These days, it seems there are masks for every part of your body: face masks, eye masks, hair masks, foot masks décolleté masks, even derriere masks…do I need go on? The latest skin trend I honestly didn’t see coming, though. I’m talking about underarm masks. Apparently, armpit masks are a thing. Originally designed to help those transitioning from antiperspirants to natural deodorants, people are now using them as a form of self-care or weekly cleanse. So, what’s with all the hype?
Aluminum salts, one of the main ingredients in antiperspirants, temporarily plug your sweat glands to stop secretion and odor. This is something natural deodorant formulators have yet to figure out; these products can only reduce the smell of body odor with antibacterial compounds and/or mask it with fragrance, explains Alicia Barba, MD, a dermatologist in Miami, FL.
The thought by many making the move to all-natural products is that the aluminum prevents the body from sweating out toxins that need to be released (most toxins, however, are released through the liver and digestive system). Some people are also concerned with a potential breast cancer or Alzheimer’s link, though current scientific and medical opinion is that there's no need to worry. The National Cancer Institute, for example, insists that after years of research there is no solid evidence showing such cause and effect.
Still, this is where underarm masks come in. Those from brands like Lavanila claim to detox the skin, drawing out impurities and aluminum buildup from below its surface. Some are even said to stimulate lymphatic drainage, boosting the body’s natural detox process and preventing fluid buildup. While this is a stretch — there is no evidence showing your sweat glands are effective source for eliminating waste — that’s not to say these masks don’t have beneficial effects.
The charcoal and/or clay that underarm masks contain can help absorb excess sweat, product buildup from daily deodorant and soap use, dead cells, and other gunk prowling your pits, while also reducing any inflammation associated with ingrown hairs and skin irritation. Added soothing and hydrating ingredients help keep the sensitive area calm, and considering the underarm area is often an afterthought, showing it a little extra TLC won’t hurt.
Still curious? Check out a few fan favorites below.
Charcoal and malic acid deeply exfoliate to draw out buildup and impurities while silica helps absorb sweat molecules and odor. Bonus: The brush-on applicator makes the masking process less messy.
This muddy mask contains a host of ingredients, including bentonite clay, activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar, and colloidal silver, said to help unblock sweat glands. Nourishing oils like coconut help reduce the risk of rashes or irritation.
This powder, which is mixed with water to create a paste, uses a blend of clay, arrowroot, and magnesium hydroxide to absorb gunk; coconut oil, shea butter, and vitamin E leave skin soft and smooth.