Hair removal can be traced back to Egyptian times. The women would use tweezers made from sea shells to pull out their hair (including the hair on their head), or rub it off with pumice stones. A major development was the concoction of oil and honey to make a sticky paste which was smeared on areas with hair and then pulled off (similar to todays sugar paste). The art (if it could be called that in ancient times) of hair removal was passed down generations with each timeline having its own fashion!
Ancient Greeks and Romans – During the Roman Empire, having a lack of body hair was considered a sign of the classes. Wealthy women and men used razors made from flints, tweezers, creams, and stones to remove excess hair. Pubic hair was considered uncivilized which is why many famous statues and paintings of Grecian women are depicted hairless.
Cleopatra was a trendsetter in her time and so too was Queen Elizabeth 1 during the Middle Ages. She set the precedence for hair removal amongst women, who followed her lead by removing it from their faces, but not their bodies. The fashion of this era was to remove eyebrows and hair from the forehead (to make it appear larger), which women did by using walnut oil, or bandages soaked in ammonia (which they got from their feline pets – yummy!) and vinegar.
The late 18th century ushered in a more civilized approach to hair removal. Jean Jacques Perret, a French barber, created the first straight razor for men in 1760 which was used by some women.
By 1844, Dr. Gouraud had created one of the first depilatory creams called Poudre Subtile. Soon after, in 1880, King Camp Gillette created the first modern day razor for men and a revolution was born. However, it would be another three decades before a razor specifically marketed for women would appear.
In 1915, Gillette created the first razor specifically for women, the Milady Decolletée. The early 1900’s also saw ads for depilatory cream hit the masses. In 1907 an ad for X-Bazin Depilatory Powder 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.
Remington released the first electric women’s razor in 1940 after the success of a male version. Due to a wartime shortage of nylon, more products and techniques for hair removal hit the market as women were forced to go bare legged more often.
During the 1950s, hair removal became more widely 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 their eyebrows.
Wax strips made their début in the 1960s and quickly became the method of choice for removing unwanted hair from 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.
Although electrolysis had been around for nearly a century, it became more reliable and safe in the 1970s with the development of transistorised equipment. The decade also saw a resurgence in the removal of bikini area hair as the swimsuit fad of the 1960s stuck around.
Today, most women rely on some form of hair removal in their everyday beauty routines, whether it is tweezing, threading, shaving, waxing, or depilatory creams. Waxing bars, eyebrow threading studios, and electrolysis centres are at an all time high and continue to rise. New technologies in hair removal have made it one of the most popular beauty services out there.
Why get waxed?
Waxing procedures have really developed over the last few years and there are many products out there to make the process less painful. If you’ve never experienced waxing then please choose your professional therapist and salon wisely; home waxing isn’t advisable as the products sold on the high street aren’t really up to the job and can cause skin damage. The following will let you know what to look for if you decide you want to get a wax done:
- Check your therapist holds a current beauty qualification – at least level 2
- Ensure the salon has insurance; a certificate should be displayed.
- Your therapist should get you to complete a consultation and recommend patch testing 24 hours before the procedure if you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies.
- Your therapist should wear gloves and an apron (optional) to perform your treatment and you should be provided with a clean towel to cover yourself.
- The wax should be tested on the therapist first and then on the client to ensure it’s not too hot. Check that the wax pot is clean and that spatula’s are changed. If blood specking occurs the spatula should never be re-dipped in to the wax.
- The area of skin to be waxed should be sanitised/cleansed with a suitable product and checked for any contra-indications such as skin tags, new bruising or open cuts.
- The area of skin should be stretched during removal (you should be encouraged to help), especially on the under arm and bikini as this minimises discomfort and prevents bruising.
- Any stray remaining hairs should be tweezed out (unless Lycon wax is used) as rewaxing an area can cause skin damage and irritation.
- An after wax product should be applied and any sticky areas cleaned.
- Aftercare for the next 24/48 hours should be given along with any recommendations for care between visits.
Why are there different types of wax?
Wax has been developed over the years to make the process more time efficient, more effective, more hygienic and kinder to the skin. Salon businesses should keep up to date with the new products to ensure they offer their clients the best type of wax for their skin and the condition of the hair. At Randle and Randle we use 4 different types of wax:
Cool/warm wax; this is the most common of waxes and is most suitable for the legs and arms as it covers a large area quickly and removes the hair effectively with strips. It is generally made of resins, rubbers and latex with a soothing additive such as azulene. Wax is applied thinly to the hair (the wax will also stick to the skin) and removed with either a muslin or paper strip. There shouldn’t be any major trauma to the skin except some redness and pimpling, although poor waxing techniques such as repeatedly going over an area will cause bruising, redness and irritation (stop your therapist and tell her she’s causing damage to you!!)
Hot film wax: this is great to use on bikini lines, for Brazilians/Hollywoods, underarms and facial hair. The addition of plasticides to the product means that it remains flexible rather than brittle and is removed as a pliable plastic sheet. The wax contracts around the hair and doesn’t stick to the skin like cool wax making removal less painful as the heat from the wax relaxes the follicle. No strips are used, instead the wax is moulded into the area then lifted off along with the hair. Because the wax causes heat in the tissues one application only to an area is recommended, but there should be no trauma to the skin.
Lycon hot wax: this manufacturer has produced a waxing system and set of protocols with the clients comfort uppermost. Using only the finest resins, natural ingredients and aromatherapy oils, Lycon delivers superior performance, removing stubborn hair as short as 1mm. Lycon Hot Waxes can be re-applied on the same area many times without the wax feeling too hot and without skin trauma or irritation to ensure every hair is removed, this is because an oil is applied to the skin first and acts as barrier to excessive heat. The result is silky soft, hair free skin every time.
Lycon strip wax: this behaves exactly the same is cool wax but the advanced ingredient technology means the wax is suitable for even the most sensitive of skins. The wax is applied super thinly, it can remove short hair, it does not leave a sticky residue and is virtually pain free.
What are the possible reactions to waxing?
Bruising: down to poor technique and not stretching the skin sufficiently during removal
Blood spots: common on under arm and bikini areas and to those who have not waxed before. This is due to the hair being pulled from a follicle when it is still attached to the blood supply in its growing stage. Over time this will stop happening.
Redness and goosebumps: this is the skins natural defence aiming to stop any bacteria entering the follicle.
Burning: if the wax feels too hot on application then a burn is highly likely and should be treated by using cool running water for up to 10 minutes.
Clients will often tell us they don’t want to wax regularly, keeping it to summer holidays only, because it doesn’t work. They say that the hair is “back within a week”. This is because each hair is at a different stage of growth due to the other, more regular methods of removal used such as shaving. Shaving will only slice the hair at the surface leaving the rest of it intact in the follicle to continue growing (hence shaving every couple of days). Waxing aims to catch all the hairs in either it’s growing or changing phase to ensure at least 3-4 weeks hair free by removing it completely out of the follicle.
Another reason (or excuse?) that some people don’t wax is because they have to go through a period of ‘growth’ before removal can be successful. To these clients I would always suggest that they start the waxing appointments in late autumn and winter when they are covering up more and regrowth isn’t as noticeable. By the time the summer comes they have established an effective waxing pattern and the hair will be much sparser and softer, and their holiday wax will last the whole 2 weeks.
At Randle and Randle we understand that not all of clients want to be waxed, but rest assured if you take the plunge you will receive an outstanding service and will leave the salon silky smooth.