Should You Shave Your Arms?

I asked a whole bunch of people what they think to help you (and, yeah, mostly me) decide.

Man looking at shaved face and beard in mirror.

Should You Shave Your Arms?

I shaved my arms sporadically when I was in high school. I was on the water polo and swim teams, and I was required to shave my entire body, arms included, at the end of the seasons to increase my speed and overall slipperiness. Back then, my impression of all that shaving was awful — it required numerous razors, I always nicked my knees and elbows, and the whole ordeal took several grueling hours. Then, only a few days later, my skin felt like one large sheet of sandpaper, an intensely uncomfortable sensation that lasted for several weeks, sending shivers up my spine whenever any of my body parts accidentally rubbed together.

I never really learned my lesson, though, and have since shaved my arms a few times here and there. I have a lot of tattoos on them, and my dense covering of blonde body hair makes them harder to see. So, I occasionally shave my arms for the sake of showing off my tattoos (and maybe just looking better in general), then pretty much immediately remember why I hate shaving my arms.

But the urge to shave my arms always returns, and seeing as I seem to be incapable of deciding whether I should shave them or leave them be, I decided to ask a whole bunch of people with some kind of arm-shaving experience what they think about shaved arms so I can figure out if I should shave my arms. Wish me luck.

Henry (an alias), 28, says, “I shaved my arms, and it wasn’t good. I was young, had a lot of body hair that would cake very quickly, and it was super-visible black hair. But when I shaved, the growing-back process hurt. Initially, I was like, ‘Cool, this is so smooth, and I feel lighter.’ But it kept catching onto my shirts, which hurt, and when it did grow back, it was patchy and looked horrific.” Sounds like a familiar experience!

James (an alias), 36, meanwhile, says he thoroughly enjoys shaving his arms. “I used to shave my arms every swimming season, and I loved it,” he explains. “There’s literally nothing better than shaving your body (when you don’t usually) and climbing into bed or diving into a pool. Everything feels like silk, and I wish shaved arms were the norm. I hate my arm hair. It’s too coarse and dark over my pale skin. I wish it was cool to shave them.”

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Stuck in the middle of both these opinions — I hate the experience and subsequent prickliness of shaving my arms, but I love how my hairless arms look — I turned to Melanie Mari, owner and trained manscaper at Bare Skin Studio, for a more expert assessment of my situation. “It depends how much hair you have,” she says. “I wouldn’t suggest that you shave your arm hair completely off if you’re wearing a full beaver pelt on your chest and into your shoulders. That would look weird.” In other words, when it comes to manscaping, you should take your whole body into consideration to avoid looking exceedingly hairy in one place and shockingly hairless in another.

As for the prickliness, Mari says you should expect that when shaving with a razor. “If you want to keep your arms completely smooth, you need to shave the same way that girls shave their legs,” she explains. “You have to shave them every day.” Therefore, if you really want to shave your arms, Mari recommends either waxing or experimenting with a trimmer to avoid the sandpaper-like aftermath of shaving. “Go big or go home,” she adds.

On a more personal level, Mari says, “I don’t trust a guy who has better eyebrows, or arms, than I do.” But hey, if you want hairless arms, don’t let anyone else’s opinion stop you. Just make sure you deal with them the right way to avoid turning into a cactus.