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The Bizarre History of Hair Removal

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If you thought going fully bare down there is a modern trend, think again. Turns out, women have been putting themselves through the painful routines of body grooming for a very long time—though past methods were obviously much less high-tech than the lasers we have today. According to the Encyclopedia of Hair, copper razors from 3000 BC were found in Egypt and Mesopotamia, while paintings from the 1500s would occasionally show women with little or no pubic hair, says Debby Herbenick, author of Read My Lips. Meanwhile, Egyptian art showcased women with perfect little triangles.

In ancient Greece, having pubic hair was considered "uncivilized." Yep, we've all seen those seemingly hairless Greek statues—and some women, in an effort to mimic that aesthetic, would pluck or singe off all their pubic hair. Archeologists believe Samoans would scrape their skin with sharp seashells to get rid of underarm hair, and “sugaring,” a practice originating in the Middle East, called for cooked sugar and lemon to remove body hair—perhaps the first wax, ever.

But, grooming trends have changed far more in the past century than ever before. Thanks to modern technology, our celebrity obsession, the tendency to overshare, and let’s face it, porn, what people do to their body hair has become the focus of many a trend piece—and the styles are always changing. One day, Sex and the City is telling you that Brazilians are all the rage, and the next, The New York Times is saying au naturel is in. So, what’s the deal?

We chatted with Spruce & Bond wax and laser specialist Ildi Gulas, and she walked us through some of the major body-waxing trends of the last century—and what may have inspired them. [For the full story, head to Refinery29!]

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