Think about the exhausting number of techniques available to us to remove unwanted body hair; waxing, threading, laser hair removal, shaving, depilatory creams – when exactly did we decide that body hair was unacceptable?
Turns out, the notion of hair removal goes back further than you may think. Take a look at the evolution of body hair removal, and what was used before the trusty razor.
Most ancient Egyptian women chose to remove all of their body hair, including the hair on their heads! It is believed they removed all of their hair as a response to lice, fleas and other parasites, and to prevent body odour, which was prevalent in their hot climates. They did this with tweezers made from seashells, pumice stones or early beeswax and sugar based waxes. Ancient Egyptians, early Middle Eastern and Asian cultures also saw the introduction of threading during this time, a procedure which has only recently taken off in the western world!
During the Roman Empire, body hair removal was considered to be a sign of class. Wealthy men and women used razors made from flint, tweezers, creams and stones to remove any excess hair, as those with any excess hair were regarded as lower class. Pubic hair was deemed uncivilised in this era, which is why many famous statues and paintings of Grecian women are depicted hairless.
During the Middle Ages hair removal was very popular when it came to the face, but not so much for the body. The style during this era, particularly driven by Queen Elizabeth 1, was to have all facial hair removed– including the eyebrows! It was deemed fashionable to have a large forehead, so women would remove their eyebrows and hair on their foreheads. They would do this by scraping metal strigil over walnut oiled skin, or bandages soaked in ammonia and vinegar.
In the 1700’s the first straight razor was introduced. A French barber, Jean Jacques Perret, created the straight razor for men which some women also used.
The 1800’s saw Dr Gouraud create the first depilatory cream named Poudre Subtile. Soon after this cream was released the modern day razor was born which created a hair removal revolution. Men all over the world began using this razor however it wouldn’t be marketed to women for another 3 decades.
The early 1900’s saw Gillette create the first razor specifically designed for women, the Milady Decolletee. Depilatory cream advertising also hit the masses; an ad for Bazin Depilatory Powder began circulating which promised to remove ‘humiliating growth of the hair on the face, neck and arms.’ A decade later, Harper’s Bazaar ran an ad featuring a woman with her arms raised and her armpits bare, the first ad of its kind. This ad painted underarm hair as unfeminine, unhygienic and completely unfashionable which saw the adoption of razor blades by more women and a major push in female body hair removal.
World War 1 also saw a partnership form between Gillette and the Armed forces, each soldiers standard issue gear included a Gillette razor which has helped forever solidify Gillette as the leading male razor brand.
Remington released the first electric women’s razor in 1940 after the success of the male version. The 40’s also saw Nair introduce their first depilatory cream which is still used today! Due to a wartime 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 1950’s, 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.
The 1960’s saw the introduction of wax strips which quickly became the method of choice for removing unwanted hair under the arms and on the legs. The first laser hair removal method was introduced in the sixties but was quickly abandoned due to its skin damaging tendencies.
Although electrolysis had been around for nearly a century, it became more reliable and safe in the 1970’s with the development of the equipment. This era also saw the resurgence of removing hair from the bikini area, as the swimsuit fad of the 60’s grew in popularity.
1980’s to now
Most women today rely on some form of hair removal in their everyday beauty routines whether it is shaving, waxing, tweezing, depilatory creams or laser hair removal. Waxing and laser hair removal salons are at an all-time high and are continuing to rise. Hair removal technology is continuing to improve and develop particularly in the laser hair removal space which has seen it become one of the most popular beauty services we have.
Brazilian Butterfly uses several different hair removal techniques such as waxing, threading and laser hair removal. If you would like to make an appointment book now!