I know for a fact that cosmetic technology “over yonder” is often better AND safer. The EU prohibits a TON of chemicals we allow here that are neurotoxins, estrongenic, etc. (e.g.: propylene glycol and petroleum to name just two). The EU has banned over 1,300 harmful ingredients. The USA? 9. NINE.

    1. Sarah

      I’m not a huge fan of the chemicals either. It became a cost-benefit analysis for me. Wet shave ankle to hip consumes 2-3 razor blades and 45-60 minutes of hot water + 10-15 minutes for regular hair wash/condition/soap/face scrub. Compared to 5-10 extra minutes of water usage tacked on to normal shower procedure, it felt like an ok trade off. And once the yearly, spectacular unhairing is done, I can maintain with a razor.

      And I like the more stringent EU regs for use of chemicals. I’m always surprised how exuberant all of the creams and sudsy things in the U.S. are when we come back.

  2. Steven

    I actually went sort of in the reverse direction for my own personal deforestation. I hate shaving, but I prefer to be clean-shaven. As you can imagine, this is a frustrating dichotomy.

    However, part of why I hate shaving is the process and the products. When I got over here, though, I found old style shaving soap and a classic shaving brush in the Müller for a very reasonable amount of money. I had always wanted to try this stuff, but in the US, even a starter set with shaving soap and a brush always seemed to be pricier than I was willing to go for something that I might never use a second time.

    This is the brand I found – http://wilkinsonsword.co.uk/men/showroom/soaps_and_brushes

    …it took me about a half dozen tries to even get a lather out of the shaving soap, but I’ve used it for about a dozen shaves now, and it’s a smoother, more comfortable shave than I had been getting with the gunk I brought with me from the US.

    1. cliff1976

      Heard of the dollarshaveclub.com? That would seem to be in line with the old school approach of a brush and soap lather. A buddy of mine (in Moscow, no less) signed up with them (he gets a free month if you follow that link and sign yourself up), but the demand has been so strong that they haven’t been able to fulfill his order yet.

  3. G

    I avoid the whole thing by going for a wax. The new methods don’t use cloth, a full leg (and more)+ underarms takes less than 40 minutes, and the time between can go to 8 weeks. If touch ups are needed (or the 6+ months of the year I am not in a bathing suit), I rip the hair out by the roots with my handy (de)epilator.

    1. Sarah

      Now see, when I’ve tried waxing, I always hear “there won’t be any regrowth for 6 weeks minimum!” Then 2 weeks later, it’s coming back. So the results just didn’t justify the price.

      And the pain of waxing wasn’t that bad, but the epilator was excruciating and drew blood. So weird, since both methods are basically tearing hair out by the root.

  4. G

    Hmm. Hair growth is cyclical, so there can be some of that, in that hair that was under the skin can definitely be out there in two weeks.. Waxing and other “ripping out” methods show their best effectivity after being done several times (to hit hair in various growth phases). But the epilator- the issue might be that it was a bad one. There should be different heads and adjustable speeds. But once again, like waxing, there’s a certain length of hair that’s a minimum and longer can result in more pain. As well as contra-indicated times of the month (for increased pain and bleeding).

What's your take on it?