We might not be used to seeing it, but armpit hair does have a purpose and many millennial women are down for letting it do its thing.
According to research agency Mintel, between 2013 and 2016, 18 per cent of women between the ages of 16 and 24 stopped removing their armpit hair and 7 per cent stopped shaving their legs.
And the proof is in the sales. Between 2015 and 2016, sales in the hair removal industry have dropped at least five per cent, The New York Times reports.
Nearly 1 in 4 female millennials no longer shave their armpit hair, research shows
Female armpit hair is back — and it might be here to stay. According to recent figures from research group Mintel, the percentage of women aged 16 to 24 who shaved their armpit hair has declined from 95 percent in 2013 to just 77 percent in 2016. Leg shaving is on the decline as well — 92 percent of women shaved their legs in 2013, but by 2016 those numbers had decreased to 85 percent. The Mintel figures are supported by numbers from the shaving and hair removal industry, which saw sales drop by five percent between 2015 and 2016.
“Clean eating is behind some of those changes. They’re worried about causing irritation from their skin because of these products. We can also see that they’re doing other things instead — so 29 percent say they’re adding steps to their skincare routine,” explained Roshida Khanom, Mintel’s associate director in beauty and personal care. “There’s also some pushing back against societal expectations of what women should look like.”
Men, meanwhile, appear to be increasingly preoccupied with maintaining their appearance. The menswear market grew by 2.8 percent the past year, while sales of women’s clothes grew by only 1.3 percent. In 2015, only 44 percent of men between 16 and 24 said they used hair conditioner. According to the most recent figures, 70 percent of young men now use it.
Wonder Woman’s lack of armpit hair sparks feminist debate
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French women making a statement online by showing off body hair
Why Do We Have Underarm Hair?
As of 2015, there are few heavily debated beauty topics left. There are models of all sizes and shapes, we now choose any haircut we like regardless of age, and even complicated makeup techniques are easier than ever. But there's still one big discussion that has been at the forefront of the beauty world for the past few years: female body hair. Namely, letting it grow instead of shaving or waxing it off.
With the recent contest in China that's gone viral, it's clear that female underarm hair is actually coming back into style. But before you shake your head at the prospect of tossing your razor, listen to what a dermatologist and an esthetician have to say.
"Underarm hair has a few functions," explains Marta Camkiran, esthetician at Haven Spa. "It reduces friction between the upper and lower arm during vigorous labor or motion, covers exposed parts of the body with vital arteries, and facilitates the release of sex pheromones." So if you prefer a hairless look to your underarms, that is absolutely your choice, but keep in mind that smooth skin can occasionally come at a price.
"When you shave, you can get irritation, folliculitis, rashes, inflammation, and even infections from dirty razors," says Dr. Mona Gohara, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. "We do it because it's a societal norm, but there really isn't a biological reason to remove that hair." So, why do we bother shaving in the first place?
"There's this false association that hairlessness equals cleanliness, but that's not actually true as long as you're clean," says Gohara. "Men wear deodorant, have underarm hair, and don't smell — there's no biological reason women can't do the same." Provided you keep your underarms clean and treat the hair similarly to the hair on your head, washing it every day, bacteria will not accumulate and therefore won't cause any bad odors.
Of course, if you want to keep your underarms smooth, you should wax and shave to your heart's content — just don't do it only because you think growing out the hair will suddenly make you dirty. As long as you keep it all clean, you'll be fine either way.
The wisdom behind the prescription to remove pubic hair and armpit hair
What is the reason for shaving pubic hair and armpit hair? What did they use to shave it with at the time of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him)? Is it sufficient just to cut it or must it be shaved?
The Sunnah indicates that it is prescribed to remove pubic hair and armpit hair. Al-Bukhaari (5889) and Muslim (257) narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The fitrah is five things – or five things are part of the fitrah – circumcision, shaving the pubes, cutting the nails, plucking the armpit hairs, and trimming the moustache.”
The wisdom behind the prescription of removing the hair from these two places – and Allah knows best – is that removing it helps one to attain a perfect level of cleanliness and prevents what could emanate from them of bad smells if the hair was left without removing it. And there are other reasons and wisdom behind it.
SIMPLY THE PITSAs Lourdes shows off her armpit hair, here are 11 other celebs who’ve ditched the razor in favour of fuzz
Madonna's daughter Lourdes Leon showed off her airmpit hair while holidaying in Miami
It's not the first time Lourdes has showcased her underarm hair
Julia Roberts, the Oscar-winning actress was one of the first to don hairy pits on the red carpet of the Notting Hill film premiere back in 1999
Juliette Lewis, the Natural Born Killers actress rocked a natural look at the Enough NYC premiere in 2001
Madonna's controversial underarm selfie received mixed reviews from her fans on Instagram
Lady Gaga, in typical Gaga style, she went a step further than just growing her armpit hair - she got blue extensions for the Much Music Video Awards in Canada in 2011
Beth Ditto, the Gossip singer went au naturel at the Leeds Festival in 2009
Britney Spears didn’t let the fact she had unshaved pits go unnoticed in the noughties
Scout LaRue Willis, the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore isn't afraid to show off her hairy pits on social media
Billi Mucklow, in 2014 her boyfriend Andy Carroll shared this flattering snap of Billi's underarm fro on Twitter... the jury's still out on if that's all hers
Pixie Lott, the pop singer attended the London premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 with hairy pits
Jemima Kirke proudly showed off her underarm hair growth at the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards
Miley Cyrus flashes her armpit hair while heading to 1OAK with her friends Bella Hadid and Scout Willis
A growing number of stars are abandoning tiresome body hair removal regimes, opting for a more natural look
While the idea of being caught out with hairy armpits sends many of us into a hot sweat, for some celebs it's a statement look.
Yesterday Madonna's daughter Lourdes Leon proudly displayed her under-arm fuzz while lounging on a beach in Miami, Florida.
She's clearly following in her mother's footsteps; the 58-year-old pop queen proudly championed a “long hair, don’t care” attitude in 2014 by posting a selfie revealing her own unshaven pits.
Body hair removal dates right back to ancient Greece and Egypt, and took off in the 20th century when Gillette sold the first razor for women in 1915, declaring body hair “unsightly”.
The 1960s saw a reprise for female fuzz, but the porn industry boom in the 1980s popularised pubic hair removal once more.
Lourdes is the most recent in a string of female celebs including singer Miley Cyrus and actress Jemima Kirke to have proudly ditched her razor.
23 Female Celebrities Who Let Their Armpit Hair Grow & Flow
Bandana? Check. Hipster crew? Check. Armpit hair? Check, check, check. Bruce Willis and Demi Moore's daughter isn't afraid to show off her hairy pits.
From Miley Cyrus and Madonna to Julia Roberts and Penelope Cruz, more and more female celebs have been rocking long armpit hair lately. Perhaps it's a proverbial middle finger to convential beauty standards, or perhaps they just ran out of razors? Whatever their reason, these ladies look good no matter the length of their pit hair.
Here are 23 superstars over the decades who decided to stop shaving their underarms -- and we're not talking two-day stubble here, we're talking full-on, flowin-in-the-wind pit hair. Work it, ladies!
Do you ever go au naturale with your underarm hair?
16 Women Who Prove That Underarm Hair Is the Ultimate Show of Confidence
Fresh off the return of the full bush, there is yet another triumph for team no-nicks-and-cuts. According to a recent study, nearly one in four women under the age of 25 have stopped shaving their underarms. Signaling a long overdue shift in society's standards of female beauty, it wouldn't have been possible without the women who bucked convention in the first place.
During the golden age of Old Hollywood, Sophia Loren redefined bombshell beauty by displaying bushels of armpit hair in curve-hugging halter dresses. On the other side of the spectrum, Patti Smith's underarm fuzz was a cool complement to her gender-bending style in the ‘70s. Equally radical were two of the '80s biggest rule breakers, Madonna and Lisa Bonet, who each tossed the razor with bad girl aplomb.
Of course we'd be remiss not to mention America’s sweetheart Julia Roberts, who greeted the crowd at the Notting Hill premiere—and sent shock waves through the industry—with unapologetic thickets of underarm growth in 1999. And when Lola Kirke took the 2017 Golden Globes red carpet with visible, sweetheart-neckline-adjacent body hair, it was a powerful sign of solidarity. Here, a look back at all the renegades begging you to hold the razor and go au naturale.
Lola Kirke reveals unshaven armpits at Golden Globes - 8 other celebs who dared to bare their hair
Lola Kirke looked stunning in a pink floral gown
The actress proudly displayed her hairy armpits
On a Golden Globes red carpet flooded with all the glitz and glamour you'd expect from Hollywood, one actress stood out.
Lola Kirke made a bold statement by pairing her floral gown with an unusual accessory - unshaven armpits. The 27-year-old confidently posed for the cameras with her natural body hair on display.
The Mozart in the Jungle actress previously spoke about her armpit style, saying she was key to her character in the Amazon show keeping her "hippy look".
Chinese armpit hair contest triggers online debate
When it comes to armpit hair, it seems some Chinese women’s mantra is “if you’ve got it, flaunt it!”
Young women across China are raising their arms to show off their armpit hair in selfies in an online competition. The Armpit Hair Competition was started by women’s rights activist Xiao Meili on Weibo on May 26 to bring attention to the idea that women do not need to be hairless to feel beautiful.
In an interview with the New York Times, Meili stressed that she was not encouraging women to grow the hair on their underarms.
“I’m just saying if some people don’t want to shave, the rest of us should not think their underarm hair is disgusting, unhygienic, uncivil or not feminine enough,” she added.
However, some netizens think otherwise. “This is not a question of pleasing anybody,” wrote Arnorosayang on Weibo. “According to our universal aesthetics, it’s just not elegant.”
Said Amy101: “Shaving or not is a personal choice. Why flash it? Armpits are quite private after all. I just hate being this high profile.”
The 10 fiercest female armpit hair photos on the internet
At least that’s what the organisers of the ‘Girls not plucking their armpit hair’ viral campaign on Weibo have reminded us of late. Over the past couple of days, scores of young women have posted photos of their unshaven arms online, in an effort to subvert conventional standards of feminity while encouraging women to be proud of their bodies.
But they aren’t alone. A growing community of young women from all over the world have been posting photos of their busy – even dyed – armpits all over Tumblr and Instagram.
Here are some of the fiercest, most confident ones that we’ve found.
ELLE Badass women
Xiao Meili, a 25-year-old Chinese feminist, started an armpit hair photo contest on Weibo a week ago and it received plenty of responses. Dozens of women got involved by sending in selfies with their arms raised, exposing their underarm hair. Among the women involved were three of the Feminist Five who were arrested in March.
"Women should have the right to decide how to deal with their bodies, including small details like armpit hair," Xiao told CNN. "You can choose to shave it, but you shouldn't be forced to do so under the pressure of stereotypes."
The contest has ended and six winners have been announced, check it out here.
Chinese feminists show off armpit hair in photo contest
In the fight against domestic violence and gender inequality, Chinese feminists have opened up a new battlefront: Their armpits.
They ask, why should women have to shave their pits when men are never expected to?
To subvert the double standard, feminist Xiao Meili, 25, started an armpit hair photo contest on Chinese social network Weibo.
Dozens of women have participated, including three of the five feminists briefly arrested in March over a protest for gender equality. The participants sent in selfies and glamor shots with their arms proudly raised, revealing natural hair underneath.
Unshaven and Proud: Winners of the Chinese Women’s Armpit Contest
And the winner is: Zhuxixi!
Xiao Meili, 25, a women’s rights advocate who organized the contest, said she received 46 photos of unshaven armpits during the two-week contest that began May 26. Winners were selected based on the number of “likes” and “reposts” their entries attracted, she said.
“We didn’t choose them based on whether they were very hairy or very un-hairy,” she said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “Just the votes.”
Nivea gets flak for stigmatising women with dark Armpits
Body-care brand Nivea has been criticised for preying on women’s insecurities about body image | Photo: Facebook / Nivea / Screen grab
Some Facebook users have been criticising Nivea, a popular body-care brand in Singapore, over an advertisement for its underarm deodorant.
The three-minute-long clip posted on Facebook on 28 February shows a woman being shunned for having dark armpits.
While many have found the ad to be humourous, some have criticised Nivea for highlighting insecurities about body image.
Nivea gets flak for stigmatising women with dark Armpits
Immodest Anti-Social Behaviours
"Modesty" and "Outrage of Modesty"
Full Monty SG Style
No Pants Are The Best Pants
The Upskirt Scourge
Preserve Your Aurat’s Honour'
Tu dung' or Not 'tu dung'?
Hold your razor and go Au Naturale