The ethics of hair removal

Ethicist Heather Widdows wrote an interesting piece for TIME magazine about the ethics of hair removal:

Visible body hair is rarely seen. It is so rare that underarm hair on a celebrity becomes a news story. For the rest of us, showing it in public — even at the beach, when wearing very little — is almost a political statement in itself. Increasingly, women remove all visible body hair. Including pubic hair. Men too have been getting in on the act, hence the long-rising popularity of the “back, sack and crack” waxing technique. The hairy chests and Playboy bushes of the 1970s are gone. Quite simply, body hair is no longer a feature of the ideal body.

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Check out Widdows’ book Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal for more on this topic:


New luxury home waxing kit set to debut in fall 2018

Waksē is a new stripless home waxing product made of small beads. Via CEW Beauty Insider:

Wakse is aiming to bring a luxurious, sensorial experience to at-home waxing, by way of visually appealing formulas and fragrances that look to transform hair removal into a fun, and even Instagrammable, moment.

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Their website is

What are hair removers, and how do they get rid of unwanted fuzz?

Sam Lemonick has a great piece in Chemical & Engineering News on hair removal, with a focus on depilatory creams:

Creams are a popular option for at-home removal. To understand how these work, you first have to understand hair. Hair is made of fibrous proteins called keratin, twisted like yarn or rope into long bundles. Keratin strands are cross-linked by covalent disulfide bonds and weaker hydrogen bonds. These are depilatory creams’ targets.

The active ingredients in brands Veet and Nair are salts of thioglycolic acid like potassium thioglycolate or calcium thioglycolate in combination with bases such as calcium, sodium, or potassium hydroxide. The bases serve two purposes. They cause the hair to swell, opening its keratin fibers to allow thioglycolate to penetrate. The bases also remove the proton on thioglycolate’s thiol group. Once thioglycolate’s proton leaves, its sulfur atom is free to attack the hair protein’s disulfide bonds. Break enough of those, and the hair degrades completely and can simply be wiped away.

Because of this mechanism of action, chemical hair removers are remarkably selective, studies have shown. Researchers tested Nair on thin, thick, and medium hair, and on cotton, rayon, and polyester fibers. All three strands of hair broke within 10 minutes, but the remover had no effect on the other fibers, none of which contain disulfide bonds.

Other experiments have shown that cream hair removers should have a pH between about 12.0 and 12.5 to make sure the products work quickly but aren’t so caustic that they burn the skin, which has a pH of 4.5–5.5. Dermatologist Meghan Feely says cream hair removers can cause chemical burns for some people. They should be used according to their directions to minimize risk.

Because these chemicals are so effective, the book is basically closed on finding new depilatory agents, says Heike Hanau, a marketing manager for Merck & Co., which used to supply calcium thioglycolate for hair removers. But she says chemists are still working to improve depilatories’ smell. One by-product of thioglycolate’s reaction with disulfide bonds is hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs.

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Learn more about > cream depilatories

Hilarious NSFW tale of a pregnant mom’s hair removal nightmare

Laura Mazza from Facebook’s Mum on the Run page shares her profanity-laced tale of woe, where she thought she’d do a little pubic hair removal prior to her C-section.

As my due date edges closer, I have thought about removing my own body hair so that I don’t get shaved down by a nurse in the act of a cesarean and die of embarrassment because she needs a whipper snipper to cut through the Sherwood Forest.
Now, I am not some Italian/Argentinian who was blesssd with good genes, tanned skin… no I was born as white as a cue tip with dark thick hair like Bigfoot. Motherf****n Bigfoot gus.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about getting waxed but I don’t want to deal with the pain. So someone suggested hair removal cream. A cream that effortlessly removes body hair without pain and effort, an alternative to shaving. Lasts a bit longer apparently.

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Read the CafeMom summary

Woman with PCOS shaves face to reduce cystic acne

Via iDiva:

I had first heard that hair-removal from the face can help prevent breakouts from a friend with cystic acne due to PCOD, who heard it from her dermatologist. Now, while I don’t have very thick hair growth, I do have a lot of hair on my face, pretty much right up to my eyeballs. This means that thick makeup and skin products, bacteria, and other oily or dirty things had plenty of fur to latch onto and create a mess. The oil would cling to the hair, the hair follicles would attract germs, and the hair would spread those everywhere, making me break out. I was intrigued by the idea of shaving primarily because I truly was sick of constantly being covered in pimples.

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A Retrospective Look at Women’s Body Hair in Pop Culture

Via Loren Savini at Allure:

It’s personal, it’s political, and it can get prickly. For centuries, we’ve teetered on what to do with the hair that covers our bodies. We’ve gone from ripping it off with tacky goops (fun fact: the Ancient Egyptians used to use waxes like beeswax) and hacking it off with any sharp edge we can get our hands on, to wearing it proudly on red carpets and on social media in order to make a statement. We’ve even gone as far as to faking it with merkins (Google the term and be amazed). In the past decade, the great body hair debate has shifted, as the sight of it becomes more and more mundane. Regardless of whether we like our skin smooth or with a little scruff, body hair has proven to be a force in history. Below is a look at the complicated story behind the hair below our heads.

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Brandi Glanville blames laser hair removal for facial paralysis

Another laser hair removal injury. Via Page Six:

Glanville‘s face paralyzed, the reality star claimed in a video posted Tuesday on “Bicoastal Beauty Unfiltered.”

“Everyone wants to know why my top lip doesn’t move. Right here, you see a little white circle,” the former “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star explained in the 12-minute clip. “I had laser hair removal on my upper lip about 2009. Maybe 8? I got a third-degree burn, and my face on the right side doesn’t move the way my face on the left side moves.”

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Major site update underway

News about the major site update to improve functionality.

In the first site-wide update since the site went live 10 years ago, we are adding a lot of new functionality to Thanks for your patience as we iron our the bugs. If you find a dead link, please email me at or comment in this post or on our hair removal forum. We look forward to bringing you many new features and ways to share hair removal information soon!

New book: Unwanted Hair and Hirsutism

Alison Amoroso has just published a new book on hair removal. She was kind enough to mention this site and some other writing I have done on the topic.