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People have started using exfoliating acids as deodorant – and it works!

TextAlex Peters

Is this beauty hack a game-changer?

When you work in beauty, you get used to hearing about a lot of new products and treatments threatening to change the game. Some might, most of them won’t. But every now and then you come across something genuinely new and surprising. 

So, when I heard about the method of using exfoliating acids in place of deodorant, it was truly unexpected. 

The discovery was first stumbled upon when journalist Tracy Robey was attempting to exfoliate her armpits and reduce in-grown hairs. In the process, she came to realise that it had also eliminated any body odour from under her arms, even 24 hours after applying the acid. Word spread and soon women all over the internet were swapping their Dove deos for their AHA facial pads.

But how does it actually work? We asked scientist, beauty blogger and acid deodorant convert Michelle Wong AKA Lab Muffin to tell us everything.


There are two main types of glands that produce sweat: eccrine sweat glands and apocrine sweat glands. It’s the apocrine sweat glands that are the main cause of body odour as they produce sweat that contains odour precursor chemicals and nutrients that can feed bacterial growth. “Body odour is produced when the bacteria on your skin transform chemicals in sweat into smelly substances,” Michelle explains. “Treating your armpits with acid most likely works by lowering the pH of the armpits to a level where these bacteria can't thrive as well.”

Armpit skin usually has a pH of around 5.5-6.5 while acid exfoliants generally have a lower pH of 3-4. Lowering the pH can help decrease the bacteria which thrive on higher pH levels or decrease the bacteria’s ability to enzymatically cut the chemical bonds to produce odour chemicals.

For Michelle, the effects of this method can last up to a few days, although, she says the results will vary for different people. “It depends on the specific product you're using and your body's odour-producing potential.”


Aside from potentially going days without BO, there are other benefits to the acid deodorant method. Acid exfoliants can help reduce ingrown hairs as well as any hyperpigmentation that you have under your arms. “If you're sensitive to ingredients in deodorants, or if you don't like the scent of deodorants, acid exfoliants might help get around these issues,” Michelle also says. 

On the other hand, just as with the skin on your face, acid exfoliants have the potential to irritate the skin under your arms so it is important that you start slow and with low concentrations. You also still have to contend with the (now odourless) sweat itself, since the acids will not block the pores and therefore won’t control the amount of sweat produced.

“Acid exfoliants won't act as antiperspirants, so you'll still sweat, and if you sweat enough then the acid might be washed away and ineffective,” says Michelle. Depending on what products you use, you might also have to deal with sticky humectants which may be uncomfortable. 


So you’ve made it this far and want to try out the acid method for yourself. But what should you use? Michelle says it doesn’t seem to matter too much, “I've heard success stories with lots of different exfoliating acids, so it doesn't seem to be restricted to any specific ingredients,” she says, however, she does have some recommendations. 

“The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution and Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic both come in large containers and are quite budget-friendly. Stridex Maximum Strength Pads also work well.” 

Would you try this beauty game? Have you already been converted? Let us know on our Inside Dazed Beauty Facebook group. 

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