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  • The History Of Hair Removal

    Waxing, shaving, lasering—you probably think it’s a new phenomenon. Think again! People have been removing their face and body hair for millennia, and for all types of reasons. Evidence exists to suggest that caveman (yes, “Me Man, You WOMAN!”) would use sharp scraps of rock or shell to scrape off their beards so that it wouldn’t snag in the claws of wild animals… and you thought a bikini wax was stressful! Take a look at some of the interesting and wacky trends in hair removal throughout the ages. You don’t want to miss out on this!

    The ancient Egyptians continued the grand tradition of scraping off body hair (and most likely some of their epidermis) in the name of beauty. They also created a method still used today, called sugaring. Similar to waxing, a sticky paste (similar to Nad’s) would be applied to the skin, then ripped off with cloths, along with the body and head hair, leaving only brows. It was considered uncivilized to have hair “down there.” Men of a higher class would also remove the hair on their heads, as a mark of status.

                                                                                                                      Hair removal creams appeared on the scene as well, including a popular mixture containing resin, pitch, white vine or ivy gum extract, ass’  fat, she-goat’s gall, bat’s blood, and powdered viper. These trends continued into the Roman era, where the first copper tweezers were introduced!

    During the European middle ages, hair removal continued to be popular, but not in quite the same way.  Body hair was okay, but women would remove their eyebrows and hair from their hairline to give them an elongated forehead.  Homemade depilatories ran the gamut from pleasant (like rubbing walnut oil on babies’ foreheads to prevent hair growth) to disgusting (affixing bandages covered in a mixture of cat urine and vinegar to the hairline).

                                                                                            Another ancient practice that has been gaining popularity in the US is the ancient art of threading, known as khite in Arabic.  A thread is looped and the hair (usually eyebrows) is captured in the loop and plucked out.  This practice was widespread in the Eastern world along with other forms of hair removal, such as using depilatories. In many Islamic cultures, it was considered sinful for women not to keep their bikini area hair-free and they would flock to public baths to have it removed or simply remove it themselves.

    Razor time! The painful-sounding scraping technique continued through the centuries, with men and women using rocks, pumice, shells, or flint to rid themselves of face and body hair. This eventually evolved into the razors of today, with the invention of the L-shaped Perret razor in the 1760s, and the Gillette safety razor in the 1880’s!

    20th-century hair removal methods are varied and widely available and affordable; used by members of all social classes.  Shaving, sugaring, tweezing and waxing are still some of the most common beauty practices of men and women. Threading has gained popularity again, and new technologies like electrolysis and laser hair removal have recently appeared on the scene, offering truly long term results for the first time. Electrolysis uses a thin metal needle to zap the base of the hair follicle and cauterize it permanently.  The latest trend in hair removal, the laser, entered the scene recently, in 1995, but is gaining widespread popularity. While electrolysis targets individual hairs, a laser can often cover areas of skin more quickly. It works well for light-skinned, dark-haired individuals.

    What do you think? Are you glad to be alive in the 21st century when hair removal can be as easy as scheduling an appointment for a laser hair removal session? Or maybe you’ve been inspired to start scraping your legs with shells to save a few bucks? Swimsuit season is fast approaching – it’s time to defuzz!

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