The Science Behind Pit Stains & How to Stop Them

science behind pit stainsSweat stains are the bane of all hyperhidrosis suffers. And even if you just pit out from time to time, there’s nothing more embarrassing than flashing those telltale yellow pit stains when waving to a friend, co-worker or maybe even your boss.

To prevent obvious sweat marks, you might avoid colored dress shirts and stick to white ones that don’t show sweat marks as well as that baby blue button-down that gives you chills just looking at it. But opting for white shirts only (like I once did) only makes you susceptible to the formidable yellowish stains that inhabit your shirts after a few good sweat events.

The obvious solution is to slab on more underarm protection. In fact, adults who use deodorant do so an average of 8.6 times per week. And for those between 18 and 24, that average jumps to 9.2 uses per week, according to Mintel International.
Get more facts about sweat.

Or, you might reach for the heavy-duty antiperspirants with the active ingredient aluminum, which is shown to reduce sweating by up to 20 percent. However, you may not realize that this seemingly innocuous habit could actually be the source of those pesky sweat stains.

How Armpit Sweat Stains Form

Sweat is a protein, and when this compound reacts with aluminum, it's said to cause the yellowing that often appears on your white undershirts or dress shirts after a few intense sweats. And to make matters worse, cotton is also a protein, so together, your antiperspirant, sweat and cotton undershirt create a deadly yellowing combination. Although alcohol is the active ingredient in many deodorants (making it a safer bet than antiperspirants), some still contain aluminum.

In the business world, yellow armpit stains aren’t just embarrassing – they’re also distracting (not to mention expensive). How could your boss, potential client or professor possibly focus on your brilliant presentation when every time you raise your arm, a glaring yellow stain is staring back at them?

Then you have to consider the wear and tear that sweat stains inflict on your nicest dress shirts and the cost of replacing them every few months. This can add up to hundreds – even thousands – of dollars each year.

Proactive Ways to Stop Pit Stains

Contrary to that lingering smell that may follow you throughout the day, sweat is actually odorless. The foul smell we know all too well is actually the result of bacteria living on the skin.

Both deodorants and antiperspirants work to combat this bacteria in different ways. Deodorants are intended to mask the smell by killing bacteria that metabolize the proteins and fatty acids. Antiperspirants use aluminum compounds to block the pores and prevent bacteria from metabolizing the odor-inducing proteins and fatty acids. Antiperspirants essentially dry out sweat, which can cause irritation for those with sensitive skin.

While the active ingredient in antiperspirants (aluminum) can be effective for reducing sweat, claims about its connection to diseases like Alzheimer’s and breast cancer have raised concerns for excessive sweaters who lather up in the stuff every day. Personally, I choose deodorants over antiperspirants to avoid irritation and excessive aluminum intake. Here are a just a few effective deodorants that our team swears by:

Arm and Hammer Essentials Natural Deodorant, Fresh

Old Spice High Endurance Deodorant

Old Spice Red Zone Deodorants

Herban Cowboy Dusk Maximum Protection Deodorant

If you need that extra protection but are also concerned with reducing yellow sweat stains, Klima Hyperdri Antiperspirant Serum – the world’s first aluminum-free antiperspirant/deodorant - could be a game-changer. Although we haven’t tried it, the reviews seem positive. According to the site, it takes one week of daily use to see a decrease in perspiration and four weeks of daily use to achieve full protection.

If you’re looking for a purely protective deodorant that prevents against sweat stains (and aren’t bothered by the use of aluminum), the Speed Stick Stainguard antiperspirant could be a good option. Because we stick to aluminum-free deodorants, we haven’t tried this one, so you’ve been forewarned.

Pit stains simply aren’t pretty, and no one should have to toss out dress shirts and T-shirts like yesterday’s lunch. Thompson Tee sweat proof shirts have empowered me to wear deodorant instead of forcing my pits to endure constant redness and irritation from clinical-strength antiperspirants. To see how Thompson Tee has helped others preserve their clothes and combat their biggest sweating nightmares, check out our testimonials page, or try one for yourself!

What are your favorite deodorants? We'd love to hear your opinions in the comments below!

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