Written by Grove Collaborative

Armpit detox 101: We tried armpit masks.

Last Updated: November 12, 2021


Armpit detoxes help remove built-up toxins left by your conventional deodorant. Come along as Grove writer Mackenzie Sanford tries a pit detox — and learns how to switch to natural deodorant.

Right off the bat, let’s get this out of the way: I hate the word “armpit.” Don’t ask me why, I know it’s irrational — I’m just really grossed out by it and I always have been.


My intention for this article was to exclusively refer to the smelly skin between my chest and bicep as “the underarm,” but my editor was like, “Mackenzie, you have to say armpit.” And here we are. It’s fine, I’m fine.


So, back to armpit masks! SmartyPits Pit Rebalancing Mask lets you cleanse your spirit and purge your pits in one fell swoop — and if you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll know I love a product that can multitask.


How does an armpit detox mask work, you ask? Will it cure me of my stank — and my aversion to saying “armpit”? And how does one go about switching to natural deodorant from an icky conventional antiperspirant? Let’s get into it.

What is an armpit detox and what does it do?

Armpit detoxes are said to help “purge” your armpits of all the built-up chemicals from conventional deodorants and antiperspirants that alter your armpit’s microbiome, or collection of bacteria that help keep your skin healthy.


Put simply, the bacteria in your armpits feast on sweat, which is what causes underarm odor. An imbalance of bacteria caused by harsh antiperspirants can create even more odor — so using a clay detox mask may help purge your pits of bacteria-altering chemicals, thereby restoring the natural balance of those bacteria and reducing body odor.


Here’s what a detox mask does for your pits:

Increases the effectiveness of natural deodorants

The imbalance of bacteria might be the reason you’re extra smelly during the transition from conventional antiperspirants to natural deodorant.


Armpit detoxes may help speed up the process by cleansing odor-causing bacteria from the skin and helping your natural product work more efficiently.

Removes build-up

Antiperspirants work by clogging the pores of your underarms to decrease excessive sweat from your sweat glands.


Armpit masks remove the products that clog pores, allowing your underarms to readjust more quickly.

Soothes skin irritation

Itchy armpits, armpit chafing, armpit rashes from deodorant — antiperspirants dry out your underarms and can cause any or all of these problems, but using a detox mask helps soothe sensitive skin.

For more info on armpit purging, checkout this video.


How do you switch to natural deodorant?

You’ve switched from chemical cleaners to natural ones, and from plastic food storage containers to the reusable variety — you’ve even started using organic tampons instead of the bleached and synthetic kind. Now, it’s time to spare a thought for your poor pits.


Fellow Grove writer Kristen encourages you to lean into the stink with an in-depth guide on switching from chemical-laden antiperspirants to the natural stuff. Complete with tips, science, and recommendations, this guide will help you banish the B.O. naturally, in no time.

SmartyPits: the brand on a mission to save your pits

After her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, SmartyPits founder Stacia Guzzo learned that the aluminium in conventional antiperspirants might be linked not only to breast cancer, but to Alzheimer’s, too.


Stacia wanted to create a brand of aluminum-free deodorants that were smooth, easy to use, smelled great, and most importantly — worked. Thus, SmartyPits was born.


SmartyPits aims to help folks make the switch from conventional antiperspirants made with harsh chemicals to natural deodorants made with safe ingredients, without smelling like a human garbage can in the process.

Ditch your old deodorant and go natural with Grove

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What’s in the SmartyPits Pit Rebalancing Mask?

To tame the stink and help underarms transition smoothly from regular to natural deodorant, SmartyPits developed a clay mask that’s got all the benefits of a face mask, but it’s for your underarms.


It’s packed with cleansing clays and prebiotics, plus it’s aluminium-free, phthalate-free, paraben-free, great for all skin types, and the best part — it hasn’t been, nor will it ever be, tested on animals. I’m sold.

The ingredients

SmartyPits Pit Rebalancing Mask has four ingredients that really pack a punch:


Kaolin clay

Kaolin is the softest of clays. It extracts impurities and absorbs excess oils without causing irritation.


Moroccan lava clay

Moroccan lava clay gently exfoliates dead skin cells and deeply cleanses skin.


Bentonite clay

Bentonite clay absorbs dirt and oils, plus it’s got anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that soothe skin and help keep odor away.


Inulin

Inulin is a plant-based prebiotic that supports good bacteria and helps crowd odor-causing bacteria out.


You’ll need to add your own apple cider vinegar to the mix before applying.

The texture


It starts off as a loose powder then turns into a thick, wet paste after you mix in the water and apple cider vinegar (ACV).


I was expecting it to be clumpy and perhaps accompanied by a burning sensation, but it actually spread really nicely and didn’t feel uncomfortable or drying at all.

The scent

If you’ve ever used a clay face mask, that’s what this mask smells like.


There’s a scent, but it’s neutral and earthy, like clay, but with a slight zing from the ACV once you add it in. The next time I use it, I think I’ll add a couple drops of lavender essential oil to kick it up a notch.

How to detox your armpit in 3 steps

Application is super simple.


Wait at least eight hours after shaving to avoid irritation. SmartyPits recommends using their detox mask one to two times a week for the best results.

Step 1: Gather what you need

Grab a bowl, your apple cider vinegar, and water.


You can use filtered water if you want to — I used tap water.


Step 2: Mix it up

Add a tablespoon of the powder, 1/2 teaspoon of water, and 1/2 teaspoon ACV.


Mix it all together into a thick paste, then slather it on your underarms with your fingers or a mask brush.


Step 3: Wait, then wash

After 4–6 minutes, gently wash the paste off with warm water and a washcloth.


For even easier clean up, I recommend using the mask before you shower — washing it off my underarms over the sink was hard to do without making a mess on the bathroom counter and me.

So, does an armpit detox really work?


First, a word about my pits. I’ve been a long-time user of clinical-strength deodorants that are made with all the awful things you’re supposed to avoid. One of these days, I’ll change my ways, I promise — but today is not that day.


My main hope for this armpit detox was to clear my skin of all the built-up conventional antiperspirant because, even after showering, I feel like it’s never totally gone.

Did it work? Yes!


To really test it out, I didn’t reapply deodorant after I washed the mask off. Normally, if I forget to put on deodorant, I start to get a lil’ ripe about an hour later. But at the end of the day, I still wasn’t stinky.


While I don’t see the mask as an everyday solution to underarm stink — SmartyPits says to use it at most twice a week — it definitely cleared up my stench temporarily.


I think I need a few more detox sessions to see if the perma-stink will really be held at bay, but what I can say is that the layer of deodorant that was permanently adhered to my skin is gone, and my pits have never felt fresher.

About the author: Mackenzie Sanford is a writer and musician working on her armpits in the Midwest.

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