Glycolic Acid As Deodorant: The Benefits & The Risks!

Glycolic acid is not an antiperspirant. However, dermatologists have found glycolic acid reduces body odor-causing bacteria that live in your armpits. 

TikTok has spoken, and the newest trend is putting glycolic acid on your armpits to replace deodorant. 

When used on your face, glycolic acid works by dissolving dead skin cells on the surface, hydrates the skin, and reduces hyperpigmentation.

On the armpits, it can help cut down on odor-causing bacteria while soothing the skin. Plus, it only needs to be applied just a few times a week. 

Sound too good to be true?

Let’s investigate! 

Why Do My Pits Stink?

To understand how glycolic acid works on your armpits, you must first understand why your pits smell in the first place.

Body odor will soon follow no matter how often you scrub down the skin under your arms. It’s not because of improper hygiene; it’s just how our bodies work.

Body odor occurs when sweat mingles with the bacteria on your skin. Because your armpits are dark, warm, and moist, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.

After working out, that funk you smell results from bacteria and sweat hanging out together. 

You need to remove sweat or bacteria from the equation to reduce body odor. You can block your sweat glands (using chemicals like aluminum found in many antiperspirants) or adjust your skin’s pH level to make it harder for bacteria to survive. 

How Glycolic Acid Works To Reduce Body Odor

First things first – glycolic acid is not an antiperspirant. To reduce or even eliminate sweating under your arms, you need an antiperspirant with ingredients such as aluminum that block the pores under your arms that create sweat. 

However, dermatologists have found glycolic acid reduces body odor-causing bacteria that live in your armpits.

It lowers the skin’s pH level while dissolving dead skin cells. With a lower pH level and fewer dead skins cells, it’s less likely that bacteria will form under your armpits.

You’ll still sweat as usual, but that sweat won’t stink. And your skin will be much happier! 

Are There Any Other Benefits?

Absolutely! Our armpits don’t quite get the love that they deserve. We shave them, slather them in goopy deodorant, and hope no one notices them. We spend so much energy caring for our face and body skin that our armpits are often underappreciated. 

Applying a glycolic acid toner to your underarms can help renew the neglected skin under your arms by moisturizing and sloughing away dead skins cells and reducing hyperpigmentation and ingrown hairs. It can even whiten your armpits!

Adding glycolic acid to your underarm area will also help to soothe razor burn. It helps remove dead skin cells that can irritate the skin when shaving and soothe those annoying little red bumps!

What About The Risks?

Some users found that when they use glycolic acid on their underarms a few times a week, minor irritation occurs. The most significant side effects noted were burning, redness, and skin flaking.

If you find that your glycolic acid formula is causing excess burning, it may be time to lower the concentration.

While many users found that the 8-10 percent formulas were gentle enough to use under their arms, some found it too potent. 

If you notice any irritation, be sure to lower the concentration!

How To Apply Glycolic Acid To Your Armpits

Unlike deodorant that needs to be reapplied daily (or twice a day, it seems, in the heat of the summer), glycolic acid only needs to be applied 1-2 times a week.

Reach for a gentle formula of around 8-10 percent, and use it with a cotton ball under your pits in a thin layer. Let it dry, and you are ready to go!

Great Glycolic Acids To Try 

I suggest trying out The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Exfoliating Toning Solution for a gentle budget-friendly formula. It’s not exactly intended for armpits, so you must keep that in mind.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Exfoliating Toning Solution
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Exfoliating Toning Solution




If you have sensitive skin, you may notice that this formula might be a little too potent. With all of that shaving or waxing, the skin on your armpits is highly sensitive. Give it a test run, and if it stings too much, swap it out for something milder. 

Surface Deep Anti-Odorant Pads is one of the best dedicated glycolic acid deodorants currently on the market, formulated especially for your pits. It’s a little more expensive but well worth it for users with highly sensitive skin.

Surface Deep Anti-Odorant Pads
Surface Deep Anti-Odorant Pads




Tips to Keep In Mind

  • Beauty is not pain in this scenario. If you feel that your glycolic acid burns too much, swap it out for a more gentle formula. 
  • Only apply it to your underarms once or twice a week. More is not better! Daily use may cause skin burn or skin rashes – and no one wants that under their arms!
  • Remember that this isn’t a replacement for antiperspirant. Your armpits will still sweat as usual, but they won’t stink!
  • Do a patch test first! As with any new skincare product, it’s always ideal to test a new formula on the upper part of your arm to see how your skin reacts. If you find that you are irritation-free after a 24-hour window, it’s safe to use on other parts of your body. 
  • Don’t just stop at your armpits. Using glycolic acid on the rest of your body is perfectly safe and a great way to keep skin renewed, moisturized, and refreshed.