Wait, Why Are People On TikTok Using Face Masks On Their Armpits?

An expert weighs in.

armpit detox

TikTok has convinced people to do some strange things in the name of beauty: slather on an excessive amount of foundation, spray saltwater on acne, and put makeup sponges in the freezer. As more and more “hacks” keep getting discovered, the list just keeps on growing; but how many of them are more than just an internet gimmick? The latest trend begs this question yet again. People on TikTok have begun undergoing an “armpit detox”, which involves applying a detoxifying clay mask to the armpits in order to help reduce sweat and odor.

Because antiperspirants work to prevent sweating, users say that when you stop using aluminum deodorant, your pores start to unclog, causing sweat and odor to run rampant. Therefore, this “detox” speeds up the process and makes switching to a natural deodorant a lot quicker and easier. Board certified dermatologist and founder of Surface Deep, Dr. Alicia Zalka, tells TZR that while there is no scientific evidence to support the common misconception that aluminum deodorants can cause cancer, they do, in fact, block the sweat ducts.

“Sweat is intentional; odor is preventable,” Dr. Zalka says. “You can avoid body odor but still normally sweat, which is a critical bodily function to maintain thermostasis” — aka, a constant body temperature. “Skip the aluminum; it is not needed for most of us unless having dry underarms is your goal.”

The hashtag #armpitdetox has a whopping 4.9 million views on TikTok and is filled with users slathering “detoxifying” concoctions under their arms and reporting their findings. The most-liked video comes from @Melodeerosemiller, who says she recently switched to an aluminum-free deodorant that isn’t quite getting her through the day. In order to remove aluminum that has “built up”, she says, Melodee mixes a bentonite clay mask with apple cider vinegar as a detox mask. In a follow up video, she says that her underarms no longer smell throughout the day and that she’ll continue using the mask every so often.

Tons of other TikTokers have followed suit and claim to see similar results, with some even saying that this method has helped with acne that occurs in the armpits as well as lighten hyperpigmentation. Melodee’s video even has a slew of comments from users sharing that since they started detoxing their armpits, they’ve eliminated their need for deodorant altogether.

“I get the notion of detoxing in order to provide a ‘clarifying’ treatment to the underarms, much like you would if a build-up of hair care products were weighing your hair down,” Dr. Zalka says. “So, using a mask to remove the build-up in underarm skin, does not sound that outlandish to me. However, the same can be achieved in other ways.”

If odor is a concern, she suggests regular gentle cleansing with a glycolic cleanser; her recs are Surface Deep Skin Wash, Surface Deep Anti Odorant Pad, and Mega Babe Space Bar Detoxifying Charcoal Underarm Bar. “Be patient,” Dr. Zalka adds. “Your underarms will thank you when you finally allow them time to go back to functioning the way they were intended to.”

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