Can You Detox Your Armpits?

Practiced for thousands of years, the detox technique is claimed by its devotees to purify the body from the inside out and leave you energized, per the Asian Journal of Beauty and Cosmetology. By removing toxins from your body and renewing it with healthy substances, detoxing is believed to help keep your body functioning at peak efficiency. For this reason, detox facial treatments have been the wellness trend for many years. However, one body part that's long been neglected in your skincare routine but does need proper care is your armpits. And if you think you've been doing your underarms sufficient care by swiping them with antiperspirant or deodorant on a daily basis, you need some enlightenment.

Traditional antiperspirants and deodorants have different functions. Antiperspirants, which contain aluminum, plug up your sweat glands and as a result minimize wetness. Nonetheless, when your pores are clogged, they emit unpleasant smells. Deodorants, on the other hand, are used to kill the odor thanks to their antimicrobial agents. Most underarm care products these days are antiperspirant-deodorant combos, which is very convenient. Having said that, they can introduce a new type of bacteria and alter your skin's ecosystem, per Healthline.

For this reason, many people are switching from conventional antiperspirants to natural deodorants with aluminum-free formulas. However, this transitory phase is not smooth sailing for all, as many have noted increased perspiration and odor. And that's when an armpit detox comes into play to speed up the adjusting process. The idea behind armpit detoxification is to get rid of all the gunk that's accumulated under your arms so the skin barrier and microbiome can heal.

Here's what you can expect from an armpit detox. 

What is an armpit detox?

Before you toss away your aluminum-based antiperspirant or deodorant, keep in mind that natural deodorants cannot eliminate perspiration. Featuring a simple formula of essential oils, coconut oil, and shea butter, natural deodorants are generally safe for your pits. But they can only control your body odor to a certain degree. If you sweat excessively and are vulnerable to body odor, you might need to consult your dermatologist. 

When you stop using sweat-blocking products, the balance of bacteria in your armpits will change as a result. Therefore, don't be surprised if you feel sweaty and smelly. To make the changes more tolerable, an armpit detox is recommended. You can think of an armpit detox as a much-needed break from chemical antiperspirants to allow your armpits to rest and purge themselves of heavy metals such as aluminum compounds, per Well + Good.

Armpit detox masks can be made with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of bentonite clay and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, according to Simple Purposeful Living. Packed with antimicrobial and antifungal properties, apple cider vinegar is one of the best ingredients for armpit detoxing. To absorb more oil and dirt from your armpit pores, you can mix charcoal with apple cider vinegar and baking soda for a more powerful mix. Or, you can mix bentonite clay with coconut oil, an ingredient packed with antibacterial properties, for a soothing feel.

To apply the paste to your underarm skin for about 20 minutes, you need to keep your arms raised until the mask dries. Then, wash off your armpits in the shower or with a warm washcloth. Perform this routine two days in aorw, and you're good to go.

The efficacy of armpit detoxes is not supported by scientific evidence

The efficacy of armpit detoxes has been met with mixed reviews. "If you do a detox on your armpits, then you'll have less sweat, and the sweat won't smell as bad because the bacteria won't grow," explains beauty expert Debbi Burnes (via Well + Good), explaining that the growth of certain bacteria in your armpits is what triggers the odor.

On the contrary, Medical News Today claims that a person cannot detox their armpits because the skin doesn't filter toxins that enter the body like the liver, kidneys, and spleen. A 2016 study in the journal PeerJ Material Science, however, provides some intriguing details regarding what to anticipate when you stop using conventional underarm care products. 

As noted in the study, users of traditional deodorants or antiperspirants secreted a lot of Staphylococcus hominis shortly after they stopped using these products. Staphylococcus hominis, as defined by the American Society for Microbiology, is the bacterium that makes your underarms "smell like rotten onions or meat." Interestingly, Corynebacterium, a different genus of bacteria that doesn't smell as bad, predominated in the pits of non-deodorant users. So, now you know which deodorizing method is the lesser of two evils. 

The bottom line is that no solid medical or scientific evidence supports the efficacy of armpit detoxification. Those who err on the side of caution can opt for natural products, and you can do so without first detoxing your armpit. Using natural deodorants or detoxing your armpits is simply a matter of personal choice. As long as you wash and clean your underarms daily with soap and water to remove any antiperspirant or deodorant residue, you'll have healthy armpits.