In 1903, a Wisconsin-born salesman suffered an epic entrepreneurial failure: After spending nearly a decade perfecting a sure-to-be groundbreaking invention, he sold just 51 pieces in his entire first year of business. That businessman was named King Camp Gillette, and his invention was a steel safety razor. Within a few years' time, word got out that Gillette's innovative shaving device was a must-have — and business boomed.
The hair-removal industry has come a long, long way since Gillette's original gadget, with the multibillion-dollar business now spanning from lasers to waxing kits to threading to sugaring and beyond. And, like gas prices and movie tickets, the cost of hairlessness has risen precipitously over the course of the past century. One survey, conducted by American Laser Centers, found that the average woman will shell out around $10,000 on at-home hair removal in her lifetime; those who prefer to wax will see that number more than double.