Welcome to Game Changers, a monthly series where we talk about our holy grail beauty products we’re loving now—the ones that saved our hair, cleared our skin, and in some way changed our lives. This month, Kate Foster, a New York City-based writer, talks about her relationship with hair removal creams and why she’s devoted to Nair Leg Masks.
About three years ago, when I was new to New York City’s dating scene and still very self-conscious about my body hair, I was just about to order an Uber to head to a regular Tinder hookup’s apartment when I realized: I had forgotten to clean up my very overgrown pubic hair. It was too late to shave—cue the razor bumps—so I hurriedly grabbed the bottle of depilatory cream my roommate kept under our sink. I slathered it on generously everywhere. Front to back, outside—and a little too far inside for comfort too. Following the bottle’s directions, I waited the obligatory ten minutes and attempted to wipe my hairs away. I’ll just say this: Imagine the feeling of your pubic hairs being plucked out with tweezers that have been lit on fire, and multiply that by ten. I still get shivers thinking about the horrific burn I experienced that day.
But my pubes weren’t the only thing that had been burned. My will to use depilatories was incinerated too. After all, we hadn’t exactly had a loving relationship to begin with. (Raise your hand if you, too, bought Nair or Veet as a teenager and tried to scrub your hairs off rather than wipe them away.) So, for the last three years, shaving and waxing have reigned supreme as my hair removal preferences. Still, shaving is tedious and no matter how many times I’ve gone to get waxed, I’m always newly shocked at how much it freaking hurts.
Here’s the thing about activities that hurt and/or feel like a chore: We humans tend to avoid them like the plague. So I kind of just…stopped doing anything for the most part. Yep, I left my armpit, leg, and pubic hair completely alone, and to my utter shock the world didn’t end. I got used to the feeling of hairiness, learned to like the way I looked in a sundress, and even nabbed my future fiancé in the process. (Quick aside: If your partner cares about your body hair even a little, get out. NOW.)
One day this spring, Nair sent me a package containing its new Leg Mask line—I was intrigued. A skin care mask for legs with hair removal benefits seemed either too good to be true or just plain gimmicky. Being the beauty guinea pig that I am, though, I tore open the box and—enlightened by my prior depilatory trauma—executed a patch test on my ankle. When I gently whisked a washcloth over my ankle, my hair was removed with no irritation in sight. After finishing the rest of my legs, I basked in that soft, baby seal-skin feeling. The entire process took 15 minutes, ten of which involved waiting for the Nair to do its magic while I scrolled through my Insta feed. Lo and behold, following directions closely and avoiding your most sensitive parts makes all the difference!
While I am obsessed with the Nair Leg Masks, I’m not here to preach about its greatness—I’m here to appreciate the autonomy it’s given me. Call me crazy, but the chemical-laden, urea-heavy depilatory products of yore helped me learn to love my body, hair and all. Now, thanks to updated formulations, I decide when I want to be smooth or au naturale, no burns necessary.