Lady arm hair: What do to?
March 4, 2012 11:36 PM   Subscribe

Have you ever removed arm (not armpit) hair? How and would you recommend it?

I'm a woman who has had arm hair my whole life. Not enough to bug me on a daily basis, but sometimes I think about it and I wish it could disappear. I'm white and fair skinned, (not a stereotypically hairy ethnicity-Irish) some of the hair is blonde and some of it is darker. It's not heavy or curly or anything like men usually have, but it's noticeable.

I also feel like I never see other women with arm hair, so I figure either I'm an unusual case, or everyone else is quietly getting rid of theirs. Which is closer to the truth? Do other people notice this about me do you think?

If I could easily permanently remove it, I would. But temporarily removing it over and over again sounds awful.

Has anyone on here successfully removed the lady arm hair? Obviously shaving sounds like an awful idea. Laser and electrolysis sound really expensive, but possibly my best bet? I've seen home kits for laser-type things, and epilators, and waxes, but I'm just not sure what would be best and what the effects are. ie: Could I try it just once?

I worry about even trying removing my arm hair just once, for fear that the hair would grow back worse. In high school for some reason I decided to shave the very faint, very blonde hair on my toes/top of my feet, and ever since it has been growing back awful and very yeah...I now have to constantly shave my feet. Gross and weird. And I don't want to repeat on my arms...

Anecdotes totally welcome!
posted by manicure12 to Health & Fitness (41 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
When my ex and I owned a salon, we waxed a lot of women's arms regularly. Personally, I think paying a salon for this service is absurd when home kits are so much cheaper and just as effective.

Bleaching it yourself is also fairly easy.

When I was playing transvestite, I Naired regularly without any chemical rash issues.
posted by Ardiril at 11:53 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Some women have arm hair and some don't. I have blond hair on my arms and have shaved it before (it was very easy, much easier than my legs) and I have a friend who waxes her arms. Don't get rid of it because you think it isn't supposed to be there... it certainly is.

Also, hair removal does not cause your hair to grow in differently. Puberty hormones when people usually start shaving causes the change.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 11:55 PM on March 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Normally, the hair only grows back worse if you shave it.

Whether others notice is irrelevant. What is important is that you are concerned. If you feel better with it gone, then remove it. Then later, should you decide that you are making too much of an issue over it, you just quit.

Make yourself happy first. Worry about others later.
posted by Ardiril at 11:58 PM on March 4, 2012

Lasering is done regularly by women here in Korea who have more arm hair than the (small) majority, who have, effectively, none.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:00 AM on March 5, 2012

Laser usually doesn't work on light colored hair (unless there's some new technology I don't know about)- it might work for you on darker hairs though. Lots of people get rid of their arm hair, you could wax or use an obnoxious (in my view, related to the pain, although people experience pain differently) machine called an epilator. If the hair doesn't bug you too much, chances are you'll quickly decide that the expense and time and pain related to do this just isn't worth it. if the hair does bug you a lot, then soon you'll be addicted.
posted by saraindc at 12:13 AM on March 5, 2012

I've got noticeably dark arm hair. While I often think as you do--no one else has it! What's their secret?--I've started paying closer attention. Some women are removing it, but many more seem to just have lighter, sparser, thinner arm hair than I do. I mostly just try to ignore myself on this (because arm hair is the least of my self-conscious body comparisons) but if it's really bothering you, I'd suggest lightening it first.
posted by asciident at 12:20 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

If this bothers you, just get the Veet wax strips from your local pharmacy; warm, pat and rip. It will not grow back denser and you can decided if you prefer it without. (I have totally done this, it's very effective, and I think it's better than other depilatory methods for this part of your body.)
posted by DarlingBri at 12:20 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm fair skinned with hair on my arms. Most of it is blonde, and I notice it, but I'm pretty sure no one else does. I also have a smattering of darker hair on my arms, which I remove with tweezers. When I catch the sun, the darker hairs bleach naturally.

If I had more than a smattering of darker hairs I'd think about bleaching them. I'd be tempted to steer clear of shaving, mainly because I'm not a fan of the blunt regrowth.
posted by SuckPoppet at 12:23 AM on March 5, 2012

I'm a woman. I have very light blonde arm hair, but it's kinda long and more noticable than I'd like when in bright light. I was about 20 and it had just started bothering me when I noticed that my sister, who is brunette (while I'm blonde) had no arm hair, and I expressed my incredulity and jealousy for losing the genetic lottery. She looked at me like I was completely naive, laughed, and said, "I've been shaving my arms for years, since I was younger than you are. I have hair just like yours, but darker."

Ever since I've shaved my arms. Very quick and easy compared to legs and it hasn't grown back darker- it's still platinum. (In the winter I tend not to care so much)

I suspect a lot of women do this, TBH.
posted by stockpuppet at 12:26 AM on March 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have fair skin and had fine, light brown armhair, until I shaved it off in high school and it grew back thicker and darker. Nowadays I wax or shave my lower arms, or just wear long sleeves.

My advice to you and my 14-year-old self: don't do it! If the hair really bugs you, try bleaching it. It's cheap, doesn't take long, and turns the hair nearly invisible. Jolen & Sally Hansen are the major drugstore bleach brands in the US.
posted by quartz at 12:39 AM on March 5, 2012

I have thick long dark-blonde arm hair and I like it. I like to imagine I'm a werewolf. I like to shampoo it in the shower and make it stand on end all sudsy. I stroke it sometimes absent-mindedly. Until right now I don't think it had ever occurred to me that it was (yet another) thing that women are meant to worry about and change about their bodies. I bet there are other women like me out there, and I can tell you that we are paying no attention whatsoever to YOUR arm hair, and certainly not judging it.

The "growing back thicker" thing with regard to shaving, though, is supposedly just because you are slicing off the tapered tips of the hairs, so they look and feel thicker from the top. The main shaft of the hair does not get thicker. Darker, maybe, since it will have spent less time exposed to the bleaching properties of sunlight...
posted by lollusc at 12:43 AM on March 5, 2012 [13 favorites]

I've got arm hair. It's probably noticeable. So?

(But I might not be the right person to answer; I'm pretty, uh, streamlined when it comes to beauty regimens. Although I do shave my legs, so who knows.)
posted by nat at 12:45 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I burnt mine off by trailing torches along my arms while learning fire performance. Be sure and moisturise afterwards (not before).
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:57 AM on March 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

South Asian women tend to remove arm hair than not (though I don't, my sister does). They will wax at a salon or even use Jolen creme bleach, depending on teh hair. Is there a South Asian neighbourhood in your city? Threading is also used as a technique for hair removal.
posted by infini at 1:46 AM on March 5, 2012

South Asian here, I used to do this for many years, now I no longer feel it necessary. Always got it waxed at a salon. It's really effective and lasts a good few weeks.
posted by Ziggy500 at 1:54 AM on March 5, 2012

My arm hair is brown (blond when bleached by the sun) and I shave my arms roughly once a week. It hasn't grown back thicker or darker.
posted by eloeth-starr at 3:03 AM on March 5, 2012

Confirmation bias may be to blame for your perception that every other woman but you is removing her arm hair, so don't feel obligated to make that the basis for your style of grooming. If you're fairly comfortable with it as is, don't go out of your way to make yourself feel bad about it.

My friend is body hair conscious, so she shaves most of it off, including her arms. She has to shave every day or every other day to keep stubble to a minimum. She would love to get electrolysis if she had the money. For her, the shaving is part of a daily pampering ritual. I, on the other hand just see my arm hair as part of my arm and don't pay a lot of attention to it. It's not in need of removal in my opinion. Neither I nor my friend pay much attention to other women's level of arm hair, and neither of us would judge you over body hair or lack thereof.

People probably notice their own body hair more than that of others, just like we notice (and judge, sadly) other ways our bodies are different. There's nothing wrong with being a woman and having body hair. Not liking body hair as a personal preference is fine, but I think it's problematic when the desire for hair removal comes from outside ourselves. I don't think you should do something just because you feel that everyone else is doing it (or if you feel like you're not conforming to some sort of beauty standard). You should do it because you want to.

If you're on the fence, why don't you go ahead and shave off a small bit of your arm hair? You could also test out wax and bleach kits on a small part of your arm without having to fully commit. Best wishes.
posted by i feel possessed at 3:31 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Waxing hurts like sin, but you'll feel great. As others have said, look in salons catering to South Asian or Middle Eastern populations; it'll be cheap and quick.

/South Asian woman who still gets surprised at American women with smooth legs and shaggy arms. All or nothing, you know?
posted by tavegyl at 3:32 AM on March 5, 2012

I don't have arm hair, but as a data point, in several episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) can but noted to have extremely luxurious and intact arm hair and she is a beautiful superhero. I have found myself thinking, suddenly noticing it when she is backlit or whatever, that her furriness was in a category of things that are sexy in a quietly quirky way. Like finding out your lover has an outie bellybutton or syndactyly (webbed toes). So here's a vote for a reframe.
posted by rumposinc at 3:43 AM on March 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

A lot of women have ARM hair, and it's probably a lot like yours. Other people don't notice it - who looks closely at your arms anyway?

My mom has a home waxing kit and waxes her arms. It comes in lighter when you wax, and some follicles don't grow back. The reason it seems darker when you shave is that the hair is thicker where you slice it off than the end growing in would be.
posted by DoubleLune at 3:52 AM on March 5, 2012

I have the same complexion/arm hair as you, and I shave mine once a month or so. It doesn't grow back darker or coarser (the "shaving makes your hair grow in thicker" thing is a complete myth - likely your foot hair would have gotten darker with age no matter what), and since the hair's pretty fine, there's not much stubble to speak of. There's a day or two of slight spikyness, but after that it's just slightly shorter arm hair.

I've also used Nair with good success. I'm too sensitive for Nair just about anywhere else, but my arms tolerate it. Plus you get to see your arm hairs shriveling up, which is kind of neat.

I used to be self-conscious of my arm hair, but I'm not anymore. Instead, I shave my arms because things feel awesome on my arms afterwards. It's a weird indulgence I have. (That's why I do it infrequently - so I don't get used to the feeling.) Ever shaved your legs after letting your leg hair grow for a couple weeks, and afterwards your skin felt so insanely smooth? It's that feeling.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:32 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I used to obsess over my arm hair and was very self-conscious about it. Then I got it lasered off, and it really did stay gone*. Go see a dermatologist who also does laser, find out how much it would cost you for package. if you can afford it, do it. They'll do your arms, feet, bikini line....if you are a good candidate, this can change your life.

*I have had laser hair removal in many spots and some of those spots required many many treatments, and a touchup every several months. My arms are not one of those places.
posted by 41swans at 4:32 AM on March 5, 2012

Pale skin with dark hair (and body hair to match) over here. If my budget has room, I find waxing my arms at a salon to be easy, pain-free and the way the hair grows back in is so subtle and gradual that no one (hardly even myself) notices. If my budget doesn't have room, I bleach with a kit from CVS. The thing about bleach is that I feel like you want to be thorough: you don't just want to do your forearms and then stop. I feel goofy getting into details about what *I* do, but you know, I'm sure I'm not the only person who is really detail-oriented about this sort of thing. (For example, did you know that you can get your toes waxed? Fingers too? It depends on how obsessive you wanna be.)
posted by pinetree at 6:36 AM on March 5, 2012

I've been shaving my arms for 16 years.
Pale skin, light brown arm hair.

When I see women with arm hair, I do admit it it seems weird to me - like if I saw a woman with leg hair. But then I realize that I'm the weird one.

For shaving - I shave maybe, twice a week. No harsh stubble, no problems.
posted by KogeLiz at 6:43 AM on March 5, 2012

Lots of women have arm hair. I am one of them. I was self-conscious of it because it was darker blonde (not black), but my skin is very pink/pale, so it shows up more against it. It's also thicker than other womens' arm hair--but it's not masculine.

Here's what I have done:
1. Bleach (Jolen). You buy it at the pharmacy and put it on. It made me itch, but it got the hair light.
2. Laser treatment. This worked OK. I went to a real physician-run laser clinic and feel like I got a pretty decent result, but keep in mind that laser isn't approved by the FDA for hair removal--just hair reduction. (I have also had laser treatment for hair removal basically all over and have had fantastic results on my legs/bikini line, and not so good results elsewhere--but that is more related to hormones than anything.)

I have also tried threading as a hair removal method for my face (eyebrows, sides, upper lip) and that is very effective and gentle. Never tried it for arms.

Now, I am undergoing electrolysis for facial hair (stray hairs on chin, neck, sides and upper lip). It is not painful at all (just a quick burst of heat, really) and is AWESOME. I have a good CPE (certified professional electrologist) who works quickly, but it takes a while because she has to insert a probe into the follicle and it can take a few zaps to get the hair to slide out easily. Electrolysis is the only method of hair removal that can actually claim permanent results.
posted by FergieBelle at 7:33 AM on March 5, 2012

I have long, thick, very black arm hair. I have since I was a kid. My family called me "monkey." Kids at school made fun of me because static would make my arm hairs stand on end.

We moved just before I started eighth grade, and that is when I started shaving my arms. Because I didn't want to be called a monkey in my new school.

I will just say, I have been doing this for twenty years. It's no more trouble than shaving my legs. Less, actually. I do it two or three times a week, with the same frequency as I shave my pits. Nowadays, I'm not terribly concerned about being called a monkey, but I still prefer my arms to be hairless.

If I had the cash, I'd definitely do something permanent about it. But shaving doesn't hurt, doesn't look bad, and is super cheap.
posted by brina at 7:59 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've used the electric razor head that came with my epilator and put the "guard" thing on so it leaves about 1/8 to 1/4 an inch of hair. No stubble that way, and it's really almost unnoticeable. And seems to grow very slowly.
posted by lemniskate at 8:06 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've shaved mine before. It made my arms quite smooth (no razor burn or pain whatsoever) and took only a few minutes. There was stubble for a day or two, but after that it was just normal soft arm hair again. I'd recommend it.
posted by cp311 at 8:11 AM on March 5, 2012

Please don't shave it. I've accidentally rubbed arms with a girl who had some arm hair stubble, and it was very strange, because that is the last place you'd expect stubble on a woman.

My arm hair is dark but I bleach it, so it becomes barely noticeable. You say yours is already somewhat blonde, so I assume that it will bother you even if it will all be blonde. In that case, I recommend laser. Instead of spending a ton of money on waxing over your lifetime, which is not permanent, invest the money upfront into laser, after you get a consultation to find out whether your hair is dark enough for it. It's also not super permanent, but 5-6 sessions will reduce the amount of hair dramatically, and the hair that will grow in at that point will be so fine and sparse, that if you shave it *then* it won't be stubbly.
posted by at 8:25 AM on March 5, 2012

I just bleach it every other weekend or so, less often in the summer cause the sun does it for me. I like the sally hansen better than the horrible itchy jolen. I used to shave it off when I was swimming competitively in school, because why the hell not? It was nice the first few days but omg, arm hair stubble is even less attractive than leg hair stubble and it was just too much maintenance.
posted by elizardbits at 8:29 AM on March 5, 2012

Dark hair on pale skin, hairy Italian/Jew here. My thick arm hair always bothered me, but shaving seemed like too much of a hassle. Recently I found that there's a Schick razor that comes with a razor on one side, and a battery operated trimmer on the other side for pubic grooming. I bought two of the razors and use one of the trimmers on my arms every few days.
posted by permiechickie at 9:00 AM on March 5, 2012

It's totally your observation bias. Many women with dark hair and light skin tend to have noticeable arm hair. I don't think leaving it as is is a fashion or grooming faux pas by North American standards in any way. (In Who's the Caboose?, Sarah Silverman--playing a New York actress doing her first "pilot season" in LA--is asked whether she has considered waxing her arms and she just stares at the person who asks that as if they had lost their mind. The irony is that now she actually is a Hollywood performer, Silverman's arms are perfectly hairless...)

But if you do want to do something about it, waxing is simple and inexpensive (even if you have someone else do it). I have done it once or twice before a fancy event where I was wearing a strapless gown and wanted to have the illusion of marble-statue arms. It didn't hurt.

Then you can see whether you feel like not having the arm hair makes you feel better groomed or prettier or whatever. If so, checking out laser or electrolysis and deciding if you want to make that investment.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:01 AM on March 5, 2012

Sometimes I see my eyebrow threader doing ladies' arms. So that's another option.

I'll be another vote, though, for letting it go. I have some arm hair, and I'm super pale, so sometimes it shows. But really, you either let it go, or it becomes one more thing you have to take care of on a daily or weekly basis just so you can fit your body into a cookie cutter based on fantasy.
posted by freshwater at 9:01 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have light brown arm hair, and sometimes (when it's bugging me, or when I'm bored) I trim it with scissors. It's much less obvious when it's shorter; for some reason my arm hair seems to be lighter coloured at the roots. I'm not cutting it off at the skin, so I don't notice any stubble effect, and it hasn't gotten thicker or darker.

But I'm really half-assed about this. I don't really care, I'm not a faithful leg-shaver either. I probably trim my arms every six months or so, long after it's grown back. Maybe something to try first, since it's painless, free, and there is no way you could get a bad result. (Unless you miss a spot.)
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:21 AM on March 5, 2012

I used to - for years - shave my arm hair. I have very very pale skin and very very dark hair.

I would not recommend that you do this. I had to do it literally every day to prevent it looking stubble-y, which is unpleasant. On the mornings I was running late, I didn't do it and then spent all day feeling very selfconscious. I even epilated it once, which was the most painful thing I can remember doing to myself.

Letting it grow back in when I was finally bored of shaving it was also a pain - I did it over the course of a month-long trip abroad so that no one at home would notice my permanent 5 o'clock stubble.

Since then I've been bleaching it, which I really like as it makes it really soft and also pretty much unnoticable. It grows out too far though.

I find it's not the hair I dislike, it's how dark and wolfy it is. YMMV, but I see a lot of well-turned-out women with arm-hair, but not a lot with dark pelts.

However, this thread has encouraged me to think about waxing it at home. The hair on my legs responds really well to this (bonus: no roots!) so if yours does too, that might be a route worth taking.
posted by citands at 11:06 AM on March 5, 2012

*grows out far too quickly, I mean.

Jeez! to be clear, bleach has no effect on the length of my arm hair. What a horrible thought.
posted by citands at 11:07 AM on March 5, 2012

My sister uses the Jolen bleach on her arms (I use it on my mustache) and I would start with that first--you'd probably have to do it less often than shaving and you wouldn't have stubble and ingrown hairs.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 11:55 AM on March 5, 2012

I have dark arm hair that is very fine but gets scary long if I leave it alone. I epilate if I have time, but if I'm lazy (which is almost always) I shave it. Sure it's a little spiky for a couple of days, but nothing majorly embarrassing and then I can let it grow for another few weeks before I need to do something about it again. If your arm hair is coarser textured maybe shaving won't work, but it's a good enough solution for me.
posted by keep it under cover at 12:14 PM on March 5, 2012

My fiancee has dark-blonde arm hair and a few tattoos on her arms. She regularly shaves her arms.
posted by hootenatty at 5:11 PM on March 5, 2012

I want to add in that if you want to get rid of your arm hair, that is also a totally valid feeling. For a while, I kept succumbing to pressure from people who insisted it would be somehow caving to oppression. Now I wax, and am working on laser, and am so much happier overall. I only wish I'd discovered this twenty years ago.

I Nth the no-shaving thing. You will have stubble, it will be sharp and awkward. You will not with waxing.
posted by corb at 7:30 PM on March 5, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I ended up trying a home cold wax kit...I didn't do a perfect job (how does one pull one's arm hair taught and pull a wax strip with only one hand? Practice I guess!) but I did a decent job. It feels awesome. I think I might go to a salon next time. But yeah, thanks for all your advice and stories!
posted by manicure12 at 10:15 PM on March 16, 2012

« Older An alternative to whiteboards/chalkboards?   |   Video noob seeks advice Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.