The Wax and Thread Company
36 Church Street, Brighton, BN1 1RL. 01273 730727.

History of Hair Removal


It all started with the ancient Egyptians and their obsession with beauty rituals. An awful lot of time and effort was spent on hair removal and it was common for ancient Egyptian women to remove all of their body hair. The Roman Empire followed suit - lack of body hair was a sign of wealth and class status, even public hair was considered uncivilised, which is why many statues and paintings we often see of this era are depicted hairless. On to the middle ages Queen Elizabeth I set the trend amongst women by removing facial hair particularly eye brows and hair from the forehead (to make the forehead appear larger). In the late 1700s Jean Jacques Perret, a French barber, created the first straight razor for men which was used by some women. Come 1800s, one of the first depilatory creams was created and soon after, in 1880, Gillette created the first modern day razor for men - a revolution was born.

Razors specifically marketed for women did not appear until three decades later in early 1900's. Adverts for depilatory creams began circulating, promising to remove ‘humiliating growth of hair on the face, neck, and arms’. A decade later, a leading women's fashion magazine ran an ad featuring a woman with her arms raised and her armpits bare, the first of it's kind.

In 1940s Remington released the first electric women’s razor, after the success of a male version, and by 1950s hair removal became more publically accepted. Since many depilatory creams were still irritating to the skin, women relied on razors to shave their legs and underarms and tweezers to groom and shape facial hair. By 1960s Wax Strips made their début and quickly became the method of choice for removing unwanted hair under the arms and on legs. The first Laser Hair Removal method hit the market in the mid-sixties, but was quickly abandoned due to its skin damaging tendencies. The invention of Bikini made it fashionable to have smooth arms, legs and bikini lines. 1970s saw the rise of electrolysis, although having been around for nearly a century, it became more reliable and safe with the development of transistorized equipment. The decade also saw a resurgence in the removal of bikini hair as the swimsuit fad of the 1960s stuck around.

From the 1980s to today, most women rely on some form of hair removal in their everyday beauty routines, whether it is threading, tweezing, shaving, waxing, or depilatory. Even men are getting smooth. The greater exposure of athletes, celebrities and models continue to fuel to the trend. Hair removal had made it one of the most popular beauty services out there.