As Stoic philosopher and Roman statesman Seneca had it, “It is the superfluous things for which men sweat”. We’re not entirely sure if he meant date night and/or anxiety over upcoming feedback from your passive-aggressive boss. But all’s the same – don’t sweat the small stuff, chaps. Fear sweat smells the worst, after all.
Of course, as the mercury rises, it doesn’t matter how stoic you are in the face of office adversity or potential bedmates: sweat is inevitable. Not only inevitable, but useful.
In fact, if you’re considering clicking off this article because you never sweat (like, ever), then you’d best seek urgent medical help. Sweating is your body’s in-built heat-regulation system. As the temperature rises, your heart rate increases, and your body cools itself down by pumping out water. Without sweat, you’d be dead.
On that cheery note, let’s do our best to stop it. Fear not – to stem the tide obviously isn’t a death sentence. Reducing your sweat to comfortable levels is fine. And frankly, it’s essential if you live in a polluted city, suffer in an office with crappy air con or finally decide to take up that tax-free job offer in Dubai.
But before you wage war on your sweat glands, there are a few things worth knowing.
If smell is your issue more than pure fluid ounces, things like your diet and even your microbiome (the genetic makeup of your body’s bacteria) could be causing the stink. Glands in your body secrete a substance, which bacteria in your marshy areas then break down, resulting in that nose-wrinkling pong. Read on for antiperspirants that help with this particular issue. And for a much needed diet clean-up.
On the other hand, if it’s more a case of sweat volume than scent, then below you’ll find some simple ways to reduce your salt water output.
These are ways you can put a stop to perspiration:
1. Dress For The Occasion
Not that you really need an expert to tell you this, but as medical and cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Anjali Mahto explains, “Hot weather can lead to increased sweating”. Which in turn can lead to a slew of skincare problems. “If sweat is trapped against clothing or fabrics you can develop problems with spots or folliculitis,” she says.
So the most important benefit to your grooming routine is found in your wardrobe. Switch up your fabrics, and try layering shirts over a thin cotton or similarly sweat-wicking vest to keep the grease off your skin. Both Marks & Spencer and Uniqlo offer base layers with all the mop-up technology but the look and feel of something much more stylish.
2. Don’t Be A Mug
Iced coffee is catnip to your palate in summer. We get it. But if you often find yourself sweating inexplicably, chances are it’s something to do with your biochemistry.
As neuro-kinesiologist Dax Moy explains, caffeine is to your nervous system what spinach is to Popeye: it sets it on beast mode, and puts you on the defensive. Your body thinks it’s under threat and you sweat in response. A cup shouldn’t cause you any problems. But anything more and you might have the enemy at the floodgates.
There’s little in the way of an off switch for your nervous system. So try switching to an iced tea or red espresso, the hipster’s new caffeine-free drink of choice. If you’re worried that caffeine may be at the root of your sweating, you can try taking L-theanine supplements – a calming amino acid found in tea plants that’s a proven nervous system-calmer.
L Theanine, available at MyProtein, priced £16.99.
3. Swerve The Spice
On the subject of the stuff you’re putting in your face, eat less curry (and spicy food in general). The compound in chillies that gives them their kick acts in a similar way to caffeine, but also ups your metabolism. Which is why you might find yourself walking away from a vindaloo looking like you’ve just run a 10K. In a sauna.
So what’s the takeaway? If you’re a ruby glutton, then instead of ordering anything that should come with a hazard warning, opt for a curry high in coconut or regular cream, which will reduce the impact of the chillies. It won’t be doing your abs any favours, mind.
4. Grease Lightening
No, that’s not a typo, but rather an ingenious pun. You see, by making a few subs in your grooming regimen, you can lighten the grease on your face and head while reducing your body’s sweat output. So no more dripping into your keyboard the next time the fan breaks.
“Certain hair products, particularly waxes, can cause sweat and the development of spots on the forehead, [especially] if the hair rubs at this site,” says Dr. Mahto.
In other words, bin off the Dax Wax and instead try a light cream or, better still, a little bit of styling conditioner like the one offered by barbers Pankhurst London. “Also, use less greasy moisturisers in the summer months,” says Dr. Mahto. “It’s important to change your skincare routine based on the weather.”
5. Underarm Tactics
We’re not saying you smell bad, but didn’t that guy literally just run to the other end of the tube to escape the stench of your swamp-like armpits?
Don’t accept your place as a social pariah. As we’ve explained, sweat’s interaction with bacteria is the process by which you can swiftly clear an entire tube carriage. But it’s also one over which you have complete control.
First, bin any stodgy cream-based antiperspirants you might own – these can clog up your glands and exacerbate the problem, resulting in more sweat that smells worse than it should. Next, pick up an aluminium-free deodorant like Bulldog’s Original Deodorant, which not only lets your pits breathe, but your fellow commuters too.
Need something stronger? Many of our readers swear by Driclor, which has been specifically formulated to combat hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).
6. Trim To Win
Body hair won’t have too much of an impact on sweat unless you’re one of the Chewbacca types who lets it run wild. If that’s the case, and sweat is a serious problem for you, manscape immediately, paying particular attention to trimming your armpits and, yes, you guessed it, your nether regions.
Double the effect down below by applying some talcum powder afterwards. This is particularly useful if you wear an unforgiving suit to work and have to sit for 10 hours a day.
Philips Series 3000 Body Groomer, available at Amazon, priced £24.99.
7. No Sweat!
If that all sounds like child’s play to you, and you’re a bit of a grooming zealot, then there are more extreme options. We’re not necessarily recommending these so much as opening your eyes to the lengths to which some will go – best only consider these if excessive perspiration is a serious issue for you.
Botox can be used in the armpits and other sweat-prone areas to stem sweat’s inexorable tide. It’s actually not as costly as you might imagine, and the results will last you a while. But bear in mind your pits will need top-ups.
More permanent is laser treatment. You can have anything zapped these days, including your sweat glands. This stops them from secreting so much grease. Worth considering if you do so on a Saudi oilfield scale. Otherwise, just drink less coffee.
By the sweat of our brow, we’ve brought you the best tips we could find on keeping your cool in the heat. Do you have any advice that’ll help others put a plug in it?
Let us know in the comments below.