01371 873079

Scarlett & Stone | Anna Leonie Ltd | Company Reg No. 07831854 | VAT No. 131296726 | Created by RTWebdesign | Terms & Conditions | Feedback

Scarlett & Stone 25 High Street, Great Dunmow, Essex, CM6 1AB | 01371 873079 | info@scarlettandstone.com


01371 873079

Scarlett & Stone | Anna Leonie Ltd | Company Reg No. 07831854 | VAT No. 131296726 | Created by RTWebdesign | Terms & Conditions | Feedback

Scarlett & Stone 25 High Street, Great Dunmow, Essex, CM6 1AB | 01371 873079 | info@scarlettandstone.com


Wax On, Wax Off – Hair Removal Through The Ages


Spring is on its way and our attention turns once again to the shedding of our (hairy) winter coats, unless you’re a Hipster that is. I reckon it’s about time for another ‘history of’.


Stone Age cave paintings show the removal of unwanted facial hair using flakes of obsidian (a naturally occurring volcanic glass), though I’m guessing this was more about practicality than vanity – a wet beard would surely contribute to a frostbitten chin. Fast forward 30,000 years or so, and the development of metal tools led to the first razors, made from copper or gold.


It was the Egyptians who invented ‘Sugaring’ a paste formula of sugar, lemon juice and water. Initially, used for health reasons as the climate was perfect for pests to colonise the more hairy regions, but eventually hairiness became associated with barbarians. The idea of body hair being uncivilised also existed in Ancient Greece, although this didn’t apply to the head. In fact beards were positively celebrated, only being cut or shaved during times of mourning. Cutting another man’s beard was an offence, which could lead to imprisonment. However it rapidly went out of fashion after Alexander the Great pointed out that they could be grabbed by one’s enemy in battle.


The Romans agreed with the battle dangers, Julius Caesar is reported to have kept his face free of hairs by having each individual hair plucked out. He might have fared better watching his back hairy or not. Roman women resorted to abrasion by using pumice stones to remove leg hair. The middle ages saw the hairless look drop out of fashion with the notable exception of the fifteenth and sixteenth century vogue for big foreheads, which saw women removing the front part of their hairline and also their eyebrows.


The dawn of the Renaissance and the renewed interest in the hairless statues of antiquity brought hair removal back into fashion. A Book of Secrets from that period provides a recipe to do just that by ‘Boiling together one pint of arsenic and an eighth of a pint of quicklime’ but warns that when the skin feels hot it should ‘be removed quickly with hot water so the flesh doesn’t come off’. Yikes. Several variations of this recipe survive in household books across Europe with alternative combinations, with cat dung and vinegar being one.


General hair removal continued to be the norm throughout the 1900s with Gillette creating the first razor specifically for women in 1915. The early 1900s saw ads for depilatory cream to remove ‘humiliating growth of hair on the face, neck and arms’ and in 1940, Remington released their first electric razor for women. This was well-received due to a wartime shortage of nylon meaning women had to opt for bare legs more often. Talking of Remington who could forget good old Victor Kiam, who ‘liked it so much, he bought the Company’.


Wax strips made their debut in the 60’s along with the first laser hair removal tools. The 70’s saw the rise of Electrolysis and is still popular today (we have three machines to keep up with demands). ‘Electrolysis is the only method legally allowed to claim that it is permanent’ says Elaine Stoddart of Sterex Electrolysis Int. Ltd.


Today most women rely on various hair removal methods as part of their beauty regime, and I’m certain it’s here to stay. We have seen a huge increase in Hot Wax requests for more intimate areas along with threading to tame unruly eyebrows. Men are also increasingly booking appointments for professional help with eyebrow maintenance treatments as well as waxing unwanted body hair.


Mr S&S, not normally a follower of fashion, and who resolutely refuses to let anyone near his eyebrows, is now sporting a beard. Although, I fear that it might be less hipster, more Captain Bird’s Eye, but sometimes it’s best to keep one’s opinions to oneself.  
                                                                                                                                                                                    Sources: Vitality & Guild News Magazines


First published, Dunmow Bystander Magazine March 2016