We get to the root of it all by exploring the pros and cons of each and by answering other body hair questions.

Armpit hair, also referred to as axillary hair, gets its start from puberty.

Around ages 10–12 for females and 11–14 for males, the pituitary gland triggers a group of hormones called androgens in the ovaries and testicles.

These sex hormones cause the apocrine sweat glands to start functioning (the body has one other sweat gland: the eccrine, which is found in the palms and soles of the feet).

The apocrine sweat gland is associated with hair follicles in the pubic and axillary area.

Your hair goes through many changes as you get older. When you’re a baby, you have lanugo hair.

This soon changes to vellus hair in childhood, which helps the body regulate its temperature.

It’s often referred to as “peach fuzz” or “baby hair” because of its appearance, which is short, thin (less than 1/13th of an inch long), and lightly colored. Common areas include the nose, ears, and even eyelids.

Once puberty hits, however, the body hair transforms again. Vellus hairs become terminal, meaning that they become thick, strong, and darker in color.

Sensitivities to androgen levels also influence where terminal hair grows on the body, for everyone. When more androgens are produced, more areas will grow terminal hair, such as the legs, arms, chest, stomach, and feet.

Is armpit hair the same as pubic hair?

Facial hair, armpit hair, and pubic hair are all the same type of hair, called “terminal hair.” It starts growing as fine hair (vellus hair), and at puberty starts to change and progresses to a coarse hair. It sheds often and therefore the longest armpit or pubic hair would be less than 6 inches.

— Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, COI

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While inconvenient at times, body hair does benefit the body in many ways.

It’s good for pheromones

Armpit hair may actually help catch you a mate.

This is because the armpits release an odor containing pheromones, a naturally-producing chemical that plays a role in sexual attraction.

By leaving the armpit hair intact, you’re helping trap odor, since moisture (sweat) attaches to hair. This makes the pheromones even stronger.

A study in 2018 including 96 heterosexual couples found that there were stress-relieving benefits to smelling a person’s natural scent.

Researchers came to this conclusion by asking the men in the study to wear a shirt for 24 hours and to abstain from using any deodorant or scented body products.

After the women smelled their partner’s shirt, they completed several tests to determine the findings. This included a stressful mock job interview and saliva samples to measure cortisol.

In the end, it was found that there’s something alluring about the body’s natural musk.

It reduces friction

Armpit hair prevents skin-to-skin contact when doing certain activities, such as running and walking.

The same thing happens with pubic hair, as it reduces friction during sex and other activities.

It prevents certain health conditions

In addition to reducing friction, not shaving your armpit hair can prevent certain issues.

This includes:

Smooth skin isn’t the only benefit you can expect from shaving.

You’ll sweat less

Tired of sweating excessively or dealing with sweat stains on your clothes? Shaving your armpits can help since hair actually holds onto moisture.

Some people naturally sweat more than normal, though. This is called hyperhidrosis, a condition that causes people to sweat excessively from their hands, feet, and armpits.

Less body odor

Underarm sweat has a direct link to body odor (BO) since it’s the result of bacteria breaking sweat down.

When you remove hair under the armpits, it reduces trapped odor.

A 2016 study involving men found that removing armpit hair by shaving significantly reduced axillary odor for the following 24 hours. Similar results were first found in a 1953 paper.

In both studies, it was found that removing underarm hair, either by shaving or waxing, made it easier for soaps and cleansing products to get into the skin and follicular openings.

If you’re unable to grow armpit hair, this is likely the result of genetics or some sort of health condition.

Conditions include:

  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • asthma
  • abnormalities in the thyroid and pituitary gland

If you’ve had an underarm laser hair removal procedure done, the hair also won’t grow back for around 6 to 12 months, unless all treatments are completed.

It’s your personal decision whether you remove your body hair or not. This includes areas like your underarms or pubic hair.

For many people, they choose to do so for aesthetic preferences — they like the look and feel of shaved skin.

There are benefits to leaving these areas au natural as well, such as making you sweat and smell less.