If you thought hair removal was an invention of the 20th Century, think again. Hair removal dates back to the earliest days of civilization. Over the years, the methods have evolved and become more sophisticated.
The earliest body hair removal tactics included:
Used by the prehistoric men, this hair removal system involved using a sharp rock or object (shells, sticks, flint) to scrape along the skin to remove hair from the face. It is thought that prehistoric men chose to scrape facial hair away for sanitary reasons to prevent bugs from living in their beards. They also used hair removal to prevent enemies from grabbing their facial hair in hand-to-hand combat. This hair removal method was an early precursor to shaving with razors.
Both men and women from ancient civilizations used depilatory creams for body hair removal. These creams were made of chemicals that broke down hair follicles. Some of the earliest depilatories were made of quicklime and arsenic. Depilatory creams are among hair removal systems still used today.
The scraping methods used by prehistoric man evolved into copper razors around 3,000 BC. Men in both Egypt and India used copper razors for facial hair removal. Using razors for hair removal was an important cultural standard – men with unshaven faces were seen as lower class. At the height of the Roman Empire, woman began to use razors as well for body hair removal.
The ancient Egyptians perfected this hair removal system. Sugaring involved using a sticky substance that was applied to the skin. A strip of cloth was placed over the substance and then ripped off, taking away unwanted hair with it. Sugaring became popular in Ancient Egyptian times and was used by Cleopatra. This hair removal method helped set the stage for modern day waxing.
Women and men in the Roman Empire turned towards pumice stones for hair removal. Vigorously rubbing a pumice stone against the skin can remove hair and dead skin cells. This body hair removal method is still used today, especially by individuals looking for natural, organic treatments.
As hair removal became more popular with women in the Roman Empire, they began to use tweezers for body hair removal. Early tweezers were similar to today’s tweezers but were made of copper and other materials. This worked by isolating a hair between two metal ends and plucking the hair out.
This hair removal system began in early cultures in Egypt, Asia and the Middle East. Women would use yarn and string twisted together to pull unwanted hair out by its root. It is still used today in salons for facial and body hair removal.
Hair removal continued throughout the Middle Ages. As it became more popular in the 20th Century, new body hair removal methods emerged. These included:
Electrolysis first came onto the scene around the time of the First World War. This hair removal method involves placing a thin metal probe at the base of each hair follicle and sending an electrical current through the hair to disable the follicle. By the 1980s, electrolysis grew as computer technology making the treatment more widely available.
Laser Hair Removal
Starting in the 1960s, laser hair removal became an option for removing unwanted body hair. It wasn’t until 1995 that the FDA approved laser hair removal for permanent hair reduction. Laser hair removal works by sending a beam of light at the base of the hair follicle to disable it and prevent the hair from growing in the future. Throughout the years, hair removal systems have continued to change. As technology advances, so will the methods for hair removal. Because there are so many options for hair removal, it’s a good idea to do your research and compare methods. Consider advantages of each hair removal method such as cost and length of results before deciding. Many men and women choose to use a variety of hair removal tactics to keep their bodies free of unwanted hair.