Armpit Hair Purpose, Growth, Cleaning and Removal

What is the purpose armpit hair? How can you get rid or remove it? Get an insight on armpit or axillary hair including its purpose, how to grow or remove it with techniques such as shaving, waxing, use of creams, laser removal, electrolysis, plucking or simply trimming.

You will also see females (girls, women or actresses such as Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Julia Roberts) and male (guys such as Justin Bieber) who have hair on their armpit as this might be a new trend.

Overview

Underarm, armpit or axillary hair refers to human body hair that grows on the underarm or armpit (axilla) area with the onset of puberty and completes growth after teenage years. It is associated with increased testosterone hormone production during puberty in both male and female (i.e. its growth in girls also depend on testosterone just as it does in boys).

The extent of growth varies with some people noted with none, some having scanty especially on the hollow part of their axilla while others have not just a lot or widespread but also thick underarm hair.

As opposed to other body hairs (not including scalp) it tends to be longer, coarser and they may be dark in some individuals leading to dark underarm appearance.

To clarify, it are not part of pubic hair i.e. one that grows on “frontal genital area of adolescent and adult humans, located on and around the sex organs, the crotch, and sometimes at the top of the inside of the thighs, in the pubic region around the pubic bone” [wikipediar.org].

Images – photos and pictures

To give you a visual impression, here are a few photos (images or pictures), one for a man and another one for a woman with armpits that are not shaved. We will see more photos when we will be discussing celebrities (girls and guys) who have been seen with unshaved armpits.

Purpose

Evolutionary, the essence or function of hair on the underarms is highly debatable with many theories on the purpose have been advanced. Some biologists claim there could have been benefits at one point of human evolution while others do not seem to find any reason why it is important, a finding that has made many people opt for permanent removal.

One of the thought purposes is to “naturally wick sweat or other moisture away from the skin, aiding ventilation” [wikipedia.org]. This further helps to transfer bacteria that produce odor away from one’s skin. Perhaps that is why armpit hair smell at times since it takes the odor away from your skin.

Another reasonable explanation as to why it growns is to reduce friction i.e. “biologists theorize that its initial evolutionary advantage was to reduce friction between the upper arm and the body during vigorous labor or motion” [lovetoknow.com].

At the moment, a possible purpose relates to pheromones which are “chemicals that are secreted in our sweat and other bodily fluids that are believed to influence the behavior of the opposite sex, such as triggering sexual interest and excitement” [pheromones.com]. Pheromones might indicate sexual prowess and readiness to other members of the same species.

I hope the above explanations have attempted to answer your question on ‘what is armpit hair used for?’ Let us now move on to how to grow it for those who find having it trendy before we can cover a crucial part on removal.

How to grow armpit hair faster

With the ‘Women’s Armpit Hair Competition’ popularly known as “Chinese women’s armpit hair selfie contest” to fight social pressure that makes women to shave their armpits and some celebrities including Madonna, Jemima Kirke, Lena Dunham, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Julia Roberts and Zac Efron flaunting armpits with hair, the trend is changing. The pressure to remove or shave should be done away with especially in women.

Nothing can echo these sentiments better than Xiao Meili, the woman behind the Chinese ‘Women’s Armpit Hair Competition’ when notes that, “if some people don’t want to shave, the rest of us should not think their underarm is disgusting, unhygienic, uncivil or not feminine enough” [New York Times].

There is nothing wrong with girls growing or having it. They should not be considered less feminine or unhygienic if they choose to have it! Who cares if one wants to have long braided hair on your armpits? If you do not find that fashionable, others may.

So, if you are tired of shaving or removing it, you have scanty or you want just to grow them, this part is going to teach you on how to get armpit hair or how to grow them quickly.

Growth rate

Just like other body hair growth rate varies from one individual to another, the growth rate varies too. In general, human hair grows at an average rate of about 1.25 cm per month. However, this rate can be higher for some individual while the vice versa is true for others with some factors such as race further influencing this growth rate.

Quicker growth tips

As mentioned already, growth commences at puberty (ages 11-12 years) and goes on until one completes teenage ages. To grow it faster, here are important tips:

  • Massage your armpits in circular motion for two minutes daily to stimulate blood flow and nutrients supply to hair follicle in this area,
  • Ensure you eat a healthy diet with enough vitamins (especially A, B3, and B6) and protein since they are essential for its growth. Poor nutrition can lead to thin and stunted growth.
  • Apply natural oils such as eucalyptus to stimulate growth.
  • Minimize stress with the various stress management techniques
  • Exercises regularly and be patient since you cannot grow it in a day or overnight.

These are some of the best natural ways to grow longer and a thick underarm hair faster if you are interested in having these it.

While doing my research, I noted that some boys and girls are struggling to grow armpit hair at 11 or 12. If you do not have them at this age, they will grow with time. Do you really need growth serums, creams or products to grow them? Let them grow naturally!

No armpit hair and hair loss

Having no hairs on your armpits during and after puberty could be due to underarm hair loss, genetic problem or sexual dysfunction. I have seen lots of people complaining this issue at 13, 14, 17 or 20s. Some people grow it much later in their teens. However, if it stopped growing, or you completely do not have any, you need to find out the underlying cause and deal with it.

Underarm hair loss in male and female is associated with various things that often cause other body hair loss including menopause and pregnancy (in female due to hormonal changes), thyroid problems, aging, some treatment (especially chemotherapy), alopecia, adrenal deficiency, diabetes, malnutrition, having armpit hair fungus among many other causes.

Armpit hair fungus

Armpit hair fungus refers to “kind of ringworm infection in the underarms that cause darkening, itching, and burning of the underarm skin” [skinsheen.com]. You will also have a musty body smell. Presence of moisture (sweaty armpits), heat and some clothing material often encourage this fungus.

If you have this condition, it can be treated by topical antifungal creams as well as home remedies such as garlic and vinegar mixture, cranberry juice, aloe vera gel and vitamin E among others.

Yellow deposits

Yellow deposits are caused by armpit trichomycosis which is a bacterial infection that causes small specks and bad odor on your underarms i.e. “it is characterized by yellow, orange, black or red granular nodules, coatings, and concretions that stick to the hair shaft” [Wikipedia.org]. Treatment is by shaving your armpit, washing with antibacterial soap, use of antiperspirants to reduce sweating, tropical antibiotics creams or lotions, etc.

Why remove  it or benefits

Before we look on how to remove it, let us see some of the reasons why you should remove them. Of course, you have noticed that most models, competitive swimmers, and bodybuilders often remove most of their body hairs including those on their armpits. Some of the reason include:

  • Aesthetic and cultural influence especially westernization often make many women or girls with armpit hair to want to get rid of these them. This influence is not so expected in men but slowly gaining momentum in men too. It is generally considered unsightly to have axilla or pubic hairs.
  • Religious beliefs especially Islamic culture expects women and men to follow some religious cleanliness guidelines where “removal of underarm hair was part of a collection of hygienic or cosmetic practices recommended by Muhammad (570-632)” [Wikipedia.org].
  • They are thought to retain sweat, odor causing bacteria as well as dirt. Removal is a way to make ensure you stay very clean and reduce instances of armpit odor.
  • Having dark underarm hair could make your underarm dark. In fact, some people end up bleaching or permanently removing them to ensure they do not make their underarms to appear black or darker.

These are just but some of the reasons why you should remove it. It is time to look at the various removal techniques.

How to remove, get rid of armpit hair

How do you get rid of hairs on your armpits or what are some of the best removal ways? We are going to mention all techniques you can use including plucking, shaving, waxing, laser, electrolysis, use of hair removal creams and much more.

Since each method might be associated with different removal cost. We will discuss the issue of cost or price while looking at each specific method. So, what are some of these ways?

1. Armpit shaving and how to shave your armpits

Shaving is the most common way that can be used by both men and women. This technique requires the use of either razor or an electric shaver. For great results, you need to ensure you know how to shave your armpits well to avoid getting armpit dark spots, red bumps, ingrown hair or irritations of any kind. To shave your underarms using a razor:

  • Wash them with water and soap to get rid of any oils, deodorant or antiperspirant residue that might clog your razor.
  • Apply a good shaving gel especially a moisture-rich brand and get a razor designed to shave hard to reach areas.
  • While shaving, lift your arm and shave in the direction of growth.
  • Rinse with cool water
  • Do not apply deodorant or antiperspirant immediately
  • It is advisable to shave daily since they grow relatively faster as opposed to hairs on your legs.

If you opt to be shaving your underarm, it is good to demystify a myth that shaving leads to more and thicker strands. This is not true since the number of follicle does not change. Perhaps improper shaving that can lead to irritation, ingrown hair, or redness that makes armpit darker. This could be the source of this common myth.

Advantages of opting for shaving is included it is faster, cheaper, effective, less costly, and it can be done at home. The downside of shaving especially if not done properly include dark underarms, bumps, ingrown hair, a rash, armpit irritation among other side effects.

2. Underarm waxing

The second technique for armpits is waxing. This technique removes hair from their roots and takes a little longer before they grow back i.e. results last for 4-6 weeks. It can be done at home or in salons where it costs $15-$25 for both underarms.

To wax your armpits, you will either use a premade waxing strips or just applying molten wax in the direction your hair grows and placing a strip clothe on top of it. Afterwards, when it has stuck on the wax firmly (after cooling), you will then reap the waxing strip or clothe in the direction opposite to growth plucking them.

Some of its pros or benefits are that it is quick, results last fairly long, it can be done at home, and it gives permanent results after a long time. On the downside, it is not that easy (especially for first timers), you can only be wax on and off once, it is fairly painful and requires you to have long hair.

To make underarm waxing much easier and less painful, it is advisable to ensure your hair is at least an a quarter an inch long (required length), scrub and dry your underarm, do it the right way, take a pain killer and ensure proper after waxing care such as applying a cooling moisturizer, avoiding tight-fitting clothes, applying after wax lotion, avoiding deodorants for a few days or apply cold compresses.

3. Hair removal cream

Another great way to remove them is the use of creams. These depilatory creams and lotions work by dissolving the protein that makes up hair. There are a number of such creams in the market which come with removal instructions, precautions as well as suitable skin types.

Best underarm hair removal cream

Before picking on any of the best brands, it is good to know that some people end up with some side effects. Do your own research, read reviews and see user rating before trying any product. Some of the best ones include

  • Veet Caring Touch Bikini and Underarm – Remover Cream
  • Nair Hair Remover Lotion Softening Baby Oil,
  • Boots Smooth Care Bikini and Underarm Hair Removal Cream

4. Plucking – how to pluck them

Yet another way is plucking or tweezing. This involves pulling out individual hairs from their root with tweezers or using an epilator that grasps multiple strands. It is ideal for people with few strands and over a small area.

Typically, after plucking it, you can wait for 3-8 weeks before they grow again. It is recommended to pluck them after a shower to reduce pain and avoid plucking them during menstrual cycle i.e. “tweezing during a menstrual period could be more painful than usual, so avoid it if at all possible” [howstuffworks.com]. Furthermore, plucking very long one might encourage breakage.

Some possible side effects include hair breakage, skin damage, bumps, and ingrown hair among others. Ensure your tweezers or epilator are cleaned with rubbing alcohol each time to you use them to avoid infections.

5. Underarm laser hair removal

If you do not like tweezing, plucking, use of creams, waxing or shaving, consider laser removal. This technique “beams highly concentrated light into hair follicles. Pigment in the follicles absorbs the light. That destroys the hair” [webmd.com].

Once you have the intention to go for laser removal, reduce plucking, waxing or electrolysis and avoid sun exposure 6 weeks prior and after treatment. Furthermore, the procedure requires some preparation that might include trimming them to just be a few millimeters above your skin surface.

Some of its benefits include precision where you can selectively removal, it is speedy and very predictable. If you want permanent removal, laser underarm hair removal can achieve it after 3 to 7 sessions depending on its characteristics.

Cost and price

The average armpit laser hair removal cost will be between $150 to 250 per session. Therefore, the total cost will depend on the number of sessions you will have. Expect these the prices to vary from one location to another.

6. Electrolysis

This is a more costly, painful, and time-consuming cosmetic procedure that can be used to remove hair by people of all skin types (including pregnant mothers). It uses electric current to create “heat and chemical reactions to destroy the follicles capacity to produce another hair” [advmedelec.com] i.e. the hair growth tissue is destroyed.

During the procedure, a special probe is inserted via the pore without puncturing your skin to its root to supply the required electric current. It might require several treatments to permanently remove them especially if you have thick ones on your armpit.

Cost

The average underarm hair removal electrolysis cost ranges from $25 to $150 per hour. How much you are going to spend will depend on how many hours you need. Factors such as hair density, size of the area, skin type, location and reputation of clinic will affect prices.

How to trim it

Most guys (men or boys) prefer trimming instead of complete removal. This improves the general appearance especially if you have a lot. If you opt for trim or cut armpit hair, you need scissors or electric shavers such as beard clippers.

To trim your them, take your scissors or clipper and make several swipes until you achieve the desired height. You will require a big mirror to be able to see your armpit area properly.

Best removal ways

When deciding on the best way, do not be carried away by the many capitalistic commercials that claim to give you best results in getting rid or removing underarm hair with much ease. Whereas some might deliver the promise, others are just for commercial purposes.

Assess the pros and cons, as well as your needs and decide which among the above methods will be the best for you. Look at costing, desired results (such as you want to remove it without darkening, ingrown hair or underarm bumps) and whether or not you want to permanently remove them or not.  Furthermore, decide whether you want to do it at home or not. Some procedures need specialists.

Removal without shaving

If you want to remove your them without shaving, you have to decide which of the methods between plucking, waxing, laser removal, electrolysis and use of hair removal cream will be suitable for you.

How to remove them permanently

We have seen what their purpose is (where we saw little or no significance). To remove them permanently, you have to either go for laser or electrolysis procedures. These are the two common permanent hair removal techniques with each having its own pros and cons.

Some methods such as waxing are claimed to lead to permanent removal after some time. If such a thing is to happen, then it will take so long and the results are not certain as opposed to electrolysis or laser removal.

Remove at home

All except laser and electrolysis can be used at home. You need to know how the specific method is done for great results. If you do not know, it is advisable you visit an expert or a salon. Salons will require you to meet a certain cost depending on which method removal method you have opted for.

Bleaching

For those who do not want their them to look so dark, reduce their appearance, hide armpit hair, they can bleach them to match their skin color. Furthermore, you can bleach them another color just as Miley Cyrus did some time back.

Long or longest hairs on underarms

You do not expect them to be so long like scalp hair. However, some people can have them very long ones. For instance, the longest (female) bearer is Karina Simpson whose axillary hair measured two inches in length in 2007.  [Source recordsetter.com]. We were unable to confirm if this is the longest ever or she is the record holder in the world or even in the Guinness book of records.

Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Julia Roberts, Justin Bieber

You have definitely seen headlines about some celebrities’ armpit hair to be specific, Madonna, Justin Bieber, Julia Roberts, Miley Cyrus and even some Bollywood actress? So what is the big deal about the much publicity of these celebrities underarm hair? We sought to get a photo of each of these celebrities. What are your thoughts? Are they newsworthy?

Girls, women or female with armpit hair

Below are some photos i.e. celebrities and actresses with hairy armpits. How do they look like? Is women with some hair on their armpit the new trend or should they shave them off? To me, they are just sexy and perfect.

How to clean it

To conclude, ensure you know how to clean them well if you have chosen to keep them long. This will avoid the embarrassing odor, excessive sweating as well as yellowish deposits on your hair we have already mentioned.

References and sources