“If I ever was a hair, I don’t think I’d choose to grow under someone’s arm.”
I stumbled upon this funny remark somewhere on the net yesterday, and I couldn’t agree more…
Nobody likes a sweaty and stinky armpit. It looks and feels awful.
But, what causes armpit odor? What makes it more smelly? Why can’t deodorants stop armpits from stinking? How can I get rid of armpit odor?
What Causes Sweaty and Smelly Armpits?
According to the info provided by Mayoclinic, sweating and body odor are caused by sweat glands which cover the entire body.
There are two main types of sweat glands: eccrine glands and apocrine glands.
Eccrine glands cover nearly all parts of your skin and open directly to the surface of the skin. While apocrine glands are only located in areas such as nipples, armpits and groin, and first open to the hair follicle and then open to the surface of the skin ().
When your body’s temperature is increased, eccrine glands produce fluids (sweat) to cool down your body. Apocrine glands only work when you’re under stress. When you’re stressed, they produce some milky fluids (sweat) in hairy areas such as armpits and groin.
Despite the popular belief, sweat is odorless. But, when it combines with the living bacteria on the skin, it breaks down into acid and gets smelly.
The sweat which apocrine glands produce, when you’re under stress, is high in protein, and bacteria can break it down more easily.
As a result, stress sweat, which is usually produced by apocrine glands in areas such as armpit, groin, and nipples, is more smelly than the heat or exercise sweat, which is produced by eccrine glands through the entire body.
Summary: Heat, physical activity, and stress make our sweat glands produce sweat. Sweat is odorless per se, but the living bacteria on our skin breaks it down and makes it smelly.
Why You Need to Stop Using Deodorants and Antiperspirants?
“I love the smell of a woman’s armpit when she’s not wearing deodorant.”– Scott Cann
This quote from the American actor Scott Caan is clear evidence of how ineffective and counterproductive deodorants and antiperspirants are.
Each year, more and more people stop using deodorants and antiperspirants due to their ineffectiveness.
As it was laid out above, sweat is odorless, but that’s the living bacteria on our skin which makes it smelly.
The traditional deodorants and antiperspirants usually contain some fragrance and a very small amount of antibacterial compounds to deal with sweat.
But, they have nothing to do with the bacteria, the main cause of armpit odor.
Most deodorants and antiperspirants contain aluminium and paraben, two chemical compounds which some believe may cause breast cancer in women. However, there is not enough scientific evidence to attest that the aluminum and paraben available in deodorants and antiperspirants can cause cancer ().
Using deodorants and antiperspirants can also increase the risk of the absorption of the chemicals into the bloodstream through the underarm skin.
According to this study fragrance, PG, essential oils and biological additives, parabens, vitamin E, and lanolin are compounds, often used in deodorants and antiperspirants, which may cause allergic reactions.
A 2004 survey in the UK showed that 23 percent of women and 13.8 percent of men who have been using personal care products, especially deodorants and antiperspirants, have experienced some sort of reaction over the course of a year ().
Summary: Deodorants and antiperspirants are ineffective because they do not deal with the main cause of body odor, i.e. the living bacteria on skin. The chemicals in these products may pose the risk of breast cancer, toxicity, or allergic reactions.
What Are Natural Deodorants?
Natural deodorants are more natural, healthier, and less toxic than their regular chemical counterparts. Using a natural deodorant may help you to avoid the potential adverse health effects of conventional deodorants and antiperspirants.
Natural deodorants are usually made from natural ingredients such as coconut oil, shea butter, or essential oils.
You can make a natural deodorant at home or buy them from online or local stores.
I’ve actually not experimented with homemade deodorants and, as a result, cannot give any advice on how to make one.
Below is a short list of our recommended natural deodorants you can buy online.
- Kokomo Cream Natural Deodorant by Crunchy Betty – This deodorant has had the best smell among all natural deodorants I’ve ever used. Its great smell can suppress the odor effectively. This is especially great for those who’re just transitioning from regular deodorants to a natural deodorant.
- Roll-On Deodorant by Real Purity – This natural deodorant is ideal for those with sensitive skin. It does not contain any skin irritants and it’d be less likely to experience any skin rash or itching after using this product.
- Lavender + Eucalyptus Deodorant by Underarmed – This natural deodorant is toxin-free, has a great scent, and can keep you odorless all day long.
What Is Armpit Detox?
As it was pointed out above, deodorants and antiperspirants contain different types of toxic substances which may pose health risks to their consumers.
To avoid the potential adverse health ramifications of deodorants and antiperspirants, many have started to switch to natural and non-toxic deodorants.
While switching from a regular deodorant to a natural and organic one, you may experience uncomfortable rashes, excessive sweating, or odor increase during the transition period.
An armpit detox can help to shorten the transition period and minimize the discomfort by pulling out the toxin-buildup caused by using chemical deodorants for many years, and balancing the living microbial community on the armpits.
Summary: Armpit detox is the practice of pulling out the toxin-buildup from your underarms and balancing armpit’s microbial community in order to minimize the discomfort experienced while transitioning from a regular and toxic deodorant to a natural and non-toxic one.
How to Do an Armpit Detox?
There are a few different methods for doing an armpit detox.
Below are the 3 most common homemade armpit detox recipes used by its proponents.
Bentonite Clay & ACV Armpit Detox Recipe (Recommended)
This is our favorite and recommended armpit detox recipe. That’s due to the fact that bentonite clay and acv have strong antiviral and antibacterial properties and can help to eliminate odor-causing bacteria and balance the microbial community living under your arms.
Bentonite clay is the main ingredient used in most armpit detox recipes.
Bentonite clay helps to expel toxins. It also has antiviral and antibacterial properties which would help to fight viral and bacterial pathogens (). It also contains a myriad of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, silica, sodium, copper, iron and potassium. The clay mask nourishes the skin and hair, balances their oil production, removes dead skin cells, and cleanses clogged pores.
Apple cider vinegar has strong antiviral and antibacterial properties and can help to expel toxins and eliminate odor-causing bacteria.
- Mix all of the ingredients in a glass bowl. You can optionally add some water to the mixture to make it thinner and more consistent. The thickness should be similar to that of yogurt.
- Spread the mixture evenly on your armpits.
- Leave the mixture on your armpits’ skin for a few minutes.
- Wash the mixture off your armpits using warm water.
- For the first few times, it’s recommended not to leave the mixture on your armpits longer than 2-3 minutes. You can gradually increase the time to maximum up to 20 minutes.
- If you noticed that your armpits turned red and hot after spreading the mixture, don’t fret. It’s a normal reaction and is totally harmless.
- You need to do this armpit detox for at least 5 successive days. After 5-7 days try a natural deodorant. If natural deodorant does not irritate your armpits, you’d no longer need to do an armpit detox and can start using a natural deodorant. If the natural deodorant still irritates your skin you need to continue the armpit detox for a few more days. Continue your armpit detox until the time a natural deodorant does not irritate your skin any more.
Bentonite Clay & Coconut Oil Armpit Detox Recipe
As it was mentioned above our recommended recipe for doing an armpit detox is the bentonite clay and acv armpit detox which was outlined above. We recommend bentonite clay & coconut oil armpit detox only to those who find acv harsh on their skin and have experienced problems such as rashes or irritations after applying acv on their armpits.
Coconut oil’s antibacterial properties are not as strong as acv, but it has hydrating and soothing properties which makes it more tolerable for people with sensitive skin.
Coconut oil armpit detox is easier on skin and is less likely to cause irritation.
However, coconut oil has a very thick and greasy content, making it difficult to spread under your arms. It also becomes liquid at body temperature and may drip down your arms and chest.
- Mix bentonite clay and coconut oil in a glass bowl.
- Spread the mixture on your armpits.
- Leave the mixture on your armpits’ skin for a few minutes.
- Wash the mixture off your armpits using warm water.
For further details, please see the notes to acv armpit detox recipe.
Baking Soda Armpit Detox Recipe (Not Recommended)
Generally, I do not recommend baking soda armpit detox to anyone.
Baking soda is used in many commercial deodorants due to its antibacterial properties and its ability to absorb sweat. Recently, baking soda has also been touted, by many natural health experts, as a great alternative to chemical beauty products such as shampoos, soaps, or deodorants.
But the reality is that putting baking soda on your skin or hair will do more harm than any good.
Baking soda’s PH level is 9, which means that it’s very alkaline.
Ideally, our body’s PH level should be between 4.5-6.5, which is a little bit acidic. So, spreading baking soda on your skin can dramatically increase your skin’s alkalinity, making your skin more susceptible to infections and damage.
Altering skin’s PH level may also lead to irritation, dryness, or sensitization to sunlight.
The only ingredient required for this detox is baking soda. For best results, it’s recommended to only use aluminum-free baking soda.
- While showering, scrub your underarms using a loofah or scrubbing flannel.
- Apply some baking soda on your underarms and use a natural deodorant immediately.
- If, after applying the natural deodorant, you smelt an unpleasant odor from your armpits, wash it immediately.
- Repeat steps 1-3 several times.
The first few times you try baking soda armpit detox you may need to repeat the procedure more frequently. You may decrease the repetitions as your body gradually adapts to the natural deodorant.
Summary: The “bentonite clay & acv” is our recommended recipe for doing an armpit detox. The “bentonite clay & coconut oil” recipe should only be used if acv causes skin irritation, or other types of allergic reactions. On the other hand, “baking soda armpit detox” may alter your skin’s PH levels and do more harm than any good.
Does Armpit Detox Really Work?
The truth is that there is not any science-based evidence to prove that an armpit detox can effectively eliminate toxins or odor-causing bacteria from your armpits.
Some experts believe that an armpit detox does not do any good and cannot facilitate the switch to a natural deodorant.
“There have not been any studies demonstrating that an armpit detox is beneficial,” Dr. Jessica Weiser, M.D. of New York Dermatology Group says. “An armpit detox should not impact the efficacy of natural deodorant, nor should it decrease or change the potential for skin irritation in someone immunologically prone” ().
Some also believe that since deodorants and antiperspirants do not get absorbed into your skin, they can be easily washed away by soap and water.
Some health experts also believe that it’s only the liver, kidneys, and other organs of the body’s detoxification system which are able eliminate the toxins. They believe that it’s not possible to pull out toxins from the skin.
On the other hand, the proponents of armpit detox believe that the ingredients used in an armpit detox mask have antibacterial properties and can eliminate odor-causing bacteria.
Apparently, it seems that armpit detox can help to reduce odor and sweating not mainly by removing toxins from armpits but also through modifying and balancing the living microbial community on the armpits.
Summary: There is not enough scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of armpit detox. Most people may actually not need to do any armpit detox during the transition period and can just start using a natural deodorant right away. However, it seems that an armpit detox can help some to facilitate the transition to a natural deodorant by modifying and balancing the living microbial community on the armpits.
Is Armpit Detox Safe?
The ingredients used in an armpit detox are all natural ingredients and are almost safe to use.
Nevertheless, apple cider vinegar may cause irritation in some people. However, using coconut oil instead of acv may solve the problem.
As it was laid out above, baking soda can alter skin’s PH level and do more harm than any good. So, generally, it’s not recommended to apply baking soda to any area of your skin, armpits included.
Summary: Armpit detox is almost safe to do. Use coconut oil instead of acv if you experience irritation after using acv. Baking soda can also alter your skin’s PH level and should be avoided at all costs.
The living bacteria on our skin are the main cause of body odor. They break down the sweat and make it smelly.
Using deodorants and antiperspirants is not a good solution for eliminating body odor as there is a good amount of scientific evidence which shows that these products can do more harm than any good.
However it seems that using a homemade or natural deodorant can help some to solve the problem by eliminating the odor-causing bacteria.
Transitioning from a regular deodorant or antiperspirant to a natural deodorant may cause discomforts such as increased odor, rashes, or excessive sweating.
An armpit detox may help some to facilitate the transition by eliminating buildup toxins and odor causing bacteria and balancing the living microbial community on the armpits.
“Bentonite clay & acv” is our recommended recipe for doing an armpit detox. “Bentonite clay & coconut oil” recipe is only recommended for those with a skin sensitivity to acv.
We do not recommend baking soda for doing an armpit detox as it may alter body’s PH levels dramatically and do more harm than any good.
Nevertheless, some experts believe that doing armpit detox is unnecessary and useless. They believe you just need to give your body some time to adjust while trying to switch to a natural deodorant.