7 Tips to Care for Your Underarms

The skin underneath the arms is quite sensitive, which can make caring for them a little challenging. This is even more so the case in the summer months, when the warmer temperatures can trigger the onset of body odor and excessive sweating.

Don’t worry, so long as you keep these seven tips in mind, you will be able to properly care for your underarms and keep them looking and feeling fresh and healthy.

Daily Cleansing

You probably cleanse your face and your body each day, but do you remember to cleanse your underarms too?

This is an area that people sometimes forget about, but daily cleansing here is so important…

Why?

Because the underarm area is dark, warm and moist, making it the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Not only that, but the pH level under the arms is 6.5, instead of 5.5 like the rest of the skin. This makes it less capable of being able to destroy excess bacteria on its own, making bacterial build-up so common in this area.

Wondering what you should be using to cleanse your underarms?

Since the skin here is sensitive, you need to be using quite a gentle product. However, one that contains antibacterial properties is a bonus, but make sure that whatever you go for, the product is fragrance-free.

Illustration of cleansing out pores and drawing out toxins

It may be tempting to go for something with a strong fragrance, especially if you often experience body odor from your underarms, but this will usually only make it even worse.

Should you be using a toner after cleansing your underarms?

You don’t have to, but it does definitely help. A toner will restore your skin’s natural pH balance, keeping it much healthier overall. If you go for one with witch hazel, this will help to constrict your pore openings, which will stop too much sweat and oil from being released.

Regularly Exfoliate

Do you ever exfoliate your underarms?

Many people have never even considered doing so, even though they may regularly exfoliate their face and body.

Well, just like the rest of your skin, your underarms would benefit from a little exfoliation too.

How does exfoliation help the underarms?

Because, just like all of the other parts of your skin, your underarms collect excess oil, dirt, dead skin cells and bacteria. These delve their way into your pores, at a deep level that your cleanser will not be able to reach.

The result?

Rough and dull skin, with an increase in body odor.

So, how often should you be exfoliating your underarms?

Since this area is quite sensitive, you only need to exfoliate here a couple of times a week.

Make sure that you use a gentle exfoliant too…

A scrub can be quite harsh in this area, causing friction against your sensitive skin. Instead, look for a product that contains an alpha hydroxy acid, such as:

  • Glycolic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Malic acid
  • Citric acid

Go for a product with a low concentration to begin with, and then build this up as your skin grows accustomed to the exfoliation process.

Moisturize Every Day

Being quite a sensitive and delicate area, your underarms will always benefit from a little extra protection, and this is exactly what a moisturizer will provide.

How does a moisturizer protect the skin?

By forming a thin barrier over the surface of your skin, essentially strengthening your skin’s own natural protective barrier. This extra barrier not only prevents moisture from evaporating, therefore keeping your underarms hydrated, but will also help to stop bacteria from entering into your skin.

What type of moisturizer should you be using under your arms?

Since this area is sensitive, use a moisturizer that has been designed for sensitive skin.

You can now even find spray and stick moisturizers designed just for the underarms – these can make moisturizing the area much easier and more convenient.

Try Out Different Hair Removal Methods

Removing the hair that grows under the arms is common practice. After all, the hair will usually attract even more bacteria, making body odor much more likely.

So, what’s your preferred hair removal method for underneath your arms?

For most people, the answer would be shaving.

While this may be quick and pain-free, it can also leave the skin under the arms feeling quite tender and sensitive.

Fortunately, this can be avoided, so long as you shave smartly:

  • Make sure that you always use a sharp razor. This means that the blade will cut your hairs the first time they come into contact with them, saving you from having to run the razor over the same part of your skin multiple times
  • You should always soften your skin, as well as fully hydrate those hairs, before shaving. You need to soak your skin for at least three minutes in order to do this
  • Never dry shave – make sure that you always use some sort of lubricant, as this provides a protective barrier between your skin and the razor blade

Woman shaving her underarm in the shower

Of course, shaving isn’t the only way to go…

Waxing is another popular hair removal method for underneath the arms.

Although waxing tends to be one of the more painful hair removal methods, it is also long-lasting. You will only need to wax the area every four to six weeks, with the hairs growing back at a very slow rate.

The downside to waxing is that your hairs need to be around a quarter of an inch long before they can be removed.

Epilating has similar pros and cons to waxing, with the main difference being that epilating is gentler on the skin. 

Don’t have much hair under your arms?

You may be able to get away with tweezing. You will only need to do this every month or so, as the hair grows back pretty slowly after tweezing. However, if your hair is quite thick or coarse, this isn’t the method for you.

If you have been having problems with your underarms, it is definitely worth giving a new hair removal method a try. You may find one that works even better than your current method, and this will really go a long way in keeping your underarms happy.

Know the Difference Between an Antiperspirant and a Deodorant

Do you often find yourself dealing with excessive sweat, or even body odor?

This is where antiperspirants and deodorants come in.

However, there are some major differences between the two that many do not realize…

Deodorants do not actually stop you from sweating, they only mask body odor. On the other hand, antiperspirants actually block your sweat glands from releasing sweat, but do not do anything about body odor.

As you can see, the two do quite different jobs. It is so important to understand this, so that you can pick the product that you need the most.

One thing to know about antiperspirants…

An antiperspirant needs to be applied the night before you want it to work.

Why is such an advance application needed?

Because antiperspirants work by forming a plug over your sweat glands. It takes a while for an antiperspirant to activate and actually do this. While you are asleep each night, your sweat glands are not as active as they during the day, making this the ideal time for an antiperspirant to begin working.

Woman applying aerosol deodorant on underarm

What about those two-in-one antiperspirant deodorants?

They aren’t great, because, as you know, an antiperspirant requires several hours in order to activate, whereas a deodorant begins working straight away.

If you would like the benefits of both products, purchase a separate antiperspirant and deodorant, rather than a two-in-one product. Simply apply your antiperspirant at night before bed, and then use your deodorant the next day when you need it.

Invest in a Quality Skin Lightening Product

Many people find that the skin under their arms tends to take on a darker tone than the rest of their skin.

Have you ever wondered why this is?

There are a number of reasons behind darker colored underarms, such as:

  • Chemical irritants in the deodorant or antiperspirant you use
  • Your hair removal method
  • A lack of exfoliation, resulting in dead skin cells building up on the skin
  • Tight clothing causing friction in the area (read more about this below)
  • Hyperpigmentation, often due to genetics

It goes without saying that your best bet at tackling this issue would be identifying exactly what is causing your darker underarms to begin with.

You can start by switching to a different deodorant and antiperspirant, to see if that makes a difference. Trying a different hair removal method, as mentioned earlier, can also help. Make sure that you keep your underarms exfoliated too, and try not to wear clothing that is too constricting.

If you want to speed things along a little, you could also opt for a topical cream or serum that will help to lighten your skin. Look for ingredients such as:

  • Kojic Acid – a natural skin lightener that is derived from certain fungi. It works by inhibiting melanin production, which is the pigment that gives your skin its color
  • Licorice Root – breaks up and removes excess melanin and pigmentation, while also evening out the overall skin tone
  • Mulberry Extract – blocks melanin production and brightens up the skin
  • Niacinamide – although vitamin B3 does not block melanin production itself, it stops excess melanin from being transferred over to the skin, therefore helping to lighten the skin up
  • Vitamin C – this brightening vitamin targets and lightens hyperpigmented skin cells, while leaving those normal skin cells alone

If you decide to go for a topical treatment, make sure that you use the product on a regular basis, as this is what is needed in order for the above ingredients to have a noticeable effect. Serums do tend to be more effective than creams, especially when it comes to making the most of the active ingredients above, since serums penetrate deeper into your skin’s layers

Wear Loose, Breathable Fabrics

The clothes that you wear make a huge difference to how healthy your underarms are.

How?

Well, for starters, tight clothing causes friction each time it rubs against the skin. This then irritates the skin, not only leading to an increase in sensitivities, but also to skin discoloration.

Wearing clothing that is looser around your underarms will be so much more beneficial to the skin here.

The fabrics that you choose to wear are important too…

You need to be choosing fabrics that will allow your skin to properly breathe. They should wick away excess sweat but dry quickly, so that your sweat is not lingering on your skin for too long.

Which fabrics are best for keeping the underarms healthy?

Natural fabrics, such as bamboo and linen, tend to be most effective. Both of these fabrics are breathable and lightweight, and will really help to keep your underarms cool and sweat-free.

You may be tempted to go for cotton too, especially since this is a natural fabric as well, but cotton has quite a downside…

Cotton absorbs quite a large amount of moisture, but takes a while to dry. This means that your sweat remains in contact with your skin for an extended period of time, which is not going to be doing your skin any good. You also need to be careful when choosing colors with cotton fabrics, as sweat stains can be quite embarrassing!

The underarms can be a tricky area to care for. Not only is this area so easy to forget about when it comes to self care, but the skin here is quite sensitive, meaning that you need to tread carefully. However, so long as you keep these seven tips in mind, you will be able to give your underarms all they need, which should then help to reduce any issues you may have been having with them.