Is Nair Bad for You? An Ingredient Analysis

Is Nair Bad for You? An Ingredient Analysis


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Nair is one of the most popular hair removal creams in the US. The brand is marketed as a convenient solution to other hair removal methods like shaving, waxing and laser hair removal.

But what’s actually in Nair, and how can a cream cause hair to fall off? Are there any questionable additive ingredients? How does Nair compare to other hair removal methods in terms of healthiness? And what do real customers have to say about their Nair experience?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in Nair based on medical studies to give our take on whether the product is bad for you or not.

We’ll compare Nair to other hair removal methods in terms of healthiness, and feature unsponsored customer reviews of the brand.

What’s Actually in Nair?

Nair Hair Remover Lotion with Cocoa Butter ingredients

The ingredients in Nair Hair Remover Lotion with Cocoa Butter are shown above.

Potassium thioglycolate is the active ingredient, and it works by weakening the hair follicle and allowing it to be removed with friction.

However, it also may have questionable health effects according to clinical research.

A 2021 clinical trial found that hair removal creams including those containing thioglycolate had toxic effects in animals.

Thioglycolate was also described as a “penetration enhancer” in a medical review published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

This means it can enhance systemic absorption of other ingredients, which is a concern in our opinion given that Nair has other questionable ingredients which will be discussed below.

We want to note that thioglycolate is different from potassium thioglycolate in Nair, and perhaps the bond with potassium reduces any potentially toxic effects (although we haven’t seen any evidence of that – potassium thioglycolate is described as “corrosive,” “acute toxic” and “irritant” on PubChem).

Fragrance is also included in Nair, and a 2016 medical review concluded that fragranced consumer products can pose “serious risks” to human health.

Yellow 6 is an artificial dye, and as we discussed in our review of another cosmetic product called B Foxy, artificial dyes may be harmful to human health according to clinical studies.

Overall, we consider Nair to be bad for you, because of the ingredients highlighted above (especially the fragrance and artificial dye).

While it’s likely safe when used in moderation, it seems logical to avoid products with questionable additive ingredients.

But how does Nair compare to other hair removal methods in terms of healthiness? We’ll discuss that in the next section of this article.

Nair vs. Other Hair Removal Methods

Topical depilatory creams like Nair are the only type of hair removal process that involves questionable chemical compounds.

Shaving has been used as a hair removal process for thousands of years and is a manual process.

Waxing is non-toxic so long as any products used before the wax are non-toxic.

Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a type of at-home laser device with significant clinical backing for its safety and efficacy, as we documented in our Ulike reviews article.

Laser hair removal typically refers to diode lasers, which are used for permanent hair removal and are more expensive than IPL. They typically require sessions at a licensed dermatologist’s office, and have a great safety profile according to a 2006 medical review.

We would recommend any of the hair removal methods mentioned above over Nair.

Which Hair Removal Method is Most Effective?

A YouTube video from Allure tested 21 different hair removal methods including cream in a video with over 18 million views:

What's the Healthiest Nair Product?

Nair Sensitive Skin Glide On ingredients

Nair sells a product for sensitive skin called Sensitive Formula Glide On. Its ingredients are shown above.

This formulation still contains fragrance and a compound containing thioglycolate.

However, it's free of synthetic dye which makes it a healthier option than regular Nair in our opinion.

There are also several ingredients in this formulation with research backing for skin health.

Coconut oil has anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects on skin according to a 2018 medical review.

Tocopherol, or vitamin E, can help protect the skin from the sun when applied topically, as we documented in our Temu reviews article.

Soybean oil can stimulate collagen production and lighten skin according to a 2015 medical review.

While we don't recommend Nair Sensitive Formula Glide On overall, we would recommend it to consumers who are intent on purchasing from this brand.

Our Hair Removal Recommendation

The Flasher 2.0 from Nood is our top hair removal pick.

This device is cleared by the FDA and uses IPL technology, which is clinically shown to be effective and safe for hair removal as we documented above in this article.

Since this is a physical device, there are no risks of systemic effects or absorption.

Real People Try Nair

A YouTube channel called "Insider Beauty" has an unsponsored video where a user tries Nair and experiences some side effects:

A YouTube creator named Anis Abdul-Karim shared his experience using Nair to remove unwanted back hair:

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Nair is not a good hair removal choice in our opinion.

While the product is likely to be effective for removing hair, and doesn’t pose any serious risks, its active ingredient contains a compound with questionable safety data and Nair also contains inactive ingredients like fragrance and artificial dye that are not healthy.

We would recommend any other popular hair removal method like shaving or IPL over Nair.

Nair Sensitive Formula Glide On is the healthiest Nair formulation in our opinion, because it's free of synthetic dye.

For consumers intent on purchasing Nair, the brand sells a version for sensitive skin with a better formulation in regard to health.