Dying the hair on your head has become a staple in society. But dying the hair under your arms? Well, that may be an entirely new concept to some.

Although the process is similar, protecting your skin and maintaining your new armpit color can be tricky. Here’s what you should know before trying the trend.

For some people, hair dye is little more than a practical way to cover up gray strands. For others, it may be an important form of self-expression.

A particular shade, especially a bright one, can be personally empowering or a sign of broader political opinions.

These views aren’t limited to the hair on your head.

Keeping — and coloring — your armpit hair, for example, can be seen as a way to challenge rigid beauty standards and promote body positivity.

That’s because traditional social norms often suggest that women must remove all visible body hair to be desirable.

Of course, it’s not just women who can make such a statement. People of all identities are trialing the look.

The process includes similar stages to dying head hair. But due to pit hair’s coarser texture and the sensitivity of the area, there are a few vital differences.

As we’ll discuss in the next section, you should take special consideration with your:

  • product selection
  • method of application
  • overall color maintenance

Products

The most important step? Purchasing the correct products.

In many cases, standard hair dye is OK to use. Opt for stand-out colors like Manic Panic Hot Hot Pink or Special Effects Blue Haired Freak for maximum impact.

But if you have sensitive skin, you may want to go with a natural, vegetable-based dye, such as Punky Colour Apple Green.

There are even brands like Betty Beauty that have dyes specifically formulated for body hair.

If you have dark underarm hair, you’ll also need to purchase a bleaching product. Bleaching products are used to strip hair of its natural color and open its cuticles so that the dye can be absorbed properly.

Although 30 and 40 volume developers are often used for head hair, they’re typically too strong for delicate underarm skin. Opt for a 20 volume developer, if possible.

Preparation

Make sure you cover all nearby surfaces with newspaper.

You should also clean your pits with soap and warm water to remove any lingering deodorant.

If you can, change into an old sleeveless shirt. This will allow you to easily access your armpits while still protecting your torso from unwanted staining.

Application

Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the outer edges of your armpit, or the area surrounding your armpit hair. This will help prevent the dye from transferring straight to your skin.

When you’re ready, apply a thick layer of developer to your armpit hair and keep your arms above your head while it works its magic.

You want your hair to turn a pale yellow shade before you rinse the developer out.

Try keeping the developer on for 10 minutes. If your hair is still too dark, check back every 3 to 5 minutes until it has sufficiently lightened.

When your hair has reached the desired shade, rinse the developer out and reapply the petroleum jelly, if needed.

Now it’s time to apply the dye. Before starting, put on some latex or vinyl gloves to protect your hands. Although you can use your gloved hands to apply the dye, a dye brush or mascara wand will help with precision.

Follow the instructions on the dye’s label.

General guidelines suggest that you leave the dye on for at least 30 minutes to achieve maximum pigmentation.

Rinse the dye out when the time is up. If any dye is left on your skin, gently scrub the area with soap and warm water. Allow your underarms to air dry.

If you accidentally transferred dye to the counter, floor, or other surface area, you can use soap, baking soda, or bleach to remove the stain.

Color transfer between your armpit hair and clothes, bedding, and other cloth is possible during the first couple of days. Wearing a sleeveless top during the day and a dark T-shirt to sleep can help minimize staining.

The process is relatively risk-free, as long as you use the correct products.

Leaving a product on for too long or using an overly strong developer can result in skin irritation or even burns, as demonstrated by a study in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology.

Your skin may also feel sensitive after a fresh dye job, so you should avoid deodorant and other pit products for the next 24 hours.

If you’re worried about which products to use or how these products may affect your skin, consider opting for a professional dye job.

How do you find a stylist?

Armpit hair dying is usually carried out in a traditional hair salon.

Many salons don’t openly advertise this niche service, but that doesn’t mean they don’t offer it — a quick phone call is usually all it takes to find out.

How much does it cost?

You’ll have to contact individual salons to find out exact prices, but expect it to cost a lot less than a traditional hair dye appointment.

How long does the appointment take?

This will depend on the color of your hair to begin with. In most cases, you’ll be in and out within an hour.

Will the color last longer if you go professional instead of DIY?

A fully trained professional can ensure longevity by picking the right products for your hair type. It might take a couple of attempts to produce the same results at home.

Aside from the process itself, there are a number of other factors to take into consideration when dying your armpit hair.

Does your hair texture matter?

There’s a lot less hair under your arms, so hair type shouldn’t cause too much bother.

Be aware that thicker hair may require more dye to be used, and coarse hair may take longer to absorb the dye color.

Do you have to bleach the hair first?

Those with naturally dark hair will have to bleach the strands for the dye to show up.

If your hair is already light in color, you’ll likely be able to skip this step.

Do certain colors last longer than others?

Darker shades tend to last longer than lighter ones. Think deep purple and forest green rather than neon hues.

One study stated that red in particular is prone to fading. This is because red hair molecules are larger than those of other colors, meaning the dye won’t penetrate the strand as deeply.

Will your natural hair color grow back?

Yes! And according to the American Academy of Dermatology, body hair sheds and regenerates at a much quicker pace than the hair on your head.

Your roots may start to show in about a week.

The last thing you want is for your new pit color to disappear within a few days. Here’s how to let your chosen shade live for as long as possible.

  • Avoid incredibly hot water. Heat is the enemy of hair dye, so turn the temperature down to prolong its lifespan.
  • Switch up your body wash. Swap your usual body product for a sulfate-free color-protecting shampoo such as R+Co Gemstone.
  • Rethink your deodorant technique. Deodorant probably won’t affect the longevity of your color, but applying too much can leave you with unsightly white streaks.
  • Touch up, if necessary. If your natural hair color begins to reveal itself, you can always do a quick touch up. Put some gloves on and apply a small amount of dye to the hair using your thumb and index finger.

Dying your armpit hair is a relatively simple process that can leave you feeling empowered.

You can easily try this at home, or you can leave it up to a professional stylist. If you have any concerns, always turn to a pro for help.

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