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Armpit Detox: How and Why to Do One (& Does It Really Work?)

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Armpit detox - Dr. Axe

As we learn more about the importance of ditching conventional antiperspirants and adopting natural deodorants instead, people are eager to find products that can both help keep body odor away and not pose a threat to their health. Enter the armpit detox.

Natural deodorants — made with products like baking soda and essential oils — are gaining more traction. However, a relatively common complaint is that they don’t work as well as commercial products to keep sweat and smells at bay.

This is where an armpit detox can come into play. It can potentially help naturally reduce body odor, making using gentler body care products a more attractive option.

What Is an Armpit Detox?

An armpit detox involves applying cleansing products, such as charcoals, bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar, to your armpits in order to draw out bacteria and residue that can contribute to odor.

People most often do this when switching to natural deodorants (which don’t block sweat but reduce bacteria growth) in order to help these products work better. When ditching antiperspirants, some people also temporarily experience excessive sweating as their sweat glands adjust, so cleansing the area can be a way to keep B.O. in check while this happens.

How to Do It

How do you detox your armpits naturally? Most often it’s performed by applying a mask to your armpits, letting it dry, and then removing it with soap and water.

This gives the ingredients time to “soak up” unwanted bacteria and other ingredients from your armpits, potentially leaving behind smoother, less odor-producing skin.

The ingredients used in most armpit detoxes include:

  • Baking soda — Has the ability to absorb sweat and odors and help exfoliate the skin.
  • Bentonite clay — Absorbs bacteria and chemicals from the skin, plus contains minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium that can be absorbed through your pores.
  • Apple cider vinegar — Helps contribute to a healthy skin microbiome (aka a healthy ratio of different bacteria that live on the skin), plus is useful for normalizing the skin’s pH.
  • Activated charcoal — Soaks up unwanted particles from the skin and has natural detoxifying properties.

Here’s how to detox your armpits using widely available ingredients:

  1. Combine the following ingredients to make a paste: 1 tablespoon bentonite clay, 1 to 2 teaspoons water and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar.
  2. Mix all ingredients together, then apply the mask to your pits generously.
  3. Wait 10 to 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water and soap.
  4. You can repeat this process every several days if you’d like, assuming you have no negative reactions.

How long does it take to detox your armpits?

It really depends on the individual. Some people report that they smell and sweat more for several weeks after stopping to use antiperspirants, during which the body’s bacteria levels and pH are likely adjusting. For others, this transition might last only a few days.

Does It Work? (Benefits)

What happens when you detox your armpits? Here are some of the purposes and potential benefits:

1. Balanced Bacteria (Which Can Help Reduce Body Odor)

By applying products to your pits that naturally stick to smell-causing bacteria and then remove it, or kill bacteria on contact, you reduce unwanted odors.

For example, apple cider vinegar can help reduce the presence of smelly bacteria, such as Actinobacteria and Micrococcus sedentarius, and support the skin’s natural pH balance in the process (which is slightly acidic).

This contributes to a healthy “skin microbiome” in your armpit area. Typically a healthier microbiome (including in your mouth) equals less offensive smells.

2. Can Help Improve Skin Health

Antiperspirants can be irritating to the skin in some cases, especially if someone has a fragrance sensitivity or generally sensitive skin, so opting for a detox and more natural products is a good alternative to keep skin happy.

Another downside to using antiperspirants is that they are drying, since they’re intended to reduce sweating. These leaves skin vulnerable to become chaffed, red and inflamed.

If your armpits tend to become irritated easily, the key to a safe detox is using the right gentle ingredients and nothing too harsh or drying.

3. Removes Residue From Antiperspirants

Commercial antiperspirants may leave behind trace amounts of chemicals that can become “stuck” inside the pores in the armpits.

There haven’t actually been studies proving that an armpit detox can do this, but it makes sense that by taking a break from using antiperspirants you give your body time to shed these ingredients (usually over the course of one to three days) and open up your pores for other helpful ones.

Other DIY Recipes for Your Armpits

Aside from the armpit detox mask recipe mentioned above (made with charcoal and ACV), try this DIY recipe for a natural deodorant that helps support a healthy armpit microbiome.

The recipe below uses baking soda, coconut oil (which has antibacterial properties), essential oils that can nourish the skin and fight unwanted microbes, and apple cider vinegar. Natural deodorants also help you avoid chemical fragrances, irritants and other products that your skin can directly absorb.

Apply the natural deodorant recipe found below twice a day for best results:

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Armpit detox - Dr. Axe

Armpit Detox: How and Why to Do One (& Does It Really Work?)


  • Author: Joe Boland
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 0 min
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 90 applications 1x

Description

The recipe below uses baking soda, coconut oil (which has antibacterial properties), essential oils that can nourish the skin and fight unwanted microbes, and apple cider vinegar.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 20 drops essential oil of your choice (Scent recommendations for females: sage, ylang ylang, jasmine, lemon; for males: cypress, rosemary oil)
  • Empty deodorant containers

Instructions

  1. Put coconut oil in bowl. Mix in baking soda, then add essential oils. Mix well.
  2. Store in a deodorant container or a glass jar. Keep in a cool place. (Coconut oil will melt.)
  3. To apply, dab with fingers and rub or roll onto underarms. Wait a couple of minutes before contact with fabric.
  4. For best results, use twice daily.

Notes

  • You can use the essential oils of your choice.
  • Try different oils for different scents.
  • Category: Deodorant
  • Method: Mixing

Keywords: armpit detox mask, armpit detox diy, diy armpit detox, armpit detox recipe, underarm detox, how to detox your armpits, detox armpits, how to detox armpits,

As an alternative, also try this Homemade Probiotic Deodorant Recipe or Crystal Deodorant Recipe.

Additionally, these tips can help you get the most benefits from detoxing your armpits and keeping odors and sweat under control:

  • Shower daily with an antibacterial agent. This reduces the smelly bacteria count on your skin. Opt for organic products when possible, and consider even taking your own soaps using essential oils, which are natural bacteria-fighters, such as tea tree oil and lemongrass oil.
  • After showering, towel off and try to leave your skin as dry as possible. Wear natural fabrics that let your skin breath.
  • Damp, sweaty clothes are the most likely to smell, so make sure to wash your clothes thoroughly using antibacterial laundry soap. (Try this Homemade Laundry Soap.)
  • Consider if your diet may be contributing to body odor, especially if you consume lots of sugar, meat and refined carbs. Even some healthy foods can contribute to stinkiness if you can’t digest them properly, including the usual culprits like garlic, onions, beans, curry and strong spices, but also lesser known sulfur-suppliers like broccoli, Brussels sprouts or cabbage.

Risks and Side Effects

Some of the ingredients used in the DIY recipes above may dry out your skin or alter your skin’s pH, so use caution when first beginning to apply these products to your skin. It’s a good idea to perform a patch test to make sure you don’t have any negative reactions, such as allergies, redness or irritation.

If you experience signs of an allergic reaction or sensitivity when applying these products, such as redness, itching or hives, discontinue use, and simply avoid applying any products to your skin for a period of time.

Conclusion

  • An armpit detox is usually done when someone is transitioning from using traditional antiperspirants to natural deodorants. During the first several days or weeks when quitting antiperspirants, some people find that they smell and sweat more than usual, so a detox might help to fix this problem.
  • How do you detox your armpits? You can complete an armpit detox using natural products like baking soda, clay, charcoal, apple cider vinegar and essential oils on your armpits.
  • These products work by killing bacteria, absorbing sweat and residue that clog your pores, and balancing your skin’s microbiome and pH.

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8 Comments

  1. Norma on

    Thanks for sharing this. I am living with ILC (metastatic breast cancer) I was given a terminal diagnosis in January 2020 and was suppose to be gone in a few months.. I am still here over a year later. No surgery, no nothing from Allopathic medicine. Many brilliant people out there and Dr. Axe is one of them. I am going on 4 years from being diagnosed!!
    So good to give options from the crappy deodorants they have. I have been natural and make all my own.. So many things we can do NATURALLY! I am actually healthier than ever!!! Our creator knew what he was doing as he gave us all we need to survive, long before pHARMa!..

    Reply
  2. Amy on

    Can’t wait to try the detox and deodorant. I react to absolutely every kind of deodorant so I don’t use any. Hoping my sensitive armpits find something they finally like. Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
  3. Theresa L Greene on

    Thanks so much for the recipe. I had been using either coconut oil or Milk of Magnesia! The MoM is great at preventing odor, bit it can be messy and not practical to use with dark clothes.

    Reply

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