I tested using glycolic acid as a deodorant and here are my honest thoughts

Can this viral TikTok hack really stop body odour over time?

Glycolic acid deodorant hack: a picture of a phone with TikTok on the screen and bottle of glycolic acid

by Ruby Barry |

What if I told you there was a way to slowly eliminate body odour over time? Shut the front door, I hear you say.

Yes, you heard me right, TikTok has found a new solution to tackling body odour, and it's a surprising product that helps you do so.

This year, a TikTok hack went viral of people using The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (£8) under their armpits as a way to tackle smell instead of deodorant, and people were shook. Glycolic acid is traditionally only used for the face, as a gentle exfoliant to help with renewing skin cells and tackling redness. So, why is it being recommended for under your armpits?

The glycolic underarm craze was popularised by TikToker @calistatee, and when we say she is obsessed with glycolic, we mean it. She uses it for everything; dandruff control, soothing cracked elbows and, most importantly, for under the armpits.

Not only does she claim that it gets rid of odour over time by exfoliating the underarms, but it can also tackle ingrown hairs and dark patches there. But is the hack legit?

Does glycolic acid as deodorant work?

Resident TikTok dermatologist Dr Lindsey, MD (@dermguru) reviewed the craze- and we're happy to say, it's hella approved.

In her stitch, she states that the TikTok trend is "legit", and that the glycolic acid lowers the pH of your underarm skin. If you remember your science GCSE knowledge (don't get violent flashbacks now), a low pH means the skin is slightly acidic, which Dr Lindsey states, means "less bacteria". Less bacteria, "means less odour".

She also confirms @calistatee's theory on other benefits, stating that glycolic acid can indeed help prevent "ingrown hairs" and "hyperpigmentation" (meaning darker areas on the skin).

However, Dr Lindsey does state some cons to the TikTok hack, saying using glycolic acid as a deodorant can be "irritating" for sensitive skin, and a bit "sticky". It's also not going to reduce the "amount of sweat produced", only the odour control of said sweat. She recommends you start "low and slow" when weaning yourself onto glycolic acid.

Glycolic acid deodorant review

So, is it worth the switch? I tried out using just glycolic acid as a deodorant for two weeks, to see if it lived up to the hype.

Every day, I applied the glycolic acid to my underarms after my shower, after drying off. I started off by using a cotton pad but found it soaked up a lot of the product, so I just ended up squeezing the solution onto my hands and wiping it on my underarms directly. If I did use too much, then I would come in with a cotton pad afterwards to get rid of the excess (then washing my hands, of course.) Online, I saw that some people put their glycolic acid into a spray bottle, which I think is kind of genius.

Sometimes it would sting a little, but only for around 30 seconds. I do have slightly sensitive skin, so I'm used to it at this point. I had to keep my arms raised whilst it dried, but I tended to multi-task with things like brushing my teeth, so it wasn't too much of a bother. It took around a minute for the acid to dry.

After a week, I started to notice that my body odour from my armpits had decreased a little, as well as a lighter feeling in my underarms. I could tell that the glycolic acid was doing its job as an exfoliant, as I never felt stuffy at any point.

Applying normal deodorant eliminates BO in the short run, but isn't great for the skin overall due to its harsh chemicals and thick formulas. It felt good, therefore, to be looking after that part of my body, exfoliating the pores there and allowing cells to rejuvenate.

cartoon woman with armpits exposed
©Getty Images

Mistakes I made along the way...

1) Wearing only glycolic acid for high-intensity activities: When you're at home, working, or just hanging out, it's great to put on the glycolic acid as there's not much sweat being produced. However, I thought I'd take the leap and test out the acid on its own whilst doing a workout.

...Yep. It didn't work out. By the end of my session, I could smell my body odour from a mile off, as could undoubtedly my fellow workout buddies (apologies to them.) Therefore. if you're doing something that you know will produce more sweat than usual, such as working out or a long social trip outside, once your glycolic acid dries, pop some deodorant on top too for extra protection. Trust me.

2) Putting the glycolic acid on soon after I shaved: I don't think I need to explain this one further, other than to say... it stung. Real bad.

If you've shaved your armpits, maybe wait a bit before you whack the glycolic acid on. Don't suffer the same fate as me.

Overall verdict?

I would say using The Ordinary's glycolic acid as a deodorant has slightly improved my body odour over the span of two weeks, and judging by what others have said, it will get better as time goes on. If you're willing to invest in a long term solution to decrease BO, this is the hack for you. If you're worried, you can always start by layering your deodorant over the glycolic acid, and see how it goes from there. I am really glad TikTok clued me onto this trick.

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