It seems that people have always been concerned with hair, especially when it comes to having the right amount of it in the right places. The following is a brief look at hair removal throughout human history, and at some of the creative ways and clever hair removal machines that people have tried to use to deal with unwanted hair.
It has been suggested that cavemen were the first to have a go at removing hair from their bodies, and used a combination of crude methods to do so. In a precursor to razors, cavemen are said to have used sharpened rocks to scrape hair from their faces, and are also thought to have used a system of plucking hair by clamping it between two shells.
Ancient Egyptians were very much interested in being smooth and hair free, and used bronze razors to do the job. The Ancient Greeks and Romans were also fans of hair removal, with Julius Caesar himself known to have had his facial hairs plucked. During these times, the process of using depilatories, or depriving the hair of sugar, first started to emerge. Women in Arabia also began threading around this time, which is essentially a way to trap hair between threads and quickly pluck them. It was mostly used on leg hair.
Hair removal became very closely connected with class during Elizabethan times, and women in particular went to great lengths to manicure their hair to increase the size of their forehead. Plucking was the number one hair removal method, but all sorts of concoctions were also used on children in order to prevent hair from growing on their foreheads.
One popular hair removal method of this era involved applying ‘quick lime’ as a paste to arm and leg hair, which would essentially burn off the unwanted hair. Quick lime is a caustic substance derived from crustacean shells, which when combined with water creates a burning effect. Quick lime effectively removes hair, but often also leaves the person’s skin extremely irritated.
The first ‘safety razor’ was designed by a French barber in 1762, and created a huge breakthrough in hair removal. However, it wasn’t until 1903 that disposable razors were introduced, finally making it practical and affordable for people to be able to own their own razor. When the electric razor was introduced in 1931, it revolutionised hair removal, as all of a sudden it became something that could be done quickly, easily and without pain.
High-tech hair removal
In the last few decades, hair removal has received a huge boost from innovations in technology, which has led to laser hair removal machines, electrolysis and more widespread uses of waxing. Thanks to these new hair removal methods, it has become easier than ever to be hair free, and they have become the method of choice for thousands of men and women looking to stay smoother for longer.