Underarm odor is in the top five embarrassing body odors.
(Odors downtown, farts, bad breath, and decaying flesh round out this group.) The thing is, there are ways to get rid of underarm odor without the use of deodorizing products.
Before I get into the goodness of keeping things fresh in the armpit department, let me touch on something pretty important. Pits are a detox pathway. They have a lot of active sweat glands. Sweat is a good thing. It is the body’s way of getting bad stuff out. Sure, it might not smell like sunshine and rainbows and yes, it is wet, but it is a natural process that everyone experiences on a daily bases.
You really are doing yourself a disservice when you slap on chemical laden antiperspirants.
I know, I know. “But Jennifer – I don’t want sweat rings on my work shirt and smelling like the inside of a fish tank isn’t what I want to be known for.”
Here’s the thing. If your body is acting normal, you don’t have underlying heath issues, you eat clean, and you are giving it the opportunity to release those toxins, you shouldn’t smell awful. You might smell a little musky but it really shouldn’t be offensive. Basically, there should be little to no underarm odor.
By way of chemicals in the form of synthetic fragrances, we have trained our olfactory glands to dislike anything that isn’t fragranced a certain way. Musky was a normal, natural, pleasant scent up until about 100 years ago. Then perfume and toilet water and all these expensive body-odor-masking products came onto the market and our noses forgot what “real” actually smells like. And today, we think that “real” stinks.
Let’s switch gears and talk about poop for a minute. Stay with me. Would you intentionally withhold a bowel movement if you had the opportunity to let loose? You are at home, watching t.v. and feel the urge to go. But instead of heading to the bathroom, you squeeze tight and think to yourself, I don’t want to create an odor therefore, I will keep everything in thank-you-very-much. How long would you last doing something this ridiculous? And what would happen to your overall health if you kept your waste that wanted out, in?
It wouldn’t be pretty. In fact, you might end up like my sister-in-law and have a back-up all the way into your lungs. Awesome x-ray image, horrible health issue.
Do you see the analogy here? You wouldn’t hold your bowels just for the sake of not stinking up the joint right? Why discourage an important toxin release process like sweating then?
Ok, since I am clearly winning this argument with my logic, let’s talk about how to get rid of armpit odor!
The most important thing you can do to keep the underarm odor from setting in is to wash your pits properly.
Pit hygiene isn’t complicated but we tend to overdo things in an effort to remove any lingering odor. First, ditch the soap. No soap. Hear me? No soap! Instead, scrub your armpits with water and a washcloth. Yep- that simple. No soap. Just a good scrub down with water and a washcloth. Soap strips the pits (even really natural ones) and can even trap odors in. You don’t want that obviously.
The only exception I have found to the no-soap rule is this probiotic body wash. Their products DO work well as pit-stink-removers and do not create an environment conducive to odor build up. The reason they work so well is because they remove the biofilm in your armpit that traps in and breeds odors.
Once or twice per week, use a mild sugar scrub with some essential oils mixed in. Sugar scrubs for this purpose are not complicated. Just grab a little oil (coconut oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil) and mix it with some organic sugar. You don’t want it oily but you don’t want it too dry either. 2 parts sugar to 1 part oil is a good balance. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (see my favorites below) in a sugar scrub and massage the scrub into your pits for 60-90 seconds. Rinse and pat dry.
If you want an exact recipe I have a great underarm odor removing scrub recipe here.
Do not use harsh, chemical laden deodorants or antiperspirants. Deodorant is easy to make yourself or you can choose to use a more natural one. You can grab my favorite recipe here. It includes a super powerful probiotic which really helps knock out odor.
If you find yourself in need of a mid-day touch up, you might consider carrying cotton balls and a small container of lemon juice or vodka. Rub your pits with a little bit of lemon juice or vodka and it takes the smell away. Apple Cider Vinegar works well too but I find it to be a bit irritating.
Another way to keep the stinkies at bay is to let your non-mainstream flag fly and grow those lochs. Yep – let the pit hair grow. Hair wicks away moisture so bacteria does not have a chance to grow on your skin. Bacteria = stink. Also, shaving creates chaos and imbalance in your delicate skin ecosystem. Stop shaving and your sweat glands won’t freak out so much.
This should be obvious but wash your clothes. If they stink, they will transfer that odor onto tucked away areas like the armpits.
Take detox baths in magnesium flakes or Epson salts. Get the sweat out in the tub and let the toxins run free!
What do you think? Am I on to something here? I think I am considering my pits really do smell like sunshine and rainbows. Test a few of these methods out and let me know the results. Here’s to happy, healthy pits!
What essential oils do I use and love? Several brands actually.
1. My hands down favorite brand is Rocky Mountain Oils (also known as Native American Nutritionals). These are seriously the BEST brand I have ever used. They are strong. And I mean strong. I have seen some amazing things happen when using this brand.
2. GEO carries a great line of essentials oils and I have always had success with their oils. They are adding new blends frequently and are definitely worth a look!
3. I am really enjoying Plant Therapy essential oils as well. They are easy on the budget as well as being a high quality oil.
Kristen–well minded says
I started using Primal Pit Paste a couple of weeks ago, and I’m IN LOVE!!! I can’t stop bragging to my friends about it. They think I’m nuts. But I think I’ve finally got the hubby converted. Bought some orange creamsicle for the kids, too. GREAT stuff. I am really shocked about how effective it is. This is a great post. Thanks for sharing!
Pretty much everyone I know who tries Pit Paste falls in love. It is pretty great stuff!
Adrienne @ Whole New Mom says
Great post – pinned!!!
Adrienne @ Whole New Mom says
One question – so why does soap not work? I would love more info. Thanks, Jennifer!
Seeing that more people are asking about this, I think I will write a post about it! Glad you liked the post. 🙂
Are the stick versions refillable from the jar versions?
Stick versions need more wax to hold them together than the jar versions. If you are making your own deodorant, just use a bit more beeswax.
Not using soap… There’s a problem there. There’s two type of sweat glands in the armpits, and one of them releases the stuff the bugs eats–not water soluble. Washing with baking soda would work or just use real soap. Not the chemical wasteland highly commercial soap that penetrates into your skin, but saponified tallow or coconut oil as the base.
I’ve grown my armpit hair (usually in the winter because I’m lazy) and I find that I’m smellier. That’s the only reason I do shave periodically during the winter months. So what’s the deal there? Some sort of hormonal imbalance? I’m on board with all of your other suggestions though! Great post. I haven’t made my own deodorant yet, but plan to soon(lazy again, I guess). So far I have just skipped it all together. Summer is upon us though, so I guess I will have to get busy for the sweaty season!
I have also found that the longer armpit hair the more noticeable the armpit smell. I tribute this to the extra surface area, and the ease at which the food for the bacteria travels the length of the hair. Our armpits have apocrine sweat glands, that are at the base of each hair follicle there and they release an oily substance that the certain types of bacteria love to feast on. And to me, it seems these bacteria thrive much better on the hairs then on the skin, where they are in competition with our skin flora that doesn’t have smelly byproducts. So if you limit the hair, you limit their breeding ground. Also what we smell is due to how much of something is in the air, so with longer armpit hair, there’s a whole lot more surface area ready to fill the air around it with what it has to offer. For those wanting less odor, 1/4 inch armpit hair gives great results, and it’s easier to trim then to shave or preferably pluck to avoid the pricklies.
Yes, this article actually has some false information. Hair allows more bacteria to grow. I received the nasty “you will sweat nonstop no matter what temperature it is” genes, and going to the doctor about it, she asked if I shaved because if I didn’t, that was probably what was causing the excessive sweating and odor. I use standard “chemical-filled” deodorant and antiperspirant. I realize this is more of a “natural remedy” site, but I don’t believe that. If prescription strength stuff that has been tested again and again to get the best possible formula doesn’t do the trick, then natural paste won’t either. I’ve tried a lot of products and I found as far as store bought deodorant/antiperspirant goes, Secret Clinical Strength worked the best and was the gentlest on my skin. I agree that it’s good to exfoliate your underarms, get that dead skin that’s trapping in odors and sweat off. Yes, you should never use harsh chemicals on your skin, but normal, natural soap will do your pits good.
“you will sweat nonstop no matter what temperature it is”, really? I assume you mean warmer temperatures. Sweating outdoors for me is the signal to wear less clothes or different fabrics(think synthetic sport, not cotton). I really should not sweat at up to 88F with slight air movement–It’s just what I’ve acclimated my body to, and it makes things cheap for cooling. My hands used to sweat the most of any part of my body, it was a nightmare. I just kept thinking how useless it was to have wet hands, and the problem eventually went away somehow–It could have just been that I got used to the heat and humidity. Most doctors are generally a waste of money, there’s probably other info on the internet that relates to your issue, but there’s a chance it could be food(excess sugar/carbs?) or drug related. Good luck, don’t blame your genes, maybe acclimate yourself and keep the right mindset.
I am like you chicksandcrafts…i sweat no matter the temperature. I sweat worse at 50 degrees out than 65F, so Keith, sadly temperature tolerance has nothing to do with it… Wish it did though!
Oh my word… It’s called hyperhydrosis. Look it up, Kieth. Please don’t ever tell another human being what their body does and does not do.
Yes, for some of us we could be sitting in an igloo and be sweaty.
I’m the same way. Always had to use the strongest I could find. I tried the deodorant from Alma naturals and after a week or two of detoxing is all I need. Never would have believed it but it works.
Hi what do u mean you detoxed and and then you had no more underarm odor
I think its different for each individual. My pits stink the worst the day of and 2-3 days after shaving. But the homemade deoderant recipes are awesome. They can be irritating if you shave your pits so be careful.
This was a great article. I really learned a great deal about armpit odor and how to eliminate it. I will definitely try these. I will also be back to check out more of your website. BTW, I found this post via a post on Facebook by GNOWFGLINS.com.
if you get your pits waxed you will have no odor because it removes the odor causing part of the hair. if baking soda recipe do it yourself deodorant irritates your armpits you can spray it off at night apple cider vinegar and it will never get irritated.
I have been using the stone (found in the antiperspirant section) for years now and no odor. Nice thing about the stone is all natural without chemicals. I wax my armpits since shaving is very irritating.
I buy the same product as you, Debbey, only I buy liquid roll on, and it works very well for me. I like it better than the rock, cause I drop it a lot and break it, then it doesn’t feel very good on my underarms. 😉 The name is Crystal at Akins Health Food Store in Springfield, MO I think it’s like $3 and some change. It lasts quite a while for me. I sweat a lot, cause I have hot flashes.
Sharon M says
I had to quit any kind of deodorant or anti- antiperspirant because the chemicals went to my lymph glands and have caused discoloration of my skin. This makes things embarrassing when not wearing sleeves. Plus a medication that i was given made my whole body smell bad. I have found that lemon juice or lime juice works well for me. I do continue to use soap (Dove) white.
silica homeopathy stops oder too. i don’t stick, its the bac on my shirts that do. i take shirt off all is good. how do you keep bac off cloths. ess oil, cv, i have tried many things, don’t work!
Jodi B says
I stopped eating wheat, and the smell went away for me after a few days! I didn’t do anything special. And I did not go off wheat to cure underarm odor. There were so many other good side effects I had to going off wheat. Underarm odor was just one of the effects that away for me. I no longer need to wear probably 360 days of the year. I used to also sweat excessively even in the middle of winter. And I was extremely temperature sensitive. And menopausal. All of those (and other things too) are completely gone. No more wheat. Try it for a month. It’s not nearly as hard as you think it might be. It just takes a little change of thinking / a little creativity.
Hi Jodi. Diet definitely plays a role in all body odor. I am grain free, gluten free, egg free, and dairy free and smell so different than when I used to eat all that stuff. The body is so interesting isn’t it!?
Jon Donnis says
What a load of rubbish. Steve Jobs thought the same a loads of people said he stunk because of it. He thought he didn’t have to wash etc and that his diet would clean him.
Ion Doaga says
I like that you are suggesting to let the body function naturally and treat the cause. In other words change the lifestyle. I like the analogy you are giving with the poop story. Something absolutely everybody have experience. Hands down!
Glad you enjoyed the post and the poop story! I figured it is pretty relateable right? 😉
I’m 26 years suffering from bad smelly armpit but now i found the solution.
The mild sugar scrub has worked really well, thankyou for such a great tip.
I have a bad armpit smell, I have try everything but not working. U can even smell from far.on my under arm I have dark folded skin even if I am coming out of the bathroom people say I stink I have done everything possible but not working.i need help pls.
how to stop odor for a 14 tear old girl.
I have a armpit smell .i have try everything but not working .please help me
I never had pit smell before. I rarely shave. I have transitioned from hard core anti-perspirants to a decent more “natural” deodorant. No problems. I then began making my own deodorant. Worked great, except the baking soda irritated. So I went back to the “natural” deodorant. Still no issues. Then I decided to shave. Since then I have had put stink! I don’t understand. For sure I’m growing those locks back. And I will find a good deodorant I can make without baking soda. Just weird. Thanks for the info here. I will try the sugar scrub.