International Day of Waxing

History of Waxing

Waxing has a long and illustrious history. A brief timeline of waxing reveals how it has evolved as a popular method of hair removal.

1990’s and the Brazilian Wax:
Brazilian Wax

The introduction of the Brazilian wax in the early 90’s forever changed the waxing industry. Made popular by the Brazilian ‘J’ sisters at their New York City salon, this completely bare approach to body hair soon became the latest trend in hair removal. Clients could choose from fun shapes like a heart, a landing strip or nothing at all.

This hair-free style inspired by the beaches of Brazil took on a new cultural relevance in North America. The J Sisters salon was frequented by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Kirstie Alley and Naomi Campbell. It became even more wildly in demand After Carrie Bradshaw accidentally gets the full Brazilian treatment in an episode of Sex and the City.

1970’s to Today
Women become more daring

Hair removal trends became much more personalized in later decades. As women’s swimsuits became more daring, so did the interest in removing more body hair. However, as the fitness craze of the 1980’s took hold, both men and women participated in hair removal.

1940’s to 1960’s
World War II

A shortage of nylons during World War II prompted women to go bare-legged as they searched for new hair removal solutions. Wax strips became widely used during the 1960’. Demand in a hair-free bikini area grew with the popularity of the bikini.

19th to early 20th Century
Dr. F. Felix Gouraud

credited with having invented the first depilatory cream. Described as ideal for “uprooting hair,” the product was named the “Poudres Subtile.”

Depilatory products were first marketed in print ads by the early 1900’s. In Western Culture, a hair-free face, neck, and arms were deemed acceptable for women.  An ad from Harper’s Bazaar in 1915 ran an advertisement touting the “necessity” of bare underarms.  Paired with the advent of the sleeveless dress, smooth underarms became a newly desirable trend.

Elizabethan Era
Elizabethan Era

Hair removal was made fashionable by Queen Elizabeth I during this time period.  A high hairline or forehead was a status symbol of nobility. From facial hair to eyebrows, women endeavoured to remove all body hair.

Roman Empire
Symbol of privilege

The removal of body hair was a symbol of privilege during the Roman Empire. It is notable that many paintings and sculptures of Grecian woman are depicted without hair. To have all body hair removed signified cleanliness and wealth.

Ancient Egypt

The first use of sugar wax is dated back to Ancient Egypt. Inspired by Cleopatra, who removed all her body hair, Egyptian women are said to have used pumice stones and beeswax as an early waxing method. Hairlessness was embraced as both a beauty trend and form of hygiene.

Evolution of Waxing

Waxing has evolved to become part of an empowering self-care routine. A demand for safe and gentle hair removal means that today’s best waxing products are non-toxic and natural. Thankfully, brand websites that highlight transparent ingredient lists make it simple to choose a wax that honours your body and even easier to say ‘no’ to products that contain dense petrochemicals. A clean alternative, all-natural waxes encourage an effective and long-lasting approach to hair removal.