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Hair's Where It's At: Calculating the Cost of Hair Removal

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Not long ago, my hair piece received a lot of attention.

I wrote an article here on The Huffington Post UK about pubic hair and the response to that article was overwhelming. There were more than 400 comments, over 600 shares on various social media, and in excess of 4000 "likes". Besides that, many people tweeted me or emailed me.

A lot of people who contacted me personally told me about their own preferences in hair, either on themselves or on others. A number were especially interested in discussing the role of hair during sex. Some asked me about my own pubic hair, and wondered why I hadn't shared that information in the article (strange, that).

There were the odd offensive, rude, or downright bizarre responses to the hair piece, but in general, people were really positive. Both men and women said that they didn't like the pressure on women (or on men) to be hairless, or to prefer those who are hairless. Many lamented the current, hair-raising zeitgeist.

All of which leads me to ask: if we're so troubled by the hairless movement, why aren't we doing anything about it? Why do we continue to shave/wax/use depilatory creams/whatever if we actually prefer the more natural look and feel? Why do we put ourselves through that?

Instead of focusing purely on the psychological and emotional effects of hair removal, as I am wont to do, we could make this a straightforward financial issue.

A package of five or ten of the cheapest disposable razors costs around £3. Obviously, you can get electric razors, razors with "soothing strips" made out of aloe, razors with additional blades, and so on, but for the very basic razors, you don't need to pay more than a few pounds. Let's say you're really looking to save money and you don't want to buy any shaving gel or any creams to slather on your tender skin after shaving. Even in this scenario, you're spending £3 every month or two on razors. That means £18-36 a year.

Or maybe you go to the salon and get a waxing. My local salon charges £30 for a full leg, bikini, and underarm wax. If you want a "Brazilian" wax or a "Playboy" wax, you're now talking about another £15-25. Add your eyebrows or upper lip for an additional £10 each. It's worth pointing out that this is in a small city, so prices will surely be higher in other areas. In fact, I just checked and at a salon in London, waxing was £10-20 higher per body part. Salons recommend that you get a wax every four-six weeks, so we're potentially talking about £360 or more per year just to keep the bikini line smooth.

But maybe you want something more permanent. Lasering and electrolysis each cost a minimum of £35 a session, and many websites suggest that at least six-10 sessions are required for each body part. That's at least £210-350 for that course of sessions, and clearly for many people, additional sessions will be needed.

Then we should calculate all the time it takes to shave or to drive to the salon and sit through the waxing/lasering/electrolysis. Say that's just 10 minutes to shave in the shower every day or every few days. But salons say they take 30-75 minutes per waxing session, and most salons are not exactly next door to where you live, so you have to get there, whether on your feet, or by bike, bus, car, or taxi. Now you're looking at two or three or even more hours each time. How much is your time worth? Try calculating that. When you start getting into three or four figures, it's enough to put hair on your chest.

For some people, talking about hair and its removal by appealing to their emotions won't work. In some cases, we have a stake in denying that we're being oppressed. We might claim that we feel better about ourselves without hair (but one can ask exactly how and why we began to feel that way). We might argue that we enjoy spending the time taking care of ourselves, or that sex is better, or that we "like the look", or whatever else.

But we could analyse the topic a bit more coldly, from a financial perspective. Is hair removal really worth the time and money people spend? What could you do with an extra £18 or £360 (or even more) a year? What could you do with an extra 10 minutes a week or two hours a month? Imagine how you could pamper yourself with that time and money (a relaxing bath, a fancy cup of coffee, a baked treat from a café, a film, a museum exhibit, a massage, a trip to the gym, a meal out with a friend or lover, an activity with your child/ren, etc). You could even spend that time having more sex.

If so many people genuinely feel worried about the hairless state of affairs we've found ourselves in, why not do something about it? Imagine the time and money you could save, imagine the other things you could do instead of heading to the salon, and imagine how much better you might end up feeling about yourself.

Maybe we need to stop tearing our hair out and realise that hair's actually where it's at.