Chest stubble. It’s sharp, itchy, and often intrusive. Once you notice it, it can be hard to know what to do with it. Questions start to run through a man’s head. Is it obvious? How does it look? When do I need to remove it?
At this point, it starts to seem pointless. Even if you were to remove it, it would just keep coming back. Ultimately, you start to wonder whether it’s even worth it.
Thoughts like this used to run through my mind. The reason I created this guide was to inform similar-minded men of what the current school of thought is, what can be done about it, and when it should be done.
Chest stubble isn’t a disaster. Most men have come across it at some point in their body grooming journey. How you deal with it can have an impact on your comfort, looks, and self-esteem.
So, without further ado, let’s talk through it calmly and rationally.
What Does Chest Stubble Look Like?
This is what chest stubble looks like.
Those short, sharp, prickly strands of hair that typically sprout a few days after shaving your chest.
I’ve singled out shaving, but to be honest almost all removal methods will eventually lead to chest stubble. It’s just that shaving is the most short-term removal method and so chest stubble starts to become noticeable sooner. We’ll come on to this soon.
Does it look acceptable? It can look quite obvious. An outside observer could quite easily be able to tell that you’ve recently removed your chest hair. In this day and age, I don’t think that’s a big deal.
But because it looks quite sporadic and artificial, it generally doesn’t look great.
Most men would rather that chest stubble didn’t form, or that they could skip the stubble phase and go straight to normal chest hair.
It can be pretty embarrassing when the sharp edges start to stick through the shirt. But that’s the topic of another article.
What Exactly Is Chest Stubble?
It would be useful to define chest stubble before going on to analyze it. I’ve written many articles on this blog about facial stubble – shaping, grooming, softening, and more.
I define facial stubble in line with the general consensus – less than 5mm long. I feel that this definition would work well with chest stubble as well.
However, I don’t think it’s helpful to be as specific. Unlike facial stubble, I do think chest stubble is seen as more of a nuisance and less of a style.
Because of this, I’d rather define chest stubble in terms of how a man perceives it. If the hair on your chest is short and feels prickly, itchy, or irritated, you have chest stubble.
Notice how I’ve used very general and non-specific terms there. It’s more about how it feels and less about how long it is.
Can You Prevent Chest Stubble?
The short answer would be no, not really. But that wouldn’t be strictly true.
It’s true that most of the mainstream and quick removal methods are short-term. For a while, that chest will feel and look beautifully smooth.
But after that grace period, those mini-hairs start to sprout out. What we know about hair is that the shorter it is, the sharper the edges.
Certain removal methods will give you a longer grace period without chest stubble. As I mentioned, shaving is the most short-term.
It simply cuts the hair strand at the level of the skin. You’ll probably notice chest stubble after a few days.
In contrast, waxing removes the hair strands at the root-level. Because of this, it takes longer for stubble to start sprouting out. But believe me, it eventually will – although perhaps not as sharp as shaved hair would.
In summary, if you were to try and remove your chest hair, eventually it will grow back as “stubble”. After the stubble phase it will grow to a length where it can be called normal chest hair again.
So, if you really wanted to prevent chest stubble you would either have to stop removing your chest hair, or remove it so frequently that you wouldn’t give stubble the chance to grow and cause you trouble.
Chest Stubble And Itching: What You Need To Know
It can be unbearable. So distracting it can make you want to physically pull it out. I wouldn’t it advise it, however.
Although stubble is intrinsically itchy, there are things that can be done to help. Let’s talk.
Why Does Chest Stubble Itch?
The shorter the hair, the sharper its edges.
When these sharp edges start to prick against the chest skin as your shirt presses against it, it causes a prickly itch.
But that’s not the only source of the itch. All removal methods do irritate the skin to a certain extent. This direct skin irritation also causes a degree of itching.
Finally, the tugging and pulling of chest hair removal can pull the follicle in different directions and cause new hairs to form in directions it shouldn’t. This can lead to ingrown hairs which make the itch even worse.
How To Stop Chest Stubble Itching
Although it will always itch to a certain extent, here are some tips to make it more bearable.
1. Exfoliate before removing the chest hair
The itchiness of the stubble that forms is partially dependent on the way in which the chest hair was removed in the first place.
Exfoliating before any form of hair removal is excellent practice. It refers to the physical removal of the layer of dirt, oil, and dead cells on the top layer of the skin.
An exfoliating body scrub is what you would need. Removing this layer of gunk leads to a smoother removal of hair with less irritation. This is the case whether you’re trimming, waxing, or shaving.
It also reduces the risk of ingrown hairs. Exfoliating is simple, quick, and strongly recommended.
2. Use fresh, clean blades
This is only relevant for trimmers and razors, but it is crucially important. Using old, blunted blades to remove chest hair leads to uneven cuts. This is what leads to uneven, sharp edges, and increases the risk of ingrown hairs.
It is also more irritating to the skin, which makes it all the more itchy.
3. Don’t shave against the grain
Again, this is only relevant to you shavers and trimmers out there. To be fair, you’re the most likely to suffer from stubble itch anyway.
To “shave against the grain” means to shave against the direction of hair growth. Doing so typically leads to increased irritation and itch, although it usually gives you a closer shave.
Chest hair typically grows in different directions, so this can be tricky. Usually, areas of your chest will grow in a certain direction, while others will grow in another.
Run your fingers through your chest hair to get the gist of which parts grow in which direction.
If it feels smoother in one direction, that’s probably with the grain. That’ll be the direction you’ll want to trim or shave in.
Going with the grain is the most gentle on the skin.
4. Use Some Aloe Vera Gel
This is for once that chest stubble has started to rear its head. Consider it damage control.
Aloe vera does have some anti-inflammatory properties that might soothe the chest skin and reduce the itch.
5. Loose-fitting shirts
This is probably the most important. When your shirt presses against chest stubble, the prickly sensation it causes is the biggest nuisance.
A tight-fitting shirt is going to cause the most trouble, for obvious reasons. Going one step further, chest stubble can easily stick through tight-fitting, microfiber shirts.
This can lead to an embarrassing situation where you’ve got stubble edges poking out of your clothes like a porcupine.
A loose-fitting shirt will feel a lot more comfortable when your chest hair is dredging through the stubble phase. It’s an easy way to make things less miserable for yourself.
4 Ways To Remove Chest Stubble
This isn’t going to be a step-by-step routine. There are plenty of those available already. This is just to inform you of what different methods are available so you can decide which one might be for you.
Let’s start with my least favorite first. Shaving refers to the process of a blade cutting the hair strands at the level of the skin.
The good thing about it is that it’s easy and quick to do. If your chest hair is quite long, you’ll probably have to trim it down first before going at it with a razor.
But overall, the process is pretty simple. It’s also relatively painless compared with waxing.
The problems with it have already been discussed. But to summarize, it’s short-term and irritating to the skin. Chest stubble will start to re-form sooner than with other forms of hair removal.
You’ll need to wait until your chest stubble grows out a little before doing this. It needs to be long enough for the wax to grip around the hair.
Because of this, you may have to put up with chest stubble for a little longer than you might want before removing it.
But in general, it’ll be worth it. Although it can be tempting to shave it instead, waxing does have its benefits.
It removes the hair at the root level, so the chest stubble will take longer to re-grow. It’s more painful, but you’ll need to do it less and the results will be smoother.
You’ll most likely need to go to a professional, although it is possible to do it yourself as well.
You’d be surprised by just how hard it is to pull that strip yourself when you know what it’s going to feel like. It’s usually best to leave that in the hands of someone else.
3. Hair Removal Cream
Also known as a “chemical depilatory”, hair removal cream is a popular method that men use to remove chest stubble.
I’d position it between shaving and waxing in terms of difficulty. It doesn’t remove hair from the root, and is pretty similar to shaving for that reason.
A cream containing acidic compounds is applied onto the chest hair. It breaks down the keratin and makes it easy for the hair to be removed.
Although it’s effective, it’s also quite short-term. Because it only removes the hair at the level of the skin, I do think you might as well just shave.
Shaving is easier, and cream can be just as irritating to the skin. Some men can also be intolerant or allergic, so a patch test is always advised before usage if you were going to go with this method.
4. Laser Hair Removal
It’s increasing in popularity due to its long-term effects. The stigma around chest hair removal has reduced significantly enough for laser therapy to become quite common.
At the more permanent end of the spectrum, laser hair therapy does produce long-term results.
It damages the chest hair follicle enough to slow down growth. But, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t produce permanent results. You would still need regular maintenance treatments.
The time between treatments will increase the more you do it, to the point where it can almost be considered “permanent”.
It’s also the most expensive option you have. There are DIY machines available on the market these days, but visiting a professional will give you the best outcome.
Having a full understanding of what chest stubble is, what it looks like, and what causes it is essential when trying to actually deal with it.
As you’ve probably gathered from this article, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done to prevent it. Most chest hair removal methods will eventually lead to chest stubble.
However, certain methods lead to it sooner than others.
Plus, once chest stubble does make itself known, there are certain things that can be done to make it look and feel less offensive.
Hopefully, you’ve now got a much fuller understanding of this poorly documented, yet very commonly encountered problem.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.