Here are our mixed thoughts.
I’m all for the natural-deodorant movement. In fact, you can read all about my quest to find the best natural deodorant. To really get it right, I decided to go a step further and also test a DIY armpit detox mask.
Why Do Our Armpits Need A Detox?
According to countless wellness blogs, detoxifying your armpits is crucial in the transition to natural deodorants. The combination of bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar is said to pull toxins from the pores to give you a clean slate for natural deodorants to work more effectively. (And lord knows, natural deodorants need all the help they can get.)
DIY Armpit Mask Recipe
The most common recipe combines:
1 tablespoon bentonite clay
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons water
One important note: Avoid using a metal bowl or spoon when making this recipe. One of the properties of bentonite clay is that it attracts metal ions, which we want to draw out of the skin—not add on top of.
Mix the ingredients in your non-metallic bowl with a wooden or plastic spoon. Add any additional water, if needed, to get the right consistency. Apply to clean pits and let sit for fifteen minutes before removing.
As a tip, we highly recommend doing this before a shower so you can rinse off in there. Trying to remove the dried mask layer with a washcloth required copious amounts of harsh scrubbing. Not good!
Is There Any Science Behind This?
Yes and no. Studies show that when ingested, bentonite clay can help remove toxins and also improve gut health. Other topically based studies show bentonite clay can help heal skin lesions, improve dermatitis, and act as a protective barrier against toxic transfers across the skin. All very promising!
Still, while science supports the many healing benefits of bentonite clay, there are no studies about its workings on the armpits specifically. Also, the studies mentioned above include bentonite clay as an ingredient in moisturizers or sunscreen which you leave on, not as something you apply as a mask and then remove.
Despite cold hard science to back it up, my colleague Sarah Greenfield, RDN, and I were still game to try it out.
“It definitely smells weird and is hard to get off, but I still enjoyed it,” Sarah says. “Any type of self-care is important because you’re making time to prioritize yourself. I can’t say that I felt any noticeable differences, per se, but it was still a positive experience for me.”
I’m a little more skeptical. The smell of the mask was very unpleasant, and trying to keep my armpit exposed for fifteen minutes wasn’t at all relaxing. Did my armpits feel squeaky clean after? Sure! In fact, they felt baby smooth. But did it make my natural deodorant work better?
In truth, I found my activity and stress levels throughout the day were way more important factors to how well my natural deodorant held up than whether or not I’d recently done an armpit mask. For the amount of effort and stank required for this particular self-care practice, I’m afraid my first armpit mask may just be my last.