Would using a hair removal cream on one's face (such as Nair) be in violation of rounding the corners of one's beard? (Vayikra 19:27)

Namely, would it be akin to use a razor (assur) OR more akin to using a scissor (likely mutar)?


4 Answers 4


This is a can of such powder (cream) that Jews would use on the Lower East Side around 100 years ago. If you look closely you will see that it says Mutar based off the teshuva of the Noda B'Yehuda, YD 81.

Yellowed label of a can with English and Hebrew/Yiddish words on it, including "Altman's RAZORLESS SHAVING POWDER", and am image of a man at a bathroom sink

Close-up of the above label, with the Hebrew caption of the image circled: " מותר על פי התורה נו'בי יו'ד ס'פא" closeup of instructions in Yiddish

closeup of instructions in English

Yiddish text on top says: א שייוו אהן א רייזאר נור מיט א פוידער איז מותר.

  • 3
    How’d you find that? Can your read that?
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 15:15
  • 5
    I own such a can,bottom pic is from my can,couldn t upload too big
    – sam
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 15:16
  • 3
    Wow. Can you write or photograph what the Yiddish text says? I can only see the partial phrase … ohn a razor nur mit a powder is a… (… without a razor only with a powder is a…).
    – Adám
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 15:37
  • 9
    Holy cow! What a find!! #shkoyach
    – alicht
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 15:49
  • 3
    Bought it a while back from Mizrachi Books ebay.com/str/jewishbookshop
    – sam
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 16:55

It is permitted to use depilatory cream (but not on Shabbat).

R Jack Abramowitz writes

The Torah only prohibits using a razor to cut the corners of the beard. There are five such corners and many positions when it comes to the details, so a pious person should not use a razor on any part of his beard, nor even on his mustache or on his neck. There is no difference between an actual razor and a sharp stone that cuts hair: they are equally prohibited. Those who remove their beard using a depilatory cream must be careful not to scrape the cream off with a knife, as that might cut the hair. Instead, they should use something like a wooden chip.

Similarly R Joshua Maroof writes

In the olden days, men who were clean shaven typically used depilatory creams to achieve that look. This involves no prohibition because it is not considered shaving.

  • 1
    See also end of here and there
    – mbloch
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 4:52
  • 3
    My great-grandfather was producing such cream for the charedim. They used wooden "knives" to remove it with the hair. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 6:18
  • 2
    See nazir 40a סך נשא
    – kouty
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 7:19
  • What value does Judaism see in the commandment if it can be so easily worked around? Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 8:32
  • @curiousdannii you could ask this question separately if a quick search shows it doesn’t exist
    – mbloch
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 8:43

Pischei Tshuva in Yoreh Deah 181 #5 brings opinions that it is allowed, warning however, not to scrape the application off with a knife.

אבל במשיחה הנעשה כעין טיח טיט והחריפות שבו שורף השער מותר דזה הוי השחתה בלי גלוח. אך אם אחר המשיחה נשאר טיח זה על פניהם אין נגררו בסכין אלא ביד ע"ש וע' בזה בתשובת שמש צדקה חלק י"ד סי' ס"א בד"ה לבד זה:


This is already mentioned by the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in 170:2 as being permitted with the caveat of not using something sharp as a scraper.

וְאוֹתָן שֶׁמְּסִירִין שְׂעַר הַזָּקָן עַל יְדֵי מִשְׁחָה מִסִּיד עִם אַוִירעם, יֵשׁ לָהֶם לִזָּהֵר, שֶׁלֹּא לִגְרֹר אֶת הַמִּשְׁחָה בְּסַכִּין, שֶׁמָּא יַחְתֹּךְ שֵׂעָר, רַק יִגְרְרוּ בְּקֵיסָם וְכַדּוֹמֶה (נוֹדָע בִּיהוּדָה תִנְיָנָא סִימָן פ). ‏

Those who remove their beard by means of a cream prepared from lime and avirem, should be careful not to scrape off the cream with a knife, which might cut the hair; but they should scrape it with a strip of wood or something similar.

I heard from Rav Y. Y. Neuwirth זצ"ל that anything sharp enough to cut an apple would be forbidden.

  • 1
    Need to do some research. Kittzur says it's siman 80. The shaving cream can says it's siman 81. And The Pischei Tshuva who should have quoted it, didn't....
    – user6591
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 17:38
  • @user6591 - both Teshuvoth talk about related topics. See sefaria.org.il/… (80) and sefaria.org.il/… (81) - 81 talks specifically about shaving-cream. Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 11:13
  • Thank you! But it is so weird to me that P.T. didn't bring these. He constantly brings N.B.
    – user6591
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 11:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .