Hair is so…mammalian. Yeah, sure it keeps us warm so that we don’t have to lay around on a sunny sidewalk to warm up after a cold night. Yeah, sure it protects some of us hairier types from bug bites on the legs and arms. Yeah, sure it designates some of us as blonds, others brunettes, and others, currently, as gingers.
But there are places where hair is not welcome. And there is a long history of humans trying to get rid of it.
The Egyptians are credited with being the forerunners of many beauty rituals, everything from wearing makeup (hello, Cleopatra) to chemical peels. Hair removal was kind of an obsession for many Egyptian women of higher standing. Egyptian women removed all of their body hair, including on their heads, with tweezers made from seashells, pumice stones, and by waxing with a mix of beeswax combined with sugar.
When the Romans ruled the world, the less body hair a person had, the higher their standing. Women and men of means used razors made from flints and stones (ouch!), along with tweezers and nasty creams to get rid of hair. Pubic hair was considered uncivilized, hence why Roman and Greek statues of women don’t have any.
The first Queen Elizabeth was a trendsetter. She removed all the hair from her face, but not her body. This included the eyebrows and the forehead. The goal was to make a higher forehead. She used bandages soaked in ammonia that had been taken from their cats. Meowwwww.
While American women were more concerned with settling the New World, French women wanted to get rid of the hair on their legs and armpits. To do that, Jacques Perret invented the first straight razor in 1760.
Another Frenchman, Dr. Gouraud, created the first depilatory cream called Poudre Subtile. This was probably because there still wasn’t a women’s razor. Then in 1880 King Camp Gillette invented the modern-day razor for men.
Gillette created the first razor specifically for women in 1915. But depilatory creams were all the rage. Around 1920 an ad showed a woman with her arms raised and her armpits bare, which made quite an impact in those days.
Wax strips were introduced and quickly became popular. The first laser for hair removal came on the market in the mid-60s, but it was too hard on the skin and was quickly abandoned.
Electrolysis had been around for decades, but it became more reliable and safe with the development of transistorized equipment. Plus, the popularity of the bikini put new attention on the hair around the bikini lines.
Rox Anderson, an MIT graduate, created the first laser hair removal method in 1996. The FDA approved it in 1997.
Want to get rid of your hair without using flints or ammonia? Call the pros at Romeo & Juliette Laser Hair Removal, 212-750-2000, to make your appointment.