Acids for skincare are more than a thing of beauty now! With cosmeceutical brands formulating lower concentrations, they are a lot more accessible and even safe for at-home skincare. “Acids have been used for centuries for beautification. History records show that ancient Egyptians used sour milk, which is enriched with lactic acid, to lighten their skin,” says Dr Uktra Namshum, Clinical Dermatologist and founder of Hana Aesthetics in Delhi.
Targeting concerns like hyperpigmentation, redness, acne scars and the appearance of lines and wrinkles, acids have become essential for many. An added advantage is the fact that brands are formulating them at affordable price points; which is why they have found their way into body care as well. Case in point – using acids on underarms!
TikTokers have been swiping their underarms with The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution for months. However, those who claim that using acids on underarms also has deodorising benefits have our undivided attention. AHAs as deodorants? We were certainly intrigued.
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“It is relatively safe to use acids on underarms as long as it is used in lower concentrations, so that the skin barrier is not compromised which can lead to irritation of skin and pigment worsening if they are used too frequently or in high concentrations,” revealed Dr Deepthi Ravishankar, consultant dermatologist and cosmetologist at Skinologycentre in Bangalore. They work by weakening and dissolving the melanocytes (pigment cells) and dead skin cells that are responsible for the darkening and hyperpigmentation.
Applying acids to the underarms helps shed the topmost layer of skin and facilitate the layer beneath the surface faster. This, in turn, helps achieve an even-toned skin surface, improves skin texture and also helps boost collagen production. They also eliminate odour causing bacteria by lowering the pH of the skin, making them the unlikeliest of underarm heroes.
However, they won’t help in reducing sweating as you need an aluminium-based compound to actually block the sweat. Dr Uktra explains that glycolic acid, salicylic acid and lactic acid are some of the best acids to use for the underarms. Anything between 5 to 7 per cent is good to start with but the lower the concentration, the better it is for experimentation.
While there are a few acids that dermats believe are safe for the sensitive underarm area, it’s the glycolic acid that stands out for its efficacy. Dr Deepthi further explains that “Glycolic acid is a fast-acting and effective solution for uneven underarms. It is easily available over the counter as well as on online platforms in different concentrations and formulations such as creams, serums, and peels.”
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Given that one needs to be cautious about using acids for skincare, how can they be good for pits? The armpit area is sensitive and since it’s summer, we can’t ignore excessive sweating and overheating which leads to dryness and irritation. And if the acids are used in a strong concentration without proper guidance, they can lead to burns or irritation and worsening of hyperpigmentation marks. It is recommended to speak to a dermatologist about including acids in your routine.
Safety Tips On Using Acids On Underarms
Some of the expert-recommended tips to keep in mind while using acid on the underarms are –
1. Keep the area moisturised – Acids and peeling solutions, even in smaller concentrations, can lead to dryness and itching. It is important to moisturise with unfragranced formulations that are rich in vitamin E and C, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.
2. Do not use strong deodorants on your underarm while using acids and it can lead to inflammation, skin thickening, and darkening.
3. Do not use physical scrubs or loofahs on the underarms as that can overexfoltae them and lead to sensitivity.
4. Avoid dry shaving as it can cause irritation. One can either wet shave or undergo laser hair reduction which is considered to be the best as it reduces the need to shave or use hair removal creams.
5. If you’ve had an unpleasant experience with glycolic acid, you can opt for a cream formulation containing azelaic acid, kojic acid, vitamin C and arbutin to tackle skin darkening instead.
6. Use SPF on your underarms whenever you know that they will be exposed to the sun.