Sensitive skin can be uncomfortable. Especially if that sensitive skin is located at a joint like the underarm.
Whether you’ve been battling skin conditions for your whole life, or you’ve woken up one day and feel like your skin has turned on you (which it hasn’t) you’re not alone in your sensitivity. A growing number of people, particularly women, are dealing with skin sensitivity issues every day, including redness, inflammation, itchiness, burning and stinging, dryness, and flakiness—and not surprisingly, many of them are occurring in one of the most vulnerable areas of skin: their armpits.
Most of these people accept without question that they’ve got sensitive skin, and believe that their allergic responses are because of their genetic or physiological makeup. But how many of these reactions are due to legitimate sensitivities in the individual, and how many are due to external factors in the environment, like our hygiene routines and the products we use, which can be better managed or eliminated? And more importantly, how do we remedy them without compromising our comfort—and without the inevitable funkiness that would ensue if we gave up using any deodorant?
The skin is the body’s barrier
Most people don’t see their skin for what it actually is. It’s doing a super important job all the time: protecting your insides from the outside.
The skin is the body’s largest organ, but it’s kind of an ecosystem in itself.
It’s home to its own brand of flora, tiny microorganisms that are working all the time to maintain homeostasis and keep the rest of your organs functioning. It’s also acting as a barrier to keep pathogens out—albeit a semi-permeable one, that’s sensitive (in EVERY person) to what’s coming into and what’s going out of it.
One of the most important parts of this skin system is the pH. Healthy skin has a pH somewhere around 5.5, and it needs to remain there to work properly. But guess what? Most manufacturers make skincare products for the body that are alkaline. Your cleansers and creams—the ones that give you that tight, squeaky feeling that you think means ‘clean’—are messing with the delicate pH balance of your skin, stripping the natural oils and substances that belong there and compromising the barrier to your squishy interior.
We’re also launching assaults on our skin every day with our lifestyle choices: shaving, hard water, lack of sleep, chlorine, clothes, and dehydration can all interrupt the skin’s systems. Is it really a wonder then, that so many of us end up with rashes, redness, and rawness, especially in important areas like our armpits?
What makes us sensitive
Our skin, like the rest of our bodies, is a complex system. Problems can be triggered by many different causes, and individual factors all interplay to determine if we’re going to experience sensitivities—and how intensely.
We can’t control many of these factors. Aging; breathing polluted air; living in harsh weather that’s particularly hot, cold, or dry; bathing in and drinking hard water (water that’s alkaline because of high levels of minerals like iron, magnesium and calcium); hormone imbalances; and genetic skin conditions can all cause irritations and allergies that can be hard to deal with. But many of the things that cause sensitivities are our individual lifestyle choices: lack of sleep and late nights, stress, chlorine swimming pools and sun exposure, household cleaners, and skin care products are all culprits that can be controlled
Is your skin taut or itchy? Could it be that your body products are too drying?
Some of the main causes of unnecessary irritation are products containing sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate, the chemicals in many cleansers and soaps that pretty much destroy the natural lipids (oils) in your skin. They cause little breaks in your skin, letting allergens in and precious moisture out. Is your skin burning and stinging? Maybe you’re using too many anti-aging and exfoliating products, that strip off more than the dead skin cells they’re designed to remove
Or maybe it’s not what you’re putting on—maybe it’s what you’re taking off.
How shaving compromises our barrier
Brace yourself for a revelation: shaving your pits could be harmful to your health.
There’s been a big social push in recent times to encourage women not to shave their armpits—because it’s kind of arbitrary, right? Men don’t do it, so there’s no real reason that women should. But if you’ve got sensitive skin, you probably already know that shaving your armpits also causes rash and irritation, and a bunch of other problems like ingrown hairs and razor burn. It’s basically a really harsh and painful way of exfoliating your armpit skin.
Besides this, shaving compromises the lipid barrier layer of the epidermis. This layer stops chemicals from entering the rest of the skin and getting into our blood stream. It’s kind of scary when you think about this layer being broken, and having no resistance against the chemical compounds in our deodorants—many of which are known to cause cancer! Our armpits are also full of lymph nodes, which are basically little filters to clean waste products from our blood, and compromising those guys is asking for big health problems like a weakened immune system.
If exposure to chemicals isn’t a good enough reason to let your pits grow wild and free, maybe the discomfort of shaving is. Once shaving has removed the lipid barrier, some people experience oversensitivity, inflammation, redness, itchiness, and dryness—which is why it stings so much sometimes when you apply deodorant. And this can happen even when you’re using good products! When you’ve damaged your skin with a thousand tiny cuts, even high-quality natural ingredients can sting and cause sensitivities.
Building the barrier back up
Not all of us are ready to give up shaving though, and that’s our right—it’s as arbitrary as not shaving, after all. But how can we be hairless style icons without damaging some of the most sensitive areas of skin we have?
The answer is in growing a thicker skin. When its barrier is intact, your skin will maintain a good balance of hydration, making it both flexible and resistant to pathogens
You can repair your barrier by:
- Eliminating astringents: don’t use anything containing alcohol or anything very alkaline. Choose natural body washes and deodorant that won’t strip moisture or lipids from your skin
- Soaking your skin: Use a moisturising shaving oil if you shave, and dampen? your skin for a little while before you shave (because dry skin is damaged more easier by the razor);
- Eating a healthy diet: Eat foods rich in fatty acids and omegas (or taking supplements) to reduce inflammation and rejuvenate skin cells, soothing the skin from the inside; and
- Using good deodorant: Stay away from antiperspirants (sweating is good for you!) and deodorants that contain harmful substances like aluminium contribute to irritating dryness…and cancer.
Strengthening your lipid layer could be the key to eliminating your skin sensitivities. We can’t fight every factor—we can’t stop the natural drying that comes with age, or the genes that made us inherit a predisposition to a skin condition—but there’s a good chance we can reduce their impact, and beat a lot of the environmental ones, by making better lifestyle choices. And one important way we can do that is by staying as close as we can to nature, using products with soothing and remedial ingredients.
Wellbeing is our driving force at Black Chicken Remedies, which is why we first formulated our best-selling Axilla Deodorant Paste. We made this product because we didn’t believe people should have to smear chemical-ridden, cancer-contributing substances into their vital organs to smell good. And it’s a winning formula—most people who’ve tried this product love it.
But not everything suits everyone, and some people (particularly the ones who want to keep shaving) are sensitive to some of the ingredients. That’s why we’re launching a sensitive version of Axilla.
All the strength of the original version, for neutralising odour, and doesn’t pinch the pores shut like antiperspirants do; but it’s a formulation designed specifically for sensitive skin, so it won’t cause irritations, even after shaving.
It’s strengthening for lipid barrier layer of the epidermis, unisex, citrusy, and suitable for sensitive skin, and it’s loaded with a bunch of other health-giving deliciousness, including:
- Borage seed oil: which is full of GLA, a potent anti-inflammatory that also helps to regulate water loss and protect the skin from damage;
- Magnesium: which boosts energy, reduces anxiety and nervousness, relieves muscle aches and tension, supports heart health, and helps to prevent migraines;
- Shea butter: which remedies dry skin with nourishing and moisturising natural vitamins and fatty acids;
- Coconut oil: which is antibacterial, antifungal, odour neutralising, and moisturising; and
- Ylang Ylang essential oil: which is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antidepressant, and supports immune, cardiovascular, reproductive and digestive health.
With subtle overtones of citrus fruit and coconut, Axilla Deodorant Paste – Barrier Booster™ for sensitive skin is a just a little bit tropical. It’s immediately soothing, easily absorbed, and clear when it’s applied, and it’s got a non-greasy, non-sticky feel. Like all our products, it’s free of the nasty stuff like parabens and phthalates, and it does a better job—you can smell gorgeous all day without the irritation.
Having sensitive skin isn’t so bad anymore. It can be a great thing for your pits —they’re going to feel soothed and smell delectable!