According to Spate, “glycolic acid deodorant” averaged 1.2K monthly searches in May, and a 221.7 percent year-over-year growth, so it’s safe to say it’s trending. A common staple in everyday serums, the alpha-hydroxy acid is most known for its ability to conquer blemishes and signs of skin aging on the face, but now it’s also popping up all over our TikTok feeds as a natural deodorizer for the underarms. We were a bit skeptical at first, but two dermatologists reassured us that the trend is legit.
What are the benefits of glycolic acid for the underarms?
While we’ve been seeing users apply The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution ($10) directly to their underarms on TikTok, Newtown, CT dermatologist Alicia Zalka, MD took the liberty of formulating the acid into an easy-to-use natural deodorant, Surface Deep Anti-Odorant Spray ($18). “I did this to take advantage of the ingredient’s key properties,” she says. “First, it creates an acidic skin environment, which deters bacteria from flourishing and hence blocks odor formation. However, this effect can be done with any acidic component, so what’s extra special about glycolic acid is that it also breaks down dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. So, while it blocks odor formation, it also helps prevent razor bumps and skin discoloration, too. It’s a great alternative to products that block pores and sweat ducts.”
According to Montclair, NJ dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD, “glycolic acid in deodorant also helps to exfoliate and improve the texture of the skin under the armpit. Additionally, it can help with folliculitis, which is the inflammation of hair follicles under the armpits. That is why there’s an uptick in it, because people want smooth sexy armpits.”
Is glycolic acid deodorant safe for all skin types?
“I would definitely recommend using glycolic acid in low levels under the arms for people that do not have sensitive skin,” says Dr. Downie, who adds that it is safe for all skin types, unless you have very sensitive skin, psoriasis or eczema-prone skin. To avoid any irritation from the acid in her formula, Dr. Zalka says her deodorant includes skin-soothing ingredients like witch hazel and eucalyptus as well as postbiotics. “It was also clinically-tested and shown to be effective yet non-irritating,” she says. “Make sure you are choosing a brand that has done its homework and is proven to be gentle and effective. Test it on a small portion of the skin first before using it more widely if you are prone to sensitivity.”
Are there any cons to using glycolic acid deodorant?
In a recent TikTok, Pittsburgh dermatologist Lindsey Zubritsky, MD shares a few cons to using the acid under the arms. Included on her list: It can be sticky, it doesn’t control sweat production and she reiterates that it can cause irritation. Her recommendation? “Start low and slow!”
Is there a rise in other acid-filled body products?
“My prediction is we will be seeing more acid-containing body-care products of all kinds,” says Dr. Zalka. “The reason is the skin’s acid mantle. While the skin surface is maintained at a healthy set point at a pH of about 5.5, a great deal of our traditional soaps and moisturizers are alkaline pH and cause the skin to shift to a higher pH at which it can lose its barrier function on which we rely. We are becoming more aware of keeping the skin at a balanced pH, which not only prevents odor, but also keeps skin at its optimal functionality as a barrier to infections, rashes, etc.”