Keeping underarms fresh, clean and neatly shaved is usually sufficient for most people -- at least, until tank top, sundress and swimsuit season rolls around. Then those dark, stubbly armpits suddenly become more noticeable. Pregnancy, age, hormones, genetics, dull razors and use of deodorants and antiperspirants are often to blame, and your armpits may never be as perfect as a swimsuit model's. However, with a little extra attention and tender loving care, you can bare your underarms with confidence.
Wash your armpits often -- at least once daily -- to prevent buildup of deodorants, antiperspirants and body oils. Use a mild, moisturizing cleanser so you do not irritate or dry out your skin.
Wear loose clothing whenever possible. Friction caused by the constant rubbing of fabric against bare flesh may cause darkening of the skin. Cotton and other natural fibers are the best materials to wear because they allow the skin to breathe.
Exfoliate the armpits once every week to remove dead skin cells that cause darkening. Use a mild commercial product formulated for sensitive skin, or make your own gentle scrub consisting of half sugar and half olive oil. Spread the mixture over your skin gently just before showering, then rinse thoroughly.
Shave your underarms at night to allow the skin to settle before applying deodorant or antiperspirant. Moisten the skin with water then cover the area with a moisturizing shaving lotion or gel. Doing so protects the skin and makes shaving more effective. Use as few strokes as possible to prevent irritation and razor burns.
Change razor blades often -- at least every four or five shaves. Dull blades irritate skin and may cause ingrown hairs.
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- If your skin is sensitive, do not exfoliate just before wearing a sleeveless garment, as exfoliants may cause mild irritation or redness. Exfoliating is best left for a time when you plan to be home for a few hours.
M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.