From thorough cleaning to choosing a refreshing deodorant - an expert explains what optimal care for beautiful armpits should look like.
The wellness movement has increased body awareness and inspired us to pay more attention to parts of our physical being that have traditionally been neglected. Care for beautiful armpits has emerged as a new category, one that is particularly fascinating as a year in lockdown has brought an abundance of stress sweat for many of us (or is it just me?). The good news is that sweating is an absolutely good thing - especially now.
"For humans, the physiology of sweating is critical to maintaining a safe and healthy body temperature," says Alicia Zalka, M.D., dermatologist and founder of Surface Deep, who further explains that we use our built-in cooling mechanism to balance out excess heat from our bodies. "When the body produces too much heat, sweat droplets are produced from inside the sweat glands," she continues. "Moisture penetrates the surface of the skin through the portals of the microscopic sweat channels. When the moisture in the sweat hits the air through evaporation, it is released [and] cooling takes place."
As important as sweat is in keeping the body balanced, it is not always desirable - especially when there is an excess of body odor. What many do not know, however, is that sweat has no odor at its source. "It gains odor when the bacteria on the skin known as corynebacteria interact with the sweat and oils to create what we perceive as 'body odor'," explains Dr. Zalka. This is exactly where armpit care comes into play, from a thorough cleaning and peeling to a refreshing deodorant: It not only keeps the odor under control but also contributes to the general well-being of the body. Here are five easy steps you can take to get the most out of your armpits.
The armpits are a part of the body that is considered the intertriginous zone, which means that due to the folds of the skin, it tends to be moist due to the lack of air circulation, and it can often be home to certain bacteria and fungal yeast organisms. "Proper care and cleaning are important to reduce unwanted moisture and maintain the natural balance of the microbiome," explains Dr. Zalka. "However, you have to be careful about it." She recommends washing your armpits once a day (not more often unless you have a very sporty or physically demanding job or hobby) and switching between different pH-balanced soaps.
Like the face, the armpits can be affected by skin sensitivity and irritation. According to Dr. Zalka are "too much oil, clogged pores, pimples (known as folliculitis), and a buildup of dead, dull, and sometimes discolored skin cells" are all reasons why you should exfoliate below the neck as well. To this end, there are products like masks or scrubs that manually remove dead skin cells and debris, or chemical peels such as toners that use the power of AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs to gently remove the debris. To avoid irritation, Dr. Zalka the latter and recommends using a glycolic acid toner (no more than 5% glycolic acid) to remove dead skin and improve overall skin tone and texture. She also recommends using exfoliating deodorant pads like Surface Deep's innovative Anti-Odorant Pads, which combine fruit-based glycolic acids with probiotics and antioxidant ingredients to inhibit the bacteria that cause bad odor and the natural balance of the microbiome Restore skin.
For nice armpits and a smooth shave, shaving gel (or at least a moisturizing cleanser) in a warm shower is essential to prevent razor bumps and razor bumps, she emphasizes. If you are prone to irritation or want to prevent ingrown hairs, you should prepare for the shave the evening before. "Go to bed with a thin layer of moisturizer on the area to be shaved," advises Dr. Zalka. "That makes for a smooth experience the next day." As for the razor, you should change it at least every one to two weeks. "That is expensive, but prevents problems!" emphasizes Dr. Zalka.
Just as your face and body crave moisture, your armpits need moisture to look and feel good too. You just don't need them quite as often. Since they are damp, Dr. Zalka uses a pH-balanced armpit or body lotion once or twice a week, and more often when dry. Another tip for keeping the armpits soft and supple: "If you notice any irritation, take a break from shaving and deodorant," she says.
If you want to find your way around the deodorant market, Dr. Zalka's most important piece of advice: listen to your body. "If your deodorant is irritating or leaving too much residue on your skin and clothing, choose another one." If you want to take things to the next level, you should opt for a deodorant that is "clean and simple," that is, fragrance-free and free of phthalates, parabens, sulfates, or dyes. "Look for products with the least amount of chemicals," she says. In addition, Dr. Zalka to avoid aluminum in your deodorant unless you need to block moisture from suffering from excessive sweating (known as hyperhidrosis). "Aluminum-containing antiperspirants are the salvation for some, but we don't all need aluminum in our daily armpit care," she explains. "It is possible to prevent odor without blocking sweat. Sweat is wanted, the odor can be avoided."