Natural Deodorant: The good, the bad, and the smelly.

Photo by Godisable Jacob on

For many people in the “natural beauty” or “natural/organic/non-toxic lifestyle” communities, switching deodorants is probably one of the hardest, if not the hardest, thing to transition to. The obvious reason is that no one wants to smell gross, and the not so obvious reason is that it takes alot more time and effort to transition to natural deodorant than one might have thought.

SO….what’s wrong with conventional deodorant?

The answer is…..complicated.

Many people, such as the Wellness Mama, in the natural community, feel ingredients in deodorants and anti-perspirants, aluminum in particular, are unsafe and should not be used on the body. Some studies have shown a link or correlation between aluminum and breast cancer, as well as, Alzheimer’s disease. At the same time, correlation does not equal causation, meaning, just because there is a link, doesn’t necessarily mean aluminum causes cancer. Thus, defenders of conventional deodorant say that the evidence against aluminum is inconclusive.

Here is what we do know; our skin is the largest organ of our bodies and it absorbs what we put on it, sometimes causing skin diseases and systemic toxicity. We also know the U.S Center for Disease Control, or CDC, states that high levels of aluminum exposure can have negative effects on the nervous system and respiratory system.

Our Skin is a Sponge + Aluminum may be toxic

So….in my point of view, the fact that we know our skin is a sponge and we know aluminum may be toxic, it’s a no-brainer to try and avoid products with aluminum. Not to mention, there are plenty of other products we use that also contain aluminum. For me, switching is all about improving my odds and finding alternatives that lead me to a holistic, natural lifestyle.

That’s all great, but “alternative” deodorants don’t work!!

Here’s the deal; Conventional deodorants and anti-perspirants are theoretically two different things (the former deodorizes and the latter stops sweating), but practically the same thing because it is very unlikely that you’d buy a deodorant that wasn’t also an anti- perspirant. The trouble is that anti-perspirants work by blocking (ahh..clogging) the sweat glands under your arms. If you can’t sweat, you won’t build up the bacteria that makes you stinky and the added perfumes from the deodorizing part will keep you smelling peachy clean all day.

Natural deodorants, on the other hand, work in different ways. Some have added clays and powders to help absorb moisture, others use baking soda to fight off the stinky bacteria and others use various combinations of ingredients to keep you dry and not stinky. None of them block you from sweating.

What this means is that all natural deodorants are not created equally, and as I learned fairly quickly, it can be a stinky, sweaty pain trying to find one that works for you. The good news is, after months and months of trying, I did finally find one that works for me!

Here are a few things I learned…

1. If you have sensitive skin, just avoid baking soda altogether. Baking soda is essentially a type of salt that has been used in beauty and household products for centuries. It works wonders to help fight bacteria and stop odors (both in your fridge and under your arms!), but it is high on the alkaline scale, making it the direct opposite of our naturally acidic skin. It’s the alkaline in the baking soda that can cause rashes and irritation on people with sensitive skin. If this happens to you, look for natural deodorants without baking soda.

Adopted from the BCHS Cleaning and Hygiene Supplies Blog

2. Pay attention to your body. Once you switch to natural deodorants, you will notice that you either sweat alot or don’t sweat that much in your day to day. This is something that is harder to gauge when you are using conventional deodorant because the average person will not sweat at all using conventional deodorants. Once you switch, you will get a better understanding of your needs and this will enable you to get more specific on your deodorant search. For example, I found that I sweat ALOT. So I put more effort into trying deodorants that claimed to tackle this issue.

3. Be flexible. If you are in week 3 of transitioning and you have a huge presentation for work tomorrow, it’s okay to use conventional deodorant for that day. Remember, when you are nervous or stressed out, your body releases different chemicals that can cause stronger body odor. It will take some time for you to figure out which deodorants will work in this situation and which will not, so don’t sweat it! 😉 At the moment I use two deodorants, one for everyday use and one for heavy duty days, more on this below.

Final Thoughts

Deodorants I’ve tried include (but are not limited to); Tom’s, Schmidt’s, Sam’s Natural, Meow Meow Tweet, Piperwai, along with some I bought on Etsy and a homemade attempt as well. Some worked for a while, like Meow Meow Tweet, however, I wasn’t satisfied and didn’t think it lasted long enough. I used a spray for a long time that seemed to work, but eventually the alcohol in the spray was drying out my skin and causing irritation. Others definitely worked, but irritated my skin after a few days.

FINALLY. After searching endlessly, I tried Soap Walla’s Sensitive Formula and it worked! It was the first deodorant that kept my skin dry and stinky-free. It retails for $16 (which is pretty pricy if you ask me), and lasts a few months.

Sometimes I cheat when I’m going to do something really important or something I know will make me nervous. For these times, I use the regular Soap Walla deodorant, which works like a charm. Unfortunately, I cannot use it on the daily because the baking soda eventually is too irritating on my skin.

I think I only made it this far because I was so determined, and I knew I’d succeed, I just needed to be patient. This is really the mindset everyone needs to have if they are looking to make the switch. I have no doubt there is a natural, safe alternative out there for everyone, you just have to find it!

FYI: This is not a sponsored post and there are no affiliated links! I just really love Soap Walla deodorant and it works wonders for me! 🙂

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