Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Stain Free Undershirts?

If you live where I live, it's hot and humid outside. And even if you don't live here, at some point throughout the year, you'll experience the sunny, warm weather we all long for. And that can only mean one thing - you're going to sweat!

One of my friends asked me a few weeks ago if I had any recommendations for undershirts and how to prevent those awful sweat stains associated with hot climates. Ask, and you shall receive!
Firstly, I'd like to start that there is not just one cause to the "yellow stains" from undershirts and on your favourite collars - it's a combination of many things. But with a little proactive behaviour, these stains can be prevented or avoided all together.

Is it the aluminum in most deodorants? Is it the bacteria or the salts in perspiration? Is it the heat from your dryer? Honestly, the jury is still out.

Many believe that the sweat stains are a result of a ingredients (like sebum, a popular wax-like ingredient in deodorants and antiperspirants, or acidic ingredients) mixing with sweat. Most natural deodorants and antiperspirants won't have these ingredients.

No matter what type of products you are using, after showering, be sure to completely dry your underarms. Then apply a very thin, even layer of the product and wait a few minutes for the product to DRY completely before putting on your shirt. This will prevent the product from getting on your clothes, prevent any additional staining, and helps prevent any additional odor-causing bacteria under the arms.

Also, the bacteria in sweat (everyone sweats, and everyone's sweat has bacteria - just some people have more and some have less) can accentuate the yellowing (and odor) associated with sweating - so try washing your underarms with an antibacterial soap at least once daily.

If you're excessively sweaty under your arms (technically called hyperhidrosis), only your doctor can truly give the best advice. However, some recommend getting Botox injections under the arms to prevent excess sweating. Rather than going into muscles, the injections go just under the skin, and last between 6-12 months. Botox works by blocking the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which, in turn, deactivates nerves that stimulate sweat glands. This treatment has been around for years, and is approved by the FDA as safe and effective.

You can also decrease sweat and odor under your arms by trimming the armpit hair. However, unless you're an Olympic swimmer or professional body builder, I don't recommend men to shave the armpit hair completely. Some things were just meant to be!

If you do have these underarm stains or ring around the collar, try soaking your whites in a mixture of bleach and water. Immediately after wearing the garment in question, try one of those enzyme solutions from the supermarket (like oxiclean or shout) first, and then soak them in the bleach and water solution. Then wash like normal, and hang them to dry. Air drying clothes helps maintain their original colour anyway, and prevents unwanted shrinking (and you thought cold water did all the shrinking!).

As for the best undershirts, look for close (but not tight) fitting shirts in a bamboo cotton blend. Bamboo fabric’s natural antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties make it perfect for clothes which fit close to your body such as socks and underwear. Bamboo clothing is also quick to absorb moisture, more so than cotton, keeping you dry and odour free; again making it an ideal choice for intimate apparel.

My favourite deodorant and antiperspirant combination is from Bliss and is called Underarmy. Here's how the site describes the glorious product:

Our mint-powered roll-on gel anti-perspirant—now in a nifty new bottle—helps circumvent sneaky sweat stains and keeps underarms feeling fresh, exuding cool and downright dry-on-the-fly, even when it's hotter than Hades. • no residue on your favorite garments• a lightweight, clear, gel formula• minty properties for a cooling sensation• your secret weapon to K.O. the B.O.

So, my friends, I hope this helps. I know there's a lot of information here. There's no exact science. And I'm not trying to plug any particular products. But, when I do wear undershirts, I wear Emporio Armani v-neck undershirts in 100% cotton and 2xist Bamboo cotton undershirts, I use Method laundry care, and I use Bliss's Underarmy deodorant/antiperspirant and I don't have those pesky yellow stains. Hope this helps!

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