I wonder why this never caught on…

i-b8b399fd020fec495ee88f74cf6139f7-lrg_xray_shave.jpgVia Modern Mechanix, from the pages of Popular Mechanics, April 1924:

BEARD IS REMOVED WITH MUD AND USE OF X-RAYS

Shaving beards from men’s faces, has been accomplished by a special mudlike paste that is undergoing experiments at the hands of a New York doctor. After the mass has been applied, it hardens and is torn off. To finish the operation, X-rays are then directed against the skin. The originator of the method claims that it is beneficial and if used regularly will remove scars and similar marks of long standing. It is also said that the sticky treatment does not leave any ill effects on tender skins.

It never ceases to amaze me what people used to use X-rays for before it was appreciated just how bad an idea it is, how X-ray exposure is cumulative throughout one’s lifetime, and how carcinogenic it is. In any case, the above treatment just looks like some sort of waxing (painful!), followed by the treatment of X-rays. Unless the dosage of X-rays was high enough to cause hair loss (and I’m guessing that the focusing ability and the ability to control the dose were pretty darned primitive in 1924, so I don’t discount the possibility that it may well have been), this doctors’ customers would have probably gotten the same result with just the paste. I’d love to see a followup study to see what the rate of head and neck cancers were among regular customers of this doctor. It must have been astronomical. In fact, I wonder what happened to the doctors. The one in the picture doesn’t appear to be protecting himself with lead shielding.