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A collage showcasing popular handmade items: A logo is prominently displayed in the center. In the top left, three transparent bowls contain raw sugar, lemon juice, and water, each with its own label. Below, there are sugaring paste products. To the left, sugaring paste is shown melting over stones. To the right, there's a diabetic pain relief salve, rose-infused aloe vera products, 'Rose the Age Away' serum, an assortment of sugar scrubs with their ingredients visible, and open jars filled with ground rose, chamomile, calendula, and lavender herbs.

The Long History of Sugaring

Artistic representation of Cleopatra, adorned in a colorful beaded headdress, symbolizing her historical connection to the ancient art of sugaring for hair removal.

Sugaring, sugar waxing or Persian waxing is a method of hair removal that has been in use since 1900 BC. Historically, sugar was confined to the regions surrounding Papua New Guinea until the first millennium AD. As a result, it is speculated that honey was the first sugaring agent. Sugaring was also known as sukkar in the Middle East and in Egypt, as ağda in Turkey, and as moum in Iran. 

The sugaring method dates to ancient times (around 1900 B.C.) in Egypt. It could also be found in North Africa and East Africa, in Arabic cultures and Persian cultures. In 1984 sugaring was brought to the United Kingdom.

Hair Removal has been around for centuries, perhaps, some argue, since the dawn of humankind. Tools once thought to be used for scraping fur from animal skins were discovered to contain human hair and are now believed to have been used as crude razors for shaving the face some 20,000 years ago. Threading and sugaring, both ancient methods used in the Middle East, are still used today. Ancient Egyptians waxed hair off with beeswax and sported clean, shaven faces as status symbols.

Ancient Sumerians and Romans tweezed eyebrows and facial hair. In the modern United States, people continue to develop and improve hair-removal methods for home use, whether through improved shaving tools, depilatories, or home-waxing products. Sugaring is a centuries-old method of hair removal used in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean. Sugaring is believed to have been discovered as a form of hair removal in ancient times, possibly by chance, when the sugar paste was formed and used to treat a wound or to dress a burn to help prevent infections from developing and to aid in healing. The removal of the paste would also remove the hair while leaving the skin with very little irritation.

Ancient Egyptians believed body hair to be unacceptable and unclean and used various tools, like tweezers and shaving, to remove hair. Sugaring was a faster, less painful, and more effective method that would also have exfoliated the skin, leaving it smoother, more supple, and without stubble. Hair regrowth would have been softer and finer, so it is understandable that sugaring became a lasting and preferred method of hair removal around the region. While sugaring techniques have remained basically unchanged in many of those regions, when the technique arrived on U.S. soil it started to evolve dramatically.

Now there are two very different types of sugaring, just as there is with waxing: (1) the strip-removal method and (2) the no strip method. It is important to recognize the differences between the two because they have different effect on the skin and hair.

 *Source: Milady’s Hair Removal Techniques

Here’s a brief overview of hair removal history.

Pre-historic Era
In 30,000 B.C., cavemen used flint razors to shave their faces, and women created the first depilatory creams using harmful substances like quicklime and arsenic. Needless to say, removing hair in this period was not much fun, and often resulted in damage to the skin.

Ancient Egypt
Egyptian women removed all body hair, including hair on their heads, using a variety of techniques such as scrubbing with pumice stones, tweezing with seashells, threading, and using beeswax and early sugaring methods.

Roman Empire
Early Romans viewed lack of body hair as a symbol of high class citizens. Many paintings and sculptures of ancient Roman women reveal that even pubic hair was removed. Hair removal was done via flint razors, tweezers, creams and stones.

Europe – Middle Ages
In the Early Middle Ages, women practiced removal of all body, face and even head hair. Bald heads allowed them to wear gaudy wigs or headpieces, which were in fashion at the time. The routine was arduous and shaving and plucking was done daily.

In the 1600’s Queen Elizabeth I made facial hair removal in vogue for European Women during her rule. The trend was removal of the eyebrows and hair on the forehead, which made the forehead appear larger. Methods practiced included using walnut oil, ammonia soaked bandages and vinegar.

Middle East
Middle Eastern women have long practiced body sugaring to remove hair. Historically, it was customary for brides to removal all body hair except for the eyebrows and head hair the night before their wedding. This was deemed an act of respect for the husband, as hairless skin was thought to be clean and pure. Today, sugaring remains the primary method used by women throughout Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey and Egypt.

North America
In 1915, following a Harper’s Bazaar ad featuring a model in a sleeveless gown with hairless armpits, Gillette introduced the first razor for women. This commenced the hairless craze in the US, which was supported by a flurry of advertisements encouraging women to remove their body hair. Even with advances in technology, many women continued practicing older techniques -like rubbing hair off with abrasive mitts- until the 1940’s when mechanical hair removal devices hit the market. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that removing hair via wax strip became popular, and not until the 1980’s that hot wax methods grew in popularity. The 1990’s and 2000’s gave us electrolysis and laser removal methods, which have exploded into multi million dollar industries.

The infamous Brazilian bikini wax originated in a country where women begin removing body hair at age 15. Traditionally, Brazilians used a substance found in the Coco de Mono tree, but today cold wax is the medium of choice.
Source: vidasleek

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