Underarm Detox: What Is It? And Does It Work?

If you experience odor, rashes, or excessive sweating in your armpits, you might want to consider an underarm detox. It’s a simple, DIY mask you can apply to your armpits to unclog your pores and remove toxins most deodorants contain.

However, your body can naturally rid itself of toxins and bacteria. So is doing a detox even necessary? Let’s tackle this debate and explore some questions about underarm detox.

DIY underarm detox supplies

Why Detox Your Underarms?

Many people swear by the idea that you should do an armpit detox when switching from an antiperspirant to a natural deodorant. They believe it can ease the transition and help your armpits adapt quicker to the switch.

An antiperspirant physically blocks sweat from coming out of your pores. Conventional antiperspirants and deodorants contain chemicals like:

  • Aluminum – Studies show links between aluminum and Alzheimer’s Disease and some cancers
  • Parabens – Also hormone disruptors and have been linked to cancers
  • Phthalates – These are endocrine disruptors that can cause hormone imbalance and even infertility
  • Propylene glycol – also known as antifreeze, this chemical carries a moderate risk of immunotoxicity and allergies
  • Formaldehyde – Exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to some types of cancer in humans

With these ingredients, it’s no surprise some antiperspirants can irritate your skin. A detox can help soothe these irritations. Adding moisturizing ingredients into your skin care routine can also ease the symptoms of damaged skin barriers.

See also: 9 Healthier Alternatives to Aluminum Foil

Research concludes that antiperspirants and deodorants affect the bacteria in our armpits differently.

The liver, kidneys, lymph nodes, and spleen filter toxins that enter the body. These toxins leave the body through sweat, urine, and feces. So, while there haven’t been medical studies to prove a detox benefits the sweat glands, it can’t hurt to give your body a boost when it comes to sweating more efficiently.

How Long Does it Take to Detox Underarms?

The actual process takes about 15 minutes. But the time it takes to see results can vary.

If you switch from antiperspirant to natural deodorant, your body will go through a phase of adjusting to the new ingredients. Your body will essentially detox itself from the ingredients it was accustomed to.

It’s the same concept as switching your facial cleanser. You may go through a short period of adjusting to your new face wash. That doesn’t mean your old face wash was terrible – it just means your face was used to it.

Your armpits will naturally smell while detoxing because they are undergoing an adjustment period. Don’t be alarmed by it, though. Whether you are detoxing naturally from aluminum-based antiperspirants or using a detox mask, your body will react to the changes similarly. Detoxes are just said to have a faster elimination rate.

Your body can detox in a few days, or it can take a few weeks to adjust. It all depends on your body’s chemistry and how it reacts to detox. Be sure to drink extra water and keep your armpits dry to limit odor-causing bacteria.

How Do You Detox Your Underarms?

Making a detox mask for your underarms is relatively simple. You can make a detox mask with household items like apple cider vinegar, which can irritate your skin. Apple cider vinegar has myriad benefits for your overall health, but too much of it can be troublesome.

In a detox mask, apple cider vinegar can keep your pH levels low, which can help prevent unwanted bacteria from thriving. However, you want to ensure you have the right ingredients in your homemade mask to minimize the risk of irritating your skin.

DIY Detox Mask

For this DIY detox mask, you will need bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar.

  1. You’ll need a couple of washcloths, or one washcloth and some cotton balls.
  2. Mix 1 tablespoon of bentonite clay with about 2 teaspoons of water until you obtain your desired consistency. You don’t want it to be runny.
  3. Spread an even layer of this mixture over your armpits and keep your arms raised until it dries.
  4. Leave the mask on for about 15 minutes, then wash it off in the shower or with a washcloth and warm water.
  5. With your second washcloth or cotton balls, apply about 1 tablespoon of ACV or witch hazel to your underarm areas.
  6. You can add vinegar to the clay-and-water mixture instead of waiting to use it last.

Although apple cider vinegar is considered a mild acid, it can still be rough on your skin. If you have sensitive skin, use witch hazel or a gentle facial toner instead.

You can repeat this detox mask as frequently or as minimally as you like. Other armpit detox mask options use activated charcoal or coconut oil instead of bentonite clay.

If you have sensitive skin, there are some gentler alternatives you can try before using a mask. Many plants have soothing effects that can cleanse your skin. Roses, for example, have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce redness, remove bacteria and leave a fresh scent. 

If you have access to a rose bush, you can make your own rose water by simmering the petals in a sauce pan for 20 to 30 minutes, straining and cooling. (source) Then, rub the water into your underarm skin for a gentle refresh.

Can You Permanently Get Rid of Underarm Odor?

There is no way to permanently remove underarm odor, because body odor is a natural and common occurrence. Body odor can vary based on genetics and lifestyle choices and comes from bacteria breaking down sweat. Sweat is a healthy bodily function – it removes toxins from your body, so no wonder it doesn’t smell great.

Your apocrine sweat glands are located in your underarm and are the most common source of body odor for most people. So, while you cannot permanently eliminate underarm odor, you can combat it with shaving, consistent bathing with warm water and soap, and a good deodorant and antiperspirant.

Your skin is covered in “good” and “bad” bacteria. The microbiome in your armpit needs balance to remain healthy. A good balance can ensure your body odor is kept at bay and that you don’t experience irritation or sensitivity in your underarm area. You may benefit from using a chemical-free deodorant or a specially designed one for sensitive skin to obtain a good balance of microbiomes.

Deodorants can mask and neutralize the smell of sweat, but they don’t stop you from perspiring.

Underarm Detox Dilemma

An armpit detox may help speed up the process by cleansing odor-causing bacteria from the skin and helping a natural product work more efficiently. It’s important to be cautious and monitor how your skin reacts. If you want to switch to a more natural type of odor-eliminating deodorant, by all means – go ahead.

They are essentially used for different things since antiperspirants minimize or try to block your sweat, while deodorants just fight the odor caused by bacteria. An imbalance in bacteria in your armpits can cause more pungent body odor than usual because your body is trying to compensate for the changes. Your skin’s bacteria needs time to adjust, and sudden changes can cause a pungent smell.

Before trying an underarm detox, it’s important to understand the research behind it. Many people choose to detox when switching to natural deodorant was a way to cleanse their skin of potentially harmful chemicals from antiperspirant. 

While your skin will naturally detox itself over time, you can try out different ways to speed up the process and make your skin feel fresh and healthy. Whether you choose to detox or not, be sure to use natural, safe ingredients and stop using anything that causes irritation. 

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