Underarm Sweating: It’s About Control

Sweat control can be a delicate situation. If you stress about sweating, then you’ve probably noticed that your body reacts and makes you sweatier. Not pleasant for you or anyone else.

Pretty much every guy has run into the issue of underarm sweat before. Whether it is a chronic issue or something that only happens on occasion none of us welcome the excessive sweat.  It causes temporary sweat stains, permanent shirt stains, uncomfortable feelings, and insecurities. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to remedy this problem of perspiration. So we did a deep dive to research the wet stuff, find out why we sweat and what we can do to stop it.

Now, there are two different types of sweat: we have heat induced sweat and stress induced sweat. Each reaction is equally undesirable to us in most situations but uniquely different in their cause and function.

Heat Induced Sweat

Heat induced sweat is what we are all probably most familiar with. When our bodies get hot, due to physical exertion or environmental temperatures, our more than 2 MILLION eccrine glands (or heat induced sweat glands) release a salty liquid onto the surface of our skin. When this liquid evaporates off of the surface of our skin it causes our body temperature to actually DROP. This provides a vital function in maintaining our ideal body temperature.

Stress Induced Sweat

Stress induced sweat, on the other hand, is a very different beast all together. This brand of perspiration is caused by changes in our body chemistry due to emotions such as fear, anxiety, or even excitement. When our body goes through these changes our apocrine glands (or stress induced sweat glands) release a more milky substance than their heat induced cousins.

These glands are primarily located in our armpits and our crotch which is why these can be two of our smelliest regions. The liquid from this type of perspiration is more nutrient rich than heat induced sweat which is why more bacteria are attracted to it causing that unwanted smell and those equally unwanted stains.

Choosing Antiperspirant

Obviously, the best way to combat underarm sweat itself is with a quality antiperspirant. Make sure that whatever product you decide on is not only a deodorant but also an antiperspirant! I know this seems like a no-brainer but it is amazing how common this fumble is. Here’s list of some of the longest lasting deodorants on the market.

Many companies will market their product quite well but after reading the fine print you will learn that it is only intended as a deodorant – nothing more than a solid scent application for your armpits. But we just learned that it is the sweat itself that causes the bacteria interaction which causes the stink, so why would we not do a little more research and buy something that is a DUAL deodorant PLUS antiperspirant. The most widely used and recommended antiperspirant ingredients are aluminum chlorohydrate and aluminum zirconium so look for these under the “active ingredients” list.

For some guys your average product just is not enough. For those of us that require a little extra there are over-the-counter antiperspirants marketed as “clinical protection” that have an added concentration of active ingredient and pack more sweat fighting power. There are also prescription products available from your doctor; however, studies have shown that these products are either just as effective as the OTC clinical strength version or only ever-so-slightly better at blocking moisture. If you are looking for a recommendation, Degree Men Clean Clinical Antiperspirant is phenomenal.

Rub It Into The Skin

Some of us will still struggle with unwanted underarm sweating and there is a surprisingly simple solution that will elicit welcome results. In order for the active ingredient in your antiperspirant to be truly effective it must be applied to the skin and rubbed in so it can be absorbed into the skin and, more importantly, into your pores. If the deodorant cannot reach your skin properly, it cannot do its job.

Shave Your Underarm Hair

Surprisingly, your underarm hair is actually a HUGE barrier to this process. By simply shaving, or cutting short, your underarm hair you will allow more antiperspirant to reach your skin and be absorbed so the active ingredient can do its job: keeping you dry. I was personally astonished at the difference this small change made in the amount of sweat my body was producing and it allowed my antiperspirant to become much more effective in blocking not only heat induced sweat but stress sweat as well.

Your Underarm Should Be Dry Before Applying Antiperspirant

Additionally, your deodorant/antiperspirant combination is recommended to be applied to dry skin. If you apply right after you get out of the shower make sure that your underarm is completely dry (less hair makes this much easier). One of the best practices is to dry off after your bath and wait 5 to 10 minutes for any residual moisture to evaporate off or be absorbed by your skin. Once you are dry, apply to the entire armpit area and rub it in well, either with the friction of upper arm motion (lovingly called the chicken wing) or buy gently massaging the product in with two fingers.

Apply Before Bed

Another antiperspirant hack is to apply at night right before bed. The theory behind this is that, at night, we sweat less and move less. This allows the antiperspirant to be absorbed by the body more completely and, subsequently, work more effectively. Even if you jump in the shower again in the morning to wash the sleep off of you, and in the process wash the deodorant off you, the active ingredient is still hard at work since most products have a 24-hour working time line. If you decide to take advantage of this method we still recommend applying a light film of antiperspirant after your morning shower as well, using all of the methods we mentioned above.

Extreme Measures If Nothing Else Works

If none of these hacks are quite doing the trick for you and you feel like the President of Perspiration there are a couple more extreme measures you can take under the care of your doctor. The first involves basically removing (or burning away) some of your sweat glands. This is done with a specialized laser as an outpatient procedure. Since we still need to be able to sweat not all of our glands can be removed, but instead, a certain percentage (decided by your physician) are removed to help curb your excessive sweat.

Another medical fix gaining popularity that is a newer practice is a Botox injection. You may be familiar with these injections and their application in cosmetic medicine removing crow’s feet, plumping lips, and other general facial tune-ups. The fact-of-the-matter is that Botox research has come a long way and a surprising number of useful applications have been approved – ranging from migraine treatment to hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) treatment.

These medical remedies, while effective, are definitely used as a last resort for those guys who have chronic hyperhidrosis and are not responding to the more traditional treatments. While medical science provides lots of solutions, from antiperspirants to Botox injections, there is a other science that can drastically reduce unwanted sweating just as much: psychology.

Get Rid Of Stress

Like we learned earlier, stress induced sweat smells stinkier, stains worse and is over all just more uncomfortable. Doing small things to reduce stress in our daily lives will also reduce sweat in our daily lives. Meditation, deep breathing, positive thinking, mindfulness – whatever your stress-busting cup of tea is, take part liberally to reduce anxiety or negative thoughts and your underarms will thank you.

Shower Often

There are also things we can do to reduce all the negative side effects of sweat even if we can’t eradicate it all together. Since sweat interacts with the bacteria already on our bodies to produce that awful smell, so kindly referred to as body odor, one of the best things we can do to reduce the B.O. smell is to reduce the amount of bacteria on our skin. Regular hot showers can do more to curb the stink than we think. Using hot water and a good soap is a good start but to really scrub away the smell use a washcloth or a loofa to slough away all those dead skin cells which can be a breeding ground for smelly bacteria. There are also special antibacterial soaps that will kill bacteria better than a regular bar soap will. All of these hygiene tips, in concert with your sweat blocking recipe, will go a long way in stopping unwanted perspiration and stink.

No matter what level of sweating you have to endure we can all agree that no amount of underarm sweat is desired and we will do just about anything to avoid this embarrassing bodily function. Whether your solution is something simple like applying your clinical strength antiperspirant to freshly shaved armpits or more complex involving a medical doctor such as a dermatologist, do not get discouraged. There is a way to control that unwanted wetness!

Recap And Additional Tips

Follow the basics: shower often, shower well. Scrub with a deodorant soap, and make it a rule not to go anywhere without a shower first. Good guidelines are post work-out, pre-work, pre-dinner, especially if there’s a date down the line. Stay scrupulous and don’t slack. If you feel like you may possibly be a tad, well, fragrant, then you probably are.

Next, do some self-evaluation. Are you using proper products for your needs? If you live with excessive underarm sweating, check what you’ve been using for scent control. Is your deodorant an antiperspirant, too? If not, it should be. Say it with me: deodorants mask, antiperspirants prevent!

Besides extra-strength antiperspirants, stock up on body sprays. But don’t camouflage odor with cologne. You’ll get a cocktail of sweat and sour scent that’s worse underarm body odor than your original. If you’re stuck halfway through the day and feeling self-conscious, bring along emergency antiperspirant wipes for men from Nivea, or zip to the gym at lunchtime for a quick shower.

There’s also the question of grooming. Underarm hair can trap moisture and odor. Sweat is actually scentless, and it’s the bacteria that break down the sweat on the surface. Just a trim will do wonders.


Summertime can be problem-time, especially for businessmen. If you feel pressure to wear short sleeved business shirts but you don’t like the look, try a linen-cotton blend long sleeved shirts.

During the summer months, natural fibers are your best friends. 100% cotton can be cooling, but also takes a long time to feel dry again. Go for a natural fiber blend and try new sweat-wicking fabrics.

In the same vein, avoid color extremes. If you choose a shirt that’s too dark, it will retain heat and maximize your sweating potential. Not good. Bright, solid colors will highlight sweat marks, so try your best to buy understated colors in medium to light tones. If you are plagued with underarm patches, try an undershirt with cooling properties, like one made from Capilene® or Coolmax®. Your shirt will absorb sweat before it reaches your outer visible layers.


Part of the secret is the layer. A suit jacket can be a blessing come winter time. If you’re sweating no matter what, at least it will provide a cover-up for the marks that may appear. Be careful with the weight of your coat that you put on in the morning. Take your jacket off in the subway or the car if you feel even the slightest bit flushed. Layer on the weekend with a polo shirt plus sweater, and you’ll never feel overheated.

If you follow these grooming guidelines and you’ve still got problems with sweating, you’ll need to evaluate other elements. There are always more extreme measures. Talk to your doctor about Drysol, which contains a product called aluminum chloride hexahydrate. It is applied at night and washed off in the morning, and can reduce excessive sweating up to eighty percent. There’s also Xerac for more sensitive skin. So if problems are persisting, see someone to help.

Underarm sweating doesn’t make you abnormal in any way. If you don’t control it, that’s what gets you noticed. Try different techniques to help find the right one for you.

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