Going down the detox rabbit hole is a maddening endeavor. Look hard enough and you’ll find a detox for quite literally every bodily function: digestion, sex, blood circulation—and now, you can even detox your armpits.
That’s right, instead of juice cleanses and charcoal face masks, people are now lathering their underarms with apple cider vinegar and bentonite clay to recalibrate the skin cells in the smelliest of bodily crevices. But why would you possibly need to purify your pits if you’re already bathing regularly?
The medical community is somewhat divided over whether armpit detoxes are legit. Nevertheless, if you want to incorporate one into your skincare routine, we’ve got you covered.
What Is an Armpit Detox?
Reading the ingredient list on your conventional deodorant or antiperspirant can be a traumatic experience:
You can’t pronounce this stuff, much less explain what it’s doing to your body.
The obvious alternative is using a natural deodorant. However, some skincare enthusiasts claim you need to purge your pits of harmful chemicals before making the switch. That’s where the armpit detox comes in.
An armpit detox is like pressing a reset button on your pits, which are home to lots of lymph nodes that help your body eliminate toxins. The goal is to remove the buildup of chemicals clogged in your sweat glands, ultimately improving the effectiveness of natural products.
How to Detox Your Armpits
A DIY armpit detox mask generally follows the same protocol as a clay mask you’d use on your face. We’re going to take a wild guess that you have no clue how to do either one, so here’s a quick breakdown:
- Combine equal parts bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar. You can also use coconut oil, which has antibacterial properties that help stifle body odor.
- Rub the mixture on your armpits and let it sit for 5 to 20 minutes.
- Rinse off your armpit mask in the shower
Now that your armpits have been “recalibrated,” your body will react better to natural deodorant and potentially smell better—at least that’s the idea.
What Are the Benefits of an Armpit Detox?
Is detoxing your armpits a personal care fad or a life saving routine? The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. While there’s no solid evidence that deodorants or antiperspirants cause breast cancer, there may be some minor benefits of an armpit detox.
1. It can restore your body’s healthy bacteria and essential oils
A small study found that people who wore antiperspirant or deodorant had fewer Staphylococci microbes compared to people who didn’t wear any antiperspirant or deodorant. What’s more, the people who wore aluminum-free deodorant had more Staphylococci bacteria, while people who didn’t use any product had more Corynebacterium.
"An armpit detox allows the microbiome in the armpit to recalibrate to a normal state," says Mona Gohara, a dermatologist at the Yale School of Medicine. "It’s a break from products."
2. It can soothe irritated skin
For guys with sensitive skin, certain fragrances and other ingredients can cause an underarm rash. Armpit detoxing can remove irritants from your skin, although a washcloth with soap and water will probably do the trick.
Homemade deodorants made with baking soda are also known to irritate sensitive skin, so you might need to keep those ingredients in the kitchen where they belong.
3. It removes the buildup of antiperspirant
Most antiperspirants contain aluminum salts, which plug your pores to stop sweat. This usually lasts between 24-48 hours (if you don’t scrub it off in the shower.) But your body was designed to sweat. An armpit mask can draw out those impurities and stimulate your body’s natural processes, but again, a simple shower will have the same effect.
Beware of Body Odor During Your Detox
When your sweat glands finally get a break from conventional deodorant and no longer encounter chemicals that stop sweat, they might let out a nasty stench. It’s like your armpits are going through aluminum withdrawal, but it’s important to push through.
As your body purges out toxins, bacteria, and chemicals that normally saturate your pits, you’ll produce an excess of odor-causing bacteria. This is a natural process that can last up to two weeks. After that, you’ll be feeling fresh all day without needing harsh chemicals to mask your manly stench. (And if you’re self conscious just freshen up with a DUDE Shower body wipe.)
Your pits might not be the prettiest part of your body, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need love.