I’d like to start this by saying the term natural deodorant is misleading. Many of you contacted me regarding this after my original post about switching to natural deodorant and I agree with you. The term is being used again in this post because this is how such deodorants are marketed and it’s the easiest way to explain them. We all have our personal preferences of what we wish to consume and put on our body, which situation seems important enough to use certain ingredients, and where we have a personal issue using them. I chose to switch to “natural” deodorant because I wanted to remove the aluminum and other chemicals in traditional deodorant/antiperspirants, but also because I wasn’t satisfied with the results I was getting with traditional products.
In my first post about switching to natural deodorant I mentioned I was going through detox and the smell was pretty awful. I’m happy to report my detox seemed to end that week… and I think a big difference was changing the deodorant I was using. I mentioned how I ordered Primal Pit Paste… well other deodorants I ordered arrived before it and I started using them and the difference was immediate. Smell went away, and within a week the rust-colored stains under my arms disappeared. I took your product suggestions for what I chose to purchase. Some weren’t a good fit, some were utterly amazing. What I learned from this experience is natural deodorant is as personal and individual as perfume. It mixes with your body chemistry, is affected by your lifestyle and wardrobe, and it’s worth doing a bit of research and trying more than one product if you choose to transition to natural deodorant. What I tried:
Natural Stick Deodorants
I wanted to continue to use stick deodorants; I didn’t like the idea of digging my fingers into a tub each morning, getting deodorant under my nails, that sort of thing. When available, I went with stronger/sport options. I also tried to find unscented, and when unavailable, something with a light citrus scent that I felt would be good for summer. With your suggestions, these are the natural deodorants I tried in stick formula:
Native Deodorant – After going through detox I again tried Native Deodorant. You can read my first review of this product here. This is not the deodorant for me. The high concentration of baking soda reacts with my skin. Almost immediately I started to itch, within an hour I had a rash and my skin started to get rusty colored again, a typical reaction to baking soda. I like the container, I like how easily it goes on, I love the Coconut Vanilla scent, but this product is NOT for me.
The products below were purchased before I realized that baking soda was the reason I was having such a bad reaction to natural deodorant…
Kiss My Face Sport Active Life Deodorant – The scent is one that likely smells great or like nothing on some, but on me it turned into a citrusy Old Spice. My father in law wore Old Spice; I can’t smell like Old Spice, it’s just too weird for me. Unfortunately I can’t give a better review because the scent bothered me so much. Also as a heads up this has baking soda in it, though it's the last ingredient and for the short time I wore it, it didn't cause a reaction.
Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant in Bergamot Lime – At first the smell is strong, like a lime Now & Later. But the scent subsides and is a light lime scent that I find refreshing and not competing with my perfume. Please note this is only one of many scents available from Schmidt's, I chose this one because I like lime, but if you don't, don't discount this brand. Online reviews are great in helping you choose a scent if you can't find this brand in person. Schmidt's goes on easily, it worked for a good 6-7 hours without needing reapplication. It survived three hours outside working in the garden enough that I could go to garden store without having to reapply. The only problem is that this has baking soda, and I learned the hard way I react negatively to baking soda. This seems to have less than Native, but it still made me burn after two wears. But I think this stuff is pretty awesome and if I didn’t have a reaction to baking soda I’d like it very much.
Lavanilla Sport Luxe Deodorant – This looks and feels the most like traditional stick deodorants. While the other natural deodorants I tried snagged on skin, crumbled, and needed warm or damp skin to really blend, Lavanilla glided over the skin and felt great. No rash, no irritation, my skin felt soft and happy. I’m not a big vanilla fan, I chose the Sport because reviews said it worked better, and also they said the scent was fresh and clean. It does smell clean, the scent reminds me of Tide detergent. My mom used Tide when I was a kid and when I became an adult with my own laundry also used the brand until I got pregnant and switched to more eco-friendly products. When I put this on, I felt nostalgic, but as my body warmed and the scent intensified to where Karl sitting across the dinner table commented on it, asking if I smelled my mom's detergent. Also, I didn’t make it to lunchtime without having a faint trace of B.O. mixed with Tide. However, because this is such a convenient container I carry it in my work tote for touch-ups.
Green Tidings Natural Deodorant in Unscented – This deodorant crumbles so bad you end up using more of the stick than you wish. It’s super gritty, I felt like I had sand in my armpits. Oh, it's predominately baking soda so within an hour I felt like I had sunburn under my arms. The plus is this has literally no scent to it, and in that hour it did keep odor away…
Natural Cream Deodorants
When researching natural deodorants, I continued to see reviews from people saying a certain brand of cream deodorant was better than the stick versions I tried. I decided to give them a try and was pleasantly surprised. This is not your mama’s cream deodorant. The ones I tried were a nice consistency that was easy to scoop out and apply. Firmer than peanut butter, more like coconut oil on a cold day. If you do accidentally put your finger near your mouth before washing you won’t pucker up and have all your saliva sucked from you like with traditional deodorants and antiperspirants, I accidentally did this a couple times (oops!) and there was little to no taste. I had the most success applying after a shower when my skin is still warmed from the water. Reapplying later in the day was less gross with a cream; it rubs into the skin so you don’t feel like your pits are coated with product. I also found the creams in general to be more effective.
Primal Pit Paste in Unscented – I used this once and once only. It irritated , and I smelled very… primal by noon.
Routine. De-Odor in Curator – Routine has several scents and formulas; I chose The Curator because it is the sensitive baking-soda free version. They say The Curator smells like, “cocoa, eucalyptus and ultra-savvy intuition.” The scent of this is INTENSE. When I put it on I felt it smelled very strongly of Ivory Soap or some other washing powder, not very intuitive, or very cocoa. The smell got stronger with wear and after two hours I had to wash it off because it was making me ill. I wondered if I was just being sensitive that day (PMS) so tried it again a week later and still had the same result. Karl tried it, he walked down the stairs and from the living room and I smelled it before he even got off the last step. I didn’t say anything, but I guess he caught the cloud of smell and said the smell way too strong (he thought it smelled more like musky woodsy typical man deodorant smell) and had to wash it off because it was giving him a headache. That being said, it went on well, it didn’t irritate, and it seemed quite effective for the short time I tried it.
PiperWai – This is the Gary Family favorite – both Karl and I like this one best. It can freak you out at first because it is grey, but that’s because the active ingredient is charcoal. However, it blends into skin, even very dry skin, quite easily without crumbling and the color disappears. It has a faint smell of tea tree, which doesn’t bother us because we’ve used tea tree ever since my years working for The Body Shop and we associate it with a smell of clean. If you let your pits air out a bit after applying (wave your arms around, drive to work with loose sleeves and the air vents strategically angled) the tea tree scent will disappear completely. And you can be B.O. free all day. Seriously, this is the only one I’ve tried where I could go to a post-work event and not have to reapply. No irritation, no rusty skin, no need to prep in a fancy way to make it work. It just works. Like your armpits smell exactly the same as your elbow pits work. We’re both fans. Oh, you can also find this at GNC.
Meow Meow Tweet Baking Soda Free in Grapefruit – I want this one to be my favorite. It smells amazing, sort of like Froot Loops, though when I tell people that they wrinkle their nose. It's hard to explain but it's a happy, positive scent and not at all overwhelming. It blends into the skin really easily, it feels good, the scent doesn’t intensify with body heat, and it has the cutest name of all. The only reason it’s not my #1 favorite is it does need to be reapplied during the day to keep B.O. at bay. However, when I went on travel I took it with me. I wore it on a cross-country flight and arrived in LA not smelling like funk. I showered and went to an event I was nervous about attending. It was warm in there, I had to do a lot of mingling and networking and came home smelling fine. However it’s a bit like Cinderella and after six hours or so it turns into a pumpkin and needs to be reapplied.
When I went to visit Gwynnie Bee headquarters (very belated post to come) they had the most awesome office bathroom filled with all sorts of lovely beauty products and toiletries. One was EO Organic's Lavender Deodorant Spray. After a long train ride, 20 minutes out in the hot sun outside Penn Station, a long car ride with little A/C, and then a tour of their offices I was ripe. I was also still back using Native. So when I saw this (and a pack of unscented baby wipes) in their bathroom I took full advantage. This spray is amazing. I don't like smelling like lavender but this scent is super subtle and dissipates. It leaves you just smelling clean. I bought two bottles, one for home and one for my work bag. I use it like dry shampoo for my body, a way to refresh. I think this would be a great summer product for anyone, whether or not you use natural deodorant.
Tips to Reduce Body Odor
- Shower every day. Even if it's just a quick wash of certain spots, it helps to remove bacteria.
- Eat less (or zero) meat. When I eat meat, I smell more pungent. Red meat and cured meats create the most body odor, but other meats can still add to the B.O. factor.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking water (not coffee, not wine, not beer, not soda) dilutes everything in your body and you don't smell as strong. It also makes your skin look great!
- Exfoliate. I bought this scrubbing towel for only $5 and I adore it. You can control the strength of your exfoliation; a gentle scrub under the pits and a stronger rub on elbows and knees. It helps remove dead skin which can clog pores and also gives you a deeper clean. Don't have a scrubby cloth? A washcloth will do fine, and will scrub better than a bath poof.
- Sweat. Sweating helps you detoxify. Go for a brisk walk, hit the gym, go for a run, do something active. Sweat, shower, deodorize, hydrate, and cut down on eating meat for the best smelling self!
Will I Continue Using Natural Deodorant?
Yes. I learned all my issues at the beginning were due to reacting to baking soda. Once I used a deodorant without baking soda, things were hunky dory. If you try a “natural” deodorant and have any irritation or discoloration, don’t try to stick it out thinking it’s a detox, get yourself a different product without baking soda. There’s no need to suffer.
I also learned I am not a naturally uber stinky and sweaty person. I thought I was this person almost all my life and have spent so much on products to mask, reduce, and remove. Once I found the right natural deodorant and used it consistently, I don’t have much issue with sweat and therefore odor. IMy body odor is also not as… pungent. I only have odor for normal reasons (haven’t showered today, spent all day in the garden, worked out after a day at the office) and it’s not any more intense than it was when I used traditional deodorants. Summer has officially hit the DC area and so far so good, I'll report back when we get into the throes of DC heat and humidity.
There’s no one better way to battle underarm wetness and odor. Buying from the drugstore or from the health food store, do what is right for you and what makes you comfortable. And don’t assume that because a product has high ratings or a positive review on a popular website it’s going to work for you. The biggest lesson I learned with this experience is that body chemistry can affect your results. If one doesn’t work for you, it’s not you, and it’s not always the product. Do some research and try again. There’s a solution out there that is perfect for you.
Oh, I also learned I have the most amazing readers. Your suggestions, your tips, your emails have been phenomenal. I never knew I had so many chemists, beauty experts, and dermatologists who read my blog. I am so thankful for your advice and support!
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