Body Hair Through Time: A Brief History

Body Hair Through Time: A Brief History

Posted By:

A Brief History of Body Hair: From Ancient Times to Modern Day

Body hair has been a topic of fascination, controversy, and cultural significance throughout human history. From ancient civilizations to modern times, attitudes towards body hair have evolved, reflecting changing societal norms, beauty standards, and personal preferences. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the fascinating history of body hair and how it has shaped our perceptions of beauty and grooming over the centuries.

Ancient Times

In ancient civilizations, attitudes towards body hair varied greatly. In some cultures, such as ancient Egypt, body hair was seen as unclean and was often removed using primitive methods like tweezers, razors, and even early forms of waxing. Egyptians valued smooth, hairless skin as a sign of cleanliness and purity, and both men and women engaged in hair removal practices.

Ancient Egypt Body Hair

In contrast, other ancient cultures, such as ancient Greece and Rome, viewed body hair as a sign of masculinity and virility. Men often wore their body hair as a badge of honor, while women were expected to remove it to maintain a more feminine appearance. The ancient Greeks and Romans used a variety of methods for hair removal, including tweezers, pumice stones, and early forms of waxing and sugaring.

In ancient India, Ayurvedic texts mention the use of sugaring for hair removal, while in ancient China, women used a mixture of arsenic and quicklime to remove unwanted hair. These early hair removal methods were often painful and sometimes dangerous, but they reflected the cultural importance placed on hairlessness in certain societies.

Middle Ages and Renaissance

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods in Europe, attitudes towards body hair became more complex. The Catholic Church often condemned the removal of body hair as a form of vanity and sin, while some members of the aristocracy continued to remove their body hair as a sign of wealth and status.

Middle Ages Body Hair

In the 16th century, the invention of the straight-edged razor made it easier for men to shave their facial hair, but body hair removal remained a more complex and controversial issue. Some women used pumice stones, beeswax, and even arsenic to remove unwanted hair, but these methods were often painful and dangerous.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the use of depilatory creams and powders became more common, but they were often made with harsh chemicals that could irritate the skin. It wasn't until the 19th century that more modern and effective hair removal methods began to emerge.

19th and 20th Centuries

In the 19th and 20th centuries, attitudes towards body hair began to shift once again. The rise of modern medicine and hygiene practices led to a greater emphasis on cleanliness and grooming, and body hair removal became more widely accepted and even expected in certain social circles.

19th and 20th Century Body Hair

The invention of the safety razor in the late 19th century made it easier for both men and women to remove their body hair, and the rise of the fashion and beauty industries further reinforced the idea that smooth, hairless skin was the ideal. Magazines and advertisements of the early 20th century often featured images of women with hairless legs and underarms, setting a new standard for beauty and grooming.

During World War II, nylon stockings became scarce, leading many women to shave their legs and create the illusion of wearing stockings. This trend continued into the post-war era, with more and more women embracing the idea of hairless legs and underarms as a sign of femininity and modernity.

In the 1960s and 70s, the counterculture movement challenged traditional beauty standards and embraced a more natural, hairy look. However, this trend was short-lived, and by the 1980s and 90s, the ideal of smooth, hairless skin had once again become the norm.

Modern Times

In modern times, attitudes towards body hair have become increasingly diverse and complex. While some people still prefer to remove their body hair for personal or cultural reasons, others have embraced their natural hair growth as a form of self-expression and body positivity.

The body hair positivity movement has gained momentum in recent years, with many people challenging traditional beauty standards and celebrating the natural beauty of body hair. This shift has been reflected in popular culture, with more diverse representations of body hair in media and advertising.

In the 2010s and 2020s, celebrities and influencers have openly embraced their body hair, challenging the idea that hairlessness is the only acceptable form of beauty. Brands have also begun to feature models with visible body hair in their advertising campaigns, promoting a more inclusive and diverse vision of beauty.

Despite these positive changes, the pressure to remove body hair remains strong, particularly for women. Many people still feel self-conscious about their body hair and may feel pressure to conform to societal norms. However, the growing body hair positivity movement is helping to challenge these norms and promote a more accepting and inclusive attitude towards body hair.


The history of body hair is a fascinating and complex topic that reflects the changing attitudes and cultural norms of different societies throughout history. From ancient times to modern day, body hair has been a source of fascination, controversy, and personal expression, and will likely continue to evolve as our understanding of beauty and grooming continues to change.

Ultimately, the choice to remove or embrace body hair is a personal one that should be based on individual preferences and comfort levels. By understanding the history of body hair and the diverse attitudes towards it, we can gain a greater appreciation for the complexity and diversity of human beauty.

As we move forward into the future, it's important to continue challenging traditional beauty standards and promoting a more inclusive and accepting attitude towards body hair. By embracing our natural beauty and celebrating the diversity of human bodies, we can create a world where everyone feels comfortable and confident in their own skin.

Leave a comment

* Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Shop Top Sellers