Getting rid of body hair is now a standard part of most women’s grooming regimes, with modern technological advances such as laser hair removal making getting rid of unwanted fuzz easier than ever. But while such things are easy for modern women, in olden times things were a little different. Here’s our history of hair removal, part 1:
The Ancient Egyptians kickstarted a lot of beauty-related rituals that we still have today, one of which being the removal of body hair. Ancient Egyptian women actually took everything off, even their head hair, using tweezers made from seashells, pumice stones, or beeswax.
A few years later, the Romans considered a lack of body hair to be a sign of wealth, status and class. Wealthy women – and men – made razors from bits of flint, tweezers, stones and what was apparently some sort of early depilatory cream to get rid of their unwanted fuzz. Even pubic hair was whipped off; which explains why so many old Roman statues are bald, er, down there.
Good old Queen Elizabeth I wasn’t just a trendsetter in terms of her refusal to get hitched; she also set a precedent for lady hair removal by defuzzing her face but not her body. In her day, women took off their eyebrows and any other facial hair (to make their foreheads seem bigger, which was apparently a thing then) with walnut oil, or bandages soaked in ammonia and vinegar. They got the ammonia from their cats; or specifically, their pee. Gross.
By the late 18th century things were a little more civilised; the invention of the straight razor in 1760 meant that women could do what we would call shaving for the first time. By the 19th century the first depilatory cream was on the market, and Gillette invented the first modern razor in 1880.