Your daily routine can bring about a lot of stress — being stuck in a crowded space, traffic jams causing you to be late, late night doomscrolling through your social media feed — but one thing that can hit you with a sudden wave of embarrassment is underarm sweat and odor. While this sensitive area tends to be neglected when it comes to your skin care routine, dermatologists confirm that your pits are just as important to tend to as your face, décolletage and other sections of your body.
From hyperpigmentation to unwanted aromas, these issues are easily fixable with the proper underarm care routine. To put an end to these woes once and for all, Shop Today talked to dermatologist and founder of Avant Dermatology & Aesthetics, Dr. Sheila Farhang, and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Julie E. Russak for their tips on underarm care and the best skin care routine to practice.
Why should you care for your underarms?
Underarm skin is very different from other areas of the body and should have specialized care to accompany its unique needs.
"Some big differences are the fact that the area itself is high in humidity, that it is constantly exposed to friction from two closely opposing surfaces and that it differs in its concentration of hair follicles and sweat glands," said Russak. "All of these factors contribute to a different microbiome population of the axillary skin and its behavior."
How to take care of your underarms
Just like your complexion, underarms also deserve the same amount of focus. Since this area is more sensitive than others, underarm care should follow a specific series of steps and products for optimal care.
1. Deodorize regularly
When it comes to underarm odor, the specific bacteria that leads to a funky smell is corynebacterium. "Frequent use of antiperspirants to control odor can also expose sensitive skin to different chemicals and cause allergies that then lead to irritation and inflammation, which then causes hyperpigmentation," shared Russak.
Dermatologists recommend using an aluminum-free deodorant that contains glycerol. "Glycerol is a very potent moisturizer for axillary skin. It hydrates the top layer of the skin and leads to the appearance of smoother and brighter skin," said Russak.
Farhang also recommends avoiding aggressive ingredients that cause irritation, such as alcohol-based formulas or those with preservatives such as parabens and fragrance. "For people that have thickness and/or darkness of their axilla, I usually recommend a chemical exfoliant, but if someone doesn’t have those skin changes, then those would be too aggressive."
Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant
Give yourself the naturally refreshing smell of eucalyptus with this deodorant. Toted as Malin + Goetz's bestselling product for the last decade, customers rave about this product for its odor-neutralizing effect and clean, irritation-free ingredients. One fan added, "It glides on feeling light and smells great. It's never stained any clothing and lasts all day."
Dove Advanced Care Rose Petals Antiperspirant & Deodorant Stick
Dove's powerful formula works as a deodorant and antiperspirant, thanks to the aluminum chloride that helps to block the sweat. This stick also has vitamin B3 and helps restore your natural underarm skin tone while offering a smoothing effect.
Hume Fragrance-Free Deodorant
With a stellar five-star rating, this deodorant will definitely mask any earthy aromas sneaking out from your underarms. The main ingredient is ethylhexylglycerin, which stops odor before it starts while forming a healthy microbiome in your skin. One recent buyer said this deodorant helps her smell fresh with "no wet armpits throughout the day."
2. Prioritize regular cleansing
Though washing is self-explanatory, most people don't dedicate the right amount of time to their armpits while in the shower. "Using a body wash that contains alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acid in the shower and applying it to the under the arms can also help treat darker appearing skin," added Russak.
"Using benzoyl peroxide can also help with odor in the area, especially if someone is sensitive or prefers not to use aluminum-based deodorant," added Farhang.
Surface Deep Anti-Odorant Pads
Eliminate that undesirable odor with this glycolic-based formula enriched with probiotics. These pads break up the bad bacteria that cause odor while lowering the skin's pH. According to the brand, 91 percent of subjects stayed odor-free all day, while 100 percent of subjects reported “no irritation" after using the pads.
Kubra Kay Marble Botanical Bar Soap
The botanical blend of coconut, vitamin E, sea clay and chamomile in this soap work to soothe and exfoliate the skin, resulting in fresher, softer underarms after a warm shower. "The scent is heavenly and reminds me of a luxe spa day and my skin has gotten so much softer since using it," added one buyer who gave this soap five stars.
Kaia Naturals The Underarm Bar
Your underarms are about to receive a refined treatment with this activated charcoal and apple cider vinegar formula. Made to tame and keep body odor under control, shoppers have raved about how this has become their go-to skin care product, especially when it comes to making the switch to aluminum-free deodorant products.
3. Exfoliate your underarm skin
According to Russak, exfoliation is very important when it comes to managing odor and maintaining clear-looking skin. "Axillary skin needs to be hydrated, moisturized and exfoliated gently from time to time. My recommendation is to first start with rebalancing the axillary microbiome by using microbiome-sensitive products."
Megababe Happy Pits Detoxifying Underarm Mask
This charcoal-infused formula from Megababe will slough away dead skin cells and pull out odor-causing bacteria. It also contains vitamin C, glycolic acid and tree tea oil to exfoliate and prevent inflammation. "This detox mask is a must have, especially if you are trying to transition to using natural deodorant. I use this a couple times a week, and it really helps keep my odor under control," raved one Target shopper who gave this five stars.
Lavanila The Healthy Underarm Detox Mask
Detoxify your armpits with this charcoal-based treatment. The brand chimes that it helps draw out aluminum and impurities from your skin while lightening the skin area over time. Ingredients like silica absorb sweat molecules, while malic acid aids with pulling out the metal ions from your skin.
Selfmade True Grit Resilience Scrub
Have a personal spa day with your pits with this gentle exfoliator. Ideal for sensitive skin, the formula contains holy basil and tea tree oil that helps reduce hyperpigmentation and inflammation. Plus, unlike other scrubs, this one won't make your skin dry.
4. Incorporate products that treat hyperpigmentation
Whether you have severe or mild darkening issues, Farhang and Russak both recommend you see a dermatologist beforehand in case you have an underlying condition that's affecting your skin.
"If it’s only darkness, I usually recommend brightening ingredients and/or chemical exfoliants such as kojic acid, glycolic acid, hydroquinone, etc. If there is associated thickness of the skin, then I usually recommend urea [or] salicylic acid," added Farhang.
Bermuda Dark Spot Oil
This body oil is 100 percent vegan and claims reduce the look of hyperpigmentation and dark spots. The formula contains six natural ingredients including jojoba and grapeseed oils to battle melanin pigments that causes discoloration. With nearly 500 five-star ratings on the brand's website, several shoppers noted how effective it was at diminishing darkness around the underarms, bikini line and other hard-to-treat areas.
Musely The Private Cream
Battle the excess of melanin and reduce inflammation once and for all with this formula. This top-rated cream with over 12,000 verified reviews contains buzzy ingredients like hydroquinone, tranexamic acid, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to fight hyperpigmentation and dark spots in sensitive areas.
5. Be mindful with shaving your underarms
Some people decide to shave their underarms completely. If you do, Russak recommends using a gentle, non-abrasive exfoliant before shaving. "Never shave on dry skin and always use shaving gel beforehand and a moisturizer after. Apply moisturizer to the skin directly after shaving to hydrate and prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation," she added.
Farhang also recommends shaving the area if you're doing laser treatment. "A suntan or use of a sunless tanner before laser hair removal can increase the risk for burn. The laser hair removal targets darkness or pigment so if someone is tan with increased melanin it could lead to burns from the laser," she added.
Additionally, shaving is recommended before a laser treatment so you can avoid any potential burns. This technology targets pigment and darkness so "if that dark hair is long and on the skin, there is a chance that it will burn the skin as well as sizzle or fry the hair," said Farhang.
Venus Radiant Skin Pearl Powder Razor Starter Kit
Shave efficiently with this Venus razor with five Nuluxe blades. While its blade count is impressive, the most innovative feature is that it comes with a push button on the handle that releases soothing Pearl Power Olay moisturizer directly onto your skin.
Fur Shave Cream
Shave without razor burns with this shaving cream with a whipped, lightweight texture. Made with moisturizing key ingredients like olive oil and aloe vera, you'll feel good and protected knowing you'll get a close shave without added irritation.
For more stories like this, check out:
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- This $4 Eos shaving cream has over 4 million likes on TikTok
- Dry, itchy skin? Derms say this surprising ingredient can alleviate irritation
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