Body Hair

We’re nearing the end of 2021, and while many things have gone back to normal by now, some people have adopted totally new lifestyles they’re taking into post-pandemic life. Since the initial lockdown in March 2020, many people of all genders have cut down on shaving and other forms of hair removal, or given it up entirely. 

No Shave November is well underway. Maybe you’ve decided to ditch your razor just for the penultimate month of the year, or you gave up hair removal a while ago. 

If you’re curious about the backstory of humanity’s complicated relationship with body hair, or you’re looking for some advice on going au natural. We’ve broken down body hair and how to take care of it or part with it. 

A Brief History of Shaving

For as long as humans have had body hair, we’ve been thinking of ways to remove it. 

The Ancient Egyptians indulged in all sorts of beauty rituals and treatments: wigs, milk baths, makeup, and of course hair removal. It varied from person to person, but many Ancient Egyptians opted for full-body shaves and wore hair accessories instead. Both men and women shaved, or tweezed—they had options. We still have relics from their grooming routines that can be seen at museums like The Met

Shaving and hair removal was mostly preferential for human history. Of course, styles would go in and out and some things stayed the same. A high forehead was a beauty marker during the Elizabethan Era, leading people to pluck their hairlines further back. And while abundant facial hair has been mostly frowned upon for women, facial hair has traditionally been viewed as a sign of virility in men. Through the years, styles of facial hair have changed and evolved. The popularity of the mustaches and beards in the Edwardian Era gave way to a clean-faced look after World War One. 

That all changed in 1915. King Camp Gillette wanted to pivot into a new, previously untapped marketing in the shaving world: women. In 1915, Gillette introduced the first razor marketed specifically to women, called the Milady Decollette. 

With the popularity of sleeveless tops and rising hemlines, women’s bodies were more visible than ever before. Instead of focusing on the “shaving” aspect of the Milady Decollete, which was considered a masculine practice, marketing focused on appearing “smooth.” It is here that hairless began to be a marker of femininity. 

Shaving became an expectation of women after the introduction of the women’s safety razor. This was due in part to women’s clothing options becoming increasingly revealing. 

With the rise of Second Wave feminism, came the push to make women’s shaving optional. The au natural look was reintroduced in the ’80s shortly before Brazilian waxes became mainstream. Hairlessness, especially hairlessness around the genitals, became all the rage. 

That brings us to today. Lots of people shave, but lots of people don’t. And since the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasingly larger number has cut down on their shaving routine. It seems like we’re migrating toward an ideology of personal preference. 

Quote "Shaving body hair gained popularity in the united states in 1915 when a women's razor was introduced into the market."

To Shave or Not to Shave? 

That is the question hundreds of thousands of people have pondered over the years, and are mulling over right now. 

Some people feel that they look better without hair or with minimal hair. Some people don’t naturally have a lot of hair, and the freedom to shave or not shave should support these people as well. Plentiful hair is not the human standard for everyone. Mileage may vary, and that’s okay. 

No one should ever feel pressured to shave. Body hair is a natural feature of the human body, regardless of what type of human body it is. You don’t need to shave to earn respect, to earn sex appeal, or to be hygienic. The presence or absence of body hair really doesn't influence your level of cleanliness as long as you’ve got a solid routine. 

Of course, there is still certainly some stigma around body hair. Most medical illustrations of adult bodies and features do not feature any body hair. For over a century, women’s razors have never featured body hair in shaving ads. Razor brand Billie was the first to include body hair in ad campaigns, starting in 2017. 

Slow progress, but something we’re likely to see more of. Body positivity and body neutrality are making strides in increasing acceptance of the body’s natural forms and features. Body hair is personal to you and you should wear it or take it off depending on what makes you feel your best.

(Left) image of black woman with right arm raised showing armpit hair, (middle) asian woman with tank top is blow drying armpit hair on right arm, (right) white woman in bodysuit with bother arms raised showing arming hair.

Images courtesy of Billie: Project Body Hair

Forgoing The Fuzz

Shaving is the classic method of hair removal. It’s fairly easy and cheap, and can be done at home. You can up your shaving game by choosing a quality shaving cream (we’ve got a recommendation further down) and a durable razor. 

Waxing is another popular hair removal option. While shaving will only provide a few stubble-free days, waxing can give you up to a few weeks of hairlessness. There are plenty of great and user-friendly DIY wax kits available online and at most big retailers like Target and Ulta. But depending on your skill level and what you want waxed, it might be best to book an appointment with a professional. It’s likely to be more efficient and less painful if an expert does the waxing. 

If you want a more permanent option, consider laser hair removal. While this option is pricier and does require some dedication, it can dramatically cut down on the coarseness and abundance of your body hair. Laser hair removal can be performed anywhere. If this is something you plan to pursue, make sure you seek this treatment from a licensed expert or a quality at-home product. 

Quote "Body hair is a  natural feature of  the human body.  You don’t need to shave to earn respect, to earn sex appeal, or to be hygienic."

Maintaining Your Hair

If you decide that you want to keep most or all of your hair, that’s totally valid. But just like their hair on your head, the hair on your body also needs some care. 

The Coochy collection by Classic Brands has some fantastic shaving creams and hair care products. All hair needs to be moisturized, and the coochy creams contain wonderful hydrating ingredients that will maintain and elevate the health of your hair. You can read more about the brand here

Trimming might also be an option if you want to keep your hair but still manage it. Adding a comb to an electric razor or using a small pair of sheers will be the best tools for this job. If you invest in tools to manage your body hair, keep them dedicated to one task. What you use on your genitals should not be the same tool you use on your face. It is also crucial to keep all your tools very clean.

Whatever you choose to do with your body hair, we hope that you’ll find a way to feel your most confident. You’ve got a whole world of options for styling and grooming. To shave or not to shave is up to you, and only you.