To Get Rid of Body Hair, Renaissance Women Made Lotions of Arsenic, Cat Dung and Vinegar
While beards may be coming back into style for men, women are still expected to keep the majority of their body hairless. This tradition of smooth, hairless ladies goes way, way back. Even in some of the earliest paintings of nude females, the women have very little body hair. But Renaissance women didn’t have Nair or disposable razors. Did they really keep their bodies hairless? And if so, how?
According to Jill Burke, a lecturer on Italian renaissance history at the University of Edinburgh, women dealt with removing their hair in all sorts of ways, and most of them sounds pretty terrible. Take this 1532 recipe:
Boil together a solution of one pint of arsenic and eighth of a pint of quicklime. Go to a baths or a hot room and smear medicine over the area to be depilated. When the skin feels hot, wash quickly with hot water so the flesh doesn’t come off.