Should you replace your deodorant with a lemon?

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. So the saying goes.

That is, unless you prefer to rub those lemons under your arms. Because, apparently that’s a thing.

Safe to say our interest was piqued when The Cut beauty editor Jane Larkworthy revealed that, after replacing her natural deodorant with a lemon (literally – straight from the fridge) about six weeks ago, she was hooked. It even managed to keep her dry and odourless in the summer, she marvelled.

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this. And no, we promise won’t spam you.

While the perks of natural deodorant have been lingering for a while now, we’ll admit, this was the first we’d heard of taking it to this extreme.

However it turns out, the idea isn’t exactly new per se.

Back in 2015, another article suggested lemon juice could be used as a natural deodorant, thanks to the citric acid killing bacteria and odour.

According to cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer, the “mild astringent effects” could mimic the pore-closing effect of antiperspirants, while the scent was useful for covering malodours.

Given the fruit’s high level of acidity, we decided to do our own research: and well, friends, according to experts, the evidence is not so squeaky clean.

Dr Deshan Sebaratnam, dermatologist and senior conjoint lecturer, told body+soul this was not a trend he would endorse. Rather, he said, there are “plenty of safer, established alternatives available and there are risks associated with this practice”.

“Lemon juice is a strong acid. It has a pH of 2 (which puts it in the ballpark of stomach acid) and can be incredibly caustic on the skin. This is particularly true given the skin under the arms is thin and under occlusion. It can easily cause a condition called irritant contact dermatitis,” he continued.

“Further, we know that juices of some fruits (including lemons) can interact with light to cause a skin condition called phytophotodermatitis which can lead to blistering rashes. I would advise against using lemons as a natural deodorant.”

However, if you are set on segueing over to natural deodorant, there are other (and less acidic) alternatives you might want to try, as body+soul beauty editor Kelsey Ferencak found out.

But as for the lemon thing? This might be one trend worth turning sour on.