Hair removal is a painful pillar of the 21st-century beauty routine. Yet our discomfort pales into insignificance next to the elaborate rituals practiced by our forebears. From the cavemen who used sharply whittled stones to scrape oﬀ facial hair to the elegant courtiers of the Elizabethan era who followed the queen’s fondness for a high forehead by applying bandages soaked in ammonia and vinegar to their brows, hair—or the lack thereof—has always been an obsession. Picture an ancient Egyptian and it’s most likely to be Cleopatra, with her sleek black bob. Underneath it, though, she was bald; like most of her contemporaries, the queen shaved her head and then aﬃxed an immaculate and perfumed wig made from human hair. And it wasn’t just hair on the head that was removed. Body hair was imbued with shameful connotations; it was considered unclean and common by upper class Egyptians who pioneered mechanisms of removing it that This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Eight Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 28 Spitting Hairs On processed food’s most unpalatable ingredient. Arts & Culture Issue 28 Naïm Abboud: A Brush With History Carole Corm traces the glamorous, golden trajectory of the Middle East’s most sought-after hairdresser. Arts & Culture Issue 28 Holy Hair Creepy collectible, or wielder of wisdom? Arts & Culture Issue 28 How to Wear a Hat Expert advice on an awkward accessory with milliner Ellen Christine. Arts & Culture Issue 28 Falling Short Forget CSI. Hair is a notoriously tricky witness. Arts & Culture Issue 28 Dead Ends When the wrong haircut kills.