Caring for underarms (NST 12 June 2013)

Jun 22, 13 Caring for underarms (NST 12 June 2013)

Often neglected, the underarms are nevertheless susceptible to injury and damage, writes Mi Mi Teh

THE axilla, more unglamorously and commonly known as the armpit or underarm, is the area on the human body under the joint where the arm connects to the shoulder.

Colloquially, armpit refers to an object or place which is often associated with being smelly, sweaty, hairy and undesirable.

Most women pay very little attention to their underarm skincare. Perhaps they see their underarms as an insignificant part of the body or they aren’t bothered because it is usually covered.

However, according to the Understanding Beauty Survey 2011 conducted by Unilever in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, 96 per cent of women care about their underarms appearance and that 91 per cent thinks that it can be a beauty asset.

However, 45 per cent rank their underarms as one of the three body parts they are unhappiest about.

“Underarms dictate what we can or cannot wear. Women purchase and wear clothes based on their underarm condition. Hair removal is the most common underarm care and beauty ritual.

“Most Malaysian women shave or pluck their underarm hair. Many do not realise the damages caused by these grooming practices. Shaving and plucking underarm hair cause irritation which leads to dark and damaged skin,” says Dove deodorant brand manager Lim Cheng Yee.

Underarm skin is very thin and is more susceptible to injury and damage. But the good news is that when the skin is thin, it absorbs products more quickly and hence when a good underarm care is used, the results can be visibly seen in a short span of time.

The most common damage is done by shaving and plucking of underarm hair which 90 per cent of women here do. This causes multiple irritations to the delicate skin which leads to inflammation, which in turn darken and damage the skin.

According to associate professor and consultant dermatologist Dr Irene Lee, when we shave, one third of what we remove is skin. As a result, regular shaving leads to drier and more damaged skin.

The most important step for damaged underarm skin is to be gentle and to provide adequate moisture for natural healing.

“When removing underarm hair, it does not matter if you choose to pluck, shave or wax, but it is essential that certain steps are taken.

“First, the surface of the skin needs to be clean. Use a gentle body cleanser and avoid harsh soap especially those with antiseptic properties as it can be very drying. Next, make sure the apparatus used are of good quality and are sanitised beforehand.

“Then look at the hair and ascertain which direction it is growing. Remove hair according to that direction. This is particularly important as when hair is removed in the opposite direction, germs tend to get into the pores which leads to inflammation, darkening of the skin and clogged pores.

“The final step is to moisturise to promote healing. A deodorant with hydrating properties is a good choice,” Dr Lee explains.

When asked if the stick, spray or roll on type is better, Dr Lee says that the formatting is just a matter of personal choice.

What’s the difference between anti-perspirant and deodorant?

“Years ago, the former would be used to control excessive sweating and the latter to mask odour but in recent years, there is no difference anymore,” says Dr Lee.

However, she recommends gentle products that do not contain harmful ingredients like parabens.

“Dove is skin-friendly and dermatologist-approved which has little allergens. It is also formulated with the signature one-quarter moisturising cream, liquorice root extract to reduce skin darkening, sunflower seed oil producing for smooth skin and glycerol to replenish skin’s moisture,” she adds.

Can deodorants cause breast cancer?

“Up till now, there is no proven correlation between the use of deodorants and breast cancer, so

I would say it is safe to use it,”

Dr Lee explains.

On top of proper underarm care, one should also lead a healthy lifestyle like not smoking, drinking at least two litres of water, eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and making sure the environment is not too dry.


Some hair removal methods

STRIP ACTION: This 1,000 Hour Ultra-thin Wax Strips are super thin for fast and efficient removal of underarm hair.
TENDER CARE: Gillette Venus Sensitive Disposable Razors — three in a pack for RM19.90 — have blades surrounded by soft, protective cushions to limit injury to skin.
HAIR BE GONE: Body Perfect Photothermolysis Underarm Hair Removal Therapy from is a non-invasive procedure that reduces dark spots, sagging skin and hair growth in one go.
CLEAR VISION: The 1,000-Hour Lighted Tweezer (RM32) has a good grip and it comes with built-in lights to make sure you can see clearly!


•  77 per cent of women are concerned about their dark underarms.
•  90 per cent remove underarm hair, with shaving and plucking being the most popular methods.
•  Most Malaysians link dark underarms to dirt, deodorant use and clogged pores

Read more: Caring for underarms – Style – New Straits Times

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *