Shaving My Armpit

Do You Shave Your Underarms Too?

Derek Everything Else 115 Comments

Shaving My Armpit

Something’s telling me not to post this one, but I’m going for it anyway…

As is often the case, I was just about 90% finished with a particular post that I’d been thinking of writing for a few weeks when another idea suddenly popped into my head. And as I generally welcome random changes in plan, I’ve naturally put the original post on hold and am moving forward with this new idea.

I think the initial problem was that the post I had almost finished was somewhat on the serious side, and today, my mood is far from being serious. From the moment I woke up this morning, I’ve been a bit more goofy than normal, evident by the number of times I pretended to do the backstroke while singing my new (but old) favorite song, The Swimming Song, by Loudon Wainwright.

It goes something like this…

“This summer I went swimming, this summer I might’ve drowned, but I held my breathe, kicked my feet and moved my arms around.”

Catchy, I know.

Perhaps this odd behavior is due to spending one hour yesterday evening getting battered around by what were the largest waves I’ve ever seen in this part of Mexico. It was fun stuff of course, but one can only take getting smashed in the side of the face by a brick of water so many times before it starts to have an affect on your brain.

Or perhaps I’m feeling so jolly because it appears that tomorrow I’ll be taking off for a two-day trip to La Isla Holbox, a tiny island about four hours from Playa del Carmen, where I plan to go swimming with the whale-sharks. I don’t even know what that involves really, but I can’t wait to go and find out!

However, truth be told, while the two factors above may have contributed to my increased silliness and joyous mood today, deep down, I know the real reason.


Today, my friends, is armpit shaving day!

Ever since I was convinced to start shaving my underarms about seven years ago, my bi-weekly dates with a Gillette 3-blade razor have been permanently etched onto my mental calendar. In short, these are not dates that I’m willing to miss.

I’ll never forget my first time, which occurred so suddenly while I was working on board a cruise ship in Hawaii. One day, upon returning to the ship after a few hours of hiking around the active Kilauea Volcano, I ran into a fellow crew member on the pier, who was also a good friend of mine. After swapping stories of how we had each spent our free time that day, I happened to mention how much I stunk because of all my sweating. My friend then looked at me with what appeared to be a look of compassion, and asked, “You don’t shave your pits?”

Twenty minutes later I was back in my one-porthole cabin, standing in front of the mirror in my goldfish tank-sized bathroom, shaving away, without any hesitation whatsoever.

Just like that, my sweating problem practically disappeared, and away went my odor problem along with it. Now this might not seem like such a big deal at all, but when you spend a significant amount of your time traveling, sweat and stench play a somewhat important role. Before I started shaving my armpits, the underarms areas of my shirts were always drenched and stained with sweat within a minute of walking outside into almost any climate. Now, it takes hours for that to happen, if it even happens at all.

And while nobody has ever come up and told me directly, I can’t help but assume that the locals I meet, as well as my fellow travelers, prefer to spend time in the company of someone whose presence can not be nasally-detected from two kilometers away.


I now spend about one minute every two weeks in order to help ensure that I….

  • Smell somewhat pleasant. (Shaving doesn’t necessarily reduce underarm odor, and I’m still using deodorant, but I’m quite certain that the shaving has helped. If anyone can vouch for me, I’d appreciate it!)
  • Feel cleaner and for longer periods of time.
  • Feel more confident no matter where I am.
  • Don’t have to replace shirts as often as I used to.
  • Can pack less shirts overall.

Clearly, you can now understand what caused me to go a little nutty with excitement today. And honestly, up until a few minutes ago, I never before realized just how excited I get. You would’ve thought I had just booked a flight to some place such as Kazakhstan!


As soon as I finished shaving this morning, I walked out onto the balcony of my apartment, raised my arms up high into the sky, glanced to the right, glanced to the left…

Well, I then noticed that I missed a big patch of hair on the left armpit so I had to return to the shower in order to finish the job…but then….

I returned to the balcony and spent a few blissful minutes enjoying the fresh ocean breeze against the bare skin of my underarm, confident that the coming days would be sweat and odor free.

I know that this post offers little more than an unnecessary glimpse into my personal grooming habits, but this is what my wacky mood has produced. Although, I will stop short of apologizing as I’m fairly confident that this can technically be classified as a traveler’s tip!

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Comments 115

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  2. Ben

    Hi I now Shave under my Arm pits I started on Wednesday 30th of March and it Feels Good I used an Electric Razor which is Good 🙂

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  4. Julia

    Funny post! Just found your blog (researching Socotra, no less!), and couldn’t stop laughing at this one. Try waxing now – a bliss, long term too.

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  6. Shaun

    Hey Dan.

    I can’t say that I’ve experienced those problems myself…

    Maybe it has more to do with what you used to shave your underarms than the act of shaving itself? But I guess, everyone is different so maybe the hair under your arms doesn’t like to be treated in that way. Ha!

    But yeah, as Earl, said, try using a razor instead next time and see how you do.

  7. Kim

    As a female in America, I started shaving my armpits as soon as they grew hair. But in my early 20s I went through a hippy phase and stopped shaving them. I soon noticed that I smelled a lot more than I previously had and started shaving again. It really does make a difference!

  8. Dan

    Ok I read this article a few weeks ago and thought, why not. So I gave it a try. Well… It definitely works, there is no doubt about that! I gave a few of my shirts a good whiff and even after 2 days of wearing they were still pretty much good enough to wear again!


    It felt sooo uncomfortable! Skin sticking to skin, the hair became very prickly (though maybe because I used a machine instead of a razor), and I found myself tucking my tshirt into my pits to stop the irritation.

    Is this just me or how do you deal with that?

    I think I’ll try again for sure, but maybe just a good trimming instead of shaving it off completely.

    1. Kim

      The prickly starts about 24 hours after you shave and lasts about 24 hours. So good strategies are to either shave every day, so it never gets to that point, or shave every few weeks, so you only have to deal with it one day every few weeks. But yes trimming would also work. Enjoy!

    2. Wandering Earl

      Hey Dan – I’ve never had any discomfort or irritation myself but I guess it does happen to some people. I do use a razor though so maybe it would be worth trying that out.

  9. Sean



    I feel like I have been living under a rock this whole time. It works! It really works! I suppose I should calm down now..

    But seriously, I could only manage to shave off my underarm with with my beard trimmer, as I don’t carry a razor, and for the first time in a long time I don’t really smell under my arms.

    It’s funny, today on the bus I checked to see if I smelt under there, forgetting that what I am doing is could look weird to other people. Haha.

    So my verdict is: yes, it works. I am so happy I came across this tip man. Not only do I not smell – which I have never wanted to, but, as you rightly say, you can now also wear t-shirts for (slightly) longer as they don’t stink as much.

    This is great for us minimalist, long-term backpackers!

    Thanks again Earl! I will definitely share this epic pearly of wisdom to all those I meet.


  10. Sean

    Earl, I am now seriously considering shaving mine tomorrow morning! When I click on your website this evening, this outcome could not have been further from my mind!

    Do you think a beard trimmer on its shortest length would yield good (i.e., non-smelling) results? That’s all I have with me at the moment..

  11. meelash

    Muslims are supposed to shave their pits once a week. If not once a week then every two weeks (like you!). Leaving them for more than 40 days is actually considered a sin.

  12. Lee

    Interesting post Earl – as always a big smile on face – when your read your quirky posts.!
    I agree that men should shave their arm pits while we have option of waxing them . Shaving is quick ! I also agree that the sweat stink reduces to a large extent 🙂

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