You can buy creams and gels that stop you from sweating - but do they actually work?

Image via Bridesmaids/Apatow Productions.

We’re heading into summer, and with the warm season comes weddings, Christmas parties, and endless events… in the heat.

We all know the struggle of discretely trying to conceal sweat from pouring down your face when you’re in your fanciest dress and posing for photos. It can be a nightmare.

An increasingly popular way of preventing said sweat is using creams and gels that stop perspiriation.

You’ve probably seen these potions in your local pharmacy. So how do they work, and are they actually safe to use? We ask Dr Greg Goodman from The Dermatology Institute of Victoria.

We've all been there, Halle.

How do they work?

Sweat-preventing creams work in a couple of ways. The varieties you see on the pharmacy shelf are usually aluminium-based, and they work by blocking sweat glands in the same way deodorant does.

"Most are modifications of normal antiperspirants that one may use, for example, daily to stop sweating from armpits," Dr Goodman explains.

However, other antiperspirant formulations require a prescription due to the way they work. "They are more specific chemical-targeting products that disrupt the nerve supply to the sweat gland. Modifications may be seen in the future to the botulinum toxin (Botox) molecule to allow it to be used topically in sweat reduction, but usually Botox is used as an injection preparation to stop sweating," Dr Goodman says. (Post continues after video.)


So if you do have particular problematic areas, especially on your face, then seeing your doctor or dermatologist for a prescription to resolve the issue is probably your best bet.

"The prescription preparations can be used on your face, where people sweat excessively in certain areas such as the forehead, nose and upper lip, and there are commercial preparations that are designed for facial use," Dr Goodman explains.

Are they safe?

Before you lather yourself in sweat-preventing creams before heading to you next Bikram yoga class, there are a few things you need to consider first.

Dr Goodman explains the different creams and gels on the market shouldn't be used in a widespread manner, but rather more selectively on specific areas that you might be finding problematic.

The products are, by and large, safe to use but they may be irritating to facial skin, especially the if they contain the more common aluminium-blocking chemicals. So be sure to test out the product on a small section of your skin to ensure there is no irritation. (Post continues after gallery.)

"If used in small enough areas I do not think that would interfere with normal sweating activity in hot environments. All these preparations would continue to work at least partially, despite any heat-related activity," Dr Goodman says.

If you are finding your sweating especially problematic, Dr Goodman adds that there are other, more powerful ways of treating it, including botulinum toxin injections (Botox) if the sweating is severe enough. See your dermatologist or GP for more information and to discuss your options.

Have you used these products before? How did you find them?