Dr. Sweat's new antiperspirant pads are the only thing that has ever kept my underarms dry

I tried the latest over-the-counter option to see if it could handle my excessive sweating.

25 Jun 2019

I haven't been officially diagnosed with hyperhidrosis, but that's probably due only to the fact that I have yet to talk to a doctor about my personal struggle with excessive sweating. Since my early 20s, it seems I've always been the sweatiest person in the room, and that room doesn't have to be in a gym; it can be anything from a fitting room to a living room. Where others can nonchalantly try on clothing or socialize with friends, I'm attempting to ventilate myself with any object I can turn into a makeshift fan. But despite the inconvenience and embarrassment that has come with perspiring so much, I've always stuck to over-the-counter ways to keep my sweat from seeping through my clothing — even though they haven't worked very well.

And then, as if someone saw my tears (well, I guess they don't count as tears if they're coming from your armpit), antiperspirant underarm pads called Dr. Sweat appeared — and they're available over-the-counter. (Fascinatingly, there are actually several real physicians named Dr. Sweat, though I don't think the product is named after any of them.) Dr. Sweat does not rely on the active ingredient that traditional antiperspirant solids do; instead, it prevents produced by the gland with 15 percent aluminium chloride, which shouldn't be confused with the aluminium found in antiperspirant solids.

"Traditional antiperspirants block wetness from reaching the surface of the skin," explains Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. It does this, he says, by forming a plug within the sweat gland to physically block sweat from leaving the gland itself. And while Dr. Sweat also creates a blockage, it does so differently. "Unlike traditional antiperspirants, Dr. Sweat contains aluminium chloride. Rather than forming a plug within the gland, it causes swelling of the tissue around the gland."

The Dr. Sweat pads are quite thick and about the circumference of a coaster. I applied one by firmly patting (not wiping) the saturated circle against my armpits, which I hadn't shaved in a couple of days. (I figured that would help me avoid irritation — more on that later.) When it dried after a few minutes, I felt weirdly vulnerable; I kind of missed the security blanket that a layer of solid antiperspirant provided. But despite feeling like I was definitely going to sweat even more than I would while wearing my usual antiperspirant, I decided to put Dr. Sweat to the ultimate test and go to the gym about a half-hour after the application.

The coaches at Delray Fit Body Boot Camp always make me sweat profusely — and that's in comparison to my usual excess sweating. That morning was no different, as you can see by the sweat bib on my "I Survived the Sooper Dooper Looper" Hershey Park T-shirt in the photo below. But as you can see in the next photo, taken not even a minute later, my underarms were totally, shockingly, impressively dry.

Zeichner confirms that I was correct to assume shaving right before applying Dr. Sweat could lead to irritation, but I still ended up with some redness and discomfort, perhaps because I immediately subjected my underarms to friction during a workout. New users are advised to apply Dr. Sweat three times in the first week before switching to once a week or as needed, so in an attempt to avoid more irritation, I didn't apply it again until Sunday night — and Zeichner says that's a good idea, not just for the sake of less discomfort, but for more efficiency.

"Antiperspirants should ideally be applied in the evening when your baseline sweat level is lower than what it is in the morning," Zeicher tells Allure. "When there is less sweat within the gland, the antiperspirants can work more effectively."

Come Monday morning, having not applied any traditional antiperspirant all weekend and worried that the previous night's application of Dr. Sweat wouldn't last overnight, I went to the gym feeling defenseless once again. But to my surprise, my T-shirt remained dry — at least under the arms.

And then, feeling a bit more confident about Dr. Sweat's potency, I didn't apply it again before my Tuesday-morning workout. And as you can see from yet another photo taken in my Fiat after class (I honestly don't know how my fellow gym-goers didn't spot me taking armpit selfies in the parking lot), my underarms did not sweat.

I can't say the same for my chest and face, which join forces to make working out near me a designated splash zone. In fact, my face sweats under a lot of non-exertive situations, like simply getting dressed or being in a crowded space, regardless of the temperature. I would love if Dr. Sweat was made for the face and chest, too, so I asked Zeichner why it's indicated only for the underarms.

Basically, it comes down to the individual and what their doctor thinks is OK for them. "This is something that you should speak to your dermatologist about, as it can cause irritation and may be harmful if it gets into the eyes or the mouth," Zeichner says. "In some cases, I do recommend the use of aluminium chloride on the face."

Although I'm not sure I'm ready to try Dr. Sweat on my face, I am definitely sure that it's a game-changer for my armpits. And soon, you can discover the difference it can make in your underarm sweat by preordering a jar of 10 pads — about two month's worth — for $20 on Amazon.