beauty

"I stopped shaving my armpits for a month and my pits have never been drier."

Deciding not to shave my armpits for a month wasn’t a conscious move.

There was nothing political in it. I wasn’t making a stand about anything. I simply… forgot to buy razors at the supermarket three grocery shops in a row.

My legs haven’t been shaved for a month either, but that’s not the exciting part of this story.

The reason you came here is because something unexpected happened when my underarm hair was left to grow as nature intended. Rather than regressing into the disgusting, unlovable creature society would have us believe women with un-shaved underarms are, the exact opposite happened.

I became less sweaty. And less… moist/damp.

Side note – here are some more delightful facts about why body hair is awesome, not gross. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

On the sweat scale of dry to drenched, I feel I sit on the wetter end. In the summer months when it’s hot and humid, and after any form of exercise, I find myself quite damp under the arms. I’ve used clinical strength antiperspirant and other sweat-busting products (thigh chafe creams, sweat-reducing powders etc.) for years.

But after a month of not touching the hair under my arms with a sharp object – which I’ve religiously shaved off at the first sign of stubble since I was a teenager – I can confidently say nothing has been able to keep me dry like my armpit hair.

Sure, I was still ‘sweaty’. Having a tuft of one centimetre-long hair on my armpits didn’t stop me from sweating or smelling. It did, however, make me feel drier under the arms, and I found the underarms of my t-shirts weren’t as wet at the end of the day as they normally are.

Naturally, I Googled my observations to find out if I’d stumbled upon a groundbreaking physiological discovery or if I was medical marvel and should turn myself in to be studied by international researchers.

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I’m neither of these things, because experts have been talking about the benefits of armpit hair for a while now.

Much like our pubic hair, we’ve been conditioned to view our armpit hair as dirty and unhygienic, and something we should spend our hard-earned dosh on removing with any number of products. But that’s simply not the case.

“There’s this false association that hairlessness equals cleanliness, but that’s not actually true as long as you’re clean. Men wear deodorant, have underarm hair, and don’t smell — there’s no biological reason women can’t do the same, dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D told Good Housekeeping in 2016.

Mamamia Out Loud discussed how women came to be ashamed of their body hair, and why you can let your pubes grow out if you want to. Post continues after audio.

Hair grows on our armpits for a reason, just as it does for men. One of the reasons, as I experienced, is to act as a natural sweat-wicker to keep you dry, just like your expensive workout tights claim to do.

Rather than sitting on the skin’s surface, the hair pulls dampness away from the skin, protecting your armpits from friction and stopping bacteria from spreading across the body. Jaime Schmidt, the founder of Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant, told The Cut as much in their 2015 in-depth underarm hair explainer.

While it’s important to note shaving your underarm hair off increases the effectiveness of antiperspirants as the product can sit closer to the skin and sweat glands, that doesn’t mean you have to go bald or face dirty looks from your fellow commuters. Using an antiperspirant with a liquid, gel or spray formula will allow you to keep your armpit hair and make sure the product can do it’s job.

I also found another unexpected benefit from growing my underarm hair – according to research published in a 2007 Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, pit hair can help you appear more attractive because the hair essentially acts as a fan for your pheromones, dispersing your natural, sexual aroma out to the world.

Science and research is great, but the proof that not shaving your underarm hair isn’t gross or yuck is in the pudding.

Along with feeling dryer under-pit during my month of not shaving, I was also complimented multiple times on my perfume.

Thing is… I wasn’t wearing any.

Do you shave your armpits? If you do, why, and if you don’t, do you find you’re not as wet under the arms? Tell us in the comments!

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