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Draft - Why Deodorant Detoxes Are Not A Good Idea

A deodorant detox, also known as an armpit detox, has been a well-known trend in health and wellness communities for years. It’s especially popular among people who want to make the switch to “natural” deodorant. But what is it? What are the benefits? And do you need one? We explain all below.


What is a deodorant detox?

People who want to ditch conventional deodorants and antiperspirants, in favor of more natural alternatives, are sometimes advised to go through a detox period. Why? Because switching from antiperspirants to natural deodorants may initially lead to increased sweating (and therefore more odor) as your body adapts to the absence of your antiperspirant. These detox periods are believed to speed up the transition phase.

There is no scientific evidence that deodorants and antiperspirants are dangerous to health.

Some people also claim that armpit detoxes get rid of any chemicals left over from their old products and can help drain the lymph nodes of toxins. However, approach these claims with caution, as there currently isn't sufficient medical and scientific evidence to support them – more on that below.¹²³

So, what does a deodorant detox entail? A tea? A cleanse? Curiously, it primarily involves applying a clay mask to the underarms.

How does this help, you ask? Let’s delve a little deeper to understand the claims, the evidence and what to expect from a deodorant detox.

How to detox from deodorant?

Firstly, you switch from a regular deodorant and antiperspirant to a natural one. Then, to help you transition, deodorant detox advocates recommend using a mask daily for a week or two. The theory goes like this: after about a month of “detoxing” your armpits, your natural deodorant will work better, thereby making you smell less.

Deodorant detox masks are usually made at home with ingredients like clay, charcoal, apple cider vinegar, and coconut oil. You can also find store-bought options.

Once you’ve made your mask, the next step is to apply it to your pits and let it dry. This usually takes around 15 minutes, and then the mask is rinsed away.


What to expect from a deodorant detox

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As we’ve already learned, natural deodorant advocates believe that a detox from deodorant offers a host of benefits. However, most of these claims are unsubstantiated. Below, we outline the alleged benefits and investigate the research supporting these claims.

The claim: It gets rid of ‘harmful chemicals’ left over from deodorants and antiperspirants

There is no scientific evidence that deodorants and antiperspirants are dangerous to health. Rumors about them causing breast cancer have no scientific evidence to support them, either.¹ And yes, these detox masks may help remove any residue, but so will washing your armpits thoroughly with water, soap, and a washcloth.

The claim: It makes natural deodorant more effective

This is an interesting one. There is currently no research to support this claim, but there is evidence that using traditional antiperspirants and deodorants can reduce the amount of bacteria in your armpits. Transitioning to a natural deodorant in a short space of time can cause bacteria to become imbalanced and emit a stronger odor.²

The claim: It drains the lymph nodes of toxins

This is a particularly strong unfounded claim by deodorant detox fans. There is no evidence that toxins can be pulled out of our skin by deodorant detox masks. Our bodies remove toxins naturally all by themselves. The best thing you can do is stay healthy so it can maintain this intelligent cleaning system.³

Side effects of an armpit detox

The first side effect you will probably experience while detoxing from deodorant is increased sweating and body odor. On top of that, some of the ingredients used in deodorant detox masks, like vinegar, can irritate delicate armpit skin. If you do decide to try it and experience irritation, stop using the product immediately.


“Natural” deodorant vs. regular deodorant and antiperspirant

For decades, one of the prime ingredients of antiperspirants has been aluminum salts. How do they work? Get ready for a quick science lesson…

Aluminum salts are soluble when they’re in a low pH environment – i.e. in your antiperspirant spray or stick. When the salts meet our sweat, their pH goes up, they become more ‘solid’ and form a kind of plug over your sweat glands. That’s what stops the sweat from reaching the surface of your skin. Deodorants, on the other hand, tackle the odor-causing bacteria that our armpit sweat attracts. But some products combine the two actions for ultimate protection.

Read next: What’s the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant (and which is better)?

Recently, more “natural” products have come onto the market, which don’t use aluminum. These products don’t stop you from sweating but instead use natural ingredients and fragrances to mask the body odor that sweat can cause. They usually contain ingredients like coconut oil, baking soda, cornstarch, and essential oils. And some people even make their own at home.

Is natural deodorant better?

People go for natural deodorant because they deem regular ones ‘harmful’ – and this is, in fact, untrue. Some people may also use them because they have allergies.

Unfortunately, the general feedback from customers has been that, although these products may trade on being more “natural”, most are less than effective.


How to combat underarm sweat and body odor

Instead of detoxing from deodorant, why not follow these tips to get your underarm sweat and body odor under control?

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Apply antiperspirant the smart way

Try this: apply your antiperspirant at night. Your sweat glands are less active while you sleep, which allows your antiperspirant to work more effectively.

Enjoy the sweat-blocking action of antiperspirant and the fresh scent of deodorant with one of our dual-action UltraClear antiperspirant deodorants. They also protect you from white deodorant marks and yellow sweat stains.

For women: Degree® UltraClear Black+White Antiperspirant Deodorant Dry Spray

For men: Degree® UltraClear Black+White Antiperspirant Deodorant Dry Spray

Change up your wardrobe

Ever wondered why some clothes make you sweat more than others, no matter the temperature? Synthetic materials like polyester and nylon don’t allow your skin to breathe like natural fibers do, often causing sweaty situations. Go for clothes made of cotton, silk, and wool. And for workout clothes, try a sweat-wicking polyester blend.

Give clinical-strength products a go

If regular antiperspirants and deodorants aren't working hard enough for you, it may be time to try a stronger clinical antiperspirant. We recommend:

For women: Degree® Shower Clean Clinical Antiperspirant Deodorant for Women

For men: Degree® Clean Clinical Antiperspirant Deodorant

You probably don’t need a detox from deodorant – focus on tackling armpit sweat the smart way with the right products and lifestyle instead. Now you know the facts, you can be confident you’re doing the right thing for you.

References:

  1. Antiperspirants/deodorants and breast cancer. National cancer institute. 2016.Opens in a new window
  2. Urban J, Fergus DJ, Savage AM, Ehlers M, Menninger HL, Dunn RR, Horvath JE. The effect of habitual and experimental antiperspirant and deodorant product use on the armpit microbiome. PeerJ. 2016.Opens in a new window
  3. The dubious practice of detox. Harvard Health Publishing. 2008.Opens in a new window

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