Grooming Styles Around The World
American women's grooming habits today are well known. And, like most things appearance-related, they're media-driven. The trimming and removal of pubic hair in the US appears to be tied to the invention of the bikini in the 1960s. By 1971, Playboy had the first pictorial spread with glimpses of pubic hair, but before that magazines avoided showing the region altogether.
But what are the personal grooming habits and most common hair removal methods of women the world over? Here's what's hot where.
Historically in Japan, women have preferred to shave only their legs and underarms, leaving the bikini and pubic area untouched. What’s more, it’s common to remove facial hair and peach fuzz for a smooth, glass-like appearance. IPL laser hair removal treatments, which were difficult to come by in North America, have been very popular in Japan. This hair removal treatment works by using an intense burst of light, which causes the hair follicle to stop producing hair. The procedure is relatively painless, and after multiple treatments, the results are permanent.
In Germany, it’s common for women to shave their legs, underarms, and bikini region. Much like in the US, it is very popular to be smooth and hair-free. Women who forewent shaving their pubic hair in Germany were considered “alternative.” Waxing is a hair removal method that isn’t very common in Germany. But laser hair removal is because it’s the most effective, efficient, and permanent way of removing unwanted hair.
When you hear “Brazil,” you probably think of the Brazilian wax. However, this is actually American and isn’t very popular in Brazil. The most popular grooming style among women in Brazil is to leave a “landing strip” of hair, and how much hair you want to be waxed off determines the price. If you do choose to go “Brazilian” in Brazil, they generally remove a lot more hair than just in your bikini region; they wax your inner thighs, too. That’s definitely different from an American Brazilian wax!
Chinese notions of beauty differ vastly from American ones. "Chinese tradition had no demands in this respect," the Telegraph reports: "armpit or leg hair was just part of your body and nothing to be ashamed about." Body hair is considered completely natural and as a result, hair removal methods such as waxing and laser hair removal aren’t very popular there.
5. United Kingdom
As the UK is most similar to the USA, it’s no surprise that waxing and laser hair removal are incredibly popular hair removal methods across the pond. Shaving is another popular method simply because it is accessible and convenient.
Australia is home to Nads, an all-natural hair removal gel that waxes away unwanted hair. But for those wanting a more permanent solution to repetitive waxing, many prefer laser hair removal. Removing their leg, underarm, and facial hair as well as hair in their bikini region is not uncommon. Australians are so into hair-free, smooth skin that those who don’t remove their hair are considered outliers.
Removing leg, underarm, and pubic hair is becoming more common for Indian women. Depilatories are incredibly common to use in India as a hair removal method, but laser hair removal is becoming an increasingly more popular method, especially as laser technologies advance for darker skin tones. In fact, the chin, upper lip, underarms, cheeks, and bikini area are popular areas for laser hair removal.
Where younger women influenced by Western culture may wax, shave or pluck, more traditional, older generations of Ghanian women wear their body hair with pride. It is not uncommon to see leg and even chest hair in Ghana, but underarm hair is where they draw the line. Even men shave their underarms, as it’s considered unhygienic.
Hair today, gone tomorrow
Women throughout most of the world remove at least some of their body hair. "Over the course of a lifetime, one 2008 survey indicated, American women who shave (a relatively inexpensive way to remove hair) will spend, on average, more than $10,000 and nearly two entire months of their lives simply managing unwanted hair," Salon.com reports. "The woman who waxes once or twice a month will spend more than $23,000 over the course of her lifetime."
While the parts to be plucked may change according to trends, if time tells us anything, it’s that women will continue to want to keep at least some portion of their bodies hairless.
1. “Brides With Bristles,” The Guardian, May 19, 2003.