What to Do About Your Chest Hair
In the world of men’s grooming—chest hair is the wild west. It’s wide-open territory, and there are no rules.
So, what exactly are you supposed to do with your chest hair, then?
That might seem like a ridiculous question but consider the following... Of all the things a man might be self-conscious of, he is more likely to have a hang-up about his chest hair than any other part of his body.
This information comes to us from a 2019 survey of 2,000 men, in which 40% of those surveyed marked chest hair as their biggest area of concern, followed closely by back hair (35%). These body hair doubts beat out other common hang-ups, including beer belly, acne, and lack of muscle. Curiously, male-pattern baldness or hair loss wasn’t included as a concern.
It is worth noting that this survey was conducted by OnePoll, a private market research firm, on behalf of BAKblade, a company that sells big razors with extra long handles to help you shave your back. Additionally, we couldn’t view the survey questions, so we didn’t know what was asked and how the data was collected. In other words, we take these survey results with a grain of salt.
Interestingly, this same OnePoll survey found that more than half of guys think it is “unmanly” to shave anywhere except their face. And to take it a step further, just under half of those men surveyed thought practicing any “good” grooming habits was worthy of turning in your man card.
But when you consider that body hair was causing a third of these men to avoid activities like swimming, a fourth to avoid the gym, and a fifth to feel like their chest hair hurt their sex lives—well, a concerning trend emerged.
Essentially, men on the furrier side of the body hair spectrum are having an existential crisis between negative feelings about their chest and back hair and simultaneously viewing below-the-neck grooming as unmasculine. It’s a sort-of body hair vs. masculinity purgatory.
That doesn’t sound like an enjoyable place to be. So, what exactly should you do with that nest on your chest?
Well, there’s no clear-cut answer, so let’s break it down.
GROOMING YOUR CHEST HAIR IS NORMAL
When we dug deeper into the limited research on male chest hair grooming, things started to get a little fuzzy—or, in this case, less fuzzy.
Contrary to the OnePoll opinion, a different online survey of 389 American men found that an overwhelming majority of men surveyed were indeed grooming their chest hair.
The question asked was: "[chest] How often do you groom the hair on your...?"
The results showed that 94 percent of men aged 18–29 are doing some chest hair grooming every month, with 63% doing some extent of weekly grooming.
88% of men age 30–59 are doing some chest hair grooming every month, with 55% doing some extent of weekly grooming.
And perhaps most surprisingly, 79% of men over the age of 60 are doing some chest hair grooming every month, with 21% doing some extent of weekly chest hair grooming.
Below are the full survey results.
FREQUENCY OF CHEST HAIR GROOMING
|Grooming Frequency||Age: 18–29||Age: 30–59||Age: 60+|
|Every other week||13%||15%||13%|
Now, keep in mind, this survey doesn’t tell us whether or not these men are entirely shaving or just trimming. However, one might make an educated guess that those grooming more frequently are trimming closer to the skin than those grooming monthly.
While this sample size is tiny, it may indicate that grooming your chest hair is far more normal than not grooming your chest hair. This data may also suggest that body hair grooming is something that men of all ages engage in.
The key takeaway here is that if you want to groom your chest hair, there’s no reason to feel embarrassed about it.
WHEN DID WE TURN OUR BACKS ON CHEST HAIR, ANYWAY?
It’s easy to point to the ’90s and say that was the moment in time when we started to move away from celebrating our mammalian hairiness. After all, if you look back on the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, you can find an endless supply of your usual suspects of hairy-chested (and often mustached) stalwarts of masculinity—Sean Connery, Burt Reynolds, Tom Selleck, etc. The ’90s, on the other hand, gave us Marky Mark Calvin Klein commercials, Abercrombie & Fitch shopping bags, and the term “metrosexual.”
But it's not like we hit the end of the 20th century and suddenly decided baby-smooth was the way to be.
Quite the contrary, in fact.
After all, Ancient Greek and Roman statues depicted men without chest hair—particularly those of the Gods. In other words, those who were viewed as portraying physical perfection.
And consider Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It depicts the first man, Adam, void of all body hair. In the context of Genesis 1:27, which states, “so God created man in his own image,” it may indicate that God also does not have chest hair—at least according to Michelangelo.
The point is, our worship of the chiseled and hairless male body isn’t entirely a new idea. And it wouldn't be fair to view body hair grooming as unmasculine, given that some of the most masculine figures in history have been relatively hairless in their portrayal.
HOWEVER, SOME CHEST HAIR IS CONSIDERED ATTRACTIVE
Research indicates that “light” chest hair is considered the most attractive, at least according to women. And this walks hand-in-hand with the research that points to light stubble being the most attractive form of facial hair.
Of course, age and culture likely play a significant role in the results of these types of surveys. After all, attractiveness is wildly subjective. You will always find differing opinions on beards, mustaches, hair length, chest hair, etc. One person’s idea of “gross” is often another person’s idea of “hot.”
Even more, the level of attraction a woman has to chest hair could be strongly linked to her father. Studies on positive sexual imprinting suggest that we are likely to choose mates that resemble our opposite-sex parent (as if this topic wasn’t already strange enough).
As with all of the studies considered in this article, there are certainly flaws in the methodology. It's one small sliver of data, and it doesn’t always paint an entirely accurate portrayal.
The truth is, while “light chest hair'' is generally considered the most attractive, your man-pelt shouldn’t hinder you all that much in the dating game. Chances are, your personality matters far more than the amount of chest hair you have (but heavy back hair might be a different story).
SO, SHOULD I GROOM MY CHEST HAIR OR NOT?
Whether or not you groom your chest hair ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you choose to go full fur—embrace it. Want to shave your chest to better accentuate your hard-earned physique? Go for it.
Regardless of what you choose, you’re never going to please everybody. That said, below are some tips on handling different forms of chest hair.
Dense chest hair with full coverage
If you’re working with a healthy swatch of hair that evenly covers your chest, don’t be afraid to embrace it. If you do shave it, chances are that you’ll be dealing with some pretty gnarly itchiness. But one thing you can do to improve your look is to slightly trim your chest hair with a ⅜” or ¼” guard on your electric trimmer. You’ll be amazed at what just getting your chest hair to an even length can do for your overall appearance.
Light chest hair with uneven coverage
If you fall into this category, you pretty much can’t go wrong. You can let your chest hair breath as is, shave it, or trim it to a shorter length with an electric trimmer. Find what makes you feel comfortable and confident and own it.
Patchy chest hair
Some guys only grow chest hair in small patches, and in this case, it might make sense to go fully shaved. This is the case with Greg Berzinsky, and he discusses his body hair grooming routine in the video below.
Tattoos and chest hair
Lastly, if you’ve invested good money in chest and stomach tattoos, you don’t want hair covering up your artwork. Carlos Costa discusses below.
When it comes to grooming, don’t be afraid to try new things and find what makes you feel the most comfortable and confident.
Keep on Growing.
THE WRAP UP
Have questions about grooming, your beard, hair, or anything else? Shoot us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Text "STYLE" to 512-879-3297 for a free personalized consultation. We’ll be happy to help you out.
Keep on Growing.
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