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Hot weather is lovely. Showing up to work looking like you just ran through a sprinkler system, not so much. Dermatologist Sandy Skotnicki talked to Chatelaine about how to deal with summer sweat and why you might want to keep ice chips (plus powder for your tush!) on hand.
We use antiperspirant or deodorant on our armpits. During the sweaty summer months, is there any reason we shouldn’t just slather the stuff all over?
Everybody In Caftans! Stylish Ways To Avoid The Sun This Summer If your feet or hands tend to get extremely sweaty, using antiperspirant in those areas can be effective, but all over your body is not a good idea. Sweat serves a purpose. It is our body’s way of cooling itself. One thing to keep in mind is that not all sweat smells — in fact, the kind that is a response to heat mostly doesn’t. The eccrine glands are all over your entire body and produce moisture on your skin, which is just water and sodium chloride. This kind of sweat is a response to a rise in core temperature. The apocrine glands, which are under your armpits, groin and breasts, release a more milky, odorous sweat. That type of sweat is a target for bacteria, which is where odour comes from, but it is generally a response to stress or nerves — not heat.
Are there different ways of dealing with different sweat?
Not really. The first thing I ask people who complain of excessive sweating is how often they are applying their antiperspirant. A lot of people don’t realize that the more you use it, the better it works. Apply in the morning, when you get home and again before you go to bed. That’s a good little trick.
Face sweat is such a pain. Any tricks for that?
Well, like I said, that kind of sweat is all about core temperature. One very simple trick is sipping on ice chips. There is a nerve at the back of your throat that connects to the core, so if that area is cold, your body gets the message that you are cool. It’s the same reason why if you’re going to apply a cool compress, you want to put it on the back of your neck rather than on your forehead, which is where heat escapes.
And if that doesn’t work?
People who experience hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) can ask their doctor about drugs that can be prescribed in a topical pad form, and can be applied to areas with signicant sweating— face, under the breasts, places like that. The way it works is it interferes with the nerves that tell the sweat glands to function.
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Where do you stand on Botox for the underarms?
Any condition where there is a nerve and muscle communication going on, Botox can help. It
is scattered under the armpit [via injection], and it basically decreases the communication between the nerve and the sweat gland. It works great: You stop sweating right away and it will work for at least six months, sometimes closer to a year. In terms of price, you’re looking at around $700.
Are there any health risks? And does it work in areas other than the underarm?
The concentration is so small, it’s totally safe. There are clinics that specifically do Botox in hands and feet. That can work, but it’s a little more tricky.
You say foot sweat is the eccrine, not-smelly kind. How do you explain stinky feet?
That’s based on bacteria, which you tend to get a lot of in that area. As the feet sweat, the skin become softer because of the moisture, which gives bacteria a lot to chew on. There are powders that you can sprinkle in your shoes that help. Another trick for dealing with bacteria is putting a cap full of bleach into a basin of water and soaking your feet. You want to do that only once a week.
Do powders work in other areas?
Definitely. If you are biking to work, for example, applying a powder to your bum will absorb the sweat as your body produces it.
What about facial mists: useful or unnecessary?
They’re not harmful, but I’m not sure what the point is. If the idea is to moisturize your skin in a dry environment—that’s the opposite of what water does. And if it’s about cooling—that’s not going to help with the core. Sipping on ice chips makes a lot more sense.
A sweaty gal’s tool kit
(Left to right):
Covergirl TruBlend Matte Made Foundation, $13, amazon.ca.
Lightweight and oil-free. It delivers a natural matte finish with buildable coverage that doesn’t clog your pores.
Annabelle Cosmetics Perfect Matte Powder, $10, annabelle.com.
For all your sweat-absorption needs.
UnderCarriage natural deodorant, $24, undercarriagedeodorant.com.
For underarms, under the breasts and chafing areas below the belt.
Beauty picks by Charlotte Herrold.