Does shaving/trimming your armpits increase or reduce armpit sweat/stains?
June 28, 2007 6:38 AM   Subscribe

I tend to sweat a lot on hot days and occasionally this ends up ruining nice shirts with pit stains. I've read plenty of threads about deodorants and anti-perspirants that could be helpful, but maybe I should address my long armpit hair. I can see both sides: More hair means more surface area for deodorant and keeps sweat from running (I think). Less hair means less surface area for sweat to stick onto but gets the deodorant closer to the pores. What's the way to go? I'm not considering shaving my pits, but more or less trimming them down short.
posted by sub-culture to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total)
Antiperspirants are a big part of the staining problem. For me, I sweat and stain less since switching to just a plain deodorant with no antiperspirant. YMMV.
posted by stopgap at 6:42 AM on June 28, 2007

Does shaving/trimming your armpits increase or reduce armpit sweat/stains?

If you are using an antiperspirant, which works best when it gets directly on the skin and into the pores, I would think you'd have much better results with less hair.
posted by pineapple at 6:47 AM on June 28, 2007

I've had long armpit hair and short armpit hair and no armpit hair, and no is the way to go. More skin area for talc and deodorant (I don't like anti-perspirant) and whatnot to adhere to, easier to clean.

One summer I worked as a bike messenger and I was ruining all my shirts. One morning I folded up a couple of paper towels and stuck them in my pits to see what would happen, and for the first time in about a month I wasn't stinky and wet by 10 AM. So trim or shave the hair, wear cotton, and don't be afraid to wad up a paper towel or two to save a shirt. You could also try cotton shields.
posted by iconomy at 6:51 AM on June 28, 2007

Shave 'em, or at least, trim those hairs down to stubble. Less hair to trap armpit cheese, less stink, less need for gobs of deodorant.
posted by notsnot at 7:01 AM on June 28, 2007

Kind of a yucky subject, but I admit to having the same problems in the past. I am a great believer in shaving the armpits totally during the summer months and have done this for many years now as I also subscribe to the theory that the deodorant/anti antiperspirant needs to have skin contact in order to work (go ahead, brand me as a metrosexual).

Additionally I have recently started using Certain-Dri, based on a recommendation from AskMeFi a while back. This stuff works EXACTLY as advertised. You apply once every 3 or 4 days and there is absolutely no perspiring. I use it in conjunction with their A.M. product for the deodorant part of the equation (Certain-Dri addresses the anti-sweat thing only).

I got in my local Target and would recommend it over anything I have tried before. I guess the only caveat is to read all the paperwork that comes with it as this stuff is apparently prescription strength (and I ain't your doctor!)
posted by worker_bee at 7:02 AM on June 28, 2007

A friend of mine shaves his armpits. It makes a huge difference with the success of his deodorant/antiperspirant--it's much more effective.
posted by schroedinger at 7:04 AM on June 28, 2007

are undershirts not an option?
posted by Stynxno at 7:14 AM on June 28, 2007

Stynxno: Yes, I use undershirts whenever I can, but the problem persists with t-shirts and those days when it's too hot to want to wear an undershirt.

I bought some Certain-Dri, but haven't tried it yet. That booklet of instructions is pretty heavy reading.
posted by sub-culture at 7:27 AM on June 28, 2007

Stynxno: Yes, I use undershirts whenever I can, but the problem persists with t-shirts and those days when it's too hot to want to wear an undershirt.

There's actually no reason to NOT wear an undershirt even with tshirts or on any hot day. A nice cotton undershirt (and you can buy them in packs of 5 at kmart for 10 bucks or less) removes sweat from the whole body and stops it from staining your shirt. It'll remove the entire "i look sweaty" concept from your summer look. Also, as the sweat is moved away from your body with a cotton undershirt, you're gonna feel cooler.

Trim the hairs or shave - it'll stop the armpit problem and wear cotton undershirts. Also, focus on buy materials that are labeled as "dry technology" - it's just a fancy word for "cotton". Cotton not only breathes, it'll also draw moisture away from your body. Also, your undershirts are gonna go nasty but they're so cheap, they're easy to replace.
posted by Stynxno at 8:11 AM on June 28, 2007

I used to be the same way. And I tried different products, spays, roll-ons. I even considered getting that stuff lased out (heard it waas bad idea.) Eventually, I thought about what was in deodorants and anti-antiperspirants ans thought that the aluminum in them might have something to do with it. So I switched to Toms Natural and keep my pits close-cropped. Haven't had a problem since. All nice, clean and dry.

I will say though you start to smell a little ripe around 7pm but that is a small trade off from the sweating.
posted by Botunda at 8:18 AM on June 28, 2007

Seconding the vote for undershirts. And if you're over 20, you're too old for t-shirts anyway unless you're a professional roadie or using them for exercise.
posted by commander_cool at 8:22 AM on June 28, 2007

"dry technology" - it's just a fancy word for "cotton"

"Dry technology" is usually either wool or synthetic blends that wick moisture away from the skin. As any outdoorsman will tell you, cotton is a horrible fabric in humid weather because it absorbs moisture, but doesn't release it - the wetness just sits there close to the skin.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:50 AM on June 28, 2007

Get the hair as short as you can deal with it. Shave it if you're up to it. It will help.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 9:15 AM on June 28, 2007

If no one else is going to see you take your shirt off, feminine mini-pads or panty shields work just as well as dress shields. Stick them on the inside of the armpit area of your shirt.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:31 AM on June 28, 2007

I have similar problems with excessive sweating,..(seemingly) no matter what type of shirts I wear.

I've gone with trimming my armpit hair down to as close as I can (without using a razor, .. mostly because i"m to lazy to use a razor) .. and (as others have said) using a simple as possible deoderant like "Toms". (although I do have a heavy duty aluminum based anti-persperant for use with dress shirts or when I have to dress up nice on very hot days)

I also re-organized my schedule and life so that i work a night job (working when its cooler) and staying inside w/ air conditioning during the hot days (I realize this isnt possible for everyone).
posted by jmnugent at 11:40 AM on June 28, 2007

Drysol is a prescription antiperspirant and it works amazingly well. You do have to dab it on the skin, though. If you don't want to ask your doctor for the prescription, it's very easy to buy from an online Canadian drugstore. It's an over-the-counter product in Canada, so it's easy to find online.
posted by HotPatatta at 12:39 PM on June 28, 2007

And if you're over 20, you're too old for t-shirts anyway unless you're a professional roadie or using them for exercise.

I live in L.A. and everyone wears t-shirts here. Only tourists wear shirts with buttons for casual purposes. I don't know about the rest of the country. That's a funny comment, though.
posted by HotPatatta at 12:43 PM on June 28, 2007

commander_cool writes "And if you're over 20, you're too old for t-shirts anyway unless you're a professional roadie or using them for exercise."

I take it you don't work in a game development studio...

Last week I went to work in a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops. The only person to comment on this was our lead developer, because he was wearing the same thing. /derail

To answer the question, yes. Get a cheap beard trimmer and use a guard that'll leave the hair just long enough to not itch.
posted by mullingitover at 1:17 PM on June 28, 2007

I have recently been wiping down each pit with rubbing alcohol when I get out of the shower, and then applying the Adidas product that uses cotton fibres instead of aluminum as an anti-perspirant. Anyway, in all honesty this works better for me than any typical anti-perspirant I've tried, and even though I still get moist (unavoidable in +40C weather) it absolutely does not smell, even at the end of the day. At all. I would imagine this works best without armpit hair. (I shave, fwiw.)

I haven't had a sweat stain since I stopped using aluminum anti-perspirants.
posted by loiseau at 1:35 PM on June 28, 2007

One of the practical (given that it started in a hot desert) instructions in Islam is that it is a praiseworthy act formen and women to trim or depilate entirely the armpit hair. Less hair means less chance for sebum to cling to the hairs (the process of sebum being eaten by bacteria is what causes B.O.), more skin surface area for deodorant to cover, and less opportunity for wet mopheads to form in your pits once the heat overpowers your deodorant.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:19 PM on June 28, 2007

I tested it for myself by shaving just one armpit for a while. For me, shaved was miserable -- the skin was irritated by the shaving and then again by the antipersp/deoderant -- but I thought I'd stick with it if it made me sweat less. Not even a little bit better on that side, so I gave up the razor. Once I stopped shaving, I experimented with trimming my underarm hair, and that works fine. Plenty of "product" still gets to my skin. Nthing the suggestion for a beard trimmer set on lowest.

Most women who've asked me are incredulous that having hairy armpits isn't sweatier than shaved pits, and some of them clearly consider me grody for having some hair there. I guess it's cultural.
posted by olecranon at 9:27 AM on June 29, 2007

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