Is it manly to have a full mane under your arm? Readers voted, and the answer was clear: Yes, men should absolutely shave their armpits… at least sometimes.
Of the 4,044 men surveyed, 68 percent said they trim their armpit hair; 52 percent said they do it for aesthetics, and 16 percent said they do it for athletic reasons.
(About 1 in 10 guys surveyed said they never trim their armpit hair.)
Five or ten years ago, the answers to this survey would be very different, speculates Craig Whitely, Hollywood’s leading expert on all things male grooming. Whitely (who goes by Craig the Barber) says that the manscaping push in recent years isn’t contained just to pubic hair.
“If you’re already doing some form of manscaping and you’ve got your shaver out, why not keep going?” he says.
Now, you may not think it’s manly to trim your armpits, and that’s all good. But humor us and take an objective look at your pits: If you have giant tufts of hair emerging from under your arms, you may want to reconsider.
While we didn’t survey women, we did informally ask several, all of who said heavy armpit hair is “disgusting.” (And we can assume gay men think that, too, since such a large percentage of men overall claimed to groom the area.)
Interestingly, science isn’t certain why guys have armpit hair. It’s possible it was once used in attracting a mate, says Daniel Lieberman, Ph.D., professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University.
Your underarm has a lot of apocrine glands, which produce sweat. This perspiration is made up of steroids, lipids, proteins, and other chemicals that can communicate “information.”
So, for example, your ancestors might have needed that armpit hair to trap their sweaty scent for attracting a mate. But that’s almost definitely not working for you today.
Here are three steps to grooming your armpit hair with ease.
1. Trim It Wet
You can cut it dry, but Whitely recommends that you use a waterproof body hair trimmer and do it in the shower. Hot water softens the hair and reduces the risk of pulled hair or nicks, he says.
2. Keep It Short
If you have hair on the straighter side, Whitely recommends cutting down to an inch or a little less, but keep at least three-fourths of an inch left to prevent prickly, scratchy hair.
If you have curly hair, Whitely says you can go as low as one-eighth of an inch. Using a Number 1 comb guard will do the trick, giving you smooth hair that won’t irritate your skin.
You could shave it completely, but now you’re asking to be attacked by your gym buddies. And frankly, it’s more hassle that you don’t need.
3. Don’t Skimp on Aftercare
After trimming, use an unscented shave balm. (Make sure it’s not alcohol-based, since underarm skin is sensitive.) Wait two to three minutes before you apply deodorant.