Underarm Detoxes Are Now A Thing

We investigate the weird wellness trend.

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve officially reached peak “detox.” Not only can you detox your diet, your beauty routine, and even your mind, but there’s a new cleansing trend on the block. It focuses on a very specific part of your body—your armpits. Yes, I know, but hear me out.
According to fans (which include some pretty major wellness blogs), the underarm detox involves the topical application of natural products (like clay and charcoal) to draw chemicals out of the skin and armpit tissue. These chemicals may have built up after years of using deodorants filled with phthalates, parabens, aluminium, and other substances.
Fans of the underarm detox say they notice less odour, even when not wearing deodorant, and say that they even sweat less. However, it’s known to take several weeks to work—and during that time, you can expect even more B.O. and sweat than normal. A friend of mine, who’s been purging her pits of chemicals for the past three weeks, says that she’s started to notice less smell in the past week. So, while there aren’t really any large-scale studies suggesting that this wellness trend works, there’s at least some anecdotal evidence supporting the idea that cleansing under your arms may reduce body odour and rid your tissue of chemicals. As long as you’re patient enough.
There are a couple of ways to go about it if you’re keen to test out the detox. Some proponents suggest creating an armpit mask (seriously) and using it daily in conjunction with dry brushing to improve circulation. Cheap, sure, but it’s also a little messy.

DIY Detox

To DIY a mask, try combining a teaspoon of bentonite clay, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, half a teaspoon of charcoal powder, and a couple of teaspoons of water. Mix it together in a glass bowl until it’s a thick, goopy consistency and spread an even layer under your arms. Wait about 15 minutes, and then rinse off with warm water. Of course, if there’s any irritation or discomfort, wash it off immediately. You’re then supposed to repeat this every day while using a natural deodorant rather than a conventional one until the underarm odour goes away. Then, just stick with your natural deo.

Underarm Detox Products

If you’re not the DIY type, there are also natural products designed specifically to detox your underarms, like Kaia Naturals. Essentially, it’s a natural charcoal-based deodorant that claims to help your body release toxins. According to the website, and my friend who’s been testing it out, it takes about four weeks to work. In the first week, you may notice little to no odour, but in the second week you can expect a little more smell than usual as the under arms “are beginning to detox from built-up toxins, bacteria, and chemicals.” Things start to turn around in the third week, and after a month you can expect to feel normal (and B.O-free)—and never return to a conventional deodorant again.

under arm detox, wellness trends
Image: Kaia Naturals

According to Kaia founder Mary Futher, charcoal is very effective in a deodorant because it “eliminates bacteria and acts like a magnet, pulling toxins from your sweat glands.” She told us that sweat is actually odourless, and the smell is actually caused by moisture lingering on the skin and interacting with bacteria. To help this, charcoal also “regulates humidity, so it will keep underarms dry.”
It’s hard to say whether armpit detoxes can improve your health at all, but testimonials on the Kaia website from health bloggers, nurses, and regular guys and girl suggest that it can, at the very least, stop your body from relying on the chemicals in regular deodorant to curb B.O. As long as you’re willing to wait out a couple of very smelly weeks.

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