The Truth About Using Glycolic Acid On Your Underarms

TikTok has a way of convincing people to try the oddest of beauty hacks. Sometimes, they're a huge hit, like The Ordinary's peeling solution that left everyone's skin incredibly red but, after some time, glowing (via InStyle). Other times, they go viral for the entirely wrong reasons, like that time when using lube as a primer went viral and very quickly fell flat, per The Cut.

Beauty TikTok is an ever-turning wheel of beauty trends and viral products, but it takes a lot of research to weed out the good from the seriously harmful, especially when the beauty hack is as unusual as acid-toning your underarms. 

TikTok user @Calistatee has built quite the following as fans love her beauty product review videos. She went viral when she tapped into a niche of glorifying The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid Toner as a multi-purpose wonder product, according to Elle. Calista used the toner to tackle everything from bacne to cracked heels, and the visible results spoke for themselves. But, she especially threw people for a loop when she revealed that her favorite use of the toner was actually for her underarms. 

While her TikTok feed is filled with the toner, her underarm hack is the one that inspired most people to try it, especially considering the long list of benefits she's claimed it has. But does it actually work? And, more importantly, is it safe?

What are the claims about glycolic acid toners?

In a recent TikTok video, @Calistatee provided an in-depth discussion about why she loves using glycolic acid toner on her underarms. Calista claimed that applying glycolic acid to your underarms removes odor, helps with ingrown hairs, and brightens your skin. In fact, she claims the toner has replaced deodorant for her.

Glycolic acid is a skincare favorite. When used correctly, glycolic acid can chemically exfoliate your skin to reveal glowy, softer skin. "It essentially works by breaking the bonds between dead skin cells which helps to resurface (or smooth) the top layer of the skin," Dr. Ana explained to Refinery29. But what about how people claim it works on underarms? 

Calista, along with many other TikTok fans of the method, has turned to using glycolic acid on their underarms to brighten the area, as well as, and perhaps most importantly, to replace deodorant. Considering people have tried everything including botox in their underarms to keep sweat in check, this seems like a much more affordable way to achieve this goal. But what do the experts have to say about it?

The experts weigh in on underarm use of this toner

Perhaps we should start with the good news. Dermatologist Dr. Fatima Fahs explained to Nylon that glycolic acid could in fact help brighten your underarms, saying, "Toners that contain ingredients like glycolic acid can indeed be helpful at brightening this area through exfoliation by sloughing off the top layer of skin cells over time." Meanwhile, Dr. Rachel Maiman revealed to Bustle that it can also work well at preventing ingrown hairs. "It can also reduce the propensity to develop ingrown hairs and speed resolution of hyperpigmentation that they tend to leave behind," she explained. Well, unfortunately, that's where the pros stop. 

Experts seem to all agree on the fact that there is no way that glycolic acid could replace your deodorant. Dr. Ana bluntly insisted to Refinery29, "I am not a fan of this trend at all and would definitely recommend sticking to tried and tested deodorants (masking odor) or antiperspirants (reducing sweat) formulations with research behind their use. Skincare should be backed by science, not trends." 

The problem isn't only the lack of impact it has on body odor, but it turns out that using glycolic acid on your underarms could potentially be harmful. Dr. Marisa Garshick revealed to Today that using glycolic acid on your underarms could lead to dryness, flakiness, and irritation. That being said, if you're still willing to try it, then make sure you stick to low concentrations of 8% to10% glycolic acid to prevent any harsh reactions.