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The History of Waxing Hair Removal

The History of Waxing Hair Removal

This may be shocking, but hair removal is not a modern trend. The earliest documentation of hair removal dates all the way back to 3000 BC! For centuries, people have relied on some rather creative methods to get rid of unwanted body hair. Nowadays hair removal is as simple as a trip to the salon, or, even more conveniently, at home waxing!

Let’s take a deeper look at the history of hair removal, from ancient civilizations to today!


Ancient Egypt

In Ancient Egypt, both men and women removed their body hair - including the hair on top of their heads! Following the trend set by Cleopatra, all body hair was removed using seashell tweezers, pumice stones, beeswax or a common natural hair removal method that is still used today, Sugar Wax!

Roman Empire

As body hair was considered uncivilized and lower caste, upper-class Romans removed their body hair with razors, tweezers, stones, and DIY creams. This societal view on body hair can be seen in Ancient Roman art, as the gods were always depicted hairless everywhere but the tops of their heads!

Middle Ages

Queen Elizabeth I was a fashion icon, setting the beauty standard for all to follow at the time of her reign. While Elizabeth removed hair from her face (including her eyebrows) she did not remove hair from her body. Women of the time followed suit! While their bodies remained au naturel, women removed all facial hair using strips of cloth soaked in ammonia and vinegar or by manually scrubbing the hair away with pieces of walnut shells. Do not try this at home!

19th to the early 20th Century

In 1844 Poudre Subtile, the first hair removal cream, appeared on the market! Though the product was effective it contained ingredients such as quicklime (a highly caustic chemical compound) and arsenic (which is both toxic and carcinogenic)!

The first modern razor was invented exclusively for men in the 1880s, but with the rise in popularity of sleeveless dresses at the turn of the century, it became en vogue for women to shave their armpits. As a result, the first female razor made an appearance in 1915.

1940's to 1960's

The electric razor for women was created in the wake of World War II, as a nylon shortage left women of the 1940s bare-legged and searching for new and effective hair removal solutions.

By the 1960s, wax strips were widely accessible and became the go-to method for body hair removal as miniskirts and bikinis grew in popularity!

1970's to 1980's

The rise of “Short Shorts” in the 1970s pushed chemical hair removal creams, as we know them today, into the cultural consciousness.

Societal expectations for women to remove their body hair continued to increase as fashion became more daring and women’s clothing continued to decrease. In the 1980s, however, the fitness craze suddenly gave men a reason to get involved in the hair removal process, too!

1990's to today

While men were only just getting started, women were getting braver and going barer than ever before! By the start of the 1990s, The J. Sisters Salon in Manhattan had popularized the Brazilian wax amongst their New York clientele. This hair-free waxing style from the beaches of Brazil left women with little to no hair “down there”.

The style took on a whole new cultural relevance when Carrie Bradshaw, the lead character in the HBO series Sex and the City, confidently lifted her feet (designer heels and all) to receive a Brazilian wax in one episode's opening scene. Having made its mark in pop-culture history, The Brazilian Wax is seemingly here to stay, as this style remains hugely popular some 20-odd years after the airing of that episode!

Waxing today:

Though hair removal and grooming have vastly changed over time, the need for effective hair removal methods has always been prevalent. People are still choosing to remove hair from their arms, legs, chests, backs, bikini area, and everywhere else!

Throughout history, some wild and dangerous methods have been used to remove body hair. As waxing has evolved, the demand is rising for safe, natural, and non-toxic products.

Whether waxing at home or in a salon it is important to know what you are putting onto your body. At Parissa we are highlighting transparency and saying “no” to synthetic materials and harmful chemicals in our hair removal products. That is why all Parissa products are natural, ethically sourced, and cruelty-free - we aren’t living in the Middle Ages anymore!

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