I Tried Using AHA & BHA as a Deodorant For Two Weeks — Here’s What Happened
Feb 25, 2019
Wary of aluminum but finding so-called natural deodorants lacking? So was contributing editor Sheryll, so when she read about using AHA and BHA as deodorant, she immediately jumped into testing mode. Here’s what she found.
I’m gonna flip the script for a second and talk about something non-skincare and non-K-beauty related.
What’s that you ask?
Well today, we’re gonna talk about B.O. Yes, that’s right. Body odor. Sweat. Smelly armpits.
I know, it’s gross, but hey, it’s a fact of life for human beings. Sometimes we get smelly. It’s the reason why deodorant exists. I’ve always toyed with the idea of using natural deodorants and have tried a few from time to time, but I’ve always been disappointed. They always tend to leave me with that gross mix of perfume + B.O., which is never, ever a good look. It’s actually THE WORST.
I’d all but hung up any chance of trying any sort of natural deodorant again, until I saw Tracy from fanserviced-b.com’s post on Racked about how acids are the best natural deodorant. No lie, if I had ears that could perk up, they would’ve totally perked up because my whole life changed while reading the post. I decided right then and there I’d put this method to the test.
So how does this work? Why would an AHA or a BHA even work in the first place? Well, body odor is basically bacteria, and AHAs and BHAs lower the pH of your skin, which means the B.O. bacteria can’t really get it together to make you smell. Hooray!
What I used
I wanted to be fair, so I decided to try both an AHA and a BHA as deodorant so I could see which one worked better. I busted out my half empty bottle of my mandelic acid serum and then bought some Stridex BHA pads. I decided to try one week with the AHA and one with the BHA. Tracy recommended using a 2% BHA and a 7-10% AHA. (The COSRX Whitehead Power Liquid has 7% glycolic acid.) You want it to be strong, but not strong enough to burn and/or really peel you, so both of these products were perfect.
The AHA test
I started off trying the AHA first. In the morning after my shower, I’d dry off my armpits, pump a little of the AHA onto a cotton pad, and swipe it gently onto my armpits. I thought that I might experience a little stinging on the days I shaved my armpits, but I didn’t experience anything of the sort. Woohoo!
Throughout the day I’d periodically do a sniff check and to my surprise, NO SMELL! Even after a long workout of lifting heavy, I didn’t smell. And this was especially surprising because I tried this experiment in the middle of summer and the little gym I go to doesn’t really use the air conditioning … so yeah … I was a sweaty mess, but not a smelly, sweaty mess. I did notice that by the end of the day I’d be a little mehhhh but nothing, like, too out of control. Of course, since AHAs aren’t an antiperspirant, my armpits were very wet, but hey, no smell! Success.
The BHA test
The next week, I tried the BHA Stridex pads, made with 2% salicylic acid. Same thing, I’d take a shower, dry off, do a little swipey-swipe and BOOM. The Stridex pads were a major, major mood. I literally would not smell ALL DAY, even after working out. Again, I’d be sweaty, especially during my workouts, but that’s normal. The BHA seemed to work out a little bit better for me, because I could really go all day without smelling a single thing.
I’ve even converted my boyfriend into the #acidarmpits cult. He actually has really sensitive skin on his armpits and has had a lot of struggle trying to find a deodorant that doesn’t sting him, natural or otherwise. But surprisingly he’s been using the Stridex pads too and really likes it. The couple who uses acids on their armpits together stays together.
Another pleasant surprise I got from using BHAs and AHAs on my pits is that all the discoloration and ingrown hairs that I feel like I’ve basically been dealing with my whole life slowly started to disappear. So not only did I not smell, my skin was also silky smooth, evenly toned, and bump-free. What a concept!
However, this experiment is definitely a case of YMMV. We all have different body chemistry so while AHAs may work for me, they may not work for you. Try with a bunch of different types of AHA and BHA as deodorant to determine which one works best for you! (COSRX's BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is 4% betaine salicylate, a milder form of salicylic acid, for those who want to start slow.)
Have you tried to use AHA or BHA as deodorant? Would you try it? Let me know in the comments!
Sheryll Donerson got her start as a beauty writer by writing K-beauty reviews for her blog, The Wanderlust Project. These days, she's lifting heavy weights, eating tacos, drinking (too much) coffee and is 1/4 of the beauty podcast, Beauty Beyond Basics (or Triple Bees for short). You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @sheryllrenata.