A trend that has been doing the rounds on TikTok suggests ditching your deodorant in place of glycolic acid, a type of chemical exfoliant. Many users claim that this hygiene hack, which specifically calls for the Glycolic Acid Toning Solution from The Ordinary, can help keep body odor at bay. And if we know anything about exfoliating acids in skincare, it’s that they come with skin-smoothing and brightening properties, too.
But does using glycolic acid on your underarms really work? And most importantly, is it safe? We’ve done a deep dive on chemical exfoliants to keep you - and your pits - in the know.
What Is A Chemical Exfoliant?
Before diving into their underarm-specific benefits, let’s take a look at chemical exfoliants in general. These acids or enzymes have a low pH, allowing them to dissolve the bonds between skin cells. From intense peels to more gentle formulas, they work to smooth away dry, dull skin on the surface, revealing fresh, glowy skin underneath.
There are a few types of chemical exfoliants, including AHAs such as the TikTok famous glycolic acid, and BHAs like salicylic acid. While their different molecular structures all work on the skin in different ways, the benefits of chemical exfoliants include smoothing rough texture, brightening hyperpigmentation, and reducing inflammation caused by acne or ingrown hairs.
It’s worth noting, however, that with all the benefits of chemical exfoliants comes the risk of irritation. These acids should be used with caution, especially on sensitive areas like your armpits.
How Chemical Exfoliants Can Help Your Underarms
While they may have earned their place in your facial skin care routine, why have chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid suddenly become popular in lieu of deodorant? Well, it turns out that these acids can actually inhibit odor-causing bacteria in our underarms. As well as the B.O.-busting properties we expect from our deodorant, here are some of the benefits of using chemical exfoliants on your armpits:
In general, body odor is caused by the growth of certain bacteria found in sweat. Underarm deodorants work by either inhibiting the growth of these bacteria, or by halting perspiration altogether.
Acids such as glycolic and salicylic work as effective natural deodorants. Their low pH makes it impossible for odor-causing bacteria to survive on your skin, leaving you feeling fresh and confident. The trick is to use products containing these acids before the bacteria even has a chance to grow and stink, such as in the shower or in your deodorant.
Are your underarms darker than the skin around them, or do you have dark spots left from razor burn or irritation? While these are totally normal concerns, chemical exfoliants can help treat uneven skin tone and help you feel more confident in your skin.
An ingredient to look out for is glycolic acid. It works to slough off any dead skin cells on the surface, revealing fresh, even skin underneath. This means that in time, hyperpigmentation or dark spots on your underarms will become lighter and less noticeable.
The skin on the underarms is very delicate, making it prone to irritation from shaving or waxing. This can lead to bumps, uneven texture or clogged pores over time.
By penetrating the pore, chemical exfoliants such as glycolic acid are able to smooth texture and clear up any ingrown hairs or razor burn on your underarms. It’s also a useful way to unclog congested sweat glands that can come from using antiperspirant deodorants.
How To Add A Chemical Exfoliant To Your Underarm Routine
So now you know what chemical exfoliants can do for your ‘pits, it’s time to figure out how to add them to your self care schedule. As the underarms are prone to irritation, it’s important to choose products with AHAs or BHAs that are specifically formulated for this delicate area. Yes, that means skipping the glycolic acid toner and opting for gentle formulas that have been tried and tested for underarms.
To inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria, acids or enzymes should be used when the skin is as clean as possible. By using a chemical exfoliant in the shower or just after, you will smell and feel as fresh as a daisy.
In the shower
The shower is the perfect time to properly cleanse your underarms of any sweat, bacteria or product build up that could be contributing to body odor or irritation. The Forgotten Skincare Get It Bright Exfoliating Body Scrub is a shower shelf staple that is safe to use on underarms.
This clean, vegan formula contains glycolic acid to inhibit stinky bacteria, brighten hyperpigmentation, and smooth any texture under your arms. It also contains pumice for gentle physical exfoliation, and willow bark extract to soothe and refine the skin texture.
Simply apply this targeted scrub to wet skin, and gently massage into your armpits (and anywhere else that could use some brightening and smoothing!). Rinse off, and follow up with a targeted underarm deodorant.
When it comes to stopping B.O. in its tracks, deodorant is key. Instead of blocking sweat all together, a natural deodorant like Forgotten Skincare's The Original will keep your armpits feeling fresh, clean and bright.
“This brightens very well. Been using it for almost a year and noticed significant results compared to what my underarms looked like before I started using it.”
Containing salicylic acid to inhibit bacteria growth and brightening ingredients such as vitamin C and grapefruit oil, this deodorant cream is specially formulated for sensitive skin. Soothing ingredients like aloe, vitamin E and jojoba oil will keep your underarm skin smooth, hydrated and happy.
Simply apply a pea size amount to clean skin after the shower. Use it morning and night, or up to three times a week if your skin is extra sensitive. In time you will notice that your underarms appear brighter, smoother and free from irritation.
While it can feel tempting to hop on the bandwagon of TikTok trends, when it comes to skincare it’s important to understand what ingredients you’re working with. Chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid and salicylic acid are effective at fighting B.O., brightening and soothing the skin when used appropriately.
Forgotten Skincare creates clean, safe products for all of those areas that need a little extra love. Try adding our scrub and deodorant to your skincare lineup, and enjoy the feeling of fresh, bright, smooth underarms! Learn more about Glycolic Acid here!