I remember trying out my first ‘natural’ deodorant back when I was working a high-stress job, and after a week of soaked armpits and smelling like I had just gotten back from Burning Man, I wrote all natural deos off as being ineffective. And so, for the next 3-4 years, I continued to use my mainstream antiperspirant deodorants on daily basis.
It wasn’t until I read up on the benefits of using a natural deo (and how to properly scope out the right one for my bod), that I finally made the official switch…
Why Make the Switch to a Natural Deodorant?
First off, sweating is a natural, healthy process. It’s how our bodies’ regulate temperature. But when you apply an antiperspirant, it uses aluminum-based compounds to ‘plug’ up the sweat glands and stop the flow of sweat to the skin’s surface, preventing our bodies’ from cooling down. (And some people also believe that the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants could lead cancer, though there’s still a lot of debate on that topic – some say there’s a risk, while others say there isn’t.) Natural formulations, on the other hand, allow your body to function exactly how it should, while keeping us fresh at the same time.
But how is it possible to stay fresh if it’s not blocking sweat? Interesting enough, sweat itself doesn’t actually smell. What does produce odor is when our skin’s natural microbes mingle with the sweat, and feed off of the fat and proteins (secreted only from our apocrine sweat glands – sweat every else is made up of mainly water and salt thankfully! ). The byproduct of this feeding frenzy is what creates that not-to-pleasant smell.
Fortunately, that’s where good ol’ deodorant comes in! It uses antibacterial ingredients to create an environment where these microbes won’t thrive, won’t feed, and hence won’t cause odors.
But even then, not all deodorants are created equal. Only the natural ones are free of harsh ingredients, like triclosan, parabens, propylene glycol, phthalates, and steareths. Instead, they use non-toxic ones that are safer for our bodies, like essential oils, baking soda, and magnesium. Plus, many contain moisture-absorbing ingredients, like natural powders and clays, which can help absorb some of the sweat and keep you dry.
To top it off, here are a few more benefits to making the switch to a natural deodorant:
- Less irritation (and hence more beautiful under arms!) Conventional deodorants and antiperspirants can clog your pores and cause bumpy skin and irritation. Natural deodorant, on the other hand, can actually make your skin softer and smoother. Not to mention, a bump-free armpit will help you get a closer, more longer-lasting shave.
- No yellow stains! The aluminum in some deodorants can cause the fabric on your clothes to turn yellow. Natural deodorants, however, should wash out pretty easily, and not leave behind any chemical stains.
So how do you start the transition to natural deodorant?
It’s recommended that you go au naturale for a few days before switching over to a natural deo. This will give your pits time to rid themselves of any chemical build-up so that you can better test out the effectiveness of your new natural deos. Of course, frequent exfoliation and/or washing can help the whole detoxification process move along more quickly (not to mention help prevent body odor throughout the day!). I recommend washing with a washcloth, soap, and water both morning and night.
Here are a few other tips to help you get through those no-deo days:
- Try to wear fabrics made of natural fibers (like cotton, linen, and rayon) during the transition period to let you skin breathe (as opposed to moisture-locking, non-breathable fabrics like polyester and acrylic).
- Try using natural body wipes to freshen up throughout the day.
- Consider dabbing a teensy bit of coconut oil under you arms. Coconut oil is a natural antibacterial so it will help reduce some of the odors as well as any irritation. (It’s probably best to do this right before bed to give it time to absorb, and lessen any mess on clothing.)
- Consume probiotics and chlorophyll-rich foods like green, leafy veggies, which have a deodorizing effect in the body. And make sure to drink plenty of water!
(If you do all the above, you may even find that you don’t need deodorant!)
Next, it’s time to start experimenting with natural deodorants!
Here are some things to consider when picking out your first natural deordorant:
- Texture. Natural deos come in all different forms – from sticks and roll-ons, to sprays and even scoop-able creams. These forms often go hand-in-hand with the ingredients. For example, scoop-able creams tend to contain more moisture-absorbing powder and clay-based ingredients and nourishing butters. However, they can be a bit messier and more time-consuming to apply. On the flip side, sprays and roll-ons are much quicker to apply, while ingredients-wise, they tend to contain mostly essential oils and liquid deodorizers like witch hazel. Try out at least 1-2 different textures and application methods, and see what works best for you.
- Scent. With all deodorants (and any kind of scented product for that matter), it’s important to test out how a scent interacts with your body over a couple of uses. A scent that smells great from the tube can go in a completely different direction once it gets a chance to mingle with your skin’s natural chemistry. I’ve personally had the most luck with light floral and citrus scents (like rose, lavender, and grapefruit), while woodsy notes often create a musty, attic-like odor that I’m not too fond of. But remember, no matter what scent you choose, your natural body odor is always going to peek out a bit. It’s all about finding the right ‘mix’, so to speak!
- Ingredients. Everyone has their own unique skin sensitivities when it comes to ingredients like baking soda and different essential oils. Not to mention, we all sweat at different rates – some of us may need stronger formulas, while others can get away with ultra-gentle soothing ones that keep our underarms looking heavenly. For those reasons, take note of what’s on the labels and play around with different brands, ingredients, and ingredient portions until you find a deo that works best for you. And again, don’t stop after the first couple uses – always give each one a few days to see how your body reacts.
Natural & Organic Deodorants – My Top Picks
The word ‘natural’ is used so loosely these days that you really have to do your research when it comes to finding a truly ‘natural’ and non-toxic deodorant. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few of my favorite brands that contain only the good stuff (no sneaky add-ins):
- Meow Meow Tweet – They offer both baking soda and baking soda-free deos, as well as stick and cream formulas. I personally love their baking soda free Grapefruit stick!
- Common Sense Farms – If you love earthy, forest-y scents, you’ll love these sprays! I use Lady Fern some days, and it practically doubles as a perfume – it retains its fragrance all day long!
- Stinkbug – I had the pleasure of trying this out in January’s Goodbeing box and was very impressed. It’s ingredients list is very minimal, and it’s also one of the more budget-friendly options!
- Soapwalla – If you don’t mind using a jar deodorant, these are some of the best! They use a mix of vegetable powders, clays, and essential oils to absorb moisture and inhibit bacteria. They make two scents – a bright citrus and a relaxing lavender, in both baking soda and baking soda free versions.
- Schmidt’s – Another great budget-friendly option. They have the widest selection of scents (along with some unique ones like Oh, Christmas Tree, which I wore all December!), in baking soda free versions, and both jar and stick applicators. My favorite is their Rose + Vanilla scent – it’s heavenly!
SHOP THE POST
Have you made the switch to a natural deodorant? Have a favorite brand or formula?