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Are your Armpits an Exit Ramp?

It’s not often that a negative review inspires someone to run out and buy a product, but I have a story that begins in just that way.

detox from junk via the armpits and natural deodorant

Some years ago I tested a natural deodorant called Herbalix which had two varieties: regular and “nighttime detox.” I detailed my stinky dismay at the end of the homemade deodorant post, but in summary, it stunk.

I mean, I stunk.

The nighttime deodorant was designed to help pull out toxins from the body such that the switch to natural deodorant would be less odiferous in the long run, since your body should have less B.O. if it has fewer toxins overall of which to rid itself. In the short run, however…I couldn’t believe the horrible body odor stink it created in my armpits, and I couldn’t even finish out the recommended 30 days (wimp!).

I wasn’t a fan, but a colleague, Laurie at Common Sense Homesteading, had more sense than me and saw what I had missed. She sought out the nighttime product specifically and had some really interesting detox experiences with it.

Later that same year, I gave birth to my third child (while living with my in-laws temporarily, yes indeed). While I admit I may have had some stress, some not-so-ideal food, and possibly had a poor showering routine as a new mama…I was still shocked by the putrid armpits I suddenly possessed (or they possessed me, more accurately).

It really reminded me of the detox deodorant, and I wondered if I was detoxing after pregnancy. As I wrote about in this natural deodorant post, it seems the most likely explanation – and it was temporary, if anyone is nervous.

All of these stories came neatly together when I discovered Primal Pit Paste, now known as Pretty Frank and I started wondering again about detoxing through the armpits.

Primal Pit Paste natural deodorant

Most of us, my former self included, tend to think of body odor as a negative thing, of sweat as something to be avoided, and of armpits as a slightly gross, annoying body part that must be shaved so people don’t run away screaming when they see me in the summer.

Sweat, as it turns out, is a public transit system for toxins, and body odor is simply the litter those toxins are throwing off the bus, increasing and decreasing in proportion to the junk food, chemical-based personal products, and other pollution our bodies are fighting off every day.

Your body doesn’t naturally stink; the bacteria living in your body only react with what you “feed” them. The smell in your armpit won’t be offensive if it’s just perspiring excess minerals and healthy metabolic waste products; however, it will stink if your body is sweating toxic byproducts which come from eating…processed, refined food. (Mercola (link removed))

Fewer toxins to excrete = less odor and vice versa.

So not only is it true that yes, in fact, your armpits are an exit ramp – for toxic buildup – but they’ll also stink more when your body is doing good work.

Ladies, we may begin to wish we were doing more than just “glistening.”

RELATED: Health Benefits of Sweating

The Armpit Detox Effect

It’s counterintuitive to many that doing something good could cause something bad to happen – and it would still be a good thing. Detoxing is often like that though. You’re trying to fight body odor with a new deodorant, and instead of smelling good you smell worse. Maybe you get a little rash or irritation on your armpits.

That’s usually the nail in the coffin of a new product: “It’s just not for me; it didn’t work; it caused problems.” People give up (raises hand…and catches a whiff!)

In the case of  underarm detox though, most say you should just “work through it.” Additional stink is your body getting rid of toxins via the exit ramp of your armpit, and often times even a little rash is either detox as well or the body adjusting to the pH of the baking soda, rather than your body saying, “This is not working for me!”

How to detox junk via the armpits

I’ve read many blogs full of comments about how homemade deodorant caused red bumps. People think it’s just an irritation issue and that baking soda is the culprit. It’s likely a temporary armpit detoxing response because of the baking soda drawing out the gunk your ‘pits have been accosted with for years, or potentially a pH problem, which can be balanced out by simply sipping ACV mixed with water internally and/or misting it directly on the ‘pits. (Wardee solved it by reducing the baking soda in her DIY deodorant, but who knows? Maybe time and detoxing helped too.)

Some people even get swollen lymph nodes when they start using a natural deodorant, whether purchased or homemade. That seems like a pretty scary reaction if you don’t know what’s going on.

Lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system and a member of your body’s immune defense team. In our traffic analogy, they’re the border police, making sure all the ruffians get sent on the bus with a one-way ticket out of the body or simply destroyed by white blood cells. There are quite a few lymph nodes scattered around the body, and a surprising number concentrated right around the armpits.

When they’re swollen, it’s a sign that the node is fighting something, like a bacterial or viral infection, or even cancer. Swollen lymph nodes = traffic jam. (Sources: 1, 2, 3)

A Lymphatic Cleanse

If you do feel swollen lymph node glands, you can try to alleviate the swelling by dry brushing or massaging the lymph nodes to physically help the lymphatic system rid the body of the toxins (buy dry brushes here on Amazon), and you can also take a baking soda and/or Epsom salt detox bath or increase your exercise, both intended to speed up the detox process and get the nasties out faster. (Source: Lymphatic Cleanse)

Other uses for Epsom salt may also support detox, double score!

That makes two reasons why switching from an aluminum-based antiperspirant to the natural stuff might cause a detox or lymphatic reaction:

1. Your body is finally getting a break from the pore-clogging, lymph node disrupting action of the aluminum salts in antiperspirant. It starts some spring cleaning.

2. The baking soda in many natural deodorants including Primal Pit Paste starts drawing out some of the nasty stuff as you wear it.

The increased body odor, the minor rash, the itching/histamine response, and even sometimes the swollen lymph nodes are not a problem in themselves; they’re a sign that the body is working to get rid of a problem – one you didn’t even know you had until you got out from under the umbrella of the toxic ingredients you were slathering on your ‘pits every day.

Getting Through the Stinky Armpit Detox

If you do experience the stink or the rash, you can try to work through it, and once on the other side, it’s unlikely you’ll go back (unless your body is working hard to get rid of toxins, say, after a particularly indulgent weekend of junk food).

Here are some testimonies of people who experienced the armpit detox while using Primal Pit Paste:

My husband worked through a pit rash! I’ve used unscented strong for about the past 8 months and have never had any problems with it, but my husband developed a rash under one arm. Since it was only one arm we knew it couldn’t be the deodorant and had to be the pit detox others have mentioned. He worked through it and has worn the unscented stick for about 3 months without any problems! No stink at our house!! Love it!!!
I have used natural deodorant in the past but was not satisfied with the results. My husband first tried Pit Paste and really liked it (I was happy because he started using deodorant EVERY day.) I then slowly started using his and decided I needed my own. I had irritation for the first 5 days but kept applying and worked through it. My skin is no longer irritated by Pit Paste and I am an advocate of this product that is not harmful and really WORKS!

More here…

The best news is that many find that after a little armpit detox, the highway is cleared – they have far less regular body odor than ever before. Many find that changing one’s diet (link removed) to reduce or eliminate processed foods can make a huge difference in body odor as well. In fact, when I discussed armpit detoxing with Amy, the boss lady over at Primal Pit Paste, she told me that many people say that after 6 mos. or so, they don’t even need Primal Pit Paste anymore because their odor has worked its way out.

Other customers actually order PPP to use on their feet for both a detox effect and to reduce stinky feet syndrome (which I used to have pretty badly before I changed my diet).

Also, and this is really an example of the great personal customer service you get with a small(er) company like Primal Pit Paste, if anyone has an adjustment problem, they send a “sensitive” bar or tub for free (less baking soda). They’re also working on new formulas for customers who are allergic to shea butter, coconut, and/or baking soda. They recently came out with a new line of zinc-based formulas that are baking soda-free.

Our Family’s Experience with Primal Pit Paste

Primal Pit Paste Deodorant

I figured you’d want to know what I thought about Primal Pit Paste. Y’all know my opinions can’t be bought, right?

Primal Pit Paste comes in unscented plus a variety of essential-oil based scents, and the original PPP is packaged in a little pot (they include a wooden stir stick should your product melt!); they have added a hard-lotion type stick to the lineup as well.

The pit paste isn’t hard to apply, but using the stick and your fingers can feel like “one more thing” in the morning. You only need a pea-sized lump, so it’s not super messy, and you can just rub any excess into your hands, but it’s still not a favorite practice for either me or my husband.

The scents themselves are very particular, and I tend to like unscented because I don’t like the risk of disliking the scent. Hubs on the other hand tried the unscented stick and said he didn’t like it because it smelled funny. I have a feeling he doesn’t like the smell of beeswax, which is increased in the stick so that it stays solid.

He seems to prefer lavender, which surprises me because I’ve never liked lavender. I’m a thyme and lemongrass girl myself. If you’re sensitive at all to essential oils, you’ll want to avoid the scents, since the underarm is a sensitive area already. Many of the EOs chosen for Primal Pit Paste’s scents do much more than just add fragrance; they add an antibacterial or similar component as well, which may make that “flavor” more effective at neutralizing body odor.

The important question is, of course, does it work?

Now that you know a little about armpit detoxing, you know this question may not be as easy to answer as one might think…

But in general, yes – it really did a good job for us.

My husband is really the best test: a perennial skeptic and resistant to any change, he’ll come into a new situation like this expecting failure. It turns out he was pleasantly surprised – for him, the pit paste both quelled sweating and stink.

One day he asked, “So does this stuff have anything to reduce the actual sweating?” He remembered a time when I accidentally bought him conventional deodorant instead of antiperspirant. It didn’t take him long to start sweating like crazy, and the deo hit the trash pretty quickly too. It just didn’t cut it – but he said he hasn’t noticed this problem with PPP. To be fair, our diet has changed radically since then, but I thought that was a pretty solid comparison.

I’ve used natural deodorants, both my homemade and other Etsy-type products, for so long that I don’t even remember what wearing antiperspirant feels like. Hopefully, my lymph nodes don’t either and have rid my body of all the carcinogenic components of the nasty stuff (it’s likely no coincidence that lymph nodes, armpits, and breast cancer all reside in the same neighborhood).

I feel like I understand the detoxing process better now and love that a natural deodorant can actually have whole-body benefits, even if it seems like a tough transition at first.

Sometimes things seem a little rocky with the natural life. Although you do want to be flexible and roll with it when that happens, I guess you might NOT want to say, “Don’t sweat it!”

‘Cause sweat can be a good thing.

Have you ever done a detox before (armpits or not)? What’s your current body odor solution?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from which I will earn a commission. See my full disclosure statement here.

I’m well known for honest, thorough product reviews…

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…and you can always tell a real family has run these products through the gauntlet.

When I review a type of item, I try to review a LOT of different brands! From over a dozen reusable sandwich bags to over 120 natural mineral sunscreens, I’m your girl for straight-up info about natural, real foodie items you’re considering buying.

Click here to see more product reviews and you’ll also love my resources page, with REAL products that have passed my rigorous testing enough to be “regulars” in the Kimball household, plus some other comprehensive reviews. Updated at least once a year to boot the losers and add new gems!

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

17 thoughts on “Are your Armpits an Exit Ramp?”

  1. I make my own deodorant. My initial detox lasted about a month and was not fun but I sweat a lot less now- even after a work out, and I do not stink anymore. I will never ever go back to traditional anti-perspirant! I developed a rash under one arm, so switched from baking soda to arrowroot and that solved the problem. I also add milk of magnesia to my formulation and while it might seem strange, it really seems to work. I have not tried adding clay, but after reading this post, I might next time. Thanks for all the great info, I appreciate your time and research.

  2. Hi, I started making my own deodorant using baking soda, potassium alum, cornflour, coconut oil, cocoa butter and vitamin e oil and at times some essential oil drops (lavender and tea tree). I used this for a year and then suddenly one day I smelled the worst anyone could ever smell. It was a sharp pungent smell and I have generally been odorless all my life and the switch to natural had been seamless. I tried detoxing with a vinegar water and tea tree oil mix but to no avail. So I switched back to regular deodorant but It’s still terrible and I’m trying to clean myself up all day. Even after a good wash and shower using exfoliating gloves etc, a few minutes can take me back to that horrid smell. Please help!

  3. Great post!
    I went “natural” with my deodorant my second year into college, I think. I had been waffling between brands for awhile and noticed that they didn’t really help the way they were supposed to. I had to keep re-applying, or I would start to sweat like crazy! And, though I’m not a naturally stinky person, the sweat would smell bad. I happened across some post online that talked about the link between aluminum-containing antiperspirants and breast cancer. That was enough for me. I went out and found some Tom’s, and I’ve been using it ever since. I love the honeysuckle and lavender-scented ones. I got my husband (then-boyfriend) to make the switch to non-aluminum a short time after. He had a bigger reaction to the change–sweating, stinking, but we treated it with vinegar, and now, we’re great! Most days, I don’t even wear deodorant.

  4. Hello. I stopped using commercial deodorant about 3 weeks ago and started using a natural one. Within the first few days I developed a itchy rash so I stopped using the natural deodorant (after about 2-3 days of use) and decided to go au natural without any deodorant. I’ve been completely deodorant free for about 3 weeks now. I have a odd problem now. The itchy rash doesn’t go away. As a matter of fact, sometimes it’s gotten worst. I’m not using any deodorant whatsoever so obviously it cannot be any baking soda or other ingredients. What gives? Do you have any idea what might be causing this rash?

  5. PPP is awesome. I use it everyday and never have an issue with odor (I also have a very clean Paleo diet.) I definitely sweat more, but that’s because it is not an antiperspirant. I usually do one application in the morning and one more quick swipe before my evening work out. I actually enjoy sweating and knowing that my body is detoxing because it’s extremely healthy to release toxins through your body’s largest organ (your skin)! If anyone is looking to try PPP or any natural deodorant, GO FOR IT! The initial stank is totally worth the positive effect on your pits, health, and overall well-being.

  6. Nina Cleere It’s been so long since I’ve had it, I am not sure – but it was nicely natural – do they list ingredients on the website? http://www.herbalix.com/store/ I know Common Sense Homesteading has a post about super success with the product, too, so I bet Laurie could answer a question too. (her post: http://www.commonsensehome.com/product-review-herbalix-deodorants/)

  7. That’s darn tricky Elizabeth Ford – wish I knew how to answer that for you! I wonder if you need to constantly detox….? Would your medical provider be able to help or too mainstream?

  8. Kim Smith I haven’t, but if you mean the salt crystals or whatever that are common at health food stores, many have aluminum salts anyway is my understanding… (cc Andrea Bernhardt)

  9. Kyla via Facebook

    Detoxing is a myth? Bentonite clay tablets for one problem helped solve others that I wasn’t expecting.

  10. Gayle via Facebook

    The only one that works for me, and I have tried many, is from Soapwalla. deodorant cream. I order it on Etsy. Soapwallakitchen. All natural and works wonders!

  11. Andrea via Facebook

    We use Norwex Crystal Deoderant. It’s a mineral salt that kills the bacteria that cause the stink. It works well and doesn’t leave a residue on our skin or our clothes.

  12. Lalia via Facebook

    I use exfoliating scrub on my pits 1-2x week and it has removed the skin that traps the drink. I know detox is a good step too because after a weekend if eating junk, my hands stink.

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