6 Rules Of Armpit Care For Healthy & Odorless Underarms

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

As summer approaches, you're probably ready to tweak your haircare, makeup, and skincare routines once again to combat the warm weather and humidity. Have you ever given any thought, however, to the healthiest routine for the wellbeing of your armpits? If you're like most people, the concept has never even crossed your mind. In fact, the humble armpit might just be the most collectively neglected part of the human body.


Sure, you wash your pits in the shower and swipe on antiperspirant or deodorant every morning. You might even shave them every few days. Is that enough, though, for such a delicate, vulnerable area? We have assembled a guide to walk you through exactly how you can put together your own underarm health routine that treats your armpits like the little queens they are and keeps you both looking smooth and smelling as fresh as can be all summer long. 

Use anti-bacterial soap

Armpit odor happens for a reason, and that reason is bacteria. Because the underarm area is typically folded against itself and covered with clothing, it tends to sweat and trap the resulting moisture. This dark, warm, damp environment is the perfect breeding ground for a number of bacteria. One particular type of bacteria, Staphylococcus hominis, interacts with human sweat molecules by converting them into compounds called thioalcohols. Thioalcohols produce the offensive scent most people refer to as "body odor." 


Cleansing your armpits daily with an anti-bacterial soap can reduce the number of Staphylococcus hominis and other bacteria hanging around on your underarm skin. Fewer bacteria mean less feasting on your sweat molecules and, as a result, fewer stink-emitting thioalcohols produced. Bacteria is quick to regrow in such a moist area, however, so cleansing should be repeated daily for best results. Just be sure to dry your armpits thoroughly after washing so you don't defeat the purpose of cleansing by adding more moisture. 

Apply a gentle toner

After you've cleansed your armpits, consider applying a toner to the area. The idea of toning your armpits might sound a little strange, but many toners contain active ingredients that act as chemical exfoliants and anti-inflammatory agents. Gently removing dead skin cells by using a toner means washing away even more potentially odor-causing bacteria than cleansing with anti-bacterial soap alone. Anti-inflammatory ingredients can help soothe skin after shaving and prevent redness, bumps, and irritation from forming.


For those who tend to suffer from dark underarm discoloration, applying toner offers the additional benefit of brightening the skin. While darkening of the underarm skin is a perfectly natural result of shaving, friction, and even genetics for some individuals, it can be a hindrance for those who wish to achieve a flawlessly hairless appearance. Using a toner to regularly remove dead skin cells can clear the way for newer, brighter skin cells to emerge. 

Skip daily moisturizing

Applying moisturizer to your face and body is considered an essential daily routine by many. When it comes to your armpits, however, there's good reason to skip this step some of the time. The skin under your arms is already prone to excess moisture from sweating and a general lack of ventilation. Adding even more moisture by applying lotions or creams every day — no matter how heavily scented — can contribute to bacterial overgrowth and increased levels of body odor.


Rather than moisturizing daily, skip applying any hydrating products on days when you don't shave your underarms. Applying a very thin layer of a lightweight moisturizer immediately after shaving can stave off some of the dryness and irritation razors can cause to delicate underarm skin. Using the same moisturizer that you apply to your face is generally a safe bet. Just make sure that the product has been absorbed completely before you proceed with applying additional products such as antiperspirant or deodorant. 

Shave sparingly

Shaving your armpits can help reduce body odor by removing hair that can house both sweat and the bacteria that produce thioalcohols. Excess hair can also interfere with anti-bacterial soap and antiperspirant or deodorant reaching the skin to combat odor. However, the skin of the underarms is thin and delicate. The process of shaving can be irritating to this type of fragile skin and cause irritation, unsightly bumps, or painful ingrown hairs.


For good armpit hygiene and to prevent skin irritation, try shaving your underarms two to three times a week. This will keep the hair very short but also allow for enough time for your skin to recover between shavings. Keep the shaving process as smooth and pain-free as possible by using a shaving gel or cream and changing your razor's blade at least every other week. Shaving with a dull blade increases your chances of developing razor rash and ingrown hairs. 

Antiperspirant vs. deodorant

Antiperspirant and deodorant products are frequently touted as the ultimate solution to armpit sweat and odor. The two terms are often used interchangeably, even though they are actually different products with separate purposes. A deodorant works to prevent body odor by coating the clean skin of the underarm with a fragrance that neutralizes developing scents by masking them. Antiperspirants prevent sweating by blocking the pores that release sweat with aluminum salts. Some options combine a deodorant and an antiperspirant into a singular product.


In order for the aluminum salts used in antiperspirant products to block sweating, they must be dissolved and absorbed by your pores. As a result, these salts enter the body and are filtered out as toxins by the kidneys. Studies have shown that these salts also accumulate in breast tissue and can alter DNA cells (via the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry). While a direct link between antiperspirants and breast cancer has not been identified, these facts — in combination with most occurrences of breast cancer appearing in the quadrant of the breast nearest the armpit — are enough for many consumers to opt to purchase aluminum-free natural deodorants over antiperspirants. 

Wear natural fabrics

No matter how extensive your armpit care routine is, the fact that sweat happens will remain. This is especially true for those who have chosen to remove antiperspirants from their lives due to concerns over the safety of aluminum salts. Aluminum-free deodorants will help to curb body odor, but they will not stop your armpits from sweating. Skipping antiperspirants and wearing clothing made from synthetic, non-breathable fabrics like polyester and spandex can result in a wet, smelly, embarrassing scenario when sweat is trapped.


Skipping synthetic fabrics and opting for shirts and dresses made from natural materials like cotton, linen, and bamboo allows air to flow through the garment and dry up armpit sweat as it occurs. An equally effective option is going sleeveless or wearing cap sleeves during warm weather in order to leave your underarms fully exposed to fresh air. Sweat happens, but with a little bit of planning and some extra maintenance, your armpits can thrive this summer.