Impact of shaving and anti-perspirant use on the axillary vault

Int J Cosmet Sci. 2007 Feb;29(1):31-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2494.2007.00361.x.


Shaving the axilla is a regular part of the personal care regime for many women in Europe, North and South America. To assess the impact of shaving on underarm skin, a series of investigations were carried out, in which the thickness of the axillary vault and fossa were measured using optical coherence tomography (OCT), and underarm shaving debris was collected for study. The response of the axilla to histamine iontophoresis was also investigated. Additionally, a study was carried out to investigate the impact of a novel anti-perspirant roll-on formulation on irritation and self-perceived sensory properties of the axilla. The results clearly demonstrate that shaving the underarm consistently removes skin (stratum corneum) as well as axillary hair (with a mean value of 36.1% of the debris being skin). OCT measurements demonstrated that in shaved areas of the axilla, epidermal thickness is higher than in unshaved areas. In response to histamine, wheal and flare were both found to be greater in the shaved axilla, when compared with an unshaved control, but flare in the fossa was greater than that in the vault. On the basis of these results, we propose that the axillary vault has adapted to frequent shaving, notably by the development of a thickened epidermis. However, this adaptation is often not sufficient to fully protect the axilla from damage and irritation resulting from hair removal (shaving). In these instances, we have demonstrated that use of a novel anti-perspirant roll-on formulation containing glycerol and sunflower seed oil was able to reduce the impact of shaving-induced irritation and improve self-assessment of axillary condition.