Tsunami Costabir investigates this raging trend…
Staying odor-free through a busy day can be a toughie; especially when you live in hot and humid environments. It appears that people are willing to go to great lengths to stay smelling fresh – like getting botox in your armpits, using antiperspirants, and layering deodorants.
So, when Tik-Tok influencers started to swipe glycolic acid toners onto their underarms, claiming it not only keeps the odor away but also lightens pigmentation and helps with ingrown hair, the trend went viral pretty quickly!
Glycolic acid is an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) derived from cane sugar. AHA exfoliators penetrate deep into the skin, given their molecular size, and break bonds between dead cells to smoothen and refine the skin surface. This process can improve complexion by removing discolorations and also reduce the appearance of fine lines. This AHA can also increase skin thickness by stimulating the production of collagen and elastin cells.
As a deodorant?
Toners can reduce the skin ph to make it more acidic. Naturally, the skin has a ph value of about 5 which is slightly acidic. Sweat in the armpits, however, can make the ph rise to around 7 which is neutral and a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. AHAs can reduce the skin ph to about 3-4, making it difficult for the odor-causing bacteria to thrive.
People who use this method attest to it working during activities where you don’t sweat, but say that it doesn’t really prevent all odor and would still use deodorants for high-intensity activities. Glycolic acid toners aren’t antiperspirants. They don’t prevent you from sweating as they don’t have aluminum that blocks your sweat glands. So, if you’re prone to excessive sweating, the sweat will wash off the toner, making it essentially ineffective.
Employing a two-step process of using the toner to prevent bacteria from thriving, along with spraying on deodorant, is the preferred way to go, given that the toner can also be used as an exfoliator and control the amount of pigmentation.
When we asked Dr. Shefali Trasi Nerurkar, MBBS, MD (DERMATOLOGY), Consultant Dermatologist, Dr. Trasi clinic, and La Piel skin clinic, about the recommended ways to treat odor and underarm pigmentation, she said, “Yes, we do recommend glycolic peels for hyperpigmentation in the underarms. However, since underarm skin is delicate and prone to friction, we recommend a less percentage of glycolic peels starting from 20% to slowly increasing to 35%. We then use combination peels for hyperpigmentation. For odor, we have seen peels are not as useful as botulinum toxin injections. So at our clinics, foul odor is treated by nano fractional radiofrequency devices and by botulinum toxin treatments.”
Potential side effects
Skin irritation is a common complaint from using Glycolic Acid toners. AHAs are acidic and can cause dryness and irritation. A person with dry or sensitive skin may choose to steer clear of AHAs altogether, or use products that are made with soothing ingredients like rose water or aloe vera gel to counteract potential irritation.
According to Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, if your skin is already AHA-irritated, use a moisturizer only till the skin has healed, and then try using a lesser quantity or reduce the frequency of using the toner/AHA spiked deodorant.
Glycolic acid products in the market
Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner for Dry and Sensitive Skin
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
Cosrx AhA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner
Bolden Skin Brightening Toner, Made with AHA Glycolic Acid, Pore Minimizer Niacinamide and Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid