Should men shave their armpits? Simple question. And not an odd question if you think about it. Half the population (women) already shave their armpits.
So shouldn't men shave their armpit hair as well? Does a shaved armpit have benefits? I mean – if it didn't, why would women go through the ritual daily?
In this article, you will find the following information and scientific backing to help you make that decision:
- Why Shave Your Armpits?
- 1950 Czech Study
- 2011 Czech Study
- What Does The Research Mean?
- Should You Shave Your Armit?
But before we get to the scientific reasoning behind shaving armpit hair, let's begin understanding why a man would ask such a question.
Why Would A Man Want To Shave His Armpit Hair?
- Armpit Hair And Sweat: There is circumstantial and somewhat vague evidence suggesting that shaving your armpit hair reduces sweating. While shaving your underarms won't make your armpits cooler – or produce less sweat – the sweat stains on your clothes will be less pronounced.
- Underarm Hair And Hygiene: Bacteria cause the odor from sweat, and the bacteria can multiply in the damp area of armpit hair – shaving the armpits results in less space for bacteria to breed, and increased effectiveness from your natural antiperspirant deodorant products.
- The Aesthetics Of A Shaved Armpit: If you are an athlete or an underwear model – shaving your armpit hair would be of a professional advantage to you. Even if you are a regular guy – no one likes to see hair poking out from under your arms.
- The Connection With Smell: There are opinions that shaving armpit hair helps reduce a man's body odor. Other studies show that a man's confidence lowers when he is aware of his body odor.
These points bring me back to my original question – should men shave their armpits to reduce body odor?
There have been two studies on axillary (armpit) hair and how the lack of it either creates or diminishes a man's attractiveness.
Studying The Effects Of Armpit Hair
In the early 1950s – a research study found that men shaving their underarms significantly reduced the odor from their armpits.
The effects of shaving on smell lasted for 24 hours after shaving the armpits of the male participants. The odor returned as the hair grew back.
The scientists suggested that since bacteria trapped in the armpit hair played a role in creating odor – shaving axillary (armpit) hair naturally reduced the smell.
The uncontested conclusion was that armpit hair was a cause for unattractive body odor. A shaved underarm would therefore reduce the unappealing body odor of a man.
Well, that was the case until a group of Czech scientists decided to revisit the burning question of whether shaving a man's armpit would improve his body smell rather than just eliminating unpleasant odor.
Does Shaving A Man's Armpit Hair Improve His Smell?
A man's odor sends out signals about their immune system's health, hormone levels, social status, and nutrition choices. Necessary signals that women pick up subconsciously.
In 2011, a different group of researchers in the Czech Republic decided to test the original research findings carried out in the 1950s.
Their argument was based on recent studies that show the positive effects of a man's body odor – particularly in the sphere of attracting women.
Throughout four experiments, the researchers got groups of men to be odor donors.
Some of the men had never shaved their armpits, and some of them shaved their armpits regularly.
The participants received specific instructions on shaving their armpit hair:
Researchers asked a portion of the men to shave just one armpit. They asked some others to shave both armpits every other day. The rest of the odor donors were instructed to shave their armpits once and then let the hair grow normally over some time.
The participants avoided the following activities at least 2 days before odor samples were collected: sex, alcohol, smoking, perfumes and deodorants, food with intense flavors, and close contact with pets.
The men wore cotton pads in the armpits for 24 hours. Researchers presented the cotton pads to a group of women who volunteered to rate the odor of the men. Yes, that's right – they volunteered!
These brave women washed their hands with unscented soap in a ventilated room and proceeded with the unenviable task of smelling each cotton pad. They rated the odor samples on intensity, pleasantness, and attractiveness.
The Results Of The Four Armpit Odor Experiments
In three out of the four experiments – researchers found that the ratings given for shaved and unshaved armpits were about the same.
Only in one experiment – the first one – was the shaved armpit group voted as more pleasant, more attractive, and less intense than unshaved armpits.
What Does All This Armpit Research Mean?
How could they find a significant correlation between shaved armpits and improved body smell in the first experiment but nothing of note in the other experiments?
The researchers provided the following explanations:
- Perhaps the participants from the first experiment had a stronger body odor than the rest of the group.
- The results of the first experiment could have been a coincidence.
- The baseline results indicated that shaving armpit hair did affect body odor. But it was minimal and not as overblown as the 1950s research suggested.
There is insufficient evidence that shaving armpit hair improves a man's body odor.
There's a possibility that there's a slight improvement in body smell – but I wouldn't put a razor to my armpit based on that possibility.
Other factors will likely affect how you smell to a much greater degree:
- Your grooming routine
- The food you eat
- The beverages you consume
- The regularity of your showers
Should You Shave Your Armpits?
Right now, the evidence doesn't seem to support the benefits of shaved armpits.
I recently spoke with a team of researchers who felt shaving helped clean the skin and thus reduced odor. But I think they needed a larger population and should repeat the experiment multiple times to be sure.
Read next: should men shave their legs?
Click below to watch the video – Should Men Shave Their Armpits