Our Beauty Geek Facebook group is buzzing with questions that we want to tackle. Join to ask your own, and keep on reading as we poll the experts to answer this week’s most pressing skin-care question.
Summer is here, which means it’s time to start thinking about our armpits. Roll your eyes all you want, but everyone knows that the combination of heat and humidity equals wetter pits… and therefore our underarm areas require much more diligence to keep dry. And whether you’re into aluminum deodorants or the more natural type, a lot of members of Well+Good’s Beauty Geek Facebook group have been asking: Do your underarms need a summer detox?
“Over time, sweat, dirt, oil, and antiperspirants can build up in the under arm area,” explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “In some cases, this may lead to irritation, inflammation, and disruption of the skin barrier. Some feel it also may alter the microbiome of the skin under the arms, which can become disrupted when the skin barrier becomes inflamed, leading to overgrowth of specific forms of bacteria.”
So the point of an armpit detox is so that that area has a chance to purge all the gunk that builds up under there, especially when you’re swiping on a deodorant every single day. “Some people believe that discontinuing use of aluminum based antiperspirant can give the under arms the chance to purge sweat, dirt, oil, and antiperspirant debris from the skin,” he says. “This allows the skin barrier to repair itself and the microbiome to restore itself to a healthy state.”
Since plenty of people do want to block the sweat this time of year—which, BTW, is totally fine because studies have debunked the myth that aluminum-based deodorants are linked to breast cancer—it’s a good idea to detox before you start, well, re-toxing via your deodorant, since there are definitely some perks to doing so. “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,” says Debbi Burnes, natural beauty expert and founder of Sumbody Skincare. “The bacterial growth is what causes the smell, and that happens when your pores are clogged—perspiration itself actually has no odor.” Dr. Zeichner adds that though there is bacteria that lives on your skin no matter what, the “bacteria under the arms known as corynebacterium break down sweat and contribute to the development of body odor,” he says. So you wanna sweat that sh*t out.
Ready to detox those pits? Keep scrolling for the 4 ways to DIY an armpit detox at home, courtesy of Burnes.
ACV and baking soda: The ultimate wellness ingredient that is apple cider vinegar can work wonders on deodorant-clogged pits. There are a few recipes you can drum up with it, actually—one involves the other hack-worthy ingredient, baking soda. “You can use apple cider vinegar, water, and baking soda,” says Burnes of one armpit detox recipe.
ACV and charcoal: To soak up even more of the gunk in your armpit pores, Burnes says you can use the three ingredients above plus some charcoal. “Just make sure to not use full-strength apple cider vinegar for these—always dilute with water,” she says. “The key is to do three parts water to every one part ACV.”
ACV and clay: If you use ACV and Bentonite clay, you can create a paste to wipe onto your armpits for about 20 minutes for two days straight, then you’re good to go.
Vodka: Apparently, the cocktail ingredient can detox your pits as well. “You can also use vodka to kill the bacteria that causes the unpleasant scent,” says Burnes, who says you can DIY a mix of vodka, ACV, water, and baking soda all together, then soak a cotton pad in the mix to hold under your arm for about 15 minutes.
Once your pits are all detoxed, here are our favorite natural deodorants to swipe on to keep things fresh. And here’s what you can do if you forgot to put on deodorant in the a.m., like my fellow editor did one day.
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