Female hair removal has a very long history. It is indeed not new but rather ancient. Researchers have found that hair removal goes back to 30,000 B.C where Homo Sapiens were using sharp shells and shark teeth to shave. Therefore, women of all ages have been through trying a lot of different hair removal methods.
The human body has 5,000,000 follicles. To a lot of people, body hair seems pretty useless and just an inconvenience. Otherwise, why would they bother removing them? The answer is coming a bit later. As it turns out, each single hair in the body serves a purpose.
Hair helps regulate body temperature, keeping humans warmer in colder climates. It also helps protect the body from outside elements like dirt. In that context, why is female hair removal such a huge thing? Why bother going through it at all? Well, in the name of beauty of course! And also personal preferences.
As beauty standards have changed over the ages, so did the female hair removal requirements and methods. And while we can trace it back to prehistoric times, we will go as far as Ancient Egypt here.
Female hair removal in Ancient Egypt
While Cleopatra is credited with inventing the first tampon, long before her, women in Ancient Egypt already had to remove their hair. Turns out their hair removal methods are still in use today! Therefore, we can credit them for modern female hair removal methods such as waxing!
Women in ancient history indeed used beeswax and sugar based waxes to remove unwanted hair. They were dedicated to removing all of their body hair, including that on their heads. They also used tweezers (made from seashells) and pumice stones.
In the Roman Empire
Have you ever wondered why famous Roman statues and paintings of Grecian women are always hairless? After all, roman and greek people were not any less hairy than people nowaday, were they? Maybe not, but they sure dedicated time to remove all their body hair.
Indeed, during the Roman Empire, pubic hair was considered uncivilized. The lack of body hair was considering a sign of the upper classes. Therefore, wealthy women and men used razors (made from flints), tweezers, creams and stone to remove unwanted hair. Yes, even men were dedicated to be hairless.
Hair removal in the Middle Ages
The Middle Ages knew different hair removal trends and Queen Elizabeth 1 was one big trendsetter. She slightly changed the principle behind female laser hair removal. Indeed, instead of removing their body hair, women removed their facial hair. The goal was to make one’s forehead look bigger.
The fashion of the time was to remove eyebrows along with hair from the forehead. Women would use walnut oil, bandages soaked in ammonia and vinegar. Thankfully, this female hair removal method did not make it to the modern era!
The 1800s and the first depilatory cream
We have already explained how damaging to the skin chemical creams can be. Therefore, we advise against it. Turns out, they go back as far as the 1800s. Indeed, back in 1844, a man called Dr. Gourand invented the first depilatory cream. It was called Poudre Subtile. Such creams have been used by women ever since.
Shortly after, in 1880, King Camp Gillette created the first modern day razor for men. Back then, it was a revolution. Men were using a blade to shave. Even though it would take three more decades for women’s razors to be marketed, women often used men’s razors to remove body hair.
The 20s and hairless armpits
The Roaring Twenties were a revolution. Music, fashion, customs and behavior, a lot changed. While a decade prior women more mostly covered head to toe, new fashion trends made them show more skin. Now that arms and shoulders were bare, armpits had to be hairless. Back in 1915, Gillette created the first razor specifically for women.
By 1900, depilatory creams were widely used by women of all classes. Indeed, an ad for X-Bazin Depilatory Powder from 1907 claimed to remove all hair from the face, neck and arms. Ten years later and a leading magazine ran an ad featuring hairfree armpits. The first of its kind and the beginning of another revolution.
The first electric razor in the 40s
Female hair removal nowadays offers many options: shaving, waxing, creams, electrolysis, sugaring, laser hair removal, etc. But we have already covered how you should ditch your razor and even waxing. Back then, there was not as much choice. Furthermore, shaving was as inconvenient as it is today.
Fortunately, Remington released the first electric razor for women in 1940. The male version had been too successful to not bank on making one for women. Furthermore, female hair removal grew in popularity very quickly because of a shortage in nylon and other hair removal products. Women were forced to be bare legged more often!
Female hair removal in the 60s
While the first laser hair removal research came out in the 90s, the technique was not deemed safe enough until 1964. Then, the FDA approved the first ND: YAG laser which still did not offer permanent results. The laser was still too damaging to the skin also.
However, it was in the 1960s that wax strips made their grand debut and became one of the most popular female hair removal methods to take care of armpit and leg hair. Waxing sure was not the most pleasant hair removal method but it provided good enough results and was much more sustainable than shaving or creams.
Electrolysis in the 70s
The 70s saw the advent of electrolysis. While it had been around for nearly a century, it was not safe nor reliable enough for widespread use. That was changed in the 1970s with the development of transistorized equipment. Electrolysis offers a permanent hair removal option, although it is very pricey and a long and painful process.
Bikini made a huge breakthrough in the 70s, leaving the usual one-piece swimsuit behind. This explains why that decade saw a resurgence in the removal of bikini hair. Most women shaved or waxed their bikini area back then. While there were a few options, the Brazilian bikini was (and still is) the most popular one.
Hair removal from the 80s to now
Female hair removal is still a thing today. Although the number of options has not changed much, techniques have greatly improved and now offer safer hair removal solutions. Common hair removal includes tweezing, shaving, plucking, using chemical creams, and sugaring.
Even though electrolysis is for now the only permanent hair removal method, laser hair removal has had a huge breakthrough. Not only is it safe and reliable, but the treatment also works for everybody, including dark skins and fair hair. Patients need between six and twelve sessions to achieve up to 90% hair growth reduction and not needing to shave ever again. Laser hair removal also ends up being cheaper than both waxing and shaving in the long term. Indeed, the treatment is done over one year while shaving must be done every other day.