Seeking out solutions to everyday problems is at the heart of our discoveries. Sometimes though, problems aren’t always visible—like back hair. But that’s where the BaKblade comes in.
Shaped like a back scratcher, the BaKblade is a Grommet that helps folks remove their own hair without shaving cream or water needed. And like most of our Makers, inventor Matt Dryfhout came to the idea after experiencing this harried predicament firsthand.
In a chat with us about his design, Dryfhout traced the blade’s invention to an off-hand remark about his back hair at a party twenty years ago. He was so humiliated that he went home to remove it immediately.
“It took me about an hour with shaving cream and it was just horrible. It was really the only option at that point in time. And then I would just not do it because it was such a pain,” Dryfhout said.
This experience propelled him to imagine inventions for back hair removal years later at the height of the manscaping movement. And voilà—the BaKblade was born.
But what’s up with back hair to begin with?
Actually, back hair isn’t that uncommon. Men especially tend to have more hair than women because of an androgen hormone developed at puberty. It’s believed to keep the body warm, but humans are evolving into less hairy beings over time, Sonam Yadav, a dermatologist at Juverne in New Delhi, India, told us.
“Hair has a function—to trap heat and protect the skin,” Sonam said. “But too much hair, other than being considered unsightly or off-putting, can trap sweat and body odor, thus requiring more time and product for grooming and odor control.”
When we asked people in our network about their back hair, most kept quiet. Some offered insights but asked to stay cloaked in anonymity. Thankfully though, Adam Ortiz, a college administrator, and friend of The Grommet, broke the silence. His hair sprouted in his late teens, like Dryfhout.
“I remember thinking to myself, in a very joking way, that I had my grandfather to blame for this because he is a very hairy man,” Adam said.
But when he got a back tattoo at twenty-one, he realized that if he was going to show it off, the hair had to go for good. However, getting rid of it wasn’t so easy.
“All of those [grooming] attempts have mostly gone poorly,” Adam said. “I’ve tried buzzing it myself with an electric razor. I’ve tried using just a regular razor–which has actually made my arms way more flexible than most people’s–but you miss a lot of pieces just because you can’t always see.”
He ended up asking roommates, friends, or his partner to clip or tweeze away his hair, a task he dubs as not necessarily mortifying, but uncomfortable to say the least.
Some like to wax, trim, or try laser. But back hair isn’t necessarily a flaw, Sonam says.
“If it makes one feel unkempt or unclean, the same way as having a haircut that is not to one’s liking, it is easily fixed,” she said. “It is a personal choice and part of grooming and hygiene—some women like to grow their underarm hair. Men have the choice to live as they wish and define their own look just as women do.”
For Adam though, defining his choice to shave isn’t a secret.
“I’m at a place where, universally, I want to be more accepting of my own body and other people’s bodies,” he said. “Back hair is culturally perceived as shameful to have it and culturally perceived as shameful to remove it. Personally, I still prefer to not have back hair, but I don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed about removing it.”
(Image credits: Barbering, Tomb of Userhat, ca. 1427–1400 B.C., maker unknown, facsimile painting by Nina de Garis Davies. Public Domain. MET; Razor set, 1900s, England, maker unknown. Gift of Mrs. Ramona Webb, 1990. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Museum of New Zealand GH003674/1-7)