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Arabic: halwa

Meaning 1: Arabic word for sweets in general.

Meaning 2: A paste that is used by women and men to remove body and facial hair.
The paste is made up of lemon juice, sugar, water and sometimes oil. Most people using halwa on their bodies produce it themselves and use it either in the hammam or in the home. In most cases, women help one another, as there is pain involved. Men who use it, typically do this privately.
The halwa is heated gently until it's sticky. The paste is put on the body where there is unwanted body hair and torn off quickly. The same paste is used over and over again.
The tradition of removing body hair with halwa goes back to a notion that considers body hair to be unhygienic. Additionally it was thought that a smooth body free of hair is more beautiful. Women remove all body hair below the head, as well as hair on the upper lip. Men do less, but remove hair from under the arms, and reduce hairiness in other parts of the body by cutting.

By Tore Kjeilen