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Body hair can be unsightly, but it’s all part of a natural process. Read on for a basic overview of this stubborn foe.
Follicle: the part of the skin that anchors an individual shaft of hair. Each follicle consists of a sebaceous gland, which secretes oil (sebum) to condition the hair and skin, and a few nerve endings at the base that allow hair to carry out one of its main functions: to act as a sensitive touch receptor.
Growth cycles: during the initial phase of the hair-growth cycle, anagen, strands grow up to 0.2 mm per day. This is followed by a catagen phase, which lasts two–three weeks, then a telogen phase in which hair stops growing. Individual follicles may be at different stages of the cycle at any given time.
Epilation: the removal of hair from the root. Common methods include tweezing, waxing, laser hair removal, and stapling a tiny eviction notice to every follicle.
Depilation: the removal of hair from above the skin, usually via shaving or depilation creams, which evolved in the 1930s from formulas used to remove hair from cattle hides.
Jazz bikinis: the common term for the short skirts worn by flappers in the 1920s—a trend often attributed to the rise of leg shaving as a popular routine.