Can You Buff Away Body Odor?
In the summertime especially, we’re all prone to getting extra sweaty — and extra smelly. Body odor is natural and there’s nothing wrong with it (other than the unpleasantness of smelling it on yourself), but there are ways you can get rid of B.O and freshen up those underarms.
Before you reach for your deodorant or antiperspirant, there may be another way to conquer unpleasant smells. In fact, you probably already have the skincare ingredient hidden in your beauty cabinet — in one of your skincare products.
Glycolic acid is the little golden star that’s been said to buff away body odor. But just good is it at banishing bad smells?
Here’s how the well-loved skin care ingredient can help make your armpits smell better, and how to actually use it as a natural deodorant.
WHAT CAUSES BODY ODOR IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Body odor happens to all of us, and usually it’s the result of excessive sweating. Your body has two main types of sweat glands — eccrine glands and apocrine glands — that release sweat onto your skin’s surface when you’re hot. But sweat isn’t just there to be annoying. It actually serves a logical purpose: to cool your body temperature.
Sweat itself doesn’t actually smell. It’s when sweat mixes with bacteria that an unpleasant smell occurs. Everything from your hormones to medical conditions to what you eat (spicy foods, in particular) can contribute to BO. The most common areas you’ll experience it is areas with lack of airflow, such as the armpits, groin, and pubic area. Even sitting around in your sweaty workout clothes means odor-causing bacteria has the opportunity to thrive, and the chance to leave you smelling a little whiffy.
HOW GLYCOLIC ACID FIGHTS BODY ODOR
Usually, when you get a little stinky, you swipe on your go-to deodorant or antiperspirant. You might want to consider trying something a little more unconventional, like glycolic acid.
Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), or chemical exfoliant, that works to remove the buildup of dead skin cells and boost cell renewal. It’s usually used in skincare for treating discoloration, acne, and dullness. However, it seems like it could also be effective at getting rid of pesky underarm odors — and basically any odors, anywhere else.
According to dermatologists, glycolic acid can alleviate body odor by lowering the pH of the skin, making it less possible for bacteria to thrive or even survive. While glycolic acid may be helpful at reducing body odor, it does not work like an antiperspirant. Glycolic acid does not absorb sweat since it doesn’t block the sweat ducts. It can, however, exfoliate dead skin cells that contribute to the buildup of bacteria and ultimately, odors.
HOW TO USE GLYCOLIC ACID AS A DEODORANT
At the moment, you may find it difficult to find a glycolic acid-based deodorant, since it’s a pretty new revelation that the acid can fight body odor. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the benefits of this AHA.
Unless you’ve found a glycolic acid deodorant, try using a glycolic acid skincare product, like a cleanser, serum, or toner. Especially if you’ve got sensitive skin, you’ll want to go steady in the beginning. Start with a lower concentration of around 5% every other day, and then gradually up the amount when your skin adjusts. The whole process might take a few weeks, but it’s better than suffering the potential side effects of the acid, which may include redness, dryness, and irritation.
Simply apply a small amount of the product to the affected areas, and do not rinse off — unless it’s a cleanser or mask, of course.
OTHER WAYS TO STAY SMELLING FRESH
Aside from harnessing the odor-fighting powers of glycolic acid, you can also try a few natural ways of getting rid of body odor. For starters, dilute a bacteria-busting essential oil like tea tree oil with a carrier oil and apply directly to the area. Another hack for busting body odors is making a paste out of baking soda and lemon juice, applying it to the area, letting it sit for 10 minutes, and then rinsing.
In the meantime, try taking a shower every day using warm water and a gentle body wash or antibacterial soap to get rid of dirt, oil, and impurities that can contribute to odor-causing bacteria. Wash clothes in the washing machine after wearing using a scented laundry detergent. And aim to wear sweat-wicking, breathable fabrics when possible.
It’s also important not to hang around in sweaty clothes, not only because you’ll smell bad, but because it can also cause body acne.
SHOP GLYCOLIC ACID PRODUCTS
Ready to buff away body odor with glycolic acid? Here are some of our favorite glycolic acid-based skincare products for combatting body odor.
This brightening serum of glycolic acid and bakuchiol works to boost your skin’s radiance, fade discoloration, and prevent blemishes. When you’re not using it to give yourself a glow up, pat it over your pits to begin the odor-busting process.
This anti-aging serum won’t just soften expression lines, firm the skin, and minimize hyperpigmentation. It can also combat unpleasant body odors. In addition to slathering it on your skin for youthfulness and radiance, this silky serum can be swiped on your pits and feet to eliminate odors.
Glow Mask is a formula of glycolic acid and bakuchiol, designed to brighten and dewify skin on the face and body. But of course, you can also use it as an odor-fighting mask to freshen up your pits, groin, and feet. For best results, let it sit on the skin for 10-15 minutes, then rinse.
Body odor is a bummer, but it’s something we all have to deal with — especially through the sweaty summer months. Luckily, you might be able to combat those unpleasant smells using your glycolic acid serums and creams. It won’t replace your antiperspirant, but it will make your underarms smell fresher — at least temporarily, anyway.