Some people claim that armpit detoxification can help remove toxins and reduce sweat and odor. However, no medical or scientific evidence supports the concept of detoxing the armpits.

Health and wellness influencers on the internet have been touting the value of armpit detox, a way for a person to supposedly wean their body off conventional antiperspirants and deodorants in favor of natural products that are either store-bought or homemade.

Proponents also claim it rids the body of “cancer-causing” toxins, makes natural deodorants work better, prevents body odor, and “drains” the lymph nodes. Plus, it seems easy — mix up a mask made with common household items, apply to the armpits, let it sit for 5–20 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly.

As good and simple as this sounds, there is no medical or scientific evidence behind armpit detoxing. In fact, doing this can actually create problems for delicate armpit skin, such as a rash and irritation.

Supporters of armpit detox say it makes natural deodorants work better. However, no research supports this claim.

A small study in 2016 looked at how traditional antiperspirants and deodorants affect the bacteria in the armpits. The study found that using or not using these products can change the types and amounts of bacteria in the armpits.

Participants who used traditional antiperspirant or deodorant had fewer Staphylococci microbes than participants who did not use such products. Also, more Staphylococci bacteria were present in participants who did not use sweat-blocking antiperspirants.

Switching from a typical antiperspirant or deodorant to a natural one can create an imbalance in armpit bacteria, which can make body odor stronger. The bacteria that live on the skin need time to balance, so a sudden change in products can have a negative effect.

Many people and companies claim that “natural” products are better and safer than conventional ones. Some even claim that using conventional antiperspirant can lead to breast cancer.

However, the National Cancer Institute clearly states that “No scientific evidence links the use of [antiperspirants or deodorants] to the development of breast cancer.”

Research indicates that natural is not always better or safer. In 2016, researchers analyzed the ingredient lists of 100 “natural” personal care products, including deodorants. They found that natural products can contain just as many potentially irritating ingredients as conventional ones.

The researchers also noted that the ingredients lists of natural products do not always disclose potentially “dangerous constituents.” Despite manufacturer or wellness claims, consumers should be wary when choosing natural or organic personal care items, including deodorants.

Under current laws, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes deodorants as cosmetics. The FDA does not regulate the use of the terms “natural” and “organic” for cosmetics. The agency’s website states two important things clearly:

  1. “FDA has not defined the term ‘natural’ and has not established a regulatory definition for this term in cosmetic labeling.”
  2. “And remember, choosing ingredients from sources you consider ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ is no guarantee that they are safe.”

The short answer is no. The long answer is actually quite simple as well. A person’s body does not “detox” via the armpits. The liver, kidneys, lymph nodes, and spleen filter toxins that enter the body. Sweat, urine, and feces eliminate toxins as well. The skin does not typically filter toxins, as armpit detox proponents claim.

The ingredients a person may use in an armpit detox can also cause problems, because many of them, such as apple cider vinegar, can irritate the skin.

While some supporters of the process claim that irritation during the detox is normal, this is not true. It is important to immediately address any kind of rash, irritation, burning, or itching on the skin. This includes stopping the use of anything that may be causing it, such as a clay and vinegar armpit mask.

No solid medical or scientific evidence supports the concept of armpit detoxing. It can cause irritation and negatively affect the natural bacteria balance on the skin. If a person wants to switch to a more natural deodorant, they can do so at any time, without needing any kind of “detox” first.