How Using Glycolic Acid As A Deodorant Can Help Fight Body Odor
Have you ever felt a whiff of yourself to encounter what you imagine onions smell bad? Yeah, it’s BO hard at work. There are no two ways: everyone has body odor. Whether you experience it infrequently or on the reg, BO is an all-too-common dilemma that even the most hygienic people face at one point or another. But before you get to every stick, spray, and gel deodorant you own, there might be an easier way to fend off those odors — and it’s probably already in your skincare drawer. Two words: Glycolic acid.
It’s hailed for its exfoliating and brightening skincare properties, but using glycolic acid as a deodorant is also the latest beauty hack to make waves in the industry. Although it may seem unthinkable at first, it has the approval of several dermatologists. And, applying the ingredient to common BO hot spots may have other skincare benefits (more on that later).
Below, TZR spoke to board-certified dermatologists to find out why BO forms in the first place, how the beloved skincare ingredient can help control said BO, how to actually use the acid as a deodorant. , and if there are any risks involved.
Why does body odor occur?
It’s quite simple: body odor occurs when sweat mixes with bacteria. As board-certified dermatologist Dr. Azadeh Shirazi explains, sweat itself is virtually odorless — rather, it’s the rapid growth of bacteria that breaks sweat down into acids that causes the unpleasant odor. “Body odor can be influenced by hormones, the food you eat, infections, medications, or underlying conditions like diabetes or other metabolic conditions,” notes Dr. the most common areas where people suffer from BO are areas that lack air circulation such as the armpits, feet, groin, genitals and pubic area.
How does glycolic acid fight body odor?
Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that works by “breaking the bonds between the outer layer of skin cells (including dead skin cells), exfoliating them and stimulating cell turnover” , Dr. Shirazi tells TZR. “This results in a peeling effect that leaves the skin feeling smoother.” When it comes to the skin on your face, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Brendan Camp of MDCS Dermatology notes that the acid can help brighten your skin tone, improve discoloration, and lessen the appearance. wrinkles and fine lines. But what can it do for foul pits?
“Glycolic is thought to help fight body odor by lowering the pH of the skin and thereby reducing the likelihood of bacteria surviving,” says Dr. Camp. “By reducing the bacterial load on the skin, glycolic acid can help reduce body odor.”
But make no mistake: A glycolic acid formula may only help reduce body odor, but it won’t work as an antiperspirant, because Dr. Shirazi claims that glycolic acid does nothing to reduce or absorb perspiration. On the contrary, because glycolic acid is antibacterial, it can help exfoliate dead skin cells that contribute to bacteria buildup and possibly body odor.
As board-certified dermatologist and Surface Deep founder Dr. Alicia Zalka says, “Sweating is intentional, odor is preventable.” You can “embrace sweating (unless excessive as in the medical condition known as hyperhidrosis) while avoiding unwanted odors by using a [glycolic acid-containing] formula,” she says.
Other Benefits of Glycolic Acid
Do you have dark armpits? Slipping on a glycolic acid formula can help. According to Dr. Camp, dark armpits are caused by layers of dead skin cells that build up on the surface of the skin. But by exfoliating those dead skin cells via glycolic acid, it can help reduce that hyperpigmentation.
Glycolic acid can also help fight ingrown hairs by loosening up dead skin cells and oil that clog pores. It can also help prevent razor bumps and reduce inflammation if you are prone to them. Finally, switching to a glycolic acid-based formula gives your skin a break from traditional deodorants and antiperspirants, which tend to “build up residue on your skin day after day, clogging pores and sweat ducts.” , notes Dr. Zalka.
Risks of Using Glycolic Acid Deodorants
Glycolic acid is an acid after all, and like all chemical exfoliants, you’ll need to be careful not to overdo it. Over-exfoliation can occur if you combine a high concentration of a formula containing glycolic acid with things like shaving or waxing, which also exfoliates the skin. This can damage the skin barrier and lead to inflammation as well as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, especially on darker skin tones, Dr. Shirazi notes.
You’ll want to ignore this trend altogether if you’re getting laser hair removal treatments in the armpit area, as Dr. Camp says, these treatments can disrupt the skin’s barrier function, making it more susceptible to skin irritation. glycolic acid.
Finally, keep in mind that underarm skin is thin, delicate, and at risk of rubbing and chafing, which can further exacerbate the risk of irritation, says Dr. Zalka. You may also feel tingling if you apply an acid-based product directly to your skin after shaving or waxing. Dr. Zalka recommends looking for glycolic acid deodorants that contain anti-inflammatory ingredients, as well as performing a patch test to see how your skin reacts.
How to use glycolic acid as a deodorant
The market is not yet full of glycolic acid deodorants, but there are certainly options. Follow product directions if using a glycolic acid deodorant (usually just swipes on like a traditional deodorant). Other than that, you can use a glycolic acid skin care product (like a toner or serum), but it’s best to start low and go slow. “At first, you can apply a 5-7% lower concentration every other day,” recommends Dr. Shirazi, who notes that a cream formulation may be better tolerated than gels or liquid toners. Then, once you know your skin can tolerate it, you can increase the frequency.
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.