Underarms are a rather unique beast. Hidden away from light, havens for bacteria and with a different pH to the rest of the skin on your body (6.5 rather than 5.5, hence less acid on the skin’s surface to gobble up said bacteria), the humble armpit has a lot to contend with, and that’s before we add in factors such as harsh hair removal methods, chafing in hot weather and during gym sessions and less than desirable razor hygiene if you’re a shaver. Most of us have encountered at least one of the above, and adding sweat to the mix (you won’t be surprised to learn that most of our sweat glands are highly concentrated in our armpits) can compromise underarm skin condition further. Basically, sometimes having pits is the pits, but you can look after yours on the daily by upgrading both your habits and underarm “skincare”.
It’s probably not something you’ve given heed to previously, but if you workout, shave (75 per cent of us shave at least twice a week), or both, adding moisture back into the skin, even in “sweaty areas”, could help to alleviate flare-ups. You’re probably not going to be doing a weekly underarm pampering mask anytime soon, so short of starting a skincare regime for your armpits, here’s a few easy tweaks to get your pits into soft, smooth shape, whether you remove hair under there or not.
Spray on skincare
Something as simple as your anti-perspirant can improve skin condition, but check your formulas. Dove has recently reformulated its entire range, after four years of research and development, to mimic effects more often seen in face creams and serums. Think skin-barrier boosting oils to retain moisture while still keeping underarms dry, humectant glycerol to bind moisture to the skin and essential fatty acids such as sunflower seed oil to keep skin looking healthy and supple. In short, it's a sweat-stopper with 48-hour protection that doesn’t compromise on skin condition, which isn’t always a given. It’s not just sprays that have had a revamp either- the same goes for stick and roll-on varieties.
Gently does it
If you know you’ve got sensitive skin on your face, don’t treat your pits any differently. Look for fragrance-free formulas with little or, ideally no, alcohol. Dove Sensitive ticks both of those boxes, with zero alcohol and a formula designed to minimise the risk of reactions. If your antiperspirant is an irritant, it’s not doing its job.
As you might imagine for an item that hangs about in a humid bathroom environment all day long, your razor can be a heavenly pit-stop for bacteria (pardon the pun), and not changing the blade often enough, or, horror of horrors, sharing it with someone else, can put you at risk of developing nasty skin infections. Another incentive to change your blades is that a blunt razor makes ingrown hairs and lumps and bumps all the more likely. There’s no exact rule on when to change your blade, but if yours is looking dull, and particularly if you’ve noticed a decline in the quality of the skin underneath your arms, fork out for a new one to be on the safe side.
A few final razor commandments: don’t dry shave. You’re more likely to nick the skin, making infection and generally raw underarms all the more likely. Also, that old chestnut about shaving in the direction of hair growth to minimise your chances of angry ingrown hairs is true.
You had me at aloe
Most of us are aware of the skin soothing potential of aloe vera, particularly after sunburn or to calm reactionary skin, so why should taking the edge off of razor burn be any different? Try applying to skin after washing and shaving at nighttime. Dry skin thoroughly, apply an aloe vera gel and allow to sink in as you sleep, and if you’re an aloe advocate, new Dove new Go Fresh Pear and Aloe Vera range will finish the whole routine off nicely come morning.
Dedication to exfoliation
Dead skin cell build-up can be another ingrown hair trigger, as hair follicles become blocked, so a regular sloughing encourages cell turnover and keeps things peachy in your pits. Swerve harsh body scrubs and instead apply the same gentle exfoliation principles to your armpits as you would your face. A quick going over with an AHA or BHA exfoliant will sweep away bacteria and grime, or try a body wash with lightly exfoliating ingredients to shift dead skin cells, and ensure that your skin really benefits from the likes of a moisturising antiperspirant afterwards.
Consider your cloth
We all know that heavy fancy dress makes you sweat (holler polyester), and wearing skin-tight, non-breathable fabrics isn’t good news for skin either. Choose light, natural fabrics to keep you comfortable and avoid too much rubbing. There’s a time and a place for nylon and spandex, but for everyday attire, keep it cool.
Now you’ve got your pit-care ticklist down, be reassured that if your underarm skin has suffered, the recovery process can be very quick. Clinical research carried out by Dove showed that switching your average antiperspirant for one with additional skincare benefits and effective moisturisers can improve skin condition in three days, which is pretty impressive where skincare results are concerned. It may not be at the top of your pile of life “things”, but comfortable skin that doesn’t chafe is your right we reckon, and even better if you're freed from sweat and unwanted odour for up to two days.
This feature was written in partnership with Dove
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