I started doing this back in October, and it’s definitely been a bit of a learning experience. I went through a phase in high school where some of the hair on my head was DIY dyed bleach bleach blonde or purple (depending on the year) but I traded that in for a more conservative blonde when I went to college.
Of course, the urge to fuck with your hair never really goes too far, and it reemerged even as I looked in the mirror saying “damn my hair looks so good.”
My candy pink hair dream might have stopped there, if I wasn’t a stubborn, angsty feminist.
An aside: I have somewhat complicated feelings about the body hair debate within feminism. I take it as a matter of course that people have the right to style/modify themselves however they wish, but I tend to agree when people say it’s a discussion that carries some privilege with it. It’s shortsighted to ignore that my decision to grow out my armpit hair and dye it pink is a fairly trivial one in the scope of feminism, compared to issues that affect women on a large scale, and also that I am white and thin and that affects how people react to me.
At the same time, when I look around my day to day life, tons of people’s gut reaction to female body hair is still blatant disgust. I’ve had the opportunity to have several conversations with people about why body hair shouldn’t be so stigmatized and the general issues with our cultural standards of beauty, just because of their reactions to mine. For this reason, sometimes I think a little shock value can be a positive thing.
Aaaand back to the guide!
what you need to know
First and foremost: this is not even remotely low-maintenance. It actually requires way more time and energy than just shaving your pits. If you’re looking for something easy: just leave them natural.
If you haven’t already, you’re obviously going to have to start with growing out your armpit hair. This is going to vary from person to person, but it took me about 6 weeks to have enough hair that I felt like I could start dyeing it. I easily could have waited another month so it would be thicker, but I got impatient.
This can feel awkward if you’ve never had significant body hair before, but I promise it will start to feel normal after you have some time to adjust. We are constantly bombarded with hairless images that it seems so natural, but after a month or two of having hair on your own body, you stop worrying so much.
After growing it out, you need to bleach the hair, which is a why it can be beneficial to wait a little longer before dyeing. Unbleached hair will not have very vibrant color unless the hair is light to start. On dark hair you mostly get tinted hair that fades quickly.
When I did mine, I bleached the hair, and then more grew in, and then I had to re-bleach and dye it. Like with the hair on your head, repetitive bleaching can fuck up the texture of your hair, and wiry brittle armpit hair is something nobody really wants. (I have conditioned my armpit hair. More than once. We are going for thick + luxurious here.)
Next up is the actual dyeing process, which is by far the most messy, because arms are not like heads. You can dye the hair on your head and let it sit for three hours if you want, and it’s fairly simple to keep things contained with a shower cap or just being careful.
When I did this the first time, I managed to dye half of one of my tits pink, because arms move and I’m fidgety and when you add dye into the mix it gets everywhere.
I use Special Effects in Atomic Pink, and that shit will stain literally every fucking thing it comes into contact with. It comes off of skin within 2-3 days of fairly rigorous washing, but honestly if you get it on something not-skin you can kiss the security deposit goodbye unless you catch it quickly.
Some notes on this process:
- let the dye sit way longer the bottle says – it’s not going to damage your hair and I find that going 30-45 minutes helps the color last a bit longer
- a good way to avoid getting dye everywhere is to sit in the bath, arms out of the water, while you let the dye sink in
- another good way is to put on a shirt you don’t mind wrecking, because the pits will get dyed but it’ll stay contained – for me, a shirt that was tight in the arms worked alright
- use a q-tip for application and put vaseline (or w/e) on the area surrounding your pits
- plan to reapply every 4-5 weeks, unless you’re using a more permanent dye
The process itself, obviously, is not all that complicated, but it can get tricky. The key thing to remember is to be careful to avoid making a huge mess. For me, this is fun and a way to express myself and be a little goofy — If you decide to do this yourself, just remember that it’s only hair! One big positive note is that if you screw up really badly, you can totally shave and start over again. I’ve come up with this guide mostly through trial and error, but if you have any questions or stories of your own adventures in body hair grooming, I’d love to hear them in the comments!