How To Use The “No Deodorant” Method To Get Rid Of Armpit Odor

"That cannot be me. I just applied deodorant an hour ago!" Armpit odor is embarrassing and can be challenging to get rid of.

By Simone Sydel4 min read
shutterstock 1482266252 (1)

We've all experienced an uncomfortable situation where our armpit odor shows up at the worst possible time.

In this article, we're discussing a “no deodorant” method of getting rid of body odor that you can comfortably rely on.

Why Isn’t My Deodorant Working?

Have you noticed that the more you use your deodorant, the worse your odor gets?

We like to blame this on things like stress, hormonal changes, certain fabrics, new medications, and different lifestyle and environmental factors such as more strenuous workouts, diet changes, and shifts in the weather. And while these are all things that could potentially impact how you sweat to a degree, it's most likely not the root cause.

So, what gives?

Well, the answer is quite simple: your deodorant is making you smell.

This happens because some ingredients like salts and aluminum present in deodorants and antiperspirants can cause an imbalance of bacteria living on your skin. These components do this by killing off the less smelly bacteria and giving you a fresh smell for a short time while allowing the even smellier bacteria the opportunity to thrive and multiply, which then leads to more body odor that can become obvious even just a few hours after application.

Is Natural Deodorant Any Better?

Natural or aluminum-free deodorants have been all the buzz lately as a safer and more effective alternative to traditional deodorants. But do they really work better?

Unfortunately, there isn't enough evidence to show that they do, and although some people swear by their natural deodorants, others find that they still don't quite cut it. There are so many different types and ingredients in natural deodorants, that it can be hard to find the right one for you. Plus, because they aren't as heavily regulated as traditional deodorants, some may not be effective at all. 

Besides that, just because a deodorant is labeled "natural" doesn't mean it won't contain any ingredients that might cause irritation or allergic reactions for some people. The term "natural" has no regulatory definition, so its labeling on personal care products is essentially meaningless.

Among the scented personal care products tested, deodorants caused the most cases of allergic contact dermatitis.

It was also found that the most troublesome ingredient in any kind of deodorant or antiperspirant, whether natural or not, is fragrance, along with other scent ingredients like essential oils, which many natural deodorant brands play up in their marketing, according to Dr. Nina Botto, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco.

In fact, one study on fragrance allergies found that among the many scented personal care products tested – like deodorants, lotions, shampoos, shaving creams, and hair dyes – the deodorants caused the most cases of allergic contact dermatitis, which is an eczema-like skin rash caused by contact with an allergen.

So, How Do You Get Rid of Armpit Odor without Using Any Deodorant?

The combination of the underarm’s thin, folding skin, hair follicles, and moist environment makes this area more susceptible to odor than other parts of the body due to the bacteria that thrive there. That's because when certain types of bacteria encounter sweat, they produce smelly compounds, transforming the armpit from a neutral oasis to the epicenter of body odor.

As much as you want to destroy these tiny, smelly organisms, doing that won't help the situation, unfortunately. In fact, it can make it even worse, which is often the case when you try this tactic with deodorant or antiperspirant.

But, luckily, there are other, more effective ways to get rid of body odor that don't include using aluminum-based or irritating deodorant that will end up making you smell even more pugent.

The two most efficient methods of getting rid of armpit odor are:


Exfoliation encourages the top layer of skin cells to shed from the skin's surface to reveal a fresh, new skin layer from underneath. It can help neutralize armpit odor because the dead skin cells on the surface are used as food by certain strains of bacteria, so removing them will starve the bacteria and minimize the proliferation without altering the microbiome.

Additionally, some exfoliating agents like glycolic acid are antimicrobial, and while they don't have the ability to kill off the bacteria, they can make the armpit a less than ideal environment for the smelly culprits.

Exfoliation removes the dead skin cells on the surface used as food by certain strains of bacteria.

Since the skin under the arms is thinner and more sensitive than other areas of the body, it's advisable to not over-exfoliate it, as this can lead to irritation, burning, itching, and discomfort. It's best to exfoliate your armpits once or twice a week at most.

Product to try: The Ordinary 7% Glycolic Acid Toner

Magnesium Oil

Magnesium is more important than it gets credit for. Yeah, we all know that we need it, but we don't really know why we need it. Magnesium helps regulate the muscles in your body, maintains blood pressure, manufactures protein, and helps cells in the body create energy, among other things.

But besides being one of the essential minerals our body needs, it's also the one most people are deficient in, even if they have a good diet. And one particular thing that has been observed in magnesium-deficient individuals is body odor.

In fact, some studies suggest that aluminum found in everyday things such as cookware, deodorants, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, powder, baked products, etc., causes magnesium deficit by means of an approximately 5-fold reduction of its absorption, and 41% of its retention, and by causing a decrease of magnesium in the bone.

Low magnesium, additionally, causes slower emptying of the bowel, which can also affect body odor.

This is why it makes sense to supplement with magnesium or use it as deodorant since this can be a great way to neutralize body, and especially armpit, odor.

Magnesium chloride is an easy-to-absorb form that can raise levels of this nutrient in the body.

Magnesium chloride particularly is an easy-to-absorb form of magnesium that can raise levels of this nutrient in the body when applied topically to the skin. And the best thing about it is that you can buy it ready-made or easily do it at home by mixing 1 part magnesium flakes in 1 part boiled water. Additionally, you can add non-fragrant oils such as jojoba, argan, hazelnut, or rosehip oil to soften the mixture and nourish the skin. You do want to avoid adding any type of fragrant oil such as menthol, eucalyptus, lemongrass, lavender, and tea tree, as these could potentially irritate the skin and lead to issues such as dermatitis.

Product To Try: Seven Minerals Pure Magnesium Oil Spray

What To Do If Magnesium Oil Burns Your Skin?

Besides adding non-fragrant oils to soften the mixture and make it less aggravating, you also need to avoid applying magnesium on your armpits right after shaving or exfoliating.

If you’re exfoliating your armpits with glycolic acid once or twice a week, skip the magnesium oil at that time and apply it at least 12 hours after exfoliation. The same rule typically applies for shaving, as magnesium oil can make the shaved area burn due to delivering a potent dose on slightly irritated skin.

Closing Thoughts

There you have it! The "no deodorant" method to get rid of armpit odor.

While it does require a bit of effort (especially if you decide to make your own magnesium oil), it's definitely worth knowing that you're not only using a natural method, but one that’s also effective and doesn't include the harsh and irritating chemicals typically found in store-bought deodorants. Plus, magnesium oil is excellent for your overall health, so this is an added bonus to clearing up one of the most embarrassing hygiene problems.

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