Hey, do you know what’s in Nair, the creamy hair-removal product that smells like skunks? (Or used to—the current formulation is supposed to smell better.) Now, thanks to Wired’s “What’s Inside” article, you will! The active ingredient is potassium thioglycolate, a member of the thiol family, which not coincidentally is also responsible for the intense stink factor of skunk spray. Thiols “eat into keratin (a skin and hair protein), which is what makes actual skunk spray (and Nair) lock onto human flesh and fuzz.” Another chemical—calcium hydroxide—destroys the weakened hairs.
The rest of Nair is a bunch of animal, plant, and mineral moisturizers to try to repair the damage inevitably caused when you chemically burn away part of your body.
“What’s Inside: Nair Hair Remover, Feel the Burn!” [Wired]