The Step You Can Take Before Shaving Your Underarms That Will Make The Process A Breeze

After gaining mass popularity in the '90s, Photoshop started an armpit revolution. With just a quick drag of the mouse, it suddenly became possible to blur out texture, discoloration, and creasing. "You may never look at armpits the same way again, and I'm sorry," @caroline_in_thecity said in a viral TikTok pointing out the editorial world's technologically-enforced beauty standards. 

She added, "Sometimes they try to hide it with, like, shadows or [long hair covering] the armpit. Or sometimes they just put tops on people." Now, in part thanks to the skin and body positivity movements, we're starting to see pits for what they really are, hair and all. In an April 2023 photo shoot for Bustle, "Mean Girls" star Rachel McAdams proudly displayed her unshaven underarms. 

Emily Ratajkowsi modeled hers for Harper's Bazaar in 2019, and Julia Robert was ahead of the curve in the '90s. If celebrity Instagram posts and prime-time razor ads are any indication body hair has become less taboo, especially since it seems like itchiness and discomfort are an inevitable part of the removal process. But they don't have to be. If you do decide to shave, there are easy ways to make the process more comfortable.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

As a general rule, it's best to avoid shaving your armpits every day. Instead, stick to an every-other-day or twice-a-week routine. The night before, make sure your underarms are properly hydrated. "Go to bed with a thin layer of moisturizer on the area you will be shaving," dermatologist Alicia Zalka, M.D. recommended to Vogue, adding, "This will create a friction-free experience the next day." Further, especially if you shave often, you should be changing your razor regularly. 

Dull, rusted edges can lead to ingrown hairs, small cuts, and even infection. To stay on top of things, try out services like Billie or Athena Club, which provide reusable handles and scheduled blade shipments. Besides your razor, you'll need a splash of warm water (which will open up your pores) and hydrating shaving cream to get the job done properly. In a pinch, conditioner can also do the trick — never, ever shave dry skin. 

After you're done, wash off your pits with cold water, which will tighten up your pores. Cleansers aren't just for the skin on your face either. In between shaves, it's important to wash your pits thoroughly. This will help manage any smells and get rid of debris build-up from deodorant and T-shirt lint. In the shower, follow up cleansing with a round of exfoliation, creating a smooth path for your razor and preventing ingrown hairs.

Razor alternatives are on the rise

If you're going for that hairless look but prefer not to use razors, there's no shortage of alternatives. For starters, waxing can be done with packaged strips at home or in a salon. "Over time, waxed hairs grow back softer and thinner, which can help you spread out the time between hair removal," licensed esthetician Ali Tobia pointed out to Byrdie. However, she also warned, "You need to let the hair grow at least a quarter of an inch to wax properly, which means that you'll need to have armpit hair for a bit before you can get waxed again." 

Although it shares some core similarities with waxing, sugaring involves a heated mixture of sugar, lemon, and water and is often better for sensitive skin. To remove your hair once and for all, more invasive techniques like laser and IPL hair removal will get the job done after just a few sessions. Technology is constantly improving, but blondes with fine hair may find these techniques largely ineffective. 

Likewise, keep in mind that lasers can also result in skin damage if you have a darker complexion. Especially before buying an at-home laser hair removal kit, do your research first. Ultimately, if you decide that you've had enough of shaving and waxing, it can be freeing to grow out your armpit hair. Most importantly, you'll be able to say goodbye to all those unsightly bumps and itchy ingrown hairs.