What’s All This Body Hair FOR?
Every hair on your body — from head to toes — served an evolutionary purpose. Here’s how all that fur helped your distant ancestors weather the storm.
As you enter the shower to remove all your unwanted body hair with our new super-comfortable Body Shaver Handle(!!!), let’s take a look at why that hair’s there in the first place.
While scientists aren’t certain why head hair grows longer and thicker than body hair, they have a few theories. The most likely is that the hair helps to insulate our heads a little, and the development of clothing replaced the need for excessive hair anywhere besides our heads. Another theory suggests that because our ancestors evolved on the coast, gathering food from the sea, being covered in body hair would have made it more difficult to wade around in the water, so evolution favored those with less of it from the neck down.
Your eyebrows protect your eyes from dust, dandruff, rain and sweat; nose hair acts like an air filter for your lungs; ear hair does the same for your ears, helping to prevent infections. Beard hair, though, is a little more mysterious: A 2010 study claims it may exist for social reasons, helping to attract a mate, but since other studies indicate that most women prefer the beardless look, this one’s still up in the air.
Underarm hair has at least three purposes: 1) It wicks sweat away from the skin; 2) it reduces the friction between our underarms and torso to prevent chafing; and 3) it acts as a pheromone diffuser, helping to spread our irresistible, musky scent to potential mates. Hot!
For cavemen, thick chest hair made you an attractive proposition. Before the days of bug spray, it was the first line of defense against parasites, since it made it difficult for blood-suckers to reach the skin. Chest hair also increases our skin sensitivity, which meant a chance to notice and swat bugs before they could feast. (Then, as now, a bug-free mate was a good mate.) As for why women don’t tend to have chest hair, it’s likely simple sexual selection, i.e., if the men preferred non-hairy female chests, then the women with non-hairy chest genes reproduced and passed down their genes more often.
Our pubes provide cushion against any kind of friction (wink, wink) that may cause skin abrasion and injury. They also protect us from bacteria and other unwanted pathogens — cases of both gonorrhea and chlamydia have seemingly increased as a direct result of pubic hair trimming and shaving, according to Scientific American.
Leg (and Foot) Hair
In the days before pants, extra hairy legs kept us from freezing at night and (sun)burning during the day. While nobody’s totally sure why our legs have gradually become less hairy, chances are, shedding some fur helped our ancestors beat the heat when they ditched shady woodlands for warmer climates.
Now that we know why we’re covered in hair, you can respect it, enjoy it, or just shave it off, if that’s what you fancy — it may have done our primate ancestors some good, but these days it’s mostly just there for decoration.
What percentage of men are trimming or shaving some or all of their body hair these days?
How To Bare That Bod
If you’re looking to showcase what you’ve got by going smooth all over, it’s important not to rush the process. In fact, dermatologist Anthony Rossi suggests shaving your body with the exact same care and attention as when you shave your face. “Manscape in a hot, steamy shower to soften up the hairs,” he says. “Then trim or shave with the grain, never against — if you’re not sure which way to go, pull the razor in the same direction that your hair seems to be pointing. That will prevent creating sharp angles [which helps avoid both prickliness and ingrown hairs]. Moisturize afterwards to condition the hairs and clear up any irritation.” And after that? Get out there and show it off!
Oh FAQ: How Do I Tame My Hairy Butt?
1. The simplest way to tidy your tush, says Melanie Mari of Bare Skin Studio, is by using a pair of electric clippers, since using a razor on your butt cheeks will cause a ton of unwanted prickliness when the hair regrows and rubs against your underwear.
2. If you’re looking for a baby-smooth butt, Mari says waxing is the best option: It’ll be smoother and longer lasting, and most importantly, it won’t feel like your undies are full of sandpaper afterwards.
Check Out This Week’s DSC Podcast
Yes, 83% of men regularly remove body hair, per a member survey we conducted in 2016. Nose and ear hair were the most common to remove, at 41% and 32% respectively, while eyebrow and pubic hair tied for third place at 28%. Butts, backs, chests, arms, legs and armpits all made a respectable showing, too. Keep whacking those weeds, guys!