A ritual that’s practically become a necessity for women today, waxing has taken a few centuries to become a social norm. Legs, arms, armpits, eyebrows, bikini line, everything goes now: a study led by Patinel in 2006 showed that 20% of young French women only wax in the summer, and the remaining 80% wax all year round.
In ancient Egypt, body hair was considered to be impure and a symbol of animality: pharaohs and the religious had to remove all body hair, and women weren’t allowed hair in their pubic region. Muslims were very early to wax their legs, using sugar-based wax that they prepared themselves. But the arrival of Catholicism in the West prevented the spread of such practices. Catherine de Médicis even went as far as banning female hair removal, apart from plucking the forehead which was fashionable during the Renaissance. Waxing as we know it didn’t take off until much later, in the 1920s, with the arrival of short dresses, followed by paid holidays (1936) and transparent nylon stockings from the United States (1946). The first advertisement for female waxing (see opposite) appeared in 1915, it reads: “Summer Dress and Modern Dancing combine to make necessary the removal of objectionable hair.”
Amongst the most distinctive elements of femininity, women’s hair features high in the list. Short or long, brown or blonde, that’s not really the issue: for all women, hair has a particular significance and it revolves around several very different functions.
– Symbol of femininity: For a long time, women didn’t have the right to cut their hair. Cutting it became a humiliation, particularly at the time of the Liberation when women accused of having sexual relations with enemy soldiers were shaved and shorn of their femininity which they were judged to have abused. Boyish cuts only started making an appearance during the interwar years.
Make Up For Ever has created the Make up school at the Sephora store located on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. This little academy is open to everyone and it’s affordable! Full-time professionals teach the basics of make-up and give simple tricks that can be easily reproduced at home.
Two options: the basic one, the Focus make up, which focuses on only one part of the face (complexion, two-tone eye shadow, glitter and shimmer, etc.) and the advanced one, the Total Look, teaching how to apply make-up all over (trends, weddings, etc.) and which takes longer.
Afterwards, each participant is handed a written summary to refer to at home.
The Shiseido brand provides customers of the Takashimaya department store in Tokyo with virtual make-up counters where women can try on cosmetics: the Digital Cosmetic Mirrors. A camera scans the customer’s face, generating a set of tailored recommendations. Using the device’s touch-screen interface, she can then ask to virtually try out specific types of make-up on her face.
The customer can then see herself smiling, blinking, moving with different colours on her eyelids, lips and cheeks; all this in real-time and very realistic. She can print out a summary of all the suitable products as well as the photo showing her face before/after the virtual make-up has been “applied”.
This method is cheap, hygienic and requires neither customer advisors nor testers.