A lot of guys believe that shaving or trimming their armpits will just lead to more sweat and more stink. Here’s the truth.
So, do you actually sweat more after shaving your armpits? You might think so, but here’s the reality.
A quick and simple answer:
No, you don’t actually sweat more. The reason you don’t sweat more is that when you shave, it doesn’t actually affect your armpit sweat gland’s ability to perspire. However, it FEELS as if you do because armpit hair catches and holds the majority of your sweat, instead of letting it run down your arm.
Although you won’t actually sweat less due to shaving or trimming your armpits, there is one very tangible benefit to doing this:
- The reduction of stinky body odor.
Here’s how this works:
- Your internal body temperature increases, whether due to exercise, stress, anxiety, temperature or other causes.
- Apocrine and eccrine glands located in your armpit (and elsewhere) release fluid, which serves the purpose of reducing your body’s temperature.
Your body has between 2 to 4 million of these two types of sweat glands (which can produce anywhere from 10 to 14 liters of fluid a day), each of which serves a specific purpose:
- Eccrine glands: These sweat glands cover most of your body and their purpose is really simple, to release an odorless water-based fluid that leaks out of your pores and onto your skin in order to cool you down.
- Apocrine glands: These glands on the other hand are mostly concentrated in areas with lots of body hair, such as your groin and armpits. Like eccrine glands, they secrete a fluid in order to cool you down, however, this fluid is a little more milky and protein-based. These glands don’t start to develop until puberty and there is some evidence to suggest they play a role in sexual attraction.
What happens when you sweat is that the fluid that comes out of both your eccrine and apocrine glands mixes together and is metabolized and fed upon by all the various bacteria cultures that live on your skin.
This then produces body odor, particularly in places such as your armpits and groin.
Here’s why shaving will reduce the body odor that is produced in your armpits, but not reduce the amount of sweating that occurs:
- Shaving or trimming your armpit hair does nothing to reduce the number of eccrine and apocrine sweat glands. It also does nothing to reduce the amount of fluid that both of these glands produce.
- Shaving your armpit hair will however reduce body odor, because you are both better able to apply deodorant, as well as the fact the sweat has nowhere to cling and soak into.
This is actually why, if your goal is to reduce your body odor, you should probably shave, rather than simply trim.
In both instances, body odor should be reduced, but when you shave, because hair soaks up and basically acts as a sponge for all of the bacteria-infested, odor-creating sweat that your body produces, a lack of it simply means less sweat.
Interestingly, this is also the REASON why you feel that you sweat more when you shave your armpits, precisely because the sweat has nowhere to cling and stick to, it instead drips down your arm and body.
Now, since this will reduce your armpit body odor, can anything be done to reduce the amount that you sweat?
There are a few things you can do:
- Use an antiperspirant.
Antiperspirants and deodorants are different. The former uses something called aluminum chlorohydrate to plug-up your sweat glands to prevent them from sweating. The latter simply reduces or eliminates the actual odor. A lot of products are a combination of the 2, and both are completely safe to use.
- Prescription anti-sweat medications.
For people with hyperhydrosis, regular antiperspirants do very little to nothing to actually reduce the amount of sweat that your body produces. For people like this, a stronger treatment is needed. One of these treatments are anticholinergic drugs, which are taken orally and are much stronger than the common antiperspirants that you find on most supermarket shelves.
Believe it or not, the US FDA has approved the use of botox to reduce excess sweating. This is done by injecting the botox into the area, which then basically blocks the release of sweat.
What are the Pros and Cons of Shaving Your Armpits?
According to one study, nearly three-quarters of men report either shaving or trimming their armpit hair.
Despite a huge proportion of men shaving their armpit hair, it’s probably not for everyone.
Here is a quick list of the pros and cons.
The Pros of Shaving Your Armpits
- Less armpit body odor.
This is clearly the biggest advantage to shaving your armpits. Less hair means nowhere for sweat to soak into and remain. Moreover, without armpit hair, any antiperspirant and/or deodorant that you do use is applied directly to the skin rather than to both, and as such, should be a bit more effective.
- Fewer sweat stains.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but I have found it to be true. A lack of armpit hair leads to fewer sweat stains. This is probably due to the fact that without hair antiperspirants can be directly applied to your skin.
- Less deodorant is used.
The more armpit hair you have, the more deodorant and/or antiperspirant you will need both to stay dry and to smell nice.
- Better aesthetics.
This is clearly subjective, but a lot of men simply prefer the way their arms and torso look without any armpit hair, or trimmed at the very least.
The Cons of Shaving Your Armpit Hair
- Armpit chafing.
This is one of the most common complaints with men who shave their armpit hair: chafing. Chafing occurs when your skin rubs up against itself. Irritation, rashes and redness occur. You can avoid most of this by applying more deodorant or antiperspirant, as well as applying a moisturizer.
- Increased itchiness.
Itchiness starts to occur when the hair begins to poke back up out of the skin, and like chafing, is also another common complaint. Like the chafing, moisturizer can help here. The good news is that this phase doesn’t usually last long, a day or 2 at the most. It can also cause ingrown hairs however, which are an even bigger nuisance.
- Attempted mockery from insecure men.
Shave your armpits long enough and sooner or later you are bound to hear something about it from others. Unfortunately, there are still some men out there who feel the need to tear people down, instead of building them up, out of their own insecurity. Ignore the haters and walk your own path, I say.
For a lot of guys, the decision to shave, trim or do nothing will come down to which side of the aisle has the bigger advantages.
- Less armpit odor
- Fewer sweat stains
- Better aesthetics
- Less deodorant needs to be used
- Increased armpit chafing
- Increased armpit itching and ingrown hair
- Possible mockery from insecure men
To summarize everything:
- You don’t actually sweat more when you shave your armpits, it simply feels that way because your armpit hair catches all your sweat.
- Shaving your armpit hair can reduce your body odor, but it cannot reduce how much you actually perspire.
- The only methods to reduce how much you sweat in your armpits is through the use of antiperspirants, clinical medication and botox, among other things.
- Whether or not you decide to shave, trim or keep your armpit hair as is will depend on what side of the aisle feels simply has more pros than cons.