In this article I’m going to be reviewing Magic Shaving Powder.
It is a powder that you reconstitute in water and it works as a chemical depilatory similar to Nair.
It’s been around for a really, really long time. What’s attractive about it is that it’s really inexpensive.
What is Magic Shaving Powder?
The active ingredient in this powder is the same as any other depilatory like Nair or Veet. It’s thioglycolate.
Thioglycolate works in chemical depilatories by dissolving the keratin bonds within the keratin of your hair, but they also can dissolve those bonds in the keratin in your skin.
While chemical depilatories work by dissolving the hair and giving you a smooth hair removal, unfortunately they cause pretty uncomfortable irritant contact dermatitis, as you can imagine they’re also dissolving some of your skin keratins.
Chemical depilatory is an attractive option especially for people who suffer with ingrown hairs.
The reason for this is that part of what causes ingrown hairs or shave bumps is that when you shave the hair, it ends up having a pointy tip and as it grows out it can curl back and pierce the neighboring skin and then start growing downward.
What then happens is you mount a foreign body response to that hair growing into the skin. Similar to what would happen if you got a splinter.
This turns into a bump, a.k.a. shave bomb.
Black men in particular are more susceptible to ingrown hairs in the beard area because of the shape of the hair. The hair is more curled and has more of a tendency to grow back and pierce the skin.
When it comes to dealing with shaved bumps, the first step management is to encourage the individual to abandon shaving for at least six weeks to allow the hair to grow out and those little ingrown hairs will start to come to the surface of the skin and grow out.
Unfortunately that’s really just not an option for many men, in particular with the beard. A lot of professions mandate that you have a clean shave.
So chemical depilatory is a nice option but this is not something unique to men.
Women certainly do get ingrown hairs a fair amount too, especially when it comes to removing hair in the armpits, the groin and even the legs.
The unique thing about Magic Shaving Powder is that you basically reconstitute it yourself in water. The powder is like cornstarch, the active ingredient thioglycolate and then of course fragrance.
As a side note, pretty much all chemical depilatories out there house fragrance in them because it smells foul, especially when those sulfur bonds are being broken apart in the keratin. It is not a pleasant odor. So they do all have fragrance added.
So in addition to being irritating from dissolving your skin keratin, the fragrance can also be irritating.
That’s another downside of using these.
Risks With Magic Shaving Powder
Regardless of the type of chemical depilatory that you’re using, you can expect a very high risk of contact dermatitis, because it’s going to chew up some of that skin keratin and can cause a lot of problems.
The risk of that is proportional to the concentration of thioglycolate and the duration of time you put it on the skin. It is also affected by things like the type of skin, the area of the body where you’re putting it. Some body sites are going to be more prone, the skin is gonna be thinner, maybe the skin is under a lot more friction, like in the groin area or the armpits.
It’s also going to depend on if you have any background irritation in your skin already that would push you over the tipping point so to speak for getting a really bad irritant contact dermatitis.
So there are some nuances to doing it and not having a bad outcome.
Errors When Using
The disadvantage of the powder as opposed to the ready-made, pre-mixed stuff, is that it’s more prone to user error and if you go on Tik-Tok you will see that some people are willy-nilly in mixing water and the powder.
I would strongly caution you not to do that. Make sure you follow the instructions very carefully.
The instructions tell you to mix equal parts of the powder to water, like two teaspoons of powder to two teaspoons of water.
You want to follow that exactly because otherwise you can get a really concentrated version of the thioglycolate or maybe it’s not concentrated, it’s too dilute and that messes up the contact time and then ultimately you end up getting more irritation.
At the end of the day though chemical depilatories have the advantage of reducing the risk of ingrown hairs but they do come with a significant risk of contact dermatitis.
It appears as though the Magic Shaving Powder has an even greater risk of contact dermatitis just because of the user variability and how it’s mixed up.
It’s not off the table completely though. I think it’s a good option for hair removal, especially for men who get ingrown hairs in the beard area.
For women who want to use this to remove hair on the face, it’s also an option, but women have an even greater risk of contact dermatitis to this as opposed to men because women have skin that is a little bit thinner than men.
When I say irritant contact dermatitis that can range from just redness and irritation to a acne to bumps that heal with hyperpigmentation.
This is more of a risk for people who have a deeper skin tone, which often are people who are seeking to use this to reduce the risk of ingrown hair. Specifically black people. Their hair is more likely to lead to ingrown hairs. That can be incredibly disfiguring and heal with a keloid.
If that is you, make sure you’re really careful and pay attention to the instructions and don’t leave it on too long.
Tips For Using
Some other tips though about using these that you guys should know.
When it comes to the powder specifically, it says on the instructions mix it up in equal parts.
In terms of putting it on the skin, you don’t want to put this or any other chemical depilatory on skin that is sweaty. Sweat is an irritant. You mix that with something like thioglycolate and that’s a recipe for contact dermatitis.
So make sure your skin is clean and dry and you actually don’t want to wash your face or the skin right before you apply this.
The reason for this is that when you wash with soap, or even with a gentle cleanser, it’s going to take away some of your natural lipid barrier and it’s just gonna make you more prone to irritation.
It’s a tricky window of time. You want the skin to be clean, you want it to be dry, you don’t want it to be sweaty, but you don’t want it to be freshly washed.
So maybe do this in the evening time, several hours after you’ve gotten out of the shower to give your skin some time to recover but it’s still clean, you’re not sweaty. That would be a good time to consider doing this.
Never use a chemical depilatory on a sunburn at all. If you have any kind of irritation on your skin, don’t put a chemical depilatory on it. That can really lead to problems.
I would not use this to the face if you have acne. It can cause a lot of problems and just aggravate your acne.
In terms of using this on the face if you have rosacea, I would say skip this. Probably not gonna be a good idea, it will probably aggravate your rosacea just by irritating the skin barrier.
It also can cause a lot of problems if you have eczema. Eczema is a disease in which there is a problem with the skin barrier. So dissolving that with a chemical depilatory can really cause a lot of problems for you.
When it comes to this powder specifically, you put it on the skin anywhere from five to seven minutes. There are a few things you should be aware of and pay attention to while you’re doing this.
You will experience a slight tingling sensation, that is normal. But if you experience a burning sensation that means you want to rinse it off right away.
I think consumers are under the impression when they use products like this that if it’s burning, they’re gonna get a closer shave.
That’s not true at all.
If you have a burning sensation, that is thioglycolate working on your skin. You want to wash it off right away with water.
As a starting point, I would say just go with the five minutes. If you feel a slight tingling sensation after five minutes, go ahead and rinse it off.
If you don’t feel anything after five minutes then wait an additional two minutes to the seven minute mark and then rinse it off completely.
Doing it that way can reduce any issue with irritation.
Set a timer, don’t just eyeball it or guesstimate things.
Once you reach that time limit, rinse it off completely and then come in with the spatula to remove any hair. As you rinse the product off, a lot of the hair is going to go off with it and so anything that’s left over, the hair is gonna be soft and malleable and you can come in with a spatula and remove it.
But definitely rinse off the product first before doing that.
I think that’s a common mistake a lot of people make. They come in with towel or spatula at that time limit and start rubbing it off. But really you need to rinse the product off first to remove it and inactivate it, so you’re not getting that additional contact time.
You’ll notice that the hair almost looks curly, spirally. The reason is that that thioglycolate is breaking down the bonds in the hair.
You may not be aware of this but thioglycolate is also the ingredient in hair perm solutions that are aimed at curling your hair. It works the same way, but obviously at different concentration.
After you remove it, make sure you rinse it off completely, don’t leave anything left behind on the skin. Then you come in with a spatula, remove those hairs, rinse the skin again to make sure that all the hairs are off.
To make sure it’s all off, get another rinse and then come in with a plain moisturizer to really help your skin barrier recover from that chemical insult and that can help reduce irritation.
Quite a bit after you use a chemical depilatory cream or the powder, do not use any kind of exfoliating products on the skin.
In The End
In terms of the Magic Shaving Powder, it’s not as though the thioglycolate in the powder is any more magical than thioglycolate in Nair or Veet.
It is less expensive, but it comes with more risks because you have to do the work yourself of reconstituting it. A lot of the Nair and Veet products, they’ve actually come a long ways in formulating their products to be less irritating, they have some that are marketed for specific areas.
I say stick with those. This isn’t the difference between Magic Shaving Powder price and Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream. We are talking just a few dollars for the chemical depilatory.
I say go with the stuff that’s already mixed up because it’s less risky.
Another tip is do a test spot somewhere. See how your skin reacts to it. It is a good idea to just do a small area, like a little square, and see how it goes, how your skin reacts to it. And then later on do a more widespread area.
When it comes to removing hair with these in the armpit or in the groin area. When I say groin area, I’m specifically talking about the upper inner thigh and right along the bikini line.
If you’re removing hair using chemical depilatory creams or the powder in these areas, after you rinse the product off, I suggest using a barrier cream to the skin there because it’s even more prone to irritation.
For removing hair on the genitalia (pubic hair) in women, I don’t advise doing the chemical depilatory with Magic Shaving Powder, because the skin there is very sensitive and you can really develop a horrible contact dermatitis.
You have to be really careful with it and rather than doing the powder in those areas, I definitely suggest buying the Nair or Veet products that are specifically marketed for those areas.
And really pay attention to the time. Set a timer so that you don’t expose your skin too long.
Rebecca is a licensed aesthetician and certified laser technician with almost 15 years experience in the dermatology. Her life-long passion is making people look good and happy.