Hair on the chest actually can grow in one of three main areas, then spread from there – the breastbone , the upper chest, and the pectorals.
Breastbone (sternum) hair is most likely to start growing on the lower portion of the breastbone then can spread upward and outward. In some men the lower breastbone is the extent of hair that grows on the sternum. For many men, even with a fully haired chest, the breastbone area can often have thicker hair growth than other areas on the chest.
Upper chest hair can grow under the collar bones, onto the collar bones, downward from the neck toward the upper sternum, and/or in the divit at the base of the neck. In some men the divit at the neck may be the only place hair grows in this area. This area of chest hair can be seen at the neckline of a shirt.
Pectoral hair grows over the pectoral muscles and typically begins growing first around the nipples and for many men this is the extent of hair growth on the pecs. Hair around the nipples is the most common area for pectoral hair growth. In fact, men who have extensive pectoral hair growth often find that the thickest area of hair growth on the pecs is around the nipples. For many men, hair begins to spread outward from the nipples onto portions or all of the pectorals.
A fairly complex system of hair growth patterns was outlined in the 1960s.[i-v] It placed men into 1 of 16 categories by which zones men grew chest hair.
Unfortunately, these 16 categories tended to put men with similar chest hair growth in different groups. So, we conducted our own survey on chest hair growth in men and found that it’s simpler to put chest hair patterns into four main groups based on how extensively men grew hair on the pectorals. The four main categories we’ve used in our surveys for this website include:
Bare – men with no pectoral hair
Nipples – men with pectoral hair only around the nipples
Partial – men whose pectorals are partially covered with hair
Extensive – men whose entire pectorals are covered with hair
These four main categories then separate into the different pattern variations of chest hair growth.
We’ll begin with the least hairy chest patterns (completely bare chest) and work our way up to the most extensive chest hair patterns (fully haired chest). If you're interested in how common a certain hair pattern is, simply scroll down to the accompanying group and you'll find charts that include descriptions, illustrative examples, and the incidence from our studies broken out by racial/ethnic groups. All data reported from here forwards are based on the results from our surveys. To participate in the survey to further our knowledge of chest hair growth, click here.
BARE PECTORALS GROUP
This group is defined as men that have hairless pectorals. This is the least common category, seen in only 13% of men. Although this was the least common hair pattern overall, it was the most common hair pattern in Asian men. There are five main hair patterns in the Bare Pectoral Group with 74% of men in this group having no chest hair at all. That leaves 26% of men in this group having some hair that grew elsewhere on the chest (breastbone and/or upper chest) but not the pectorals.
Here are the ethnic breakdowns for the bare pectoral group:
Native American 13%
NIPPLE HAIR GROUP
As stated previously, nipple hair is often the first place hair begins growing on the pectorals. Overall this occurred in 22% of men this is the furthest extent of chest hair growth on the pecs. There are ten main chest hair patterns in this group.
Here are the ethnic breakdown of men in this group are as follows:
Native American 36%
PARTIAL PECTORAL GROUP
Men with this type of chest hair growth have hair that extends away from the nipples, but it does not cover the entire pectoral muscle. The hair almost always spreads onto the breastbone. Overall this occurs in one-fourth (25%) of men in our survey.
The ethnic breakdown of men in this group is as follows:
Native American 28%
EXTENSIVE PECTORAL HAIR
Men with this type of chest hair growth have hair that covers the entire pectoral muscle. In nearly every instance, hair also covers the entire breastbone. The main difference between patterns in this category is whether or not hair grows on the upper chest or not. Overall this occurs in 40% of men. In white/European men, this hair pattern occurred in more than half of all men. The ethnic breakdown of men in this group is as follows:
Native American 23%
ASYMMETRIC PECTORAL HAIR
One difficulty men may have in identifying with one group is if they feel they belong to two groups since one side of their chest has one hair pattern and the other side of the chest grows in a slightly different pattern. The following are examples of asymmetrical hair patterns that have been observed.
MORE VARIATIONS ARE SURE TO BE OUT THERE
There are nearly 4 billion men on this planet and we were only able to survey around 800, so there are sure to be chest hair patterns out there that weren’t covered here.
CHEST HAIR COLOR
Finally, in our survey we asked men about the color of their chest/ab hair compared to the color of the hair on their head. We found the following:
Men with black scalp hair: The chest hair was also black 86% of the time and lighter 14% of the time (dark brown 5%, medium brown 6%, and blonde 3%).
Men with dark brown scalp hair: The chest hair was also dark brown 55% of the time, black 29% of the time, and lighter 15% of the time (medium brown 11% and lighter browns/blonds 4%).
Men with medium brown scalp hair: The chest hair was the same color 41% of the time, darker 49% of the time (dark brown 26% and black 23%), and lighter 6% of the time (mostly light brown).
Men with light brown scalp hair: The chest hair was the same color only 19% of the time, darker 71% of the time (medium brown 25%, dark brown 28%, black 18%), blonde 6% of the time, and dark red 3% of the time. Less than 1% of these men had multiple hair colors.
Men with blond scalp hair: The chest hair was also blonde in 36% of men, darker in 60% of men (light brown 20%, medium brown 16%, dark brown 8%, black 16%), and actually dark red in 4% of men.
Men with strawberry blonde (reddish blonde) scalp hair: The chest hair was also strawberry blonde in 29% of men, darker 57% of the time (light, medium, and dark browns equally at 14% and dark red 28%), and 14% had blonde chest hair.
Men with reddish-orange scalp hair: All in our survey had the same color of hair on their chest.
Men with auburn (dark red) scalp hair: The chest hair was also auburn in 40% of men, 40% had medium brown chest hair, and 20% had black chest hair.
[i] Setty LR, Journal of the National Medical Association, vol 64, No. 3, May 1972, pp. 239-41.
[ii] Setty LR, Am J Phys Anthrop, The distiribution of Chest hair in Caucasoid Males. 19:285-288, 1961
[iii] Setty LR, J of Nat Med Assoc, The Sterno-Infaclavicular Chest Hair Pattern. 54:486-488, 1962
[iv] Setty LR, J of Nat Med Assoc, The Circumareolo-Pectoral Series of Chest Hair Patterns. 55:233-234.
[v] Setty LR, J of Nat Med Assoc. Variations of the Hair Patterns of the Chest in White Males: 57:211-214. 1965
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