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The Battle To Be Bare

By: Louis Silberman
Posted: January 30, 2012, from the February 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

For many women and men, hair removal is more than a process, more than a routine and much more than simply a chore—it is a full-on battle. The current styles and trends for both sexes call for a smooth, virtually hair-free physique. However, obtaining a bare bod is not always easy. Depending on the method of hair removal used, the process can be time-consuming, stubble can reappear quickly, and ingrown hairs can become a painful, unsightly problem. Americans spend $10 billion on various products and services to remove unwanted fuzz. From razors to lasers, people are searching for the best solutions and experimenting with different ways to keep body hair at bay.

The history of hair removal dates back to prehistoric times. Archaeologists have found evidence that cavemen used sharpened stones and shells to remove their facial hair. Hair removal was also customary among the ancient Egyptians, who regarded hairlessness as a status symbol. Men routinely used razors made from bronze to shave their heads, while women used more extreme measures of depilation, including blending mixtures made from arsenic, starch and quicklime. They also used beeswax to pull hair from their legs.

During approximately 1500 B.C., recipes for hair removal included combining a tortoise shell with hippopotamus fat or mixing various animal bloods together to create a hair removal concoction. Feline waste was also considered a viable method.

The men’s safety razor (a precursor to the disposable razors of today) was invented in the 1880s, and the first commercial razor marketed to women was introduced in 1915. To this day, shaving remains the most commonly used method of hair removal, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best solution for everyone. Following are some modern hair removal methods that go beyond the blade.


Waxing is a popular choice for many women and men because the results last longer than shaving. A typical waxing procedure will give the average client two-to-four weeks of smooth skin. Wax can typically be used anywhere on the body. For men, some of the most popular areas are the chest and back. For women, eyebrow and bikini waxes are often requested.