an initiative of ACCORD
History of Hygiene
Graphs and Statistics

Hair Removal

A brief history of…HAIR REMOVAL

Ancient Egypt: The first “waxing”? Ancient Egyptians developed “sugaring”, where a mixture of oil and honey was applied to the body, then vigorously stripped to remove the hair with it.

3000 BC: The first depilatory creams? Ancient Egyptian women are reported to have used depilatory pastes made from arsenic trisulfide, quicklime and starch.

Ancient Turkey: The first threading? Still used today, predominantly in India and the middle East, threading uses a twisted cotton tread to pluck unwanted hair.

Ancient Rome: Hair was removed by scraping a metal strigil over the oiled skin. Julius Caesar plucked out his facial hair with tweezers – or rather his servants did. Depilatory creams at this time are reported to have included pitch, donkey fat, she-goat gall, bat’s blood and powdered viper!

Ancient Greece: Women removed leg hair by singeing, using abrasives such as pumice stone, or by various wax and depilatory concoctions.

From 7th C: The Quran specified that at least every 40 days the moustache and nails must be trimmed and the pubic and underarm hair removed.

1500s: Queen Elizabeth plucked eyebrow and forehead hair to give her distinctive, high forehead look.

1700s: A European recipe for hair removal required powdering hard, dry cat dung and mixing it with strong vinegar.

Question   How would you feel about…

This bridal ritual? The night before a wedding in Lebanese, Palestinian, Turkish and Egyptian cultures, the wedding party removed all of the bride’s body hair except her eyebrows and her head hair.

Lightbulb  Developments towards modern-day hair removal

1844: The first commercial depilatory? Depilatory powder was marketed by Dr Gourand in the USA. 1940: The first modern depilatory. A stocking shortage during World War II meant legs went bare, prompting the development of Nair. 1980: Commercial warm wax / hot wax, actually a sugar mixture, was developed in Australia.

1880: The first safety razor was patented in the USA as an alternative to the commonly used steel razor. 1903: Disposable razors were sold in the USA. 1927: The first electric shaver with oscillating blades, was invented in the USA.

1995: The first non-soap moisturising shave gel was developed.

Today, shaving, waxing and chemical depilation are the most popular hair removal methods in Australia.

Sources:


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