Let’s Test This Theory Once and for All: Is Acid the Best Deodorant?

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Trying out a new deodorant is a risky business. Either you'll fly under the radar or you'll make sure no one get within an arms-length of your body odor. Acid, one deodorant alternative, has inspired heated debates. So we asked dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, to finally give us the cold, hard truth about its efficacy.

In case you're new to this whole "acid as deodorant" thing, here's a primer from Dr. Zeichner: "The goal of deodorants is to minimize odor on the skin. They work by either masking the smell or lowering levels of odor-causing bacteria under the arms. Acids likely help by lowering the skin's pH, creating an environment not hospitable for bacteria to grow," he says.

In theory, the pH-lowering quality of acids means that you can use skin-care acids, like facial toner, beneath your arms in place of deodorant. However, there are a few caveats. "It's unclear whether [acids] are any more effective than traditional natural deodorants," says Dr. Zeichner. Since no research has yet been conducted on the virtues of natural deodorant versus acids, it's mostly up to you to test—then decide—what's right for your pits.

"So long as your skin is not sensitive, you can try [putting] your facial toner under the arms," says Dr. Zeichner. But if you recently shaved or have chafing under your arms, skip the acids entirely.

If you do find that an acid deodorant alternative keeps you smelling fresh as a daisy, you're certainly not alone. "I think the acid as deodorant might be changing my life," exclaims one user on Reddit. "It definitely works, and on days [when] I don't work out, I can get away with not wearing any deodorant at all," writes another. Plenty of people also say that their pits found the stuff irritating, however. You'll just have to use a little trial and error to see if your go-to acids are friends of your pits—or are better left for your face.

A dermatologist's full skin-care routine:

Oops! Here's what to do if you totally forgot to put on deodorant this morning. Plus, what you need to know about deodorant wipes

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