Hair is such an emotive subject and with human nature being human nature, what we want we can’t have and what we have we don’t want! Curly hair and we want straight, straight hair and we want curly, brunette and we want blonde, blonde and we want red. Likewise upper lip hair on a female, so valued as a sign of exquisite beauty in certain parts of the world, is vilified by our Western society.
Unwanted hair is a common problem affecting most women to varying degrees throughout their lives and prompting the use of various temporary methods of hair reduction or hair management systems. It causes great distress, and it is often accompanied by feelings of poor self esteem, a sense of isolation and low self worth.
Since the times when bearded ladies in Victorian travelling fairs were displayed for entertainment and bikini laser hair removal idicule, Western society has nurtured a stigma about excess hair. Many women are pressured into tremendous lengths to remove any trace of hair from any and every part of their body as they feel it to be unattractive and unappealing. However it is not only women that are now affected… increasingly the male gender is subject to pressure from the ‘fashion’ and celebrity world and unwanted hair can be just as vilified by the male population nowadays as the female.
Different Methods of Hair Removal
Superfluous hair growth can be caused by many factors, such as, hormone imbalance, (during puberty, pregnancy and menopause), genetics and ethnicity, hereditary, medication or topical stimulation e.g. waxing or tweezing. Therefore, electrolysis – the only permanent method of hair removal, is a treatment that is in great demand by female and transsexual clients and more recently, due to society’s attitudes, the number of male clients is increasing.
To meet this need there as always been many hair removal measures some of which go back centuries in history. Hair removal has been around since caveman times but interestingly the parts of the body we are removing hair from have differed over the ages. Removing hair from the head and face of men was originally not for vanity purposes but for survival. There is evidence that cavemen did this but also the ancient Egyptians and it was undertaken, we imagine, for protection, as scraping off the beard and hair on the head would take away the advantage of an adversary having anything to grab onto as well as having less mites!
In ancient Egypt, Greece, and Middle Eastern countries, removing body hair was important. In fact these women removed most of their body hair, except for eyebrows. Egyptian women removed their head hair and pubic hair was considered uncivilized by both sexes! It was also considered uncivilized for men to have hair on their face. Facial hair was the mark of a slave or servant, or of a person of lower class. The ancient Egyptians used a form of razors made of flint or bronze as the razor was not invented till the 1760’s by French barber, Jean Jacques Perret.
They also used a method of temporary hair removal called sugaring. A sticky paste (bees wax was sometimes used) would be applied to the skin, a strip of cloth was pressed onto the wax and yanked off – the equivalent of waxing today. Wealthy women of the Roman Empire would remove their body hair with pumice stones, razors, tweezing and pastes. There was also another technique used called threading which is recently seeing a resurgence in popularity. Thin string or yarn would be placed through the fingers of both hands, and quickly stroked over the area. This repetitive process captured the hair and effectively tweezed, ripped or pulled the unwanted hair out. During the Elizabethan times the practice of hair removal, (not of leg, armpit or pubic hair), of their eyebrows and the hair from their foreheads in order to give the appearance of a longer brow and forehead was fashionable. It is startling to note the obvious influence ‘fashion’ has played in hair removal from the very beginning.