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La Naissance de Venus, by Eugène Emmanuel Amaury Duval (1808–85), portrays the goddess of love Venus with no pubic or axillary hair.

Glabrousness (from the Latin glaber meaning "bald", "hairless", "shaved", "smooth") is the technical term for an anatomically atypical lack of hair, down or other such covering. This may be natural or due to loss because of a physical condition, such as alopecia universalis, which causes hair to fall out or prevents its growth.

In botany[edit]

In botany and mycology, a glabrous morphological feature is smooth, glossy, having no trichomes (bristles or hair-like structures), or glaucousness (see also indumentum). No plants have hair, although some structures may resemble it. Glabrous features may be an important means of identifying flora species. Glabrous characteristics of leaves, stems, and fruit are commonly used in plant keys.

The term is only used for features that lack trichomes at all times. When an organ has trichomes that are lost with age, the term used is glabrescent.

Glabrous skin[edit]

In varying degrees most mammals have some skin areas without natural hair. On the human body, glabrous skin is external skin that is naturally hairless. It is found on the ventral portion of the fingers, palms, soles of feet, lips, labia minora, and glans penis. Glabrousness is one trait that is associated with neoteny.

Tinea corporis is a mycosis that targets non-glabrous skin.[1]

There are four main types of mechanoreceptors in the glabrous skin of humans: Pacinian corpuscles, Meissner's corpuscles, Merkel's discs, and Ruffini corpuscles.

Hair removal fashions[edit]

Recently, the term glabrousness also has been applied to human fashions, wherein some participate in culturally motivated hair removal by depilation (surface removal by shaving, dissolving), or epilation (removal of the entire hair, such as waxing or plucking).

Although the appearance of secondary hair on parts of the human body commonly occurs during puberty, and therefore, is often seen as a symbol of adulthood, removal of this and other hair may become fashionable in some cultures and subcultures. In many Western cultures, men currently are encouraged to shave their beards, and women are encouraged to remove hair growth on various areas. Commonly depilated areas for women are the underarms and legs. Pubic hair may be removed partially or entirely. Some individuals depilate the forearms. In recent years, bodily depilation in men has increased in popularity among some subcultures of Western males.[2]

As with any cosmetic practice, the particulars of hair removal have changed over the years. Western female depilation has been significantly influenced by the evolution of clothing in the past century. Leg and underarm shaving became popular again[when?] in Western society with the advent of off-the-shoulder dresses, higher hemlines, and transparent stockings. The reduction of the minimum acceptable standards for bodily coverage over recent years has resulted in the exposure of more flesh, giving rise to more extensive hair removal.[citation needed]

Encouragement by commercial interests may be seen in advertising. At present, this has resulted in the "Brazilian waxing" trend involving the partial or full removal of pubic hair, as the thongs worn on Brazilian beaches are too small to conceal very much of it.[citation needed] Indeed, a culture is now emerging around "intimate shaving" and other hair removal options geared specifically toward pubic hair. (cf. bikini waxing) What was once kept a personal secret now is discussed more openly, although still in carefully non-explicit language, as advertised in magazines and on television.[original research?]

Cultural and other influences[edit]

In ancient Egypt, depilation was commonly practiced, with pumice and razors used to shave.[3] In both Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, the removal of body and pubic hair may have been practiced among both men and women. It is represented in some artistic depictions of male and female nudity,[citation needed] examples of which may be seen in some red figure pottery of Ancient Greece on which both men and women were depicted without body or pubic hair.

The majority of Muslims believe that adult removal of pubic and axillary hair, as a hygienic measure, is religiously beneficial.[4]

Baptized Sikhs are specifically instructed never to cut, shave, or otherwise remove any hair on their bodies; this is a major tenet of the Sikh faith (see Kesh).

In the clothes free movement, the term "smoothie" refers to an individual who has removed most of their hair. In the past, such practices were frowned upon and in some cases, members of clothes-free clubs were forbidden to remove their pubic hair: violators could face exclusion from the club. Enthusiasts grouped together and formed societies of their own that catered to that fashion and the fashion became more popular, with smoothies becoming a major percentage at some nudist venues.[5] The first Smoothie club (TSC) was founded by a British couple in 1991.[6] A Dutch branch was founded in 1993 [7] in order to give the idea of a hairless body greater publicity in the Netherlands. Being a Smoothie is described by its supporters as exceptionally comfortable and liberating. The Smoothy-Club is also a branch of the World of the Nudest Nudist (WNN) and organizes nudist ship cruises and nudist events every month. Every year in spring the club organizes the international Smoothy days. In the U.K. the SCN Naturist Club for "Smooth Ladies and Smooth and Circumcised Gentlemen" was formed in 1996. Although the SCN club closed in 2001 after five years, its SCN website continues to promote the club's hairless fashion.

Athletes may depilate as an enhancement to their abilities. For example, male and female competitive swimmers may remove their body and pubic hair[citation needed] in order to help streamline their bodies and to allow their swimsuits to fit more closely to their bodies.[8] Bicyclists also remove body hair to decrease the effects of "road rash" by minimizing the tearing action of hair against pavement during a bike crash and to provide easier injury clean-up afterward. Hairfree legs also are described as increasing the comfort and effectiveness of sport massages.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  2. ^ Philips' Shave Everywhere campaign follows an increasing awareness from the male public about male shaving
  3. ^ Boroughs, Michael; Cafri, Guy; Thompson, J. Kevin. "Male Body Depilation: Prevalence and Associated Features of Body Hair Removal". Sex Roles 52 (9-10): 637–644. doi:10.1007/s11199-005-3731-9. 
  4. ^ "Shaving Pubic Hair". Understanding Islam. 11 February 1999. 
  5. ^ "smooth naturists & nudists - Smoothies". Euro Naturist. 
  6. ^ World of the Nudest Nudist, beauty of the shaved body Archived August 14, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "World of the Nudest Nudist - home of the barest naturists". Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  8. ^ "How to Shave Down for a Swim Meet". Retrieved 18 October 2015.  External link in |website= (help)

External links[edit]