Body Hair Makes You More—and Less—Sexually Attractive
Body hair trends and preferences are ever-changing.
"There are people who find facial hair attractive and some who don't. Body hair is much the same. Attitudes about body hair can be very cultural and generational," said Kanwal Bawa, D.O., the CEO of Bawa Medical, a med-spa in Boca Raton, Florida.
"In the hippie culture of the '60s and '70s, people had more facial hair," she added. "They also had more body hair. Men were not shaving their chests and women found them attractive. Women during that era weren't doing Brazilian waxes or shaving their genitalia like they are today, and based on how many babies were made, their men did not seem to mind."
Of course, that's a bit of a generalization. Certainly, people made different choices during that era, but the consensus was that body hair was more widely accepted and welcomed back then, especially compared to the 2000s.
"Go back further to cavemen," Bawa continued. "They were hunter-gatherers. Hair removal was not a thing and the women found them attractive enough for sex. That said, in ancient Egyptian cultures, all body hair was removed. Body hair was considered so unhygienic by ancient Egyptians, priests had to shave their entire body, including their eyebrows. They had to do hair removal every three days to stay clean enough for religious rituals."
Is body hair attractive? Public opinion is divided
It's fair to say it's typically more acceptable for men to have body hair than women. The body hair women do have is subject to strong opinion. However, the reverse is also true. Many people have strong opinions about the appropriate and desirable amount of body hair for men.
So what's right or wrong? There is no clear answer other than what you and your partner desire.
Society puts pressure on women to remove body hair in order to be viewed as attractive and sexy and, conversely, on men to grow body hair in order to be viewed as attractive and sexy.
"Research indicates young women are being exposed to increasing pressures to remove pubic hair from their bodies, which has the potential for both negative physical and psychological consequences," stated a 2019 study of the influences on young women's decision to remove their pubic hair. Researchers found more than half of the women surveyed experienced at least one physical complication of pubic hair removal, such as epidermal abrasions, infected ingrown hair or severe itching rashes.
"With such strong messaging about female body hair, it is unsurprising one of the common reasons given by women for removal of hair is to feel more feminine," the study reported.
There is plenty of messaging about male body hair as well, with hairier men often labeled as less desirable than clean-shaven men, especially when there is a disparity in muscle mass.
What research says about body hair and attractiveness
Many studies relating hair to sexual attractiveness have more to do with hair color, style and length rather than body hair and facial hair specifically. Still, one study indicates the quality of female head hair plays a big role in attractiveness, with healthy, shiny and strong hair signaling overall physical health and, therefore, sexual health and attractiveness.
According to a 2013 study published in Evolution and Human Behavior, facial hair strongly influences people's judgments of men's sociosexual attributes.
"Our findings confirm beardedness affects judgments of male sociosexual attributes and suggests an intermediate level of beardedness is most attractive, while full-bearded men may be perceived as better fathers who could protect and invest in offspring," researchers wrote.
A 2010 study published in Behavioral Ecology looked at how sexual preferences of male body hair changed throughout different stages of a woman's life. The study sought to "test whether male trunk hair has any effect on the attractiveness of the image of the male body and whether Finnish women's preferences for male trunk hair changes across the menstrual cycle, menopause and age."
The study indicated premenopausal women found men with lots of body hair less attractive, while postmenopausal women found them more attractive. Overall, the study concluded women's preference for male body hair correlated strongly with the age of the woman.
Proper facial haircare for oral sex
"Hygiene is key when it comes to sex," Bawa said. "If you don't look and smell clean, why would someone want to have sex with you?"
She added that there are benefits and drawbacks to giving oral sex at certain points in your grooming schedule.
"A stubble, or 5 o'clock shadow as it is called, can be very irritating to the sensitive external genitalia," she explained. "If you have a beard, don't trim it right before sex. The ends will become very irritating and likely lead to a beard rash."
Bawa added that the face should be washed before sex, especially oral sex, to ensure there is no hair or skin product residue to potentially irritate the skin of the genitalia. The face should be washed afterward to cleanse any vaginal secretions, lubricant and other bodily fluids.
For beards, opt for haircare products with natural ingredients that soften the beard and prevent chafing and irritation. If any hair product residue does get on the genitalia, it has less chance of causing a rash or allergic reaction.
It's good practice to have an open conversation with your partner about preferences for facial and body hair. If you opt for shaving around your genitalia, it's crucial to do it correctly.
"Buy a razor for sensitive skin and make sure you use shaving cream," Bawa said. "Don't forget to use a mirror. And don't use a razor you use on your face on your pubic area, labia, anus or your penis."