A friend gave me two tubes of hair removal cream she couldn’t use. I wondered if they would have effects on silk and wool (protein based fibres) similar to their effects on skin and hair. The active ingredient of these products is calcium thioglycolate. It acts to soften the skin’s epithelium. The cream I used in my test was Nair Sensitive, a peachy pink cream. It also contains oils.
I pinned out a piece of hand-dyed silk fabric and applied the cream to each quadrant of it at different times through a stencil. The cream was left in the left upper quadrant for one hour; in the right upper quadrant for 45 minutes; the left lower quadrant for 30 minutes; and the right lower quadrant for 15 minutes. The recommended exposure for skin is five minutes with a maximum time of ten minutes. I then washed the whole piece with soap and water. Interestingly, no grease marks. Just some pale pink stencil shapes. The Nair cream had behaved in a similar way to Decolourant Plus in that the colour of the fabric had been removed and replaced by the colour of the cream. No obvious stress to the fabric itself, however. No holes or weakening.