When Deadly X-Rays Were Used for Hair Removal

X-rays were discovered in 1895, and by the early 1900s, there was scientific consensus that they were dangerous. The use of x-rays as a hair-removal method began around the turn of the 20th century, and the practice persisted in commercial salons for about 50 years. Albert C. Geyser (pictured), a physician whose salons were one of the most popular places to get such treatments, opened at least 75 clinics across the country. Geyser invented the Cornell Tube, which allegedly kept the x-rays from burning clients, and opened the Tricho Institute. X-rays today used in medical imaging are used in such small, controlled doses that they’re considered safe. However, at the time Geyser was promoting his x-ray hair removal system, there was little understanding of how they could interact with the human body. By 1929, the AMA condemned the Tricho Institute for its dangerous practices, and the company had shut down by the following year. While there have been few studies on the long-term effects of this practice, research on 368 patients in New York in 1970 found that more than 35% of the radiation-induced cancers in women could be traced to x-ray hair-removal practices.