Do your armpits really need a facial? We asked a dermatologist to weigh in on this new skincare trend.

Lisa DeSantis
November 10, 2017

With so many products out there for the face, you wouldn't be alone in occasionally neglecting the skin south of your chin. And while most of us cleanse our underarms and regularly apply deodorant, the skincare brand Lavanila believes we should be giving our armpits a little extra TLC.

Their solution: a new Healthy Underarm Detox Mask ($26; sephora.com), which claims to remove buildup in this delicate area and help transition your body to easily make the switch to natural deodorant.

But is it necessary to remove buildup in your armpits, and is this product something you should incorporate into your skincare routine? We asked dermatologist Sejal Shah, MD, founder of SmarterSkin Dermatology in New York City, for her take. Here, what she really thinks about the underarm detoxing trend.

First of all, do you really need to detox your armpits?

"The armpits usually don't get the TLC they need," Dr. Shah says, adding that dead skin and residue from antiperspirant or deodorant can certainly build up over time. In addition to gently washing underarms with soap and water and regularly exfoliating with a washcloth, this mask could help pamper the area for softer, smoother skin, she says.

But the idea that you need to rid the underarms of toxins is a stretch. "There is no evidence that a mask applied to the armpits can detox your body," says Dr. Shah.

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Is it necessary to use a product like this before switching to natural deodorant?

Some people claim to feel "smellier" after switching to natural deodorant. Dr. Shah tells us that deodorants and antiperspirants do change the natural bacteria in the armpit, and points out that a small study found antiperspirants may increase the amount of a bad-smelling bacteria called Actinobacteria.

"This changing bacterial community may be one reason that someone may feel more 'smelly' when transitioning to a natural deodorant," she explains. "It can take time for the bacteria to balance out."

That said, Dr. Shah tells us there's no evidence to suggest that any kind of detox or topical product can reduce armpit odor or make natural deodorant more effective.

The bottom line? The underarm area is extremely delicate, and unlike your face, hands, and neck, it's often ignored in your skincare routine. While your armpits may not need a full facial, it is important to make sure you're cleansing the area daily as well as regularly exfoliating to slough off dead skin cells. And if you want to treat your pits to a little extra pampering, this mask could be worth trying.