Asian woman in athletic attire with her arms raised.

Baking soda is a popular household item with a diverse fanbase. This inexpensive ingredient has many uses – from cleaning and baking to combatting body odors. Maybe you've been tempted to try the latter after seeing TikTok videos about using baking soda for underarms. 

While many consider it an effective way to keep your armpits stink-free, applying baking soda directly on the skin has its risks. Before doing your little science experiment, check out the pros and cons of going au naturel.

Why People Use Baking Soda for Underarms

Using baking soda for underarms became popular in the 1940s – way before TikTok and skincare influencers existed. Based on a by John Henderson Lamb, MD, baking soda or sodium bicarbonate effectively prevented underarm odor and sweat with minimum irritation and no unpleasant scent. However, there is no substantial documentation supporting the efficacy of baking soda as a natural deodorant.

Many use baking soda as a cheaper alternative to deodorants since it absorbs odor and combats bacteria. People allergic to aluminum can also use baking soda for underarms. The texture can be appealing to those who don’t like sticky formulas on their skin. Additionally, powdering your underarms with this multipurpose ingredient helps reduce waste.

The Downside of Using Baking Soda for Underarms

Baking soda may have been the safest deodorizing ingredient decades ago, but science has figured out a few things since.

The skin is acidic, with pH values ranging from 4-6, while baking soda stands at 9 on the pH scale. Anything higher than 7 is alkaline. A high-pH ingredient can work wonders by removing oil and gunk from the pores. On the other hand, it can cause and make your skin sore, tender, and tomato-red.

According to research published in , frequent application of alkaline ingredients can cause skin irritation and potentially disrupt the skin's acid mantle (a protective barrier against bacteria). Underarm skin is thinner, which makes it even more sensitive. You'll be at risk of various side effects, such as , itchiness, and rashes.

If you have deodorant or antiperspirant sensitivity, it's best to use products other than baking soda for underarms. Go for aluminum-free deodorants, like Dove 0% Aluminum Deodorant Aerosol. This spray deodorant doesn't have alcohol and aluminum, and contains Dove's signature ¼ moisturizing cream, eliminating odor while keeping your underarms smooth.

Meanwhile, if you like the feel of powder, use Rexona 3-in-1 Deo Powder Aloe Soothe to your underarms, feet, and back before stepping out. It has potassium alum and aloe extract that soothes the skin while protecting it from odor and sweat.

The Verdict

Considering the benefits and risks of using baking soda for underarms, you can skip this DIY trend. The effects are similar to 0% aluminum deodorants available in the market. Plus, most commercial products are dermatologically tested for skin tolerance, making them safer for use. In terms of practicality, it’s easier to spray ready-to-use deodorant than create one from scratch.