For quite some time, there has been much debate on what type of deodorant you should be using. Especially upon concerns on deodorants or antiperspirants that contain aluminum and the belief it may increase the risk of breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. While both these claims have been proven to be false, many brands and consumers have made the transition to creating and using aluminum-free or “natural” deodorants. However, what these natural deodorants comprise of is a variety of acids, such as salicylic and glycolic acids, as well as other exfoliants that we use in our everyday skincare routines. So, if you’re looking to make the switch to something more effective and accessible, here’s why you should make the switch to exfoliating acids that you may just have sitting in your medicine cabinet already.
Why exfoliating acids?
The reason why exfoliating acids are used in replacement of aluminum is because they work to control body odor by altering the pH balance of our skin. Our underarms tend to have a pH of 5.5-5.6 which is why that particular area is more prone to smelliness. Meanwhile, acids like AHAs (alpha hydroxy, glycolic, and lactic acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy and salicylic acid) have a lower pH of anywhere between 3-4.
Applying exfoliating acids under your arms will effectively kill the bacteria that grows resulting in unwanted smell — unlike traditional deodorants and antiperspirants with aluminum that mask the smell with fragrances and don’t stop the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
What are the pros and cons of exfoliating acids?
In addition to preventing odor, using exfoliating acids can help treat hyperpigmentation caused by ingrown hairs and shaving that otherwise would have been difficult to get rid of. And by exfoliating frequently, issues with stubborn ingrown hairs and folliculitis overall may also be reduced.
But, it’s important to note that exfoliating acids will not stop sweat. Sweat can only be tended to by antiperspirants, as the aluminum used blocks the sweat glands preventing sweat from appearing on the surface of our skin. Sweat itself is also odorless, but after being broken down by natural bacteria on the skin, it results in unwanted smell. This is why exfoliating acids used as deodorant offer a better solution as it neutralizes the odor.
The act of sweating is entirely natural and can only really be dealt with by prescribed treatments or Botox (which can be costly). It also doesn’t affect everyone on the same level, as the amount of sweat produced is dependent on genetics. If you’re like me, though, and tend to sweat more, are working out, or want to play it safe when in warmer weather, consider layering an antiperspirant deodorant over an exfoliating acid. On days involving less movement or if sweat has never been much of a problem for you, an exfoliating acid alone works perfectly well.
What exfoliating acids should I use?
In my experience, those in liquid toner forms or pre-soaked treatment pads have worked best. The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution is the go-to exfoliating acid for myself and many others, as well as the Pixi Glow Tonic and Stridex Medicated Acne Pads — all which are available to you at Ulta, Sephora, and most drugstores for an affordable price.
P.S. Always be sure to take precaution when applying on freshly shaved or waxed skin!