What is an antiperspirant or underarm 'detox'?

In September of 2020, we had some community members connect with us on the transition process off of antiperspirant. We had never really used antiperspirants, so going from store-bought deodorant to natural was a pretty smooth transition. The feedback was positive during testing, but we never tracked what people were switching from! So we did a poll of our community over late October to learn a little more about the experience. About 25% of respondents said the switch was ok, not great or disappointing. When we looked at the products they were using before the switch, they were all switching from antiperspirant.

We did some reading on antiperspirant use, and when sweat begins to flow again after stopping antiperspirant, bacteria on your skin can consume it, break it down and fart it out into little BO bombs that ruin your afternoon! 

Most people experience a pretty odorous transition off of antiperspirants.

When you switch off of an antiperspirant, your underarms go through a transition period of unique body aroma while your skin biome balances. This odour is usually worse than remembered and can linger for days or weeks. This odour has been described as ranging from mild to old sporting equipment soaked in cat pee...so the experience can be a real challenge! 

Will a ‘Detox’ help avoid the odour?

The idea of detoxing through the skin isn’t new, but have had a hard time finding reputable research supporting the idea. We eliminate toxins through our liver and kidneys. The theory behind doing a 'detox' is that the application of clays or powders and apple cider vinegar will spped up the transition. It could be effective in the short term because ACV is antibacterial (no bacteria to eat the sweat = no smell). In the long term, it's unlikely to help as the skin biome won't be able to find a healthy balance.

How long does it last?

Some respondents found it was only a week or two, while others didn't want to wait it out and went as long as a few weeks.

What can you do in the meantime?

You want to support a healthful environment in your underarm, but also need to get through the day without feeling embarrassed or conscious of your ‘smell!’ Here are a few ways that you can do this;

  • Bathe with soap
    • Avoid detergents (body washes) that can strip all bacteria and eliminate progress before they can balance out
  • Reapply midday
    • Deodorants work by creating a barrier between sweat and bacteria, by introducing probiotics that increase growth of good (less stinky) bacteria, or by masking odours with fragrances
  • Wash your underarms midday
    • This can be as easy as having biodegradable wipes on hand or ducking out to the washroom on a break
  • Maintain a healthy diet 
  • Drink lots of water
  • Sweat it out early 
    • Try a good morning workout, followed by a shower and application of your favourite natural deodorant

We hope this helps ¨clear the stink¨ on the transition period, as you enjoy a less-smelly, healthier you!

Bubbles & Balms Founding Partner Judith applying our natural deodorant