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Underarm hair (Sometimes called axillary hair or armpit hair) is the composition of hair in the underarm area.

Development and function

This hair, as most of the other body hair, normally starts to appear at puberty and growth is usually complete by the end of teen age. The release of odors (none proved to be pheromones) from the axilla at this stage of human development may be related to sexuality. Further, some people have suggested that the hair itself acts with a natural "anti-friction" quality between the upper arm and the thorax. More importantly, armpit hair naturally wicks moisture away from the skin, which aids in keeping the skin dry enough to prevent colonization by odor-producing bacteria.

Cultural attitudes

Today, in many countries, especially in much of the Western world, it is more common for women than men to shave off their underarm hair regularly for aesthetic reasons, a practice that may be connected to the overall body hair distribution of sexes. Prevalence of this practice varies widely, though. Religious reasons are sometimes cited; in Islamic culture, both men and women practice the removal of underarm hair for religious guidelines of cleanliness.

History of underarm hair removal

File:Depilatory advert.jpeg

First advertisement for depilatory powder in "Harper's Bazar" from 1915.

Removal of the hair from the underarms was part of a collection of hygienic or cosmetic practices enjoyed by Prophet Muhammad (570-632) as consistent with Fitra for both men and women and has since usually been regarded as a requirement by most Muslims.[1]

In the West, the practice began around 1915 in the US and UK, when one or more magazines showed a woman in a dress with shaved underarms. Regular shaving became feasible with the introduction of the safety razor at the beginning of the 20th century. While underarm shaving was quickly adopted in English speaking countries, especially in the US and Canada, it did not become widespread on the Continent of Europe until well after World War II.[2]

Axillary hair in art

The axillary hair in art is usually removed; not doing so is a mark of modernism. This is in contrast to the depiction of pubic hair in art. Rarely, pubic hair is portrayed in art created in the Middle Ages. Depiction of pubic hair gradually became more common in the Renaissance, and quite frequent in modern times.[3]

See also


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