There was a time when all hair removal was natural. The first razor wasn’t invented until the 18th century. Depilatories were discovered in the 19th century. Waxing didn’t come along until the 1960s, and laser hair removal was perfected in the 1990s.
So for tens of thousands of years, all the procedures and products that we use today to get rid of unwanted hair simply weren’t available.
Back in that mysterious time, people were scraping wickedly sharp stones and flints (a form of quartz) across their skin to remove hair from their faces and scalps to deprive mites and lice of easy nests.
By 5,000 BCE, hair removal practices had improved greatly. Good thing, because both men and women in Ancient Egypt removed every last bit of hair from their bodies. How? They used clam shells for tweezers. Pretty clever, but, thankfully, our tweezers are easier to maneuver.
And like the ever-useful tweezer, some of their other all natural hair removal methods are still used today: pumice stones, beeswax and sugar. The craziest part is that these ancient, natural home remedies are still surprisingly effective.
Read on for the best all natural hair removal methods you can do right at home!
You may know turmeric as a spice commonly used in Asian cuisine, particularly in Indian curries, sauces and stews. The Western world adds it to recipes mostly for its golden yellow color. It has been valued in India for thousands of years as a nutritional aid and for its medicinal properties. It reduces inflammation on the skin, fights bacteria and removes hair. The best news? It not only removes hair but greatly curtails its regrowth.
You can use turmeric in either its raw or powder form. It’s available in many local supermarkets, but if not in yours, check out an Asian market or just order some online – Amazon has pretty much everything.
Got some? Here’s how to use turmeric for hair removal…
This is a great recipe for turmeric face mask hair removal that also leaves your face feeling hydrated and has skin lightening benefits as well.
Mix together a tablespoon of turmeric powder or raw turmeric and a tablespoon of gram flour. Stir well. Add milk gradually to make a thick paste. Apply the paste to the area with unwanted hair. Let the mixture dry, about 30 minutes, then gently scrub off the paste with warm water.
Repeat once a week.
Grate or grind a knuckle-sized piece of turmeric. Gradually stir in a few tablespoons of rose water until you have a thick paste. Apply the paste with your fingers, making sure that it’s only on the areas with unwanted hair. Let it set for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on how sensitive or dry your skin is). Rinse off with warm water.
This mixture removes hair that is on the thin and sparse side. For thick, coarse hair (such as in the bikini area), add yogurt, ground oats, or rice flour to the turmeric/rose water mix.
Make a paste from turmeric powder and yogurt and apply to your face and/or body every night before bed to reduce or slow down hair growth. The younger this is started, the better. A teen, for instance, could have considerably less hair to deal with in adulthood. Possible but rarer, no hair at all to deal with.
Not any old oil, mind you – the last thing you want to do is go putting potentially comedogenic natural oils on your facial skin!
That being said, there are a few oils that have been shown to be effective in reducing hair growth. One study found that lavender and tea tree oils could be effective in reducing mild cases of hirsutism, a condition of unwanted hair growth in women.
To use these essential oils for hair removal, you’ll want to follow in the footsteps of the study’s participants and use a spray that contains lavender and tea tree oils. You can whip one up yourself by getting the lavender essential oil and tea tree essential oil separately and then mixing it with distilled water or witch hazel to dilute it.
Another interesting oil for hair removal is ant egg oil. Yes, you read that right – this oil is made from crushed ant pupae. If you’re brave enough to put it on your skin, ant egg oil is said to contain a unique protein that can destroy the hair root permanently.
Legend has it that Christopher Columbus called papayas the “fruit of angels.” Could be. Papayas are a “heavenly” orange color with yellow or pink hues. They are soft and sweet with a musky undertone and rich in vitamins and minerals and an enzyme specific to it: papain.
Among the many health benefits of papain is the ability to break down hair follicles and slow down hair growth, so that it both clears hair from your body and delays its return. It also nourishes and exfoliates and is gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin.
There was a time that papaya was considered exotic, i.e., difficult to find outside of the tropics. It has become so popular that it is now available in your local supermarkets all year.
Here’s how to use papaya for hair removal:
Peel a raw papaya and chop it into small cubes. Mash the cubes into a thick pulp. Finely grate a knuckle-sized piece of raw turmeric root. Mix it into the papaya pulp until all of the turmeric is absorbed. Gently massage the paste into the hair you want to remove. Wait 20 minutes and rinse the paste off with warm water. There may be (then again, there may not be) a slight yellow tinge to your skin. Fear not. It will fade in two or three days.
Do this procedure once or twice a week, always with a day in between, and your days of shaving and waxing may be over.
Sugar and honey both have been used for hair removal for thousands of years. Those Ancient Egyptian women sure had their thumbs on the pulse of beauty trends. The sugar and honey mix is a natural alternative to the expensive paraffin wax used in professional waxing. Lemon bleaches the hair, making it less visible.
There’s a number of ways you can use this natural combination for hair removal…
In a metal bowl, mix together a tablespoon of sugar, a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Place the bowl over a double boiler to heat the liquid slowly and dissolve the sugar. The mixture will turn into a thick wax-like paste. If the paste is too thick, add water. If it is too thin, add cornstarch.
First, apply a thin layer of cornstarch to the areas you want to treat, so that paste does not adhere to your skin. Use a wooden spoon to apply the paste in the direction that your hair grows. While the paste is still soft, pat a strip of cloth on it. As the paste cools, it hardens, and you can rip off the cloth, and your hair—very much the same as professional waxing but with natural ingredients.
This recipe is simpler but keep in mind that it won’t remove hair – the acid in lemon juice bleaches your hair so that it’s less visible and stings the hair follicles, which can over time weaken them and slow down their ability to produce hair. A nice bonus is that the vitamin C in lemon juice facilitates the production of collagen and elastin.
Squeeze the juice of one lemon (two tablespoons of lemon juice) and mix it with half a cup of warm water. Mix and apply to your face or body with your hands in the direction that your hair grows. Let it set for about 20 minutes. Wash it off with warm water, using a gentle rubbing motion that exfoliates your skin and ensures that the mixture is absorbed into the hair follicles.
Repeat two or three times a week. Your hair should get lighter right from the start.
Suppose you’re just not in the mood to be mixing up recipes. We have another natural hair removal method that’s as easy as falling off a rock—or picking up a stone.
Pumice stones were also used by those savvy ladies in ancient Egypt. The stones are made from volcanic lava and are gray, oval and porous. Some have rubber grips attached to make them easier to hold in your hand. You may already have one that you use to remove callouses from your feet.
The texture of the pumice stone buffs hair from your legs, arms, back and shoulders. The stone reduces hair growth over time and, unlike shaving and waxing, there is no danger whatsoever of ingrown hairs.
But before you get started buffing off your unwanted hair, there are a few things you need to know about using a pumice stone:
Okay, now that you know what’s up, here’s how to use a pumice stone for hair removal:
Note: Use soapy water and a nail brush to clean the pumice stone after every usage. Otherwise, it’ll be carrying around old hair and dead skin cells and whatever else it picked up from your skin – nothing that you want to bring into the next session.
Also, keep in mind that pumicing is a gradual method of hair removal. It may take a few days or a few weeks, depending on your skin and hair type. Repeat the process daily. After 20 days or so, your hair should be completely gone. Repeat as needed to keep regrowth at bay.
For those of us who have excessive amounts of dark, coarse hair on the face, chest, back, upper arms or upper legs, what is known as “male-pattern hair growth” or “hirsutism,” hair removal is a whole other matter. The condition is frequently caused by a hormonal imbalance. Both men and women produce androgens (male hormones). When women produce too many and the estrogen (female) hormonal balance is thrown off, one result is the unusual hair growth.
Usual hair removal procedures come with problems of their own. Prescribed medications help, but once they are stopped, the excessive hair growth returns. The best course of action is to reduce the level of androgens by natural means, like drinking tea.
Specifically, spearmint tea. Studies have shown that drinking one cup of spearmint tea twice a day lowers the androgen levels in women.
Here’s how to use spearmint tea for hair removal:
Place one heaping teaspoon of dried, ground spearmint leaves (or one and a half heaping teaspoons of fresh, thinly chopped spearmint leaves) into a tea cup. Pour one cup of boiling water over the leaves. Let the tea brew for 10 minutes. Add a pinch of natural sweetener, such as stevia, agave or honey to enhance the flavor.
Spearmint tea is yummy and refreshing so you should have no problem drinking your two cups a day. But, just in case, there are spearmint capsules also available for better convenience.
No one is quite certain why this works for excessive hair growth, only that it does. It’s rich in minerals and irons that bring about harmony in the body (balance it) and that may help keep the female body from doing male things, such as produce excess hair.
You can find blackstrap molasses, which is the left over bits of sugar cane as it is processed, in health food stores and “super” supermarkets. Be prepared, not everyone is going to go “Yummy!” after eating it. But if it’s effective for you, surely it’s worth getting down.
If you are taking iron supplements or are diabetic, please consult with your doctor first.
How to use blackstrap molasses for hair removal: Eat two heaping teaspoons of blackstrap molasses every day. You don’t have to take it on its own, either – simply use it as a healthier sugar alternative.
Phytoestrogen is a plant hormone that is similar to estrogen, the female hormone. Since elevated androgen hormones can cause excessive hair growth, chowing down on foods that are rich in phytoestrogens can re-establish the natural balance and dial down the hair growth.
Some foods high in natural phytoestrogens are
You can also take phytoestrogenic supplements like Shatavari, whose name translates to “she who possesses 100 husbands” for the beneficial effects of estrogen it provides.
I’m going to finish up with what might be a really valuable “up and comer”: acupuncture. There has only been one study to date and it was on a limited number of subjects. However, the researchers found that acupuncture reduced the levels of androgen in women as well as reducing the density and length of the hair. Certainly worth keeping our eyes on as research progresses.
Parting words: Be aware that, whichever natural methods you try, there is a price. The price is patience – lots and lots of it. These methods are not going to whisk away all that hair on your first try.
Slow and steady wins the race. And you’ll win the hair wars without nicks, stubble, harsh odors, painful waxing and modern chemicals and their sometimes unforeseeable side effects. Without ingrown hairs, razor rash, bumps, boils and blisters. Hurrah to that!