A yummy smelling soap can make for a calming and sensory experience come shower time, but as it turns out, using a fragrant product to clean your armpits could be doing you more harm than good.
Do you a fragrant soap or body wash? And do you use a cloth or sponge in the shower? Put them down. We repeat: put, them, down.
According to a TikTok hygiene expert, Mary Futher, who’s better known as Madame Sweat, using nice-smelling soaps and gentle cleaning implements will not actually get those armpits of yours clean at all.
According to Futher, if you’re not using an antibacterial soap, and not washing each area for around 30 seconds, then you’re harbouring the previous days’ filth.
“If you’re washing your underarms like this, with some tutti-frutti soap, I can guarantee you still have yesterday’s deodorant on your underarms,” she explained, mimicking a wash, in a now-viral TikTok clip.
The hygiene product developer then called upon a man named Joey, who demonstrated the correct action.
“We’re here in the shower with Joey, and he’s lathering for 30 seconds,” she said as he got to work on his hairy pits. “He’s doing it right. Plus, he’s using an antibacterial soap!
According to Futher, soaps are only antibacterial if they’re not fragrant, and contain apple cider vinegar, salt and charcoal. But to reap the benefits, you’ve „really gotta get in there to get rid of yesterday’s deodorant.”
Futher was flooded with responses in the comments section, including one woman who said to “just use a washcloth”, but the expert wasn’t having it.
“Washcloths tend to harbour a lot of bacteria,” she said. And if you’re not cleaning them between cleaning yourself – that’s guaranteed old sweat. A good alternative may be an exfoliating glove, but that too needs to be cleaned after use.
According to the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), using deodorant won’t stop bacteria and bad odour under the armpits completely, but it can form some sort of defence. This means you’re not just working to clear deodorant residue when you’re showering, but a host of bacteria, too.
We’re also not actually meant to omit odour when we sweat. It’s a result of bacteria, genetics, age or diet.
“Humans have three types of sweat glands – apocrine, eccrine, sebaceous,” the ASM explained.
“Body odour is primarily caused by apocrine sweat glands that become activated during puberty. These sweat glands develop in hairy regions like the armpits, genitals and scalp, where they secrete an oily fluid comprised of proteins, lipids and steroids.
“Contrary to popular belief, this viscous fluid (sweat) is naturally almost entirely odourless. It is only when members of the skin microbiota metabolise these secretions that they produce the malodorous byproducts, which cause body odour. In humans, armpits offer a moist, warm environment where microbes can thrive, making them a microbial hotspot.”
Moist, microbes and armpits – three words we don’t want to see in the same sentence.
Futher is definitely onto something. Who wants to breed bacteria in this “moist” region of the human body? With summer on its way, perhaps it’s time to invest in an antibacterial soap and get scrubbing!