October 9, 2018
Decoding Natural Deodorant
POSTED IN: JOURNAL
It seems like everyone is talking about natural deodorant these days! Maybe you’ve tried one from the drugstore and didn’t like it, or your BFF is in LOVE with the one they have but it didn’t work for you… or maybe you haven’t taken the plunge yet! I’m here to share why natural deodorant is important, how it works and your options – plus, common issues that arise. Let’s start from the top!
First, let’s talk about armpits.
The underarm area is home to sweat and scent glands. The scent glands produce odor when you are stressed or experiencing heightened emotion, and are thought to signal information to other animals. The sweat glands produce sweat, which is odorless – but bacteria break it down, and it’s the breakdown process that results in odor. Also, everything from diet, digestion and hygiene can impact body odor.
There are many ways to manage odor and wetness, but the most common two are with antiperspirant and deodorant. Antiperspirant stops the body from sweating by plugging sweat glands, whereas deodorant does not prevent the underarm from sweating and instead manages odor with antibacterial ingredients. Antiperspirant is the main concern driving the natural deodorant movement for two main reasons: first, the body needs to sweat, as sweating is the body’s way of managing temperature and expelling some waste, and second, the ingredient typically used to plug sweat glands has raised concerns about human safety.
That brings us to why natural deodorant is important.
It’s simple: your underarm is sensitive and natural deodorants use gentler ingredients, no synthetic fragrance, and can actually condition and protect your skin. Most natural deodorants contain ingredients that neutralize odor through their antibacterial properties, and also absorb wetness (so you don’t feel sticky and wet even though you are able to sweat).
Let’s take a look at a few of these ingredients and their odor/wetness role in a deodorant formulation:
- Baking Soda: absorbs wetness, manages odor
- Arrowroot Powder: absorbs wetness, manages odor
- Clay: absorbs wetness, manages odor
- Magnesium Hydroxide: manages odor
- Charcoal: manages odor
- Essential Oils: manages odor
- Coconut Oil: manages odor
- In addition, a wide range of plant oils and butters, including shea butter, jojoba oil and more, help to soften and condition the skin to keep it soothed.
Despite there being so many natural deodorants to choose from, it can be difficult to find the right one for you. There is no one-size-fits-all solution – deodorant works alongside your body and its unique chemistry, so a bit of trial and error should be expected.
Let’s talk about the different application methods available: jar, stick and spray.
In addition to ingredients, most folks have a preference for application method:
Deodorant in a jar
To use, scoop out a small amount with your fingers and massage into your underarm (that’s right, you actually have to touch your underarms! Many people find it weird that they would touch their underarm, and to that I say – love your body and give those hard working underarms a well deserved massage!)
It’s also worthwhile to note that deodorant in a jar is much softer than deodorant in a stick, so if your skin is easily irritated by tugging, I’d start with a jar.
Deodorant in a stick
These are our most popular options. Easy and quick, you swipe them on and don’t have to touch the deodorant. They are definitely an easier option for on the go application.
Spray deodorants don’t contain any sweat absorbing ingredients. I find that most people prefer them as a midday refresher, or a refresher for after the gym (to avoid touching a sweaty, smelly underarm with fingers or your deodorant). They are usually in a base of alcohol, so sometimes people find them slightly irritating if their underarm isn’t moisturized.
If you’re just making the switch to natural deodorant, try our Deodorant Starter Kit, which has sample sizes of some of our best selling deodorants.
DEODORANT STARTER KIT
Let’s talk about some of the common problems folks have and how to address them.
My body odor is not being managed
It takes a while for your body to adjust to new deodorant. If it’s been a month and you still feel that your deodorant isn’t managing odor, try a different product. It could be that the formulation just doesn’t work with your body. You can also try using a charcoal “detox” deodorant at night, as they are thought to help your underarms move through the transition by pulling out existing toxins that have accumulated. Not everyone believes this, but a gentle one like Nala’s can do double duty during the day as your deodorant, so you can give it a try.
NALA FREE-FROM DEODORANT
I’m sweating a lot
We find that sweat goes through a transition period, too. That said, if you’ve been using antiperspirant, you might feel like you’re sweating a lot, when in reality you’re sweating a normal amount and just aren’t used to it. Either way, it’s uncomfortable and we understand! Using a deodorant with baking soda will help to absorb that extra moisture. Don’t go overboard with application – with everything else at the shop, a little goes a long way! Less is more. You can also bring your deodorant with you to refresh midday. Anecdotally, many people who have been using natural deodorant (or no deodorant) for an extended period of time report that they sweat less over time. So… something to look forward to!
My natural deodorant is staining my clothing
We don’t hear this too often, but occasionally people have issues with natural deodorant staining the underarm portion of their tops. In all my years of wearing natural deodorant, they have never once stained a shirt, so I promise it’s not a huge issue. What could contribute to this is using too much deodorant. As I mentioned before, a little goes a long way. Using more does not correlate to having more protection. In my experience, using too much can cause a buildup of product on the underarm and (probably) stain clothing.
My deodorant gave me a rash!
The underarm is very sensitive and even though the ingredients in these formulations are pretty gentle and nourishing, it is absolutely possible to have a reaction to them. 99% of the time, a painful red rash is a reaction to baking soda. It is not pleasant, but the good news is it’s easily resolved. First, discontinue use and gently cleanse the area and apply a gentle moisturizer. Then try a baking soda-free formulation, of which we have several. You may find that you can use a formula that contains baking soda from one brand but not another. It all comes down to your body and the formulation. Also, if you know you have very sensitive underarms, just try and start out with baking soda free formulations from the beginning.
Also, I react to deodorant when my underarms are dry. After shaving I apply a hydrating mist to my underarms and sometimes even apply a light lotion. Make sure to give your underarms the loving attention they deserve 🙂
My deodorant works for a while and then stops
This is fairly common and it’s a tough one to nail down (I recall experiencing this with traditional deodorants and antiperspirants, so I don’t think it’s unique to natural deodorant). Remember at the beginning when I said there are many factors that influence body odor? Everything from stress, diet or hormonal changes (ie, around the time of one’s period) can temporarily change your odor. Don’t give up on your deodorant if you love it – give it a few days and try it again. My recommendation is to rotate your deodorants and have an extra for the times when your regular one doesn’t do the trick.
Best deodorants for sensitive skin:
MEOW MEOW TWEET LAVENDER BAKING SODA FREE DEODORANT CREAM
URSA MAJOR NO B.S. DEODORANT
Best deodorant for active lifestyles:
URSA MAJOR HOPPIN FRESH DEODORANT
PIPERWAI CHARCOAL INFUSED DEODORANT JAR
ERBAVIVA ORGANIC DEODORANT MIST
Best deodorant for those who sweat a lot:
ESSENTIAL APOTHECARY ALCHEMIST FRESH DEODORANT
VAPOUR ORGANICS AER NEXT LEVEL DEODORANT | LAVENDER MYRRH
MEOW MEOW TWEET DEODORANT STICK
Best deodorant for those who love a sophisticated scent: