An article by Charlotte Wilcock
I switched to using natural deodorant around 3 years ago, and I’ll never go back to traditional deodorants again.
Although it’s an eco swap that comes with more transitional challenges than others, the benefits are huge, so I’ve put together these handy notes on what to expect when you take the plunge to go natural with your deo.
Sweat isn’t a bad thing
First thing’s first - natural deodorants are NOT antiperspirants. Traditional antiperspirants are designed to stop you from sweating. This is not natural in itself, so natural deodorants won’t do this. Antiperspirants contain aluminium which acts to block the pores of your armpits; preventing sweat from escaping. Sweat is a totally natural thing. It’s your body’s way of cooling itself down and releasing toxins.
Initially I was put-off by the idea of not having dry ‘pits, the more I looked into it, the more I realised I’d rather take a little bit of wetness every now and then, than stop my body from fulfilling its natural duties.
So, yes, when you make the switch to natural deodorant, you will find yourself sweating more than you’re used to, but rest assured this isn’t so bad. I found myself getting used to the sensation quite quickly and stopped noticing it at all after a while, plus, armpit sweat seems to dry quite quickly when you just leave it alone. Also, you can feel safe in the knowledge that you know your body is doing a good job of flushing out toxins!
Don’t worry, sweating doesn’t make you smell - sweat itself if odourless - it’s bacteria on the body that break down sweat, which cause body odour. Most natural deodorants are therefore slightly alkaline to neutralise odour-causing bacteria.
Prepare to Detox
Ok, so when you first start using natural deos, there is a transitional period that tends to be a little stinky. But this is a good thing, I promise! When you stop using traditional antiperspirants, you’re not blocking your pores with aluminium any more. So as a result, your body is able to flush out everything that’s been clogged there - like built-up toxins and residual aluminium - which means a whole lot of sweat So the bacteria on your armpits have a field day.
Don’t be put off by the smell - it doesn’t last forever. Most people find that their detox period lasts from 1-4 weeks. While this is happening, regular washing (bonus points for using antibacterial soap) will keep you smelling fresh. I remember washing my armpits around 3 times a day when going through detox.
Charcoal and clay can help purify the armpits whilst detoxing - as they encourage residue from the pores to come out faster. You could use a clay or charcoal based face mask if you have one at hand, or if you prefer a specifically formulated solution, there are now a wide range of dedicated armpit masks available on the market.
After detoxing (my transitional period lasted around 2 weeks) I found that not only did I not have any body odour, but my clothes also started smelling better. I don’t know about you, but whilst using traditional antiperspirants, I found that the armpits on my clothing would sometimes smell very strongly. This totally went away once using natural deodorant.
Look out for your hero ingredients
It might take a while to find your favourite formulation, as different brands of natural deodorants use different ingredients. If you have a specific skin condition, such as eczema or psoriasis, it is likely that you’ll already have an idea of what ingredients cause a flare-up. For example, your skin’s sensitivity might mean that you choose to use a clay or oil based deodorant, over a salt based one. Certain essential oils such as palmarosa and lavender, are excellent for sensitive skin, whilst oils such as tea tree are anti-microbial, so especially good if you’re concerned with odour.
If you want to keep wetness at bay as much as possible without aluminium or clogging your pores - choose a formula with arrowroot powder, which absorbs moisture.
There’s lots of fun to be had on your natural deodorant journey - from finding a signature scent, to learning more about your body’s biological processes - it’s a worthy and exciting eco swap.
Transitioning to natural deodorant is quite an intimate process - you learn you what does and doesn’t work for you, and you observe how your body responds to it. I feel so much more fresh and clean than when I used traditional antiperspirants... and most importantly, I always get comments on how nice I smell!