A History and Today’s Options for Unwanted Hair Removal

One of the most popular beauty services today is also one with perhaps the most storied past.

 

The Egyptians may have been the forerunners of many beauty rituals, but they invested the most time into hair removal. Women of ancient Egypt removed all of their body hair, including that on their heads, with tweezers (made from seashells), pumice stones, or early beeswax and sugar-based waxes.

 

During the Roman Empire, the lack of body hair was considered a sign of the classes. Wealthy women and men used razors made from flints, tweezers, creams, and stones to remove excess hair. In fact, even pubic hair was considered uncivilized which is why many famous statues and paintings of Grecian women are depicted hairless.

Just like Cleopatra was a trendsetter in her time, so too was Queen Elizabeth 1 during the Middle Ages. She set the precedence for hair removal amongst women, who followed her lead by removing it from their faces, but not their bodies. The fashion of this era was to remove eyebrows and hair from the forehead (to make it appear larger), which women did by using walnut oil, or bandages soaked in ammonia (which they got from their feline pets) and vinegar.

The late 18th century ushered in a more civilized approach to hair removal. While European and American women didn’t take too much consideration into it, Jean Jacques Perret, a French barber, created the first straight razor for men in 1760, which was used by some women.

By 1844, one of the first depilatory creams, called Poudre Subtile, was developed. Soon after, in 1880, King Camp Gillette created the first modern day razor for men and thus a revolution was born. However, it would be another three decades before a razor specifically marketed for women would appear.

In 1915, Gillette created the first razor specifically for women, the Milady Decolletée. The early 1900’s also saw ads for depilatory cream hit the masses. In 1907 an ad for X-Bazin Depilatory Powder began circulating, promising to remove ‘humiliating growth of hair on the face, neck, and arms’. A decade later, a leading women’s fashion magazine ran an ad featuring a woman with her arms raised and her armpits bare, the first of it’s kind.

Remington released the first electric women’s razor in 1940 after the success of a male version. Due to a war time shortage of nylon, more products and techniques for hair removal hit the market as women were forced to go bare legged more often.

During the 1950s, hair removal became more publically accepted. Since many depilatory creams were still irritating to the skin, women relied on razors to shave their legs and underarms and tweezers to groom and shape their eyebrows.

Wax strips made their début in the 1960s and quickly became the method of choice for removing unwanted hair under the arms and on legs. The first laser hair removal method hit the market in the mid-sixties, but it wasn’t until recently that the process was perfected with safer and ever-advancing technologies in the hands of trained professionals.

Although electrolysis had been around for nearly a century, it became more reliable and safe in the 1970s with the development of transistorized equipment. The decade also saw a resurgence in the removal of bikini area hair as the swimsuit fad of the 1960s stuck around.

Today, most women rely on some form of hair removal in their everyday beauty routines, whether it’s tweezing, shaving, waxing, laser, or depilatory. Improvements in time-honored procedures like waxing and new technologies like lasers continue to make hair removal one of the most popular beauty services available.

Our Rejuvaderm MediSpa offers both advanced laser and wax hair removal services. Stop in or make an appointment for a no-obligation assessment on what’s best for you.