When I first graduated from college, I served in the Peace Corps in Fiji and my daily hygiene routine changed drastically. Dry periods without water in the village + no warm water + swimming in the ocean all the time meant that shaving my legs was not realistic anymore. Because I had spent the past decade shaving my legs religiously, I started to wonder, “what happens if you never shave your legs?”
With everyone staying more or less at home since the COVID-19 pandemic began and not feeling the pressure to shave, I’m sure a lot of you are asking the same question. It’s the same with more people going braless and more men freeballing and women going commando.
We live in a society where feminine people are expected to have shaved legs, a hairless downstairs, and the smoothest armpits you could imagine at all times. So it’s not surprising that many of us are hesitant to drop our razors and embrace the full-flow look.
But I’ve got good news for ya—not only will it save you time and money, but there are many benefits of not shaving legs or anywhere else!! Let’s get into it!
HEALTH BENEFITS OF NOT SHAVING BODY HAIR
There are soooo many health benefits of not shaving body hair. From decreased risk for skin infections to protection from STIs, there’s a lot to cover here. I’ve broken it down into the body hair most frequently shaven for your perusing pleasure.
1. HEALTH BENEFITS OF NOT SHAVING ARMPITS
I’ll be the first to admit that even when I was on my daily leg-shaving grind, I would ALWAYS forget to shave my armpits because who even thinks about armpits anyway?
Turns out, I was really doing myself a favor. Because armpits are rather dark and damp, they’re especially prone to infections and ingrown hairs if shaven. The constant skin rubbing while you walk will also do a number on your shaved pits!
In fact, armpits are one of the most likely spots to catch a nasty strain of MRSA, an antibiotic resistant bacteria, that will mess you up (trust me). Shaving your armpits increases your chances of getting infected with the bacteria, which can lead to boils (BOILS!!) in your pits—yikes!
2. HEALTH BENEFITS OF NOT SHAVING LEGS
What happens if you never shave your legs? Besides saving time and sanity (there’s nothing in the world more boring than shaving your legs)? But it turns out that not only is it dreadfully mundane, there’s a lot of health issues connected to shaving your legs.
I’d bet most people who shave their legs have the same philosophy as me—get in and get out. I’m pretty sure I hold the speed record for leg shaving. However, that speed might be causing more harm than good because quick shaving can lead to all sorts of nicks and cuts.
Everyone who shaves their legs has at least once come out of the shower to discover a trail of blood coming from their knee or ankle in a way that can only be described as gory.
Those cuts aren’t just painful at that moment—they can also get infected pretty easily. Because they are close to the ground, touching public seats, and can have less circulation than other parts of your body, your legs are more at risk of getting cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection, especially when there are open cuts from shaving. Not fun!!
If that’s not enough to convince you, how about the two most dreaded words in the English language: chub rub. Chafing is caused by skin rubbing up against skin, so your body hair can actually act as a natural barrier. Also when you shave, you damage the outermost barrier layer of skin, revealing a more sensitive layer that’s rife for the old chub rub.
3. HEALTH BENEFITS OF NOT SHAVING PUBIC HAIR
Shaving your nether regions is a dangerous game to play. You can cut yourself, bring infections, or remove the natural barrier put there through evolution. In the U.S., over 80% of women remove their pubic hair in one way or another even though there’s no health benefit associated with it, only health risks.
If you’ve seen a vulva before, you know it can be a maze of skin folds, openings, and sensitive skin. Not exactly a great place to bring a razor into the equation! Cutting your vulva isn’t just painful as hell, but it’s just asking for an infection.
The only thing worse than an armpit boil is a vulva boil (what an awful image). Like the darling armpit, the pubic area is a breeding ground for bacteria thanks to its natural moisture, lack of airflow, and heat. Those with a propensity for a sweaty vagina know that it’s not the easiest, breeziest spot in the world.
Vaginas are self-cleaning and won’t easily get infected, but any cut or nick from shaving becomes a portal for bacteria to enter your body and cause, well, vulva boils (sorry, had to say it again).
Also, for all sexually actively folks, there have been studies that show a correlation between removal of pubic hair and increased STI rates. To repeat your high school psych teacher, correlation does not imply causation”!! Either way, you might wanna think twice before aggressively shaving your pubes before your next hookup.
OTHER PROS AND CONS OF LETTING BODY HAIR GROW
What happens if you never shave your legs outside of the health benefits? Obviously, your health is one of the important things to consider when making grooming choices, but convenience, societal judgments, and personal preference are all important too. We know the health benefits of not shaving armpits and other body hair, but let’s get into the other benefits of not shaving legs and more!
PROS OF LETTING BODY HAIR GROW OUT
Your hair won’t grow back thicker. Despite what your grandma may have told you, shaving does not make your hair thicker. It might look that way at first because of the blunt end cut by the razor, but once it grows out a bit more, the end will taper. Also, even if it did, who cares? Yes, everyone, it’s true, I have body hair because I’m literally a mammal!
It won’t affect your natural odors. Even though there are health benefits of not shaving armpits, I was always more worried it might make my natural scent into a natural stench. However, while hair can harbor the bacteria that makes you smelly, keeping it washed (like you would with shaved pits) will do away with it easy peasy.
If you do still notice a certain armpit stench but wanna keep the razors away, using a gel or roll-on deodorant or antiperspirant will help get it to the skin better, instead of just hanging out in the hair.
You get to reclaim your time. Shaving your whole body, or even just your legs, can take forever! What happens if you never shave your legs again? A whole lot more time to scroll TikTok post-shower in your bed while still wearing your damp towel (just me?).
No more annoying razor burn or painful bumps after shaving. I don’t know about you, but if I shave my legs, I can’t enter the ocean, sweat, or sit in grass without my legs starting to burn and itch.
It’s from a condition called folliculitis and it's extremely common. The salt and irritants from exercising and the environment can get into the hair follicles you just shaved and cause an itchy, burning, bumpy rash—cute!
Shaving causes significant skin dryness. Instead of having to lather yourself up in rich oils and heavy lotions, your hair protects the layer of moisture naturally on your skin.
CONS OF LETTING BODY HAIR GROW OUT
Like everything in life, except the underwire bra vs no underwire debate where the winner is obviously no underwire, there are two sides to shaving or not shaving your body hair, especially your legs. Below I’ll go through some of the cons of not shaving your legs and other body hair.
- Shaving can exfoliate skin. Exfoliation can make skin smoother, prevent clogged pores that can cause acne, and even out your skin tone.
- Removing your hair can make your legs feel soft and smooth. If you prefer a smooth leg, unshaven legs can feel really uncomfortable. I personally love to slide into bed after shaving my legs, so if I need a good nights’ sleep or wanna have maximum comfort, I’ll shave my legs.
- Judgement. Ugh, despite some improvement in the whole “omg you’re a woman with body hair??” level of disgust by some people in society, it’s still seen as “not normal” to have body hair as a feminine presenting person. It’s annoying and stupid, but if you feel extra sensitive to judgement, just know it might come up.
With this idea, it can also be really gender affirming to shave body hair if the body you’re used to was hairier than you wanted it to be. That’s why this is such a personal choice and not up to anyone on the internet to deem good or bad (especially not me!).
- Sweat. If you have hyperhidrosis or the tendency to sweat a lot, extra hair can cause discomfort from the extra insulation that body hair provides.
CONS OF LETTING BODY HAIR GROW OUT
Sometimes I want a smooth-leg-against-sheet moment, so I’ll put out my razor and go to town. There’s a few things I like to do to prevent razor burn, ingrown hairs, or cuts!
IF YOU SHAVE YOUR ARMPITS
- Make sure to use a sharp razor to avoid ingrown hairs that can quickly get infected in the warm, damp environment that is an armpit
- Wash your armpits well before shaving. Deodorant will clog razor blades, which will lead to a worse shave and razor burn. Plus, it’ll help remove the bacteria already chilling in your pits before you shave.
IF YOU SHAVE YOUR LEGS
- Don’t dry shave!! I know it can be super tempting to just shave quickly before running out of the door (or just using water). It makes it super easy to get razor burn or slip and cut yourself, so it’s really not worth it
- Moisturize your legs after shaving. Like I previously mentioned, body hair helps protect your bodies natural oils. Shaving removes them and causes dry skin. Lather your legs up for the smoothest (and least itchy) result.
IF YOU SHAVE YOUR PUBIC AREA
SO, WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU NEVER SHAVE LEGS?
The world crumbles to dust if you never shave your legs…juuuuust kidding! You’ll most likely end up seeing a range of health and other benefits of not shaving legs and other body hair like lower risk for skin or sexually transmitted infections, no chance of razor burn, and more protection for your sensitive bits.
Of course, you might also miss the smooth, exfoliated feel of freshly shaved skin or have to deal with societal judgement around your body hair choices. Like everything else dealing with your body, it’s your choice whether or not to shave your legs.
Body and facial hair is so personal and can be an important way of expressing yourself. But grooming can take forever and you just have to do it over and over again if you want to keep the results. So, would you rather shave once and never get body hair again? Or shape your eyebrows once and have them stay that way forever?