Hair removal for women has been the norm for nearly as long as civilization (or at least the means to keep records of it) has existed. So if you have ever wondered why you feel compelled to remove hair from certain areas of your body, you are in good historical company!
Interestingly, both women and men come from a long line of hair removing ancestors, although reasons, where noted, tended to differ between the genders. In this article, learn more about the history of hair removal and how we are continuing the tradition today.
In 3000 B.C. (Egyptians) – And You Thought Epilating Hurt!
The first accounts of deliberate hair removal in humans have been traced back to the time of the ancient Egyptians. In this culture, both women and men removed as much hair as they could from every area they could reach.
However, the reasons were more aligned with survival and sanitation than with aesthetics. For men, in particular, removing all hair from the head and face helped them in combat. As the enemy had nothing to grab onto.
Both men and women removed their body hair as well. Historical documents show the majority of effort involved rubbing sharp stones or flints against the unwelcome hair until it came off. Threading with yarn and honey/beeswax is also used.
Hair Removal in 753 B.C. (Romans)
The ancient Romans were similarly fond of hair removal, although for different reasons. In Roman society, the less hair you had from head to toe, the higher your perceived social status. So the elite went to great lengths to remove hair from the head, face and body. Though one notable exception was the eyebrows.
The methods remained pretty much the same, so women and men were still rubbing off the hair with sharp flints and using waxing and threading and now crude depilatory creams as well.
In 476 C.E. (The Middle Ages) – The First Dedicated Techniques Emerge
Starting in the Middle Ages, hair removal practices all but ceased for most classes. However, there were some at the higher class level that continued to tweeze, wax, depilate or otherwise remove their body hair.
The speculation among historians today is that this was done mainly for reasons of hygiene. Since during that time, lice and other unpleasant hygiene issues were quite common and easily spread.
Hair Removal in 1300 C.E. (The Renaissance Period)
The Middle Ages may have been a time of letting head, face and body hair do as it pleased, but the Renaissance, and particularly Queen Elizabeth I, quickly set out to change that, at least in the realm of head hair. Body hair was still permitted to remain.
The trend popularized by the Queen was to remove the eyebrow hair and the hair from the front-most part of the scalp near the forehead. The goal was to make the brow look bigger and longer. Even little children were expected to adopt it as the look became so popular.
Unfortunately, some of the recipes created to do this were far from safe – including rubbing cat pee and vinegar on the child’s scalp. Walnut oil was another popular depilatory technique.
In the 1700-1800s – Modern Techniques Arrive
In 1760 C.E., something very important occurred. A French barber named Jacques Perret invented a device named the “razor”. This early device is a simple straight-edged blade mounted on a handle. But it worked so well women used it as well as men.
In 1844, another significant invention occurred. Dr. Gourard, another French physician, invented a depilatory cream, which gave those keen to remove hair from difficult-to-reach (or even see) places an easy way to do so.
And in 1915, American inventor and businessman King Camp Gillette invented the razor. Then in 1946 the bikini is invented.
From here forward, removal of body hair became the mainstream norm, at least until the 1960’s and 1970’s arrived. Like a modern Middle Ages, women and men alike let their hair grow free during this time period.
Hair Removal Today
Starting in the 1990’s with the introduction of the Brazilian wax, hair removal started to come back into style. Today, it is experiencing a resurgence of popularity, especially among young women. It is likely that images in popular media and adult content are influencing this trend.
But most importantly for women and men who wish to remove some or all of their hair, inventors and manufacturers have made significant advances in methods. Making removing hair faster, easier and more comfortable than at any other time in history.
Today, in addition to shaving, tweezing, threading, waxing and depilatories, there are epilators, electrolysis and laser hair removal, just to name a few. Some of these methods can even remove hair permanently. Not to mention various numbing creams to help with any pain. This means there is no need to spend time removing the same hairs over and over again.
Epilators Take Their Place in History
Epilators have become particularly popular as an affordable alternative to pricey threading, waxing or sugaring sessions. Since epilation done at home requires only one initial investment for the epilator device itself.
Best of all, epilators achieve the same effect as waxing does – the hair grows back finer and thinner after each session. To the point where eventually all you need is touch-up sessions every month or so.
After reading this brief history of hair removal, you’ll notice you live in the best time period of all. Today, whether you do or don’t remove any or all hair is totally up to you. There is no “one” governing standard that applies to everyone equally.
As a woman in particular, there is no cultural or gender role obstacles to overcome if you want to let your hair grow free or remove every bit of it. And best of all, if you want to remove your hair, there are comfy, safe and affordable ways to remove just the hair you want gone in the privacy of your own home!
If you’re looking for your perfect epilator, why not check out our epilator comparison chart over here.