Another day, another TikTok-hyped beauty product. This time: crystal hair removers. But what are they… exactly?
Science has achieved so many things we never thought possible. Space travel. All-knowing cell phones. Clones. Why, then, haven’t we been able to come up with a pain-free, affordable alternative to razors and waxing for body hair removal? We have the technology, folks.
Those of us who do remove our body hair probably can’t estimate exactly how many dollars we’ve spent on (admittedly wasteful) plastic razor replacement cartridges or how much hissing we’ve done through gritted teeth while literally ripping out our down-there hair with sticky goo and fabric strips. But TikTok, of course, claims it has found that alternative in crystal hair erasers.
Though they vary in colour and shape depending on the brand, crystal hair removers are all pretty much the same thing: small handheld devices with one flat side covered in etched glass. Apparently, after wetting the glass, you can rub it on the skin in circular motions to quickly, easily, and painlessly remove hair (keyword: apparently). TikTok is so obsessed with them that the hashtag #crystalhairremover has accumulated more than 60 million views.
I swear to God, every other advertisement I’ve seen on the app for the past six months has been for one of these things. Amazon is flooded with them.
You know what I’m going to ask: Do they actually work, though? And, more importantly, are they safe? ‘Cause, um, rubbing etched glass across the skin seems like something that would be irritating, no? That’s exactly what I asked a couple of experts.
Meet the Experts:
- Mona Gohara, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Hamden, Connecticut.
- Shari Marchbein, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
Even the basic mechanism by which crystal hair erasers work is unclear. “I’ve read and listened to a lot of advertisements about this and, I’m still dubious on the mechanism of action,” says Mona Gohara, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Hamden, Connecticut. “Most claim that an etched crystalline surface makes the hair clump and fall off. When etched glass hits the skin, I think ‘cutting’ instead of ‘clumping’ is the more accurate verb.”
In fact, Gohara thinks the mechanism is pretty much the same as a standard razor. “This surface cuts the hair down at the follicle opening.” Shari Marchbein, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, is even more skeptical of their mechanism. “It is touted to use ‘crystal nano technology,’ whatever the heck that means, to physically clump hair and literally tear it at the skin’s surface.” As she points out, pretty much all the information that exists about crystal hair removers come from the companies that make them, and there are few real-life anecdotes about their efficacy aside from some reviews on Amazon. Suss.
I can confidently tell you, though, that these often-generic devices do come with some risk of irritating the hell out of your skin — especially if you use them on sensitive areas such as your armpits or inner thighs. “This seems like an incredibly abrasive and aggressive way to remove hair that can lead to significant redness of the skin, irritation, and in-growns,” says Marchbein.