For prehistoric men, chest hair was about much more than rugged good looks (or a grooming nightmare, depending on your stance). For starters, chest hair protected our ancestors from blood-sucking parasites. These frontal forests also increased skin sensitivity, giving cavemen a chance to swat away poisonous insects before latching onto their skin.
But alas, bug spray and better shelter have rendered chest hair obsolete. From a fashion standpoint, chest fur peaked during the Disco Days of the ‘70s. Now, dudes are shaving, waxing, and trimming their tress-covered chests to start a fur-free revolution.
Ready to reach for that razor? Here are four points to consider before you chop your chest wig.
Why Do Dudes Shave Their Chests?
Whether you have a forest of fur crawling out of your collar or spotty strands of hair, there are several cases to be made for becoming a bare-chested dude. Here are four widely-cited rationales:
- To Show Off Tattoos. What’s the point of shelling out hundreds or even thousands of bucks on a badass tattoo if it’s just going to get buried in a bed of hair?
- To Flaunt Chiseled Pecs. Bodybuilders with chest hair are about as rare as a hamburger in a vegan restaurant. If you’ve been putting in work for your pecs, what better way.to show them off than taking off their natural coat?
- To Stay Sanitary. If your chest hair is thick enough, chances are it's harboring all kinds of gunk like dead skin and dried sweat. Simple math here, dude: less fur = less filth.
- To Look Younger. For some dudes, drinking from the fountain of youth means buying a sports car. For others, it’s having a chest as smooth as Steve Harvey’s head. Chest hair can give off a sophisticated, Don Draper-esque vibe. But if you’re going for the (literally) slick, modern persona, it’s time to manscape.
Whether you want to unleash your inner Terry Crews or you’re just fed up with carrying a rug on your chest, you need to know your type before you start manscaping. No, not the “type” that Rae Sremmurd was talking about—your type of chest hair.
The 3 Breeds of Chest Hair
Taming your chest hair without familiarizing yourself with your follicles is a recipe for razor burn, ingrown hairs, and a host of other manscaping miseries. All it takes is a quick audit to know what you’re working with.
Level 1: Spotty Stragglers
This is the easiest type of chest hair to tame. It’s typically limited to a few rogue hairs or random patches. If you have spotty stragglers, your best bet is to just chop it all off and opt for the clean look.
Level 2: Soft and Straight
The most common variety of chest hair, this can be relatively easy to groom, but increases with difficulty depending on volume. You have several options in the manscaping department here, from going bare to owning your look as it is. Celebrity example: Jon Hamm aka Don Draper
Level 3: The Forest
This is where things get dicey. If you’re donning a thick,dense, chest-fro you’re going to run into some problems when you start trimming or shaving. Coarse hair leads to prickly stubble, which is equal parts itchy and unattractive. Celebrity example: Steve Carrell
HOW TO SHAVE YOUR CHEST
Manscaping necessitates a delicate balance of art and science. Don’t just hack away at your hair like a barbarian. Nobody’s saying you have to go full-on salon mode in your bathroom, but any successful shaving session requires four simple steps:
- Before you shave your chest hair, trim it up with a #1 or #2 clipper. This will help your razor glide through that fuzzy forest and prevent it from getting jammed with excess hair.
- Take a hot shower. The steam and hot water will soften up your hair, priming it for a clean cut.
- After you lather up with shaving cream, shave with the grain* (the same direction your hair grows). This will ensure you don’t plague your chest with cuts and ingrown hairs.
- Moisturize to stave off razor burn and clear up any irritation.
*CAUTION: beware of the nipple-prick. Your nips are sensitive and will start gushing blood if you get careless with your razor.
To Shave or Not to Shave?
Shaving your chest is like buying a new car: the decision is nerve racking, your identity depends on it, and once you commit, you’re in for the long haul. You learned a lot in this article, from the origins of chest hair to cost-benefit analyses of being bare chested.
Still can’t decide whether or not to pull the trigger (razor)? Start a Twitter poll, ask a woman, or flip a coin—whatever you decide, the DUDE community stands behind your decision.