There are two main reasons to detox your armpits:
1. You’ve been using antiperspirants and deodorants your whole adult life. Regardless if you switch to a natural deodorant or not afterwards, detoxing your armpits is a good thing to do every now and again...just like taking a break from alcohol or your potato chip habit.
2. You’ve already made the decision to switch to an all-natural deodorant, and detoxing your underarms is going to make that transition smoother and less stinky.
If that’s all you need to know, scroll on down to the easy Armpit Detox Recipe and two other recommendations below. Otherwise, here are some more details on why to consider an underarm detox, and what to expect when you do one.
Why Detox Your Pits
These are the types of ingredients found in many popular deodorants and antiperspirants:
Aluminum-based compounds, the active ingredient in antiperspirants, has been linked to breast cancer.
Triclosan was first registered as a pesticide, but today, it also is used in personal hygiene products as an antibacterial substance. It is currently under safety review by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Propylene glycol, an antifreeze agent that’s also used to de-ice planes, has been linked to neurotoxicity.
Talc—studies have had mixed results, but there is some suggestion of a possible increase in ovarian cancer risk.
Fragrance causes skin irritation, allergies and organ systems toxicity.
Need we say more?
Curious what’s in your current deodorant or antiperspirant? Search for it on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep list.
How To Detox Your Pits
If you’ve just made the switch to a natural deodorant, you may be concerned that you stink. And you probably do! Hang in there and try not to immediately switch back to your old deodorant or antiperspirant. Here’s the deal: Sweat doesn’t cause that obnoxious odor we call “B.O.” It’s the bacteria under your arms that makes you smell bad. Going natural means your armpits are now detoxing from years of applying chemical deodorants and need a little time to get rid of stored toxins and rebalance the bacteria. How long really depends from person to person—in my case, it seemed to last about a week. In addition to odor, you might also experience red bumps and sweat more than usual.
There are three things that will help when undergoing a pit detoxification:
STEP 1: Drink lots of water and eat loads of fruits and veggies. Any detox, from a massage to a food cleanse, always includes drinking lots of water because it helps flush toxins from your system, and this armpit detox is no different. Plus, vegetables and fruits serve as the body’s natural detoxifiers so, in general, a clean diet also will help reduce body odor.
STEP 2: Before showering, use a dry-brushing technique for a few seconds on your armpits (and all over your skin if you’d like!). Dry brushing with a brush, such as this one we like from Wholesome Beauty, removes dead skin layers, stimulates the lymph vessels to drain toxic matter and stimulates the oil glands. It's good preparation for a detoxifying armpit mask (below).
Here’s a recommended dry-brushing technique from Natural Health Techniques:
Hold the brush in your left armpit with your right hand and rotate it counter clockwise seven times, then clockwise seven times. Repeat on your right armpit with your left hand.
STEP 3: Apply a detoxifying mask to help expedite the detox and prevent or minimize rashes and red bumps, excessive sweating and sweat that has a particularly potent odor.
Armpit Detox Recipe
(modified from pop sugar)
1 Tbsp Bentonite Clay
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 tsp Filtered Water
Clean your underarms. Mix one tablespoon of bentonite clay with one tablespoon of coconut oil in a glass or wood bowl (no metal) until it’s a smooth, creamy paste. Add one teaspoon of filtered water if needed to form the paste. Apply it to your armpits. Let the mask sit on the skin for at least 15 minutes. Rinse it off with warm water or a wash cloth. Repeat daily for as long as you see or smell detox symptoms.
Mineral-rich bentonite clay is made from volcanic ash. It has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments from indigestion to acne. We like Redmond’s Bentonite Clay, which contains no additives, preservatives or chemicals. It’s made in the USA, in every sense of that phrase—it is ancient volcanic ash extracted from the earth near the town of Redmond, Utah. Bonus: You can use it as your weekly detoxifying face mask, too! (To note, California’s Prop 65 requires the product to disclose that it contains trace amounts of naturally occurring lead; however, to put it into context, it contains less lead than you’ll find in some leafy green vegetables.)
Besides being a fabulous fat to cook with, coconut oil has natural antimicrobial properties and is soothing to the skin when applied topically. One we like: Nature's Way Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil.
My Personal Experience
I never thought I’d give up my deodorant (that had antiperspirants in it, as many mass-marketed deodorants do, by the way) because I sweat a lot. But willing to give a natural deodorant a try in the name of wellness research, I detoxed my underarms and began trying out natural deodorants one by one. I found that I was stinky for about a week during the detox period and my left armpit broke out in a very light rash, which went away after a few days. Now, my sweaty pits don’t even smell. And I don’t miss the deodorant that I used every day for about 20 years at all. I absolutely love my natural deodorant.
Ready to make the move to a natural deodorant? Here’s our pick for the Best Natural Deodorant.