The internet is always coming up with some new trend or idea, especially when it comes to skin care. With the rise in popularity of more aluminum free deodorants, something I keep seeing pop up is the need for an “armpit detox”. I know nobody wants to be that stinky person, but do you really need this extra step? Let me tell you the truth about an armpit detox, and if it really works.
What is an Armpit Detox?
Most commonly suggested, an underarm detox is a mixture of bentonite clay, apple cider vinegar and water. These are mixed together to create a paste, and applied to the armpit and let set for 15-20 minutes, very similar to a facemask. Once it has dried, you would remove it with a warm washcloth or wash off in the shower.
Okay, but does it really detox your body?
The short answer? No – a mask applied to the skin will not detox your body. The human body is a really incredible thing, and the liver and kidneys do a pretty good job of filtering and getting rid of anything harmful. The lymphatic system can be accessed by massage at the underarm, and this can help the body carry out its normal processes. There is no scientific evidence that a detoxing or removing these properties through the skin or sweat glands is probable.
Now if you are reading this and thinking “But it works! I’ve done this mask and it really works?!” I would say you aren’t wrong – but the word choice is incorrect. A clay mask will not detox your body through your armpits, but it can exfoliate them, and there are many benefits to exfoliation.
3 Benefits of Armpit Exfoliation
Just like any other part of the skin, underarms are going to get a build up of product and dead skin, and regular exfoliation can be very helpful. The skin under the arms is not exposed often, so it is important to be gentle, but lets get into it.
Increases the effectiveness of antiperspirants or deodorant
Exfoliation will almost always increase the efficacy of your other skin care products. This is because you are removing build up and layers of dead skin, allowing the product to really do its job. What about using a natural deodorant? Is exfoliation first necessary? Studies tell us that aluminum based anti perspirants can change the type of bacteria that is on the skin, so when you change products, there may be an adjustment period. During this time washing with soap and water, will help to remove odor causing bacteria.
Every single human has some body odor, all of us, it is totally normal! Whether you want to admit it or not, its true – everyone can get stinky. Regularly exfoliation of the underarms can help with this, because it is helps to keep the area clean and works to remove buildup of old product.
Prevents ingrown hairs
If you are someone who chooses to shave or wax their underarm hair, you may already understand the benefits of exfoliating this area. When the hair is cut or removed (especially coarse or curly hair) it will sometimes grow back into the skin or have trouble breaking through layers of dead skin. Pulling the skin tight and using a cream or lotion while shaving, removing hair in the direction it grows, avoiding dull razors and regular exfoliation can all help to prevent this.
How to exfoliate your underarms
Wash with soap and water
It can really be that simple, manual exfoliation with a loofa or washcloth can go a long way. This method is also great for sensitive or irritated skin. You can do this every time you shower
Use a cleansing oil
Oil can really help to breakdown any product build up that is left on the skin. You can use the same cleansing oil you use on your face or to remove makeup, it doesn’t need to be any special.
A sugar or salt scrub can be a great way to exfoliate! Look for something with a hydrating base, to avoid irritation and keep skin soft.
Exfoliate with an active toner
AHA and BHA containing products can be really helpful when exfoliating your underarms. Swipe on with a cotton round 2-3 times a week
Shaving or waxing
Believe it or not, hair removal is a form of exfoliation. If you are regularly shaving or waxing, you may want to keep other exfoliating methods to a minimum, as not to irritate the skin.
An exfoliating mask
As mentioned earlier, those clay masks you keep hearing about are not bad – they can do great things for the skin! As these can be pretty strong exfoliants, you only need to use them a few times a month (unless otherwise directed by your esthetician or dermatologist)
My favorite exfoliating products