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If you’ve been paying attention to social media lately, you’ve probably seen the growing trend (pun intended) of women posting photos of unshaved armpits. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Madonna, and Lady Gaga are jumping on board to rock out with their armpit hair out. While some women only stop shaving for “Januhairy,” others flaunt armpit hair year-round.
There are men and women who view armpit hair as gross and unflattering and shave it off, although men aren’t shamed for sporting their fuzz. This pro-body-hair movement is intended to disrupt the notion that beauty can only be achieved with a flawless, hairless body. In April 2019 Nike became the first company to embrace this movement by sharing a photo of a model revealing underarm hair.
While some of the proudly unshaven women are simply making a statement against societal beauty standards, there is a solid, scientific reason to let your armpit hair grow wild. Whether you’re a man or a woman, consider the following points before shaving your armpits bald.
Armpit hair has several important functions
Underarm hair serves several important purposes: it reduces friction and chafing, which reduces the potential for getting a rash from rigorous physical activities that make you sweat. Underarm hair also diffuses sex pheromones.
Health and functionality aside, here are even more reasons to stop shaving your armpit hair:
1. You won’t get ingrown hairs or inflamed follicles
Your armpits are sensitive. Getting ingrown hairs or inflamed follicles (folliculitis) in your armpits will hurt worse than other areas.
According to dermatologist Dr. Scott Dunbar, “The armpit (or, the axilla if you want to be technical) contains millions of apocrine sweat glands that make different sweat than those on the rest of the body. These can become overrun with bacteria that cause odor or folliculitis.”
Shaving, waxing, and plucking your armpit hair can cause folliculitis. If you’ve grown accustomed to pain after shaving your pits, perhaps it’s time to just let it all grow.
2. Razor burn will be a thing of the past
If you don’t shave, you won’t get razor burn; it’s that simple.
3. Showering will be easier
Wouldn’t you rather enjoy your hot shower and not have to worry about shaving your pits? Try not shaving your armpits for a week and see how much more you enjoy your showers.
4. You’ll save money
Even the cheapest disposable razors cost money. Using disposable razors, you’ll spend an average of $100 per year. Over the course of 50 years that’s $5,000.
5. You’ll save the planet
Shaving your armpit hair means blasting through more plastic razors, adding to planetary pollution. Plastic razor waste is significant. In the early 1990s, the EPA estimated that 2 billion disposable razors are thrown away each year. Razors are one of the most wasteful items on the planet next to plastic bags.
Using disposable razors wouldn’t be so bad if they were easily recyclable, but there is only one worldwide recycling program and it’s relatively new. In 2019 Gillette partnered with TerraCycle to create the world’s first national razor recycling program. Organizations that sign up to become drop-off points are given a special receptacle to collect razors and blades of all brands. When the receptacle is full, they mail it back to TerraCycle and all razor parts, including the blades, get recycled.
It will take time for this razor recycling program to become accessible to everyone, and even then, people will need to consciously remember to save their plastic razors and take them to a drop-off point. When you stop shaving your armpit hair, you’ll contribute less waste to the landfills and/or you’ll have less razors to worry about recycling.
6. You’ll stop worrying about what others think.
Not shaving your pits is a good way to train yourself to stop caring about what others think. If you want to be a hairy beast, own it. If you need some reassurance post some photos on Instagram and you’ll get plenty of approval from others who support the pro-body-hair movement.
There are a few good reasons to shave your hairy pits
Despite all the reasons to stop shaving your underarms, there are a few good reasons to keep shaving.
If shaving your underarms is a personal choice and not a societal pressure, there’s nothing wrong with shaving. If you’re not prone to rashes, ingrown hairs, or other skin problems then you’re probably fine.
If, after reading this article you still want to shave this sensitive area, consider using a safety razor to get the job done. If you’ve never used a safety razor before, you’re in for a treat. Unlike multi-blade disposable and cartridge razors that pull on your hair and leave you with bumps and rashes, a safety razor will give you the cleanest, closest shave of your life.
Safety razors are also virtually zero waste; blades come in a tiny recyclable cardboard box and the blades can now be recycled with TerraCycle. You’ll sleep better at night knowing you aren’t contributing to the overwhelming amount of plastic waste being dumped into landfills.
Get some safety razor skills
It’s easy to learn how to use a safety razor, but for a concave area like your armpits you’ll need a little extra patience. To learn how it’s done, Eco Goddess demonstrates how to shave like a zero waste badass with plenty of tips for shaving your pits.
Getting a good lather with your shaving soap is essential to a good shave. If you’re new to making your own lather, check out this lathering tutorial for tips on lathering in a bowl and directly on your skin.
Still skeptical? Stop shaving for a week and see what happens
If you’re afraid your armpits will turn into a jungle overnight, don’t worry too much. Unlike the hair on your head, armpit hair tends to stop growing at a certain point. No matter how long you let it grow you probably won’t be able to braid it. If that’s disappointing news, you can always get armpit hair extensions and braid those. Who knows, you might start the next body hair trend.