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Up in the Air About Removing Hair? Follow These Best Practices for Using Nair®

Many labs at U-M regularly use Nair® or depilatory cream for hair removal on rodents. When used properly, this can be a very effective method for removing hair prior to surgery or other procedures.

In order to ensure animal health and well-being when using these or other related products, please review the following best practices:

  • Appropriate hair removal is often best performed with the animal anesthetized. Using a method approved on your animal use protocol, anesthetize the mouse or rat prior to hair removal
  • Shave as much of the hair as possible in the region of interest, using care not to cause clipper burn
  • Apply a thin, solid layer of Nair to the desired area using a glove or cotton swab. If using cream on the animal’s head, be sure to protect the animal’s eyes with paralube prior to applying Nair
    • Allow contact time of 30 to 60 seconds. For sensitive areas (e.g., head, abdomen, medial limbs), it’s best to stay closer to the 30-second mark
    • For posterior regions with thicker skin (e.g., shoulders, back, lateral limbs) application time may extend closer to 60 seconds
  • Once the contact time has been reached, promptly wipe off the Nair using warm water and a swab/gauze. Rinse the area well and repeat the rinse until all cream has been removed. Note: this is one of the most important steps in this process. If the cream is left on the rodent’s skin for too long, it can cause chemical burns and severe discomfort. If additional hair remains, dry the area thoroughly and repeat the process once. If hair remains after conducting the process a second time, contact your ULAM Faculty Veterinarian to discuss appropriate next steps.

Finally, please remember that all procedures, including hair removal, must be described in your IACUC approved animal use protocol. Personnel who perform these procedures must also be listed on the approved protocol and complete any procedure-specific training prior to working with the animals.


If you have any questions or concerns about the use of Nair or depilatory cream, please consult with your ULAM Faculty Veterinarian. If you or members of your lab staff require additional training on the use of these products, please contact the ULAM Training Core at ulam-trainingcore@umich.eduor (734) 763-8039.

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