My Life More Or Less Revolves Around My Sensitive Armpits

Seven tips for dealing with angry underarms. Not listed: compromising.
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Chelsea
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Seven tips for dealing with angry underarms. Not listed: compromising.

Having fair skin comes with its pros and cons. The same person who complimented my “porcelain complexion” yesterday probably would’ve pretended not to know me if she saw the sun-blocking regalia I donned for the beach last weekend (huge hat and sunglasses and SPF 50 and umbrella and cover-up).

And, also…well, actually, now that I stop and think about my delicate skin, more cons come to mind than pros. I can’t wear certain colors (neons? not a chance), I get rashes from most costume jewelry, I blister and bruise easily, and I get terrible razor burn.

And one of those areas just happens to be on display about 10 months of the year in Florida. No, not that area. My armpits.

No matter what kind of soap or shaving cream or other product I use, no matter how sharp or new-fangled the razor, I get red, irritated and sometimes even a little bloody when I shave my pits.

Then, the prospect of putting on deodorant becomes complicated, too, because it often exacerbates the irritation.

In the end, hairy pits, rashy pits and/or stinky pits all make me quite unsure when doing such mundane activities as putting my hair up, stretching, waving or doing the YMCA.

Which leads me to the daily dilemma: to shave or not to shave? Most mornings involve a mental flowchart along these lines:

  1. I’m in the shower.
  2. Armpit check reveals that I need to shave.
  3. I consider the weather, my planned daily activities and my available clothing options.
  4. I decide to shave or not to shave.
  5. If I shave, I can go sleeveless but not use deodorant.
  6. If I don’t shave, I must wear a sleeved ensemble but can use deodorant.

That’s a lot of thought before my caffeine.

So, how it shakes out is that I basically shave my pits every few days, trying to mangle them as little as possible when I do shave, and alternating different-sleeved looks and deodorant application to accommodate the growth.

You think I’m crazy now, don’t you?

How 'bout now?

How 'bout now?

Well, throughout my 15-year relationship with these sensitive armpits, I have discovered a few tips that you might find helpful:

  • Shave at night to give skin time to calm down before the next day
  • A natural oil, such as coconut, lubricates the skin and hair well for shaving and doesn’t irritate with harsh chemicals
  • In a pinch, conditioner works well as a shaving cream by softening the hair
  • A new, sharp razor will cause less irritation than an old, dull one
  • Pull the inside ridge of armpit skin toward the body with the opposite hand to tighten skin and create an even surface for easier shaving
  • Shave with upward strokes first to get the majority of hair, and then target remaining spots with light, downward strokes
  • Apply Vaseline, Neosporin or hydrocortisone after shaving to calm redness and minor cuts; avoid anything artificially scented.

So, am I alone in my underarm neuroses? How often do you shave? Does your skin get irritated? If so, what do you do about it? Or do you just go wild and wooly? And do you wear deodorant when your pits will be on display?