Making the Switch to Natural Deodorant
I was in a virtual session with one of our guests, Aisha Heals, as she performed body code on me. About mid-way through our time together, she tells me I have an aluminum toxicity. [Side note: if you don’t know what body code is, check out this episode. Super fascinating!] The next thing she asked me upon realizing this was “do you use natural deodorant”? I proceeded to tell her no, I have used Secret antiperspirant and deodorant for years. The truth is, I had never given much thought to what I put under my armpits. I started using Secret deodorant in aerosol form in high school during basketball season, and loved the smell and the feeling of the cool substance hitting my pits. When I became an adult, I continued to buy the same product, evolving to roll-on form once my active sports days were over. When Aisha mentioned immediately switching from my tried and true deodorant to a natural one to clear the aluminum toxicity, I was a little taken aback.
I had heard in the past that using antiperspirant causes breast cancer, so once I got over the initial shock of a potential aluminum toxicity, it seemed like a logical choice to switch if it could cause cancer. However, when I did some further research into this claim, I found that there is no consistent data confirming a relationship between antiperspirant use and breast cancer.
What I did find though was that antiperspirants and deodorants do alter the microbial ecosystem on your skin. This makes sense if you understand that deodorants were created to reduce the bad smells we associate with body odor, which are partially produced by bacteria like Corynebacteria that can live on our skin. In order to reduce the smells, one way to accomplish this is to reduce the number of bacteria that contribute to them.
What is Natural Deodorant?
While most of the big brands that you associate with deodorant use chemically derived ingredients to achieve maximum performance, natural deodorant takes the opposite approach. While there are many different “natural” deodorants in the marketplace, most of them utilize naturally existing ingredients, like coconut oil, arrowroot powder, and baking soda, to neutralize bad-smelling bacteria and absorb excess wetness. There are also different ways these deodorants can be applied, such as a traditional deodorant stick that you roll-on, or a cream that you apply with your hands or an applicator. If you google natural deodorant, you will get a lot of articles talking about how natural deodorant is not as effective as the chemically derived ones. I’ve found this to be both true and not true at the same time, so I’ll tell you my experience and you can decide for yourself.
The Transition Experience
Ok, I’m not going to lie to you – I smelled for the first couple of months after switching to using only natural deodorant. I was sweating more, and that sweat had an especially bad smell. Luckily for me, I made the switch in the height of the pandemic so little human interaction occurred during that period. I’m sure my husband didn’t appreciate it, but the reality is that if you’re making this switch there’s a good chance that you will experience more smells at first. The reason for this is that previous evidence I mentioned suggests that the chemicals change your microbial ecosystem. Therefore, when you eliminate antiperspirant or deodorant, a detox period tends to occur. While there is no clear evidence to suggest how that change in the microbial ecosystem affects your health, my general philosophy is that mother nature knows best. So for that reason I sleep better at night knowing that the bacteria on my skin is what is naturally occurring rather than something I’ve had a hand in creating.
I almost gave up on my natural deodorant journey after the first month of these smells. Luckily, I had a friend who had already made the switch, and she talked me off a ledge explaining to me what I just explained to you. I powered through that initial detox period, and a couple of months later I noticed significantly less sweating, and regular smells again. Now I use natural deodorant daily and find that for 99% of the activities I’m performing on a daily basis, it works great for my needs.
My Top Tips
If you’re thinking a natural approach is something you’re ready to make, here are my top three tips for making the switch:
Give it at least 3 months – As I mentioned, I found that I sweat more, and smelled worse than before in the beginning of the transition. I’ve read things that will say it only takes a month to detox, but my experience was a bit longer than that.
Find a brand and application method that works for you – I’ve tried a few different kinds, and have found that having two different application methods on hand works best for me. I feel the most clean if I use a cream deodorant, but don’t always want to mess with that so also have a stick deodorant for days I am in a hurry or need to re-apply quickly. I like little seed farm for cream, and whole love organics for stick.
Add some assistance to the mix – I used bentonite clay when I was making the transition to help draw out toxins and reduce the smell the first couple of months, and I love the bamboo applicator I have to go with my little seed farm cream for easy application.
I mentioned that my natural deodorant works for 99% of the daily activities I perform. What about that 1%? I still have a little baby stick of Secret deodorant in my bathroom closet, that I use when going out to social situations where I’m going to be really close to people in hot weather, or for big events where I’m going to nervous sweat. I’m all about the 80/20 rule that we learned in our Clean Beauty episode, which is 80% the “natural” stuff, and 20% whatever works best for you. The baby Secret stick gives me a sense of confidence that I won’t be in an awkward situation, and I sleep better at night knowing the majority of the time I’m choosing the natural thing that *may* be a little bit better for me in the long run. So whatever works for you, I hope my experience can give you the knowledge and confidence you need to make that best deodorant choice for yourself.