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Why Outdoor Sports Need Hair Removal? (5 Benefits You Should Know)

By Alex Bakhovsky
May 16, 2023
7 minutes

Everyone knows pulling an enormous feat on an international stage is no joke or a day’s work. We know professional athletes engage in years of discipline, hard work, resilience, and consistency to put up a few minutes of stellar performance on an international stage. Apart from the rigorous physical fitness preparations, other things play a significant role in the success of any world-renowned athlete.

One such is their mental health. These people engage in serious mental exercise that ensures they keep going on in the face of defeat and discouraging situations. It helps them keep their focus on the goal. In addition, their diet is regulated and well-controlled to ensure they stay in good shape for the competition. All of these play essential roles in ensuring the competition is a success.

Moreso, if you are a big fan of sports, especially athletics such as running, cycling, swimming, and many others, you’d have noticed that most athletes keep clean shaves, especially in men’s sports. Body hair removal is common among athletes, and if you are not a competing athlete, you will probably not know why most people keep shaved legs, backs, and chests.

There are many reasons athletes keep shaved and waxed skin, and this is what we will be focusing on in the article. We will consider the different ways athletes remove hair from their skin and the benefits of doing this.

What is Hair Removal in Outdoor Sports?

what is hair removal in outdoor sports To put it very simply, as the term implies, hair removal involves removing hair from the body. This could be done by different means, including laser treatments, waxing, and creams, amongst many others. Hair removal is usually tailored to fit each athlete’s demands, performance, preferences, and comfort. Moreso, every part of an athlete’s body can be shaved depending on the athlete and the sporting activities that the athlete will engage in.

Conversely to what we had decades ago, where athletes don’t pay much attention to aesthetics and safety, hair removal has gained much traction among many athletes as most now consider aesthetics, safety, and hygiene significant factors to their performance.

If you are a fan of any of these sports, running, soccer, track and field, surfing, rock climbing, cycling, and swimming, among many others, you would have seen this trend among competing athletes. For example, it is known that hair removal reduces drag among athletes competing in swimming. This means if swimmers remove hair from their bodies, it improves their performance and safety. In fact, in another study [1] in the United States, it was discovered that hair removal helps athletes eliminate body drag and non-propulsive and energy-consuming motion. [2]

Hair removal in outdoor sports has many benefits, some of which we will consider shortly. However, let’s look at the various ways to remove hair [10] .

Ways To Remove Hair In Outdoor Sports

Below are a few ways to remove hair from your body if you are an athlete:

  • Shaving

shaving Of course, the most common way to remove hair from your body is by using a standard or electric razor. This method is easy, less expensive, and can be done intermittently to control hair growth. An electric or traditional razor can be used on any part of the body, and although continuous shaving can cause skin irritation, the act is nearly painless.

Preferably, shaving should be after taking a shower, when the hair is free of any oil. Moreso, using a shaving cream helps to protect the skin and makes it easy to shave. You should also shave toward hair growth and rinse the blade after every use. These are important to protect your skin and prevent burns.

  • Waxing

Waxing provides a more lasting solution to hair growth than shaving. It simply involves the use of cold or hot wax to dissolve air. The wax is applied to the skin, and after some time, the wax is removed along with the hair.

Waxing should preferably be done by a professional, as there have been complaints of inflammation, skin irritation, intense burning, and itching resulting from the process. A professional will assess your skin and determine the best waxing method.

Intense Pulsed Light, IPL, is gradually becoming the most common option for hair removal [4] , especially among athletes. And according to a 2021 study [4] , IPL is considered the best option for long-term hair removal. This technique is done over a couple of sessions to achieve expected results, and even a maintenance session may be done after six or twelve months.

Some of the common side effects associated with IPL are pain during treatment, burning, swelling, and in some severe cases, postinflammatory hyperpigmentation could result [5] .

  • Electrolysis

electrolysis Electrolysis damages the follicles of hair and prevents it from growing. This is a long-lasting solution to hair growth. For athletes who do not want to keep worrying about removing hair, electrolysis is the best technique. The process can be painful, and like IPL, it is done over several sessions to achieve the expected result.

  • Depilatories

Depilatories Depilatory creams are another tool for removing hair from the body. Depilatories work by breaking down the protein structure of the air and dissolving it, making the hair seamless to wipe away. Depilatories must be used cautiously, and the manufacturer’s manual must be carefully followed.

Usually, the creams are applied to the skin and left for some time before being wiped away. However, do not apply depilatories to broken skin, because of the known side effects [6] . And preferably rinse off the skin with lukewarm water after treatment.

Overall, depilatory creams are nearly painless, although they have a unique smell, and are a good option for hair removal.

Let’s consider some benefits/reasons outdoor sports need hair removal.

5 Benefits of Hair Removal In Outdoor Sports

  • Enhances Performance

The most genuine reason athletes remove hair is to enhance performance. Many studies have shown that hair removal reduces drag, and smooth skin reduces wind resistance [11] . This is particularly important in sports such as track and field, swimming, soccer, etc., where speed and aerodynamics play a significant role.

Another study [7] concluded that hair removal sufficiently reduces the velocity decay rate in swimming.

  • Improves Hygiene and Maintenance

Another benefit of removing hair is the ease of cleaning up after sporting activities. Sporting activities can be strenuous and really challenging, such that they leave athletes sweating profusely after. As you must already know, hairy skin is a good host for dirt and debris [9] , and if not properly cleaned, it can result in an unpleasant smell or even infection over a long time.

Smooth skin makes it very easy to clean up after sporting activities, leaves no room for dirt or debris to linger on, and ultimately promotes good hygiene and maintenance.

  • Prevents Injury and Improves Ease of Treatments

Hair can easily get caught in equipment, such as wetsuits, etc., resulting in injury. Moreso, accidents, injuries, and abrasions are almost unavoidable in sports; sporting activities involve agility and endurance. If this happens, early treatment is essential to preventing infection and ensuring the athlete gets back on the field quickly.

However, treatment will be difficult if the affected area is covered in hair.

  • Improves Aesthetic Appeal

Hair removal also improves the aesthetic appeal of athletes. We are in a world that is driven by visuals. We pay significant attention to our physical appearance and aesthetics. Moreso, athletes work tirelessly to achieve the perfect fit and toned figure you see. Removing hair reveals this appealing appearance, boosts self-confidence, and ultimately improves athletes’ performance.

  • Better Comfort

Removing hair simply makes athletes more comfortable. Smooth skin prevents hair from getting stuck to clothes, causing irritation or even increasing the degree of sweat. It just keeps them free from any form of discomfort.

Conclusion

Hair removal in outdoor sports is essential for enhanced performance, good hygiene, and comfort. Athletes prefer this for many reasons, some of which have been discussed in this article. Hair removal is easy and doesn’t cost a fortune. Depending on your plans, there are different methods of hair removal to choose from, such as the laser technique [3] . Ensure that you adhere to the precautions discussed under each technique.

You shouldn’t be surprised when you see athletes with clean and smooth skin. And if you are an athlete, you probably have another reason to keep your skin clean and smooth.

References

  1. Sharp, R. L., Hackney, A. C., Cain, S. M., & Ness, R. J. (1988). The Effect of Shaving Body Hair on the Physiological Cost of Freestyle Swimming. The journal of swimming research , 4 (1), 9. 5118
  2. Kang, C. N., Shah, M., Lynde, C., & Fleming, P. (2021). Hair Removal Practices: A Literature Review. Skin therapy letter, 26(5), 6–11.
  3. Vaidya T, Hohman MH, Kumar D D. Laser Hair Removal. [Updated 2023 Mar 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: 5118
  4. Goldberg, D. J. (2012). Current Trends in Intense Pulsed Light. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 5(6), 45-53. 5118
  5. Lawrence E, Al Aboud KM. Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation. [Updated 2022 Oct 3]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: 5118
  6. Tsai, F., Chou, P., Yu, S., Lee, J., & Chiu, T. (2021). Depilatory creams increase the number of hair follicles and dermal fibroblasts expressing interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-α, and tumor necrosis factor-β in mouse skin. The Korean Journal of Physiology & Pharmacology: Official Journal of the Korean Physiological Society and the Korean Society of Pharmacology, 25(6), 497-506. 5118
  7. He, X., Jia, L., & Zhang, X. (2022). The Effect of Different Preoperative Depilation Ways on the Healing of Wounded Skin in Mice. Animals, 12(5), 581. 5118
  8. Sharp, R. L., & Costill, D. L. (1989). Influence of body hair removal on physiological responses during breaststroke swimming. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 21(5), 576–580.
  9. Aly R. Microbial Infections of Skin and Nails. In: Baron S, editor. Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. Galveston (TX): University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; 1996. Chapter 98. Available from: 5118
  10. Olsen E. A. (1999). Methods of hair removal. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 40(2 Pt 1), 143–157. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0190-9622(99)70181-7
  11. https://annex.exploratorium.edu/cycling/aerodynamics1.html
Alex Bakhovsky
Greetings, I am Alex Bakhovsky, a fervent health and fitness enthusiast with a profound ardor for enhancing the overall well-being of both ordinary individuals and elite athletes. My ultimate goal is to disseminate this passion and knowledge to a wider audience, including yourself. With over five years of experience as a certified personal trainer and nutritionist, I have acquired a wealth of practical knowledge and skills that enable me to provide comprehensive guidance and support to my clients in achieving their fitness and wellness goals.
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