How to dye your armpit hair

October 3 | Guest post by Roxie Hunt

how to dye your armpits

It's no secret that some of us choose not to shave or wax our pits. More and more often, I am meeting women who un-apologetically choose not to succumb to the societal pressure of scraping a razor against the soft skin of their bodies. If you recall, I want to celebrate pit hair.

I work at Vain, one of Seattle's most beloved salons nestled in the heart of Belltown, and proudly offering a space committed to the expression of personal style and feminist values.

I have always wanted to color someone's pit hair. I have actually done it once, but It was a late night with too much wine and without the proper tools available. I asked my co-worker Rain if she would be down to let me dye her pit hair blue to match her hair color and she agreed, heartily. (OR should I say pitily.)

In the process, I was curious to see how pit hair would react to bleach and color and if the rules of color formulation hold true on pit hair. We both knew that we were jumping into uncharted territory, but we felt that Vain was just the place to pioneer some pit color. Here is how it went…

how to dye your armpits 3

I began by mixing bleach and 30 volume developer. I knew I needed something strong enough to cut through that coarse hair and lighten it up as much as possible, but I didn't want to use 40 volume because I didn't want to cause any uncomfortable burning on the delicate skin in her pits. Using a combination of Manic Panic – Bad Boy Blue and Special Effects Blue Haired Freak, I created a shade that appeared slightly less aqua green than the color on her head, knowing that I would have a bit of yellow to contend with after bleaching out her pits.

I grabbed a couple towels, some gloves, color application brushes, and some extra clips to help keep her sleeves rolled out of the way, and Rain changed into an old T-shirt. First, I had Rain wipe her pits down to remove any deodorant that might be lingering. Then, I got right in there with my bleach and color brush, applying it thick in small sweeping strokes in all directions, making sure to fully cover every hair.

applying bleach to armpits

We visited and caught up while the bleach sat in her pits, her arms raised above her head. We talked about what brought us to the point of ditching our razors, and what it was like to feel like an oddball in a small town.

bleached armpit hair

I checked her bleaching pit every couple minutes to see the progress. Rain said that the bleach was not bothering the skin in her pits one bit, which was a relief to me. After 15 minutes, I could tell that her pit hair was the perfect shade of pale yellow to apply the dye.

I rinsed her pit out with a washcloth and admired the color. Turns out, pit hair lightens super duper fast. Being so close to the skin, her body heat probably helped speed up the process. We repeated the bleaching on her other pit. In the future, doing both pits at once would work too.

dying armpit hair

Now it was time to apply the blue color and watch her pit hair come to life.

I re-secured her sleeves and painted the color onto her pits super thick, but was very careful not to slop the blue all over the place (I didn't want it to stain her skin outside of her pit-hair-area). We let the color sit for another 15 minutes. Rain's arms stayed up, mostly resting behind her head. Excitedly, we rinsed out her pits. I half expected the color not to stick, thinking to myself that something this cool couldn't really be possible. And if it was possible, why didn't people do it all the time?

how to dye your armpits 2

My, Oh My. The color stuck.

We laughed and marveled at the beauty of her blue pit hair. It was too good to be true. The color in her pits perfectly matched the color on her head. I felt a major win for body hair.

Rain's blue pits lasted a couple weeks, slowly fading back to pale blonde and then growing back out to their natural shade. Maybe some day we can try a different shade, and do her bush too, just for kicks.

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  1. Thank you. This is one of the coolest posts ever. If I ever take the plunge and ditch my razor, I'll dye my armpits RAINBOW!

    28 agree
  2. So many questions…
    -Did her deodorant react with the dye or cause it to fade quickly?
    -Is she a 'sweaty' person? Or athlete that may get especially sweaty during practice or workouts? Would all that sweat cause the dye to run? I feel like my head doesn't ever get that sweaty but my pits totally would after a long bike ride or run.
    -Ok, I guess that is only 2 questions.

    I ask because this is so awesome. I love it.

    31 agree
    • THANK YOU these are great questions that I would also like to hear the answers too, cuz I really want to do this!

      7 agree
    • I've dyed my arm pits a few different colors, with varying results. Sweating didn't cause the dye to run! However, deodorant made it fade a little bit quicker. It pretty much acted like head hair in that hot showers and body soaps (sulfates) faded it quickly too.

      Because the hair grows so fast, virgin roots appear at about the same time fading becomes a problem. So there are two reasons that you have to re-do it frequently.

      The good news is that it doesn't take very much time to do.

      3 agree
    • My guess is that sweating will definitely fade the color faster. I would say that when coloring our pits, prepare for it not to last long regardless of your deodorant and sweating……Enjoy it while you can;)

      2 agree
  3. I'm for the movement but my concern is cancer. I can't understand why you wouldn't want to shave but you will put carcinogenic harsh chemicals onto the delicate skin. Skin that absorbs very efficiently. I don't use deodorant for the fact. If I do it's homemade. But I don't even dye the hair on my head. Natural and chemical free. I like dyed hair sometimes but it's not worth the toxic load on your body.

    30 agree
    • Hi!
      About the deodorant thin: my mom used to rub lime on our pits when we were teens so we didn't have to use deodorant. just cut a lime in half, apply as you would an antiperspirant and voilá! 😀

      4 agree
    • "I can't understand why you wouldn't want to shave but you will put carcinogenic harsh chemicals onto the delicate skin."
      As I understand it (or at least how I feel about it), the reason for not shaving isn't so much to avoid skin irritation, but more because they have the right to make their own choices about their bodies and if they prefer the look of smooth pits, or hairy pits, or blue pits, or mohawk pits, or pit ponytails then go forth and make your pits awesome! Just like any other aspect of your appearance, let your body be something that you're proud of and make yourself feel awesome!

      But seriously guys, I'm eagerly awaiting armpit styling guides.

      48 agree
    • As a professional hairdresser basically since I shot out my mama, I am scared shitless of the chemicals that I am exposed to on a very regular basis. Exposing myself to cancer causing toxins is my daily reality, and I encourage everyone to inform themselves more on the subject. To answer your question, putting bleach anywhere on your body or inhaling it or ingesting it is exposing yourself to harmful chemicals. I make this choice daily, gambling my hair habit with the health of my body and try to over-compensate by taking great care of myself in other ways:)

      12 agree
  4. I tried this immediately after copyediting this post, and the bleaching went fine (even though it would have been WAY easier if I had a friend helping), but the colour I chose didn't really work. I chose a purple, and it was dark enough to appear like my natural hair colour, while my armpit hair isn't nearly as fuzzy and pretty as the pictured stuff. This meant that the colour didn't really show up at all. I'm thinking that if I chose a brighter colour like blue or turquoise or pink, it might. But then again, my hair type might just not work for this 🙁

    2 agree
    • Purple dye can be made into a beautiful lavender just by diluting it with conditioner or that Manic Panic "Snow" color toner. Maybe try that? I bet lavender pits would be pretty awesome with purple hair.

      11 agree
      • I used N'Rage purple, which worked wonderfully. It started out almost black, but then with some natural abuse turned bright purple! It worked a million times better than Manic Panic.

      • Does the conditioner trick work for Pravana Vivids? I know their formula is a stain and different from Manic Panic's color.

    • definitely a super saturated pink or turquoise would show up better, I recommend using the Special Effects color line for hair that is resisting.

      1 agrees
  5. I frequently dye mine bright pink and I've always dyed my armpit skin, too. I've always put vaseline around my pits, but the dye gets on the skin onto the skin under the hair. Has anyone figured out how to dye their hair, and not the skin underneath?

    2 agree
    • For your head, just be careful to not get too much dye on your scalp. Having a VERY CLEAN scalp helps too, because the dye sinks into that dead-skin buildup that your scalp gets when it's not squeaky clean REALLY well. The upside is that it's fairly easy to scrub out, but then you run the risk of fading your fresh dye job if you have to scrub the bejeezus out of your head.

      Also, rubbing alcohol/toner/makeup remover does a bang-up job of removing dye from skin, and in small doses they don't seem to fade the dye from your hair. That's what I always just do after I've dyed. Also, to help make your hair look better after dyeing it, use a q-tip or cotton pad soaked with alcohol to clean up the dye from your scalp. It makes SUCH a difference in how "natural" your new dye job looks, no matter what color you've put on your hair. I dye my hair violet purple, and if I don't touch up after dyeing I look like a cartoon character. Doing careful touchups on my part and hairline help transform my HOLYWOWPURPLE hair from "bad cartoon character" to "sexy anime starlet" which is more my style. ^_^

      5 agree
    • I thought and thought on it and couldn't think of a good solution for skin staining. I'll keep thinkin on it!

      1 agrees
      • I used a mascara wand to apply dye on my leg hair a while back. I still got a little on my skin, but it coated the hair well.

        5 agree
  6. Of course the color stuck, it's hair! You can do pubes too, though I'd keep it well away from the tender bits. I would say, though, to be thoughtful when selecting your color- I knew a girl who dyed her relatively-sparse pit hair red and from a distance it looked like she'd had a horrible accident with the razor 0.0 (And pink can look a bit rashy.)

    I gotta say, though, I do find this sentence a bit… funny

    "I am meeting women who un-apologetically choose not to succumb to the societal pressure of scraping a razor against the soft skin of their bodies."

    for two reasons:

    1. I would GLADLY "scrape" a fresh, sharp, well-lubricated razor over that skin before I would apply caustic chemicals to it.

    2. "Societal pressure" is not the only reason people shave – I'm married, my husband doesn't care at all, and I'm always too cold to ever wear tank tops or shorts, so I really don't HAVE to shave to please society- they wouldn't notice. But I do, because I prefer the smooth feeling and I don't like the way deodorant and lotions catch on body hair and make it slimy (deo especially) or the way hair feels when tight clothing drags against it. If I had my way, dudes would shave their armpits too- seeing those little deodorant dingleberries hanging there makes me gag a little.

    37 agree
    • I shave for similar reasons – primarily I like it better. As it happens, my husband shaves too, for the exact same reasons. If it were up to us, humans would be hairless. But nevertheless, it's always more difficult to go against societal expectations for your own reasons than it is to go with them for your own reasons. My choice to shave is never questioned, but his decision for the exact same reason can lead to teasing about him not being a "real man". (Luckily, he considers those comments as a good thing for himself.)

      A woman who doesn't shave by her own choice will face a lot of negative comments that a woman who does shave by her own choice doesn't. Ultimately, some women do choose to shave simply to avoid the negative reactions, not for their own reasons, and the fact that that happens at all is terrible. For the women who do choose to shave for their own reasons, rock on, but this conversation isn't really about you.

      (Also adding that for those who lie outside of the man/woman dichotomy the pressure to conform and the negativity can be even worse, so we really should be working on making things like the choice to shave your own pits a decision everyone makes for themselves, whatever the decision may be.)

      28 agree
      • Of course, it is definitely the more difficult decision (though depending where you live and who you associate with, it's becoming very common- more of my female friends DON'T shave than do, and it's pretty par for the course in the town I live in, at least in our age group.) But on a site like OH that is usually extremely welcoming to ANY decision women choose to make about stuff like this, a comment implying that I'm automatically succumbing to societal pressure (and thereby brutalizing my poor beleaguered pitskin) by shaving rubbed me the wrong way (especially when followed up with a bleaching of that same poor beleaguered skin, lol.)

        9 agree
    • If you visit the Manic Panic website you can check out the ingredients they use in their products which if I remember are vegan and cruelty free. As for societal pressure well, most women don't feel comfortable showing their hairy pits because it isn't considered ladylike. If you gre out your hair long enough, you'd notice the positive side of not shaving. What you discribe is stubbly pit hair and I find that bit itchy and uncomfortable as it grows back.

      2 agree
      • I'm not too worried about the dye (though I can't use even Manic Panic because of heavy fragrances) but the bleaching.

        3 agree
    • I agree, I am a dude btw and I shave my armpits regularly and no I am not gay.
      Anzwaz, it's a personal decision in the end, but pls don't make it a political/feminist sort of march on DC thing.
      Personally I would love if women went back to not completely shaving their pubic hairs for example. I am not saying you shouldn't shave at all, but trim, don't wax. For me and many other guys it is so much more sexy.
      Anyways that only on a side note.
      If you want to grow and dye your armpit hairs, go ahead. It's a free world.

      6 agree
  7. So the pit hair dying is awesome.

    However, that comment at the end about dying one's bush gave me the biggest shudder. All those mucus membranes down there with all that bleach? Yeah, uh, I don't think so. At least for me, I have enough irritation problems already, and that's using hypoallergenic laundry detergent and non-commercial soaps that aren't super drying. :/

    7 agree
  8. maybe ombre color on the bush ( only the ends of the hair, not touching the skin)
    Ombre bush would be a totally rad and dangerless solution I think.

    7 agree
  9. I shave. I didn't shave for many, many years. I love all the responses to this creative decoration of pit and pubic hair. I didn't shave as a statement against societal standards of beauty. But ultimately I prefer the feeling of smooth skin. I believe I am beautiful in many classical beautiful ways. Arm pit hair is sexy! And arm pit hair that's given extra attention is even extra sexy. Just might have to grow those pits out again to lively up my…

    4 agree
  10. Love this look. Couldn't do it myself – I have silly levels of allergy – but would imagine its like wearing sexy underwear under staid business suit – you go around with a secret smile on all day. Wonderful idea – thank you for sharing

    12 agree
  11. Don't even need to read past the title to know I need to comment and say GOD I LOVE THIS WEBSITE okay I'll read now and maybe leave a more legit comment but probably not I LOVE THIS.

    8 agree
  12. I didn't shave or wax any of my body hair until I was 25. I was made fun of for years on end. I didn't care and didn't give in to the pressure. My guy said he didn't mind, but I knew deep down he did, not for the esthetics but because he does not like to draw attention and it's amazing how much attention a bit of body hair can attract.
    So at 25 I shaved all as a birthday present to him. I totally had no intention of doing it again. I found out I didn't smell like onions 5 min after having a bath anymore. I guess my body odour is too strong in a hot weather country like Portugal. I continue to shave, however if I'm feeling lazy I don't keep from using skirts or tank tops just because there's some hair starting to show.
    I think it's amazing that so many women have the cojones to do this and celebrating it with dyed body hair sounds just perfect to me!

    5 agree
    • When I am lazy and havnt shaved for quite a while.I top find I stink a LOT faster than when I do shave. In winter my pits get longer but in summer I keep them short. Shaving in the tropics really does help keep B.O down.

      5 agree
  13. Okay. Ten years ago I stopped shaving my armpits because of terrible irritation and ingrown hairs. Once I had them fully grown out, I decided to use the bleach and the hot pink dye I was using on my head, just to see if it would work. Worked like a charm, and there was no irritation at all. I dyed my bush a bit later, no problem, just keep it to the front facing part, I wouldn't go underneath near all those tender bits. I will say, pink can look a bit rashy from a distance, blue is the way to go!

    3 agree
  14. I had one shaved armpit and one dyed pink armpit for a few years (with a few times when the due wore off in between. It matched my pink hair. I used to like stopping boring conversations dead by yawning and stretching! Mine did sometimes run with sweat (I used directions) but I has a selection of pink tops for hot days, plus pink bath towels! I no longer use those chemicals as my health is bad – I do everything to tip the scales in the right direction. But I would do it again – I loved my one pink pit. It became a performance piece with a friend – we dyed each other's pits as part of a transformation piece for a gallery opening night.

    5 agree
  15. What about leg hair, folks? Is it possible to dye leg hair without just dyeing the entire lower leg, skin included, which even I (even I!) think might look rather silly? 🙂

    Would love to find out — maybe I should just try it. Worst case, it doesn't work — tights or trousers til it wears off. Boby hair colouring is kind of lower stakes than hair colouring.

  16. So, what are the odds of doing this once giving me cancer? I really wanna try it, but I'm more nervous about putting these kinds of chemicals near my breasts and stuff than on my head… I'll probably just talk myself into anyway but I do feel uneasy about that aspect

    2 agree
    • I share your concerns!! Try dyeing your hair with henna for a nice rich reddish color. People have been dyeing with henna for hundreds maybe thousands of years and it's still pretty widely used. It's a plant so all-natural as long as you get quality 100% pure henna!!

  17. When I first heard about this I was thinking oh yuck! I imaged a full head of hair under the arm (I don't like how it looks on a man either) and then dyed blue or pink or purple. But, from the pictures these are barely grown out and do look kinda cool. Not my style, but whatever makes your frog jump.

    1 agrees
  18. I actually love this idea but tend to sweat so I worry the color will run and ruin my shirts. I've dyed my hair (on my head) before and have had this issue with semi-permanent colors.

    2 agree
  19. Not going to lie, I'm a guy and I've shaved before because I hate having armpit hair, but this actually looks beautiful. Can I participate in this celebration, and what color should I do? I've never dyed or anything

    6 agree
  20. Oh, love love love this! The mind immediately goes to seasonal variations: white snowflakes for January, red hearts for February, green shamrocks for March… Armpits: the new frontier of body self-expression.

  21. Grr. Tried it and the dye didn't stick for me. 🙁 Sadness. I just have blonde pit hair, instead.

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