armpit detox

“Ladies don’t sweat, they perspire.”

My fourth-grade teacher had sent the boys into the hall and was schooling the girls of her class on deodorant best practices. In the last few months, the classroom had gotten decidedly smellier with every passing day. The stench was especially notable after the hour-long lunch break when our class played soccer under the streaming California sun.

I’ll never forget her explaining exactly what was happening to the 20 sets of 11-year-old armpits in the room. “Puberty,” she said. “Antiperspirant,” she pleaded. Teen Spirit, Dove, Secret. And then that infamous quote that I’ll never forget, “Ladies don’t sweat, they perspire.”

She meant well, but contrary to societal belief, women do sweat. Sometimes a lot. And we also — sometimes, most of the time — smell, despite our best efforts at masking our natural scent. It’s a funny double standard: A sweaty, tang-smelling man exemplifies hard work and strength. But a woman with any whiff of B.O. is easily assumed as unkempt and un-groomed.

yellow flowers

There’s a lot of shame around the way we as people smell. So much, in fact, that an 18-billion dollar deodorant industry has shot up around our embarrassment. A whopping 95 percent of people wear something like antiperspirant or deodorant daily and have been since puberty.

But lately, the zeitgeist has eschewed conventional, chemical-laden products (like good ol’ Teen Spirit) and turned its attention to natural and organic skin care products. Yes, Dove is still the best-selling deodorant on the market, but consumers are looking for more holistic options for their armpit needs. In fact, Primal Pit Paste, an all-natural deodorant made with baking soda, is on the top-five list under the deodorant category on Amazon.

It’s a funny double standard: A sweaty, tang-smelling man exemplifies hard work and strength. But a woman with any whiff of B.O. is easily assumed as unkempt and un-groomed.

That’s great news for our overall health, but there’s one big problem: Years of using traditional deodorant with hormone-disrupting chemicals can result in a pretty potent stank — one that no natural deodorant can compete with. Studies have shown that traditional chemical deodorant messes with the natural microbiome of your underarms, which causes bacteria to overproduce and make you smell even worse when you stop swabbing your pits with chemicals.

If you’re thinking about switching over to an organic non-stink option, but are worried about break-through odor, you need an armpit detox. Stay with me, it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Think about it: You cleanse your internal organs with juices, diets and exercise. You detoxify your facial skin with exfoliants, cleansers and masks. So why wouldn’t those pits — that have been exposed to a whole lot of sticky, gunky product for most of your life — need a little spring cleaning, too?

The good news is that this armpit detox is incredibly easy; no juicing or sauna sessions required. All you need are two ingredients, a little bit of time and the patience to hold your arms above your head until the pit paste dries and you’re good!

pink flowers

The below mask relies on bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar to do the heavy lifting. Bentonite clay is made of aged volcanic ash and its unique composition actually has the ability to absorb toxins. (It’s common to find bentonite clay in purifying face masks.)

Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, is the ultimate multi-tasking pantry ingredient. High-quality ACV contains “the Mother,” a tangled mass of protein, enzymes and probiotic bacteria that give ACV antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. ACV kills the nasty bacteria in your pits, while bentonite clay pulls the impurities from your pores.

Use this mask daily until you notice your scent diminish; we recommend every day for a week for best results.

DIY Armpit Detox

1 tablespoon bentonite clay
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1. Mix together clay and ACV until a paste forms.
2. Spread a thin layer of the mix onto armpit.
3. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water.

Now that you’ve totally un-stunk your pits, it’s time to invest in a natural deodorant that’ll keep you feeling fresh and clean. Avoid products that contain ingredients like aluminum, formaldehyde, and propylene glycol; instead, shop for formulas that use things like baking soda, essential oils and witch hazel, which all naturally fight bacterial growth and stink!

Do you have a natural deodorant you love? Share in the comments!

Images via Tess Comrie



  1. Been using natural crystal body deodorant stick for about 3 years now. 1 stick lasts a whole year! Have the whole family (almost) using the crystal sticks. Everyone gets a new one in their stocking every Christmas. You still sweat/perspire, but not as much, but you have no odor. Love these!

  2. Clothing makes all the difference!! Natural materials definitely help. I’ve tried many healthier/safer deodorants and the baking soda ones always leave my armpits in a terrible state. I have had a lot of luck with Le Couvent Des Minimes Everyday Deodorant.

  3. Okay, I’m very excited to try this mask out. I feel like I sweat A LOT compared to my friends, and in high school I even stopped wearing colourful long sleeve shirts because of it. I would get nervous about sweating, and then sweat even more, it was horrible!!!! Since then I’ve managed to relax a bit, but I still find myself stinking up the room from time to time if i’m busy. I’ve been using the deodorant “JASON” in apricot, apparently it is ‘pure natural’. I like the scent, and it can be purchased at a Winners. I think it’s pretty good!

    Thanks for the lovely read.

    1. Hi Silvia,
      Yep! This is a great treatment for a facial. I’d recommend adding essential oils like lavender or tea tree oil in for extra cleansing power. And pro tip: If you have sensitive skin, wash this off your face BEFORE it dries—otherwise, you might end up looking splotchy and red!

      1. Could you add the tea tree or lavender for the armpit mask? Would it be beneficial there, given that it has antibacterial properties too.

  4. I use Piper Wai and I love it! I tried about six natural deodorants before I found it and its the only one that worked without irritating my underarms or making me smell worse.

    1. Me too! Piper Wai is the first natural deodorant I’ve tried that works pretty well even through sweaty work outs and wearing synthetic clothing. Everyone once in a while,
      like for a wedding or another important event that I don’t want to risk being smelly, I’ll still use an antiperspirant. But most of the time, Piper Wai is my go to deodorant.

  5. I’ve tried so many natural deodorants but found just two that really work well for me in terms of preventing odor in a hot, humid climate and not irritating the skin: Piperwai and Fine. The downside of Piperwai is that it shows up on dark fabrics like my black workout bras. Fine is my favorite. It doesn’t leave marks on clothing, It does have a noticeable herbal scent, but I really like the scent. Fine comes from Germany and with shipping costs, it’s $$$ — about $50 for what is probably a 3 mo. supply. Soapwalla deodorant also prevents odor, but was too irritating to my skin.

    All these natural deodorants are potentially irritating due to baking soda. I’ve found it’s best not to use them right after shaving.

    1. Hi Julie is Paperwai similar or better than Soapwalla? I liked Soapwalla for the most part, better than any other natural deodorant that I had tried at the time. I still felt like I’d sweat through it. On long days I felt like I needed to re-apply. It also made my pits very dry and itchy!

  6. Real Purity is awesome. Works just as good as the chemical filled ones. I buy it from awhile Foods. Within weeks my arm pits had let bumps and feel great and fresh. You just have to get used to the roll -on but it’s worth it!

  7. I used this method the second time I switched to natural deodorant, and the difference in my adjustment period was very notable. The first time I switched to natural deodorant (sans detox routine), I felt like someone had turned on faucets under my armpits. The second time, I skipped that stage entirely. I just did the detox once a week because I have commitment issues with sitting still for 20 min every day waiting for clay to dry under my arms, LOL.

  8. I actually don’t wear deodorant at all and I haven’t in years! I shower every day after my morning workout. My smell (if there is even one at all) correlates to how much water I drink and my clothing. My boyfriend (who wears deodorant every day) doesn’t think I smell bad at all. Anyone I’ve told about it says they wouldn’t have known but they couldn’t imagine doing it themselves. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to deodorant though I do like the idea of this mask once in a while to refresh everything!

  9. This article is so timely as I just made the switch to something more healthy and anti-perspirant free. I’ve been using and loving Schmidt naturals. Thanks for sharing some tips and insight!

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