How to Detox your Armpits
The sweaty summer months are approaching quickly, so check out these simple tips for improving your body odor so you can ditch harmful deodorants for good!
Sweating is a natural process of cooling and detoxifying your body. And it’s an important feature of the body’s most unique organ: your skin. Non-toxic deodorant is often the “last frontier” of natural products—people are reluctant to ditch their favorite conventional deodorants. We understand the reasons people hang on to conventional deodorants and antiperspirants: we don’t want to look sweaty, smell stinky, or feel uncomfortably damp in our armpits.
Unfortunately, your deodorant, and particularly your antiperspirant, could be interfering with your body’s natural attempts to remove toxins and could potentially be causing long-term health effects like breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that mothers who have used an antiperspirant containing aluminum salts (a common antiperspirant ingredient) absorb the aluminum transdermally and even pass the aluminum on to their children during pregnancy.
You can actually change your own body odor!
Did you know that using certain deodorants or antiperspirants daily can change the bacterial microbiome in your armpits? Consistent use can actually make your sweat smellier (due to overproduction of a bad bacteria) if you briefly discontinue use. Just because your sweat may smell strong if you forget to put on your antiperspirant for one day does not mean that you shouldn’t try to ditch your antiperspirant. In fact, that’s a good reason to try to detox your armpits and transition to a nontoxic option!
First, Detox Your Armpits.
Once you correct the bacterial imbalances in your armpits, your sweat should not actually smell particularly unpleasant. You can try our suggestions below to detox your armpits and rebalance the bacteria. If you’re considering switching to a nontoxic deodorant, we highly recommend you try these suggestions as you switch so that your overall body odor is reduced at the same time. Your new deodorant will be much more effective if it’s not fighting conditions that foster bad body odor.
Simple, natural ways to detox your armpits and
reduce body odor:
Wear natural fibers
Have you ever noticed that your sweat smells particularly strong when you wear certain shirts? Wearing natural fibers (versus synthetics) can make a huge difference in the smell of your sweat! Synthetic fibers can contribute to bad bacteria overgrowth and are often heavily treated with chemicals. Look for 100 percent cotton, linen, or bamboo rather than polyester, rayon, or other synthetic blends.
Mind what you eat
Certain foods will actually change the way your body odor smells. If you want to test the way foods can change your body odor, try removing typical offenders like caffeine, alcohol, pork, and foods fried in unhealthy oils. In general, a clean and balanced vegetarian diet will help you maintain a neutral body odor, though beware of garlic and onions, which may make your sweat smell strong. The best foods for combating body odor are leafy greens.
Dry off carefully after a shower or bath
Bacteria loves moist environments, which is why it can thrive so well in your armpits on a hot day (and produce odors). When you step out of the bath or shower, make sure you dry off well, paying particularly close attention to your armpits. Not only will doing so make an inhospitable environment for bacteria to grow, but it will also allow you to apply a deodorant more effectively. In a pinch, you can wipe off excess sweat with a paper towel if you want to keep your armpits dry and are not able to wash with soap and water (for example, while traveling, after exercising, or at your office).
Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated helps your body remove everyday toxins in an efficient way and can help prevent body odor. Make sure you’re drinking clean, filtered water for the best benefit.
Take chlorophyll or probiotic supplements
The chlorophyll in leafy green vegetables is what makes them a good defense against body odor. If you’re looking to add extra support to your diet, taking a daily chlorophyll supplement is a good way to help your body detox properly. Probiotics and probiotic-rich foods are another way to ensure your microbiome is balanced and healthy.
Apply apple cider vinegar, lemon, or witch hazel
Healthy acids like apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon help neutralize bad bacteria that may be growing in your armpits, causing a foul odor. After you shower, you can use a cotton ball to apply any of these acidic foods to your armpits. Allow to air dry and follow with a deodorant (optional). Witch hazel is another liquid you could apply the same way to get similar results.
Try a bentonite clay mask
If you’re looking to take your armpit detox a step further, you can try a clay mask. Mix one tablespoon bentonite clay, one teaspoon apple cider vinegar, and one to two teaspoons of water. Spread onto your armpits and let sit for five to 20 minutes before washing off with warm water. You can repeat this daily until you notice a decrease in underarm odor.
DIY homemade deodorant
Once you detox your armpits, it’s time to transition to a natural deodorant. There are some good options you can purchase now (including Primally Pure and Primal Pit Paste), but here’s our DIY homemade deodorant recipe if you’re feeling really inspired!
- 1 16 oz. mason jar
- 1 plastic or wooden
- T. measuring spoon
- 1 plastic or wooden
- utensil for stirring
- 2 T. bentonite clay
- 4 T. arrowroot powder
- 4 T. baking soda
- 6 T. coconut oil
- Optional: 10 drops of Essential Oil
Note: Bentonite clay has negative ions, which absorb metal. I use a wooden spoon to avoid touching any metal to the clay, though plastic also works well in this case.
- If your coconut oil is solid, then melt it using a double boiling method. Add the coconut oil to a bowl and put it over a pot of simmering water, which will gently melt into a liquid without destroying the structure of the oil.
- Put the powdered (dry) ingredients into a 16 oz. jar. Add the melted oil to the clay, stirring with a plastic, wooden, or glass utensil.
- Pour the deodorant into the containers you would like to store and use it. You can use either a glass jar or a traditional roll-up tube. Let the deodorant cool to room temperature and it will firm up.
- To use, if you are using the glass jar method, warm a pea-sized amount on your fingertips, then apply by hand to your armpit until it dissolves onto your skin. If you are using a tube, apply as you normally would apply deodorant.
I don’t apply the deodorant every day; I find that I don’t need it that often. That’s why I like to keep it in my purse in case I end up in a situation where I need to apply (usually it’s if I’m wearing a shirt or dress made with synthetic material). I love that this recipe works well to neutralize odor.
Tips for using Non-toxic Deodorant
Detox your armpits as you transition to a nontoxic deodorant (see previous).
- Remind yourself that a little sweat is good for you; if you’re not sweating, you’re not efficiently removing toxins from your body.
- Tune in to your body odor—if it starts to change, you can take steps to neutralize it again by following our method of detoxing your armpits (see above).
- If you shave your armpits, shave at night and apply deodorant in the morning to avoid irritation (typically caused by slight exfoliation and reaction to baking soda).
- You may need to rub deodorants into your underarm skin to avoid caking or staining your clothes.
if applying a deodorant with your fingers, use a small (pea-sized) amount and warm up with your fingers to soften it so it absorbs well.
Kelly and her best friend Allison spent their college years together at The University of Texas at Austin. After seeing how the changes in diet and environment completely turned Allison’s health around, Kelly became hooked on living a cleaner, less toxic lifestyle herself. Kelly joined Allison and her Aunt Marilee in the Texas Hill Country for a summer detox where she lived in an environment free of harmful chemicals and ate according to the principles Food As Medicine. The results? All of the “normal” problems Kelly had experienced her whole life disappeared, and she is now passionate about helping others avoid unnecessary suffering. Kelly lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, Sam, and baby girl, Reid. Check out branchbasics.com to learn more.