Our underarms are often one of the most-overlooked places on our bodies. Besides shaving and swiping on deodorant, we don’t usually treat our armpits to any special skin care routine. Dove Advanced Care Deodorant is setting out to change that. They’re launching a new campaign—"Dear Armpit"—to encourage women to finally speak out about the way they feel about this mysterious place. To celebrate, they are offering women tips on how to give themselves a “PitiCure” (more on that below) and helping them to see their armpits in a new light. You can join in on the conversation, too, by tweeting your thoughts to @Dove with the hashtag #deararmpit. We recently stole some time with NYC-based dermatologist, Dr. Ellen Marmur, who has partnered with Dove to improve women’s underarm care. Read on for her expert tips.
Let’s talk about how the "Dear Armpit" campaign is helping raise awareness for taking care of your underarms. “So we’re launching this campaign by having real women put on sleeveless blouses and sleeveless tops and taking a photo in a photo booth and raising their armpits and getting a ‘PitiCure.’ As a dermatologist, I have been telling my patients for so many years how to take care of their skin, and the armpit skin has its own list of issues that no one talks about. Every time people shave, especially if they’re using an old razor, they are stripping away about 36 perent of their skin’s surface cells, not just the hair, so they’re stripping their skin and causing irritation. Then you’ve got the underarm sweat, which has salt and enzymes, and you’ve got any debris from your clothing and things rubbing in that area that can lead to rashes, which can cause the skin to get thicker, which we call alligator skin. Once you get any irritation or redness, that can lead to blemishes, meaning brown discoloration, in the underarm and I think that leads people to feel really embarrassed and ashamed about wearing certain clothing.”
So what exactly is a “PitiCure” and how can someone give themselves one at home? “So the ‘PitiCure’ is Dove’s way of making it really lovely and easy to think about. The idea is that it’s like a pedicure, where you take special care of your feet, which also used to be considered ugly; the ‘PitiCure’ is a way to take care of your armpits. It is a three-step process, where you might do it three times a week. 1. In the shower gently wash, not scrub, the underarms to get rid of any impurities or debris using your favorite cleanser. 2. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. With my patients and in general, people forget to dry their skin thoroughly after their bath or shower and they leave water droplets under their arms that can trap water and lead to further problems with the skin. 3. Apply Dove Advanced Care Deodorant ($5, drugstores) which is a multitasker and I think this is the ‘Aha!’ moment which is that your underarm care can have a multi-tasker: a deodorant, an antiperspirant and the nutrient moisture. Swipe it on just three times and that is enough to give you 48 hours of protection. I think it doesn’t occur to most people to actually moisturize their underarms but this is where you can prevent those issues. No one ever tells you how much deodorant to put on but if you do, say, five swipes, you’re going to end up with residue which can irritate you as well, physically, and if you do only one swipe, you’re not getting enough of the product.”
Is there any danger with deodorant penetrating the skin’s surface? “That’s a really good question. I want to go back to the basics, where skin’s number one function is to protect. So the skin has all these myths about it, like that it breathes or that it absorbs; nothing absorbs into the skin easily. So, products that you put onto your skin, they go into the top dead surface cells, but they actually don’t penetrate down into the vessels, where the blood vessels would absorb it into the body. And even the tiny ducts, they have their own skin-lining them, so you’re still not absorbing the product. I asked that same question and I looked into the data, because I also want to be counseling in a safe way, so we’ve been looking into studies. The ingredient that has led to controversy is the aluminum ingredient and it’s found in the body, but it’s considered to be in the body because of the foods we eat, and that does make sense that you’re eating food that goes into the gut and the gut’s main job is to absorb, but they weren’t able to detect any absorption, especially around the armpit where you would get it from applying deodorant.”
And what if you have any nicks from shaving? Is there any risk from applying deodorant over that? “The deodorant has a powder ingredient in it, and powder itself causes bleeding to stop. Like if you cut your finger and put baby powder, or even baking powder, it actually causes the blood to clot. So it is safe in that sense, it’ll stop the bleeding and the moisturization and glycerin that’s in the nutrient moisture will actually help it heal faster. If it’s a huge gash, see your dermatologist. You definitely don’t want to try to fix something like that yourself.”