Summer is coming, and there are endless reasons why summer weddings are just so darn beautiful, from the shining sun to the bright and colorful florals. But along with all the summer goodness comes something many women struggle with: sweating. And while anyone is bound to sweat a bit when the weather is warm and nerves are high, excessive sweating is another story. Brides spoke with Joshua Zeichner MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City for his expert advice on handling summer sweat on your wedding day.
What Is Sweat, Anyway?
Whether it’s because of the temperature, exertion, or illness, we all sweat sometimes. But why? Zeichner explains, “Sweating is our bodies’ way of maintaining our core temperature. As sweat evaporates from the surface of the skin it helps cool us down. We sweat in response to high temperatures in the environment as well as physical or emotional stress.”
Your First Line of Defense
Since puberty, most of us have grown accustomed to applying deodorant, antiperspirant, or both to our underarms, which are the most common areas of perspiration. Antiperspirants, which help reduce the wetness on the skin’s surface, “work by forming a plug within the sweat glands, preventing sweat from reaching the skin,” explains Zeichner, noting that most antiperspirants also have deodorant effects, too.
Conversely, deodorants, “prevent or neutralize body odor, but do not have an effect on wetness.” Some may contain fragrances to help disguise body odors, while “Others contain ingredients that decrease the amount of odor-causing bacteria on the skin. Bacteria normally lie on the skin and as they break down sweat, it may lead to a foul odor,” says Zeichner.
Over the Counter Options
For over the counter options to help keep sweat at bay on your big day, Zeichner recommends clinical strength antiperspirants because, “They contain a higher concentration of the active anti-wetness ingredient, which is aluminum salts,” such as Dove Clinical Strength ($7.99, available at Target), and Certain Dri ($5.67, available at Walmart).
To prevent sweat on your face (especially for outdoor ceremonies and to protect your makeup artist’s work), there are antiperspirant wipes that can be used, including Dermadoctor’s MEDeTATE wipes ($19, available at Sephora). For those with sensitive skin, the high concentration of aluminum salts might cause irritation. In these cases, Zeichner recommends sticking to products designed for sensitive skin, which has a lower concentration of the active ingredient. While they may not block the wetness issue as well, they shouldn’t cause you irritation.
In regards to the application, most people don’t know that the best time to apply antiperspirant is at night. “Antiperspirant‘s should actually be applied in the evening when your body naturally makes lower levels of sweat. It will form a more effective plug at that time to prevent wetness the next morning,” says Zeichner.
While frustrating to deal with, excessive sweating is not physically harmful, though Zeichner notes that it can, “have a significant emotional impact leading to lack of self-confidence and interfering with interpersonal relationships.” It can also, “influence your choice in clothing and may actually lead to staining of certain clothes,” which nobody wants, especially on their wedding day.
If over-the-counter products aren’t cutting it, and sweating is really beginning to affect your life, you may have hyperhidrosis—or abnormally excessive sweating. Since it may be difficult to control on your own, Zeichner says his best recommendation is to, “visit a board-certified dermatologist for evaluation and treatment. There are options that can help you which can have a significant impact on your quality of life.”
The first option a dermatologist might offer is a prescription-strength antiperspirant called aluminum chloride, or Drysol, says Zeichner. He explains, “It works by causing swelling around the sweat glands to prevent sweat from reaching the surface," though it may cause dryness or irritation in the area.
Next up, there are oral medications, including Glycopyrrolate that can also decrease sweating—though, Zehichner warns a side effect can include dry mouth. He adds, “Sometimes high blood pressure medications known as beta-blockers are given as well. They can help reduce sweating that occurs as a result of emotional stress that may occur when you get excited or nervous.”
Finally, a little known course of action includes Botox—but not for what you think. In fact, it's FDA approved to treat excessive sweating. “You may be able to get it covered by your insurance, however many insurances require that you try other options first. So, make sure to visit your dermatologist in advance and plan ahead,” says Zeichner. The medication is injected directly into the armpit, where it works to prevent the nerve from signaling the sweat glands to “rev up sweat production.” Zeichner says results typically last between three and six months.
Looking ahead, there is also a new topical medication in development, which Zeichner says will hopefully be available by the end of the year. “It is a prescription antiperspirant wipe that actually decreases the amount of sweat produced, unlike traditional antiperspirants that simply prevent wetness from reaching the surface of the skin."
Thankfully, there are many solutions and options available to anyone suffering from excessive sweating. If this is something you struggle with, seek out a board certified dermatologist to help.