Odds are you’ve tried to switch to a natural deodorant before - and most likely, you quickly regretted your decision and went back to your traditional deodorant. The truth is, many of us are trying to avoid aluminum and preservatives available in most traditional antiperspirants.
With reports that aluminum can be linked with breast cancer, kidney problems, and Alzheimer’s, we get how you don’t want to take the risk - even though researchers say there’s not enough evidence to make that correlation.
Whatever your motivation, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to choose more natural ingredients in your skincare products. The problem with switching to a natural deodorant is that the process can get a bit funky.
But don’t blame the natural deodorant you’re trying (just yet). Everyone can benefit from using a natural deodorant. You just have to go through the detox process first. Read on to learn more about how natural deodorants work and how to make them work for you.
What to Expect from Switching to a Natural Deodorant
The journey to switch to a natural deodorant is more of a bumpy road than a smooth ride. But, don’t blame your new deodorant; it’s actually your body’s fault. Since our skin becomes too familiar with the effects of traditional antiperspirants, it goes through an adjustment period when we switch to natural ingredients.
Remember, aluminum physically blocks the pores under your arm. Use after use, it accumulates in the sweat glands to prevent sweat from reaching the surface. While our bodies do naturally get rid of aluminum, it may take up to 30 days to flush out leftover aluminum in the system. Until then, you’re likely to experience a rollercoaster of effects.
Luckily, our bodies are brilliant machines that can self-regulate things like sweat and body odor. It just needs a little bit of time to re-learn how to do this process naturally.
First Two Weeks
The first days are probably the worst. Be prepared to experience intense body odor and an overall icky sensation. Here’s when your sweat gland will get rid of leftover aluminum, bacteria and chemicals that have been blocking them for so long. You may be tempted to quit - but don’t.
By Week 3
By the end of the third week, you won’t smell as bad. However, by now, your sweat glands will be ready to do what they do best: sweat. It’s common for your body to produce extra sweat as it’s getting rid of excess toxins, here’s when the real rollercoaster begins. Most people report having amazing days of no sweat or odor, followed by terrible days of a funky smell and tons of sweat.
By the Fourth (and Final) Week
The last portion of your detox isn’t as terrible. Here your body will start to find its groove and balance. Your underarms are completing the detox journey and begin to work without any help. You may still experience slight body odor and sweat, but it won’t be as terrible as during the first half of this journey.
How Does Deodorant Work?
Our underarms are the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. When we sweat, we’re adding moisture to the environment, which basically extends an invitation to bacteria to grow. When bacteria and sweat come together, they cause what we know as body odor.
Traditional deodorants use antimicrobial agents or alcohol to kill bacteria. Antiperspirants rely on aluminum-based salts to prevent sweat from ever reaching the skin’s surface.
However, studies show that these traditional products can alter the skin’s microbiome. By using these products, you may kill all (good and bad) bacteria on your skin, reducing your immune system and even intensifying your body odor in the long run.
What’s a Natural Deodorant?
We all sweat, there’s no doubt about that - it’s beneficial for our health. Natural deodorants rely on natural ingredients like coconut oil, cornstarch, arrowroot powder, and other recognizable ingredients to prevent body odor.
These ingredients are known for their neutralizing properties that help keep odor-producing bacteria balanced, while different starches help absorb excess sweat and control moisture.
Deodorants vs. Antiperspirants
To fully grasp how natural deodorants work, we have to discuss how deodorants are different from antiperspirants and even different from traditional deodorants. Mainstream deodorants are also antiperspirants, relying on aluminum to stop the natural process of sweat.
On the flip side, deodorants don’t really mess with your pores or try to stop sweat by blocking the pore. Instead, they work to reduce and mask the scent associated with sweating. By rebalancing the bacteria on your skin, they can help make your underarms a less attractive environment for odor-causing bacteria to proliferate.
Generally, people get confused between these two terms and often use them interchangeably. However, it is essential to know that they aren't the same thing. While deodorants will help you prevent body odor, they won't stop sweat. On the other hand, antiperspirants will help block your sweat by containing aluminum and other toxic ingredients that clog your pores.
Go through the below-mentioned ingredients found in antiperspirants and natural deodorants and make your call on what's best. Here are some common ingredients found in antiperspirants.
- Aluminum – This is the most common ingredient found in antiperspirants. While it helps you prevent sweating, it is also linked to health issues like skin irritation, Alzheimer's, and cancer.
- Silica – This ingredient is typically used to absorb the moisture from your sweat, again helping you serve the purpose, but at the same time, it is known to cause dryness, skin and lung irritation, and cancer.
- Parabens – Parabens like benzyl, ethyl, propyl, methyl, etc., are linked to various issues, including premature aging, reproductive disorders, endocrine disruption, and cancer.
- Propylene Glycol – This ingredient will promote silky and smooth skin texture and is usually known to be harmless. But it can act as an absorption enhancer for other harmful chemicals.
Now, let's look at some common ingredients found in natural deodorants instead:
- Baking Soda – Baking soda as an ingredient will absorb the moisture and neutralize your body odor. A study says that it may also have antimicrobial benefits. Unlike aluminum, it won't block your pores.
- Coconut Oil – Like propylene glycol, coconut oil will contribute to making your skin smooth and silky. Additionally, it also has moisturizing as well as antibacterial properties that can support your skin.
- Essential Oils – Various essential oils like rosemary, lemongrass, tea tree, and pink grapefruit have exquisite benefits. For instance, tea tree oil has antibacterial properties and will help revive dry, itchy skin. Lavender oil, on the other hand, will help to treat acne and heal wounds.
The reality is that there isn’t enough substantial evidence to prove that aluminum in deodorants is bad for your health. So far, some studies link long-term use with the risk of breast cancer, kidney disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Nonetheless, long-term use of these products can create dependency and tolerance, which is why you’ve probably had such a bad experience switching to a natural deodorant in the first place.
Mainstream deodorants and antiperspirants often contain preservatives, synthetic fragrances and alcohol -- all ingredients that can irritate. These irritants can clog the sweat ducts and lead to what we know as a deodorant rash. This inflammatory reaction can cause intense itching, blisters, red patches, and redness, which can be extremely uncomfortable and increase your risk of infections.
For all of these reasons and more, switching to an all-natural deodorant can be a more holistic way to care for your delicate underarm skin.
1. It Will Help Stop Body Odor Naturally
Sweat is odorless. What causes a bad smell is when it mixes with bacteria that already exists on your skin.
Natural deodorants won't stop your sweat. Instead, they will help neutralize this odor by using natural ingredients. They focus more on minimizing the harmful bacteria that cause a foul odor.
2. It Doesn’t Prevent Sweating
Sweating is essential for you as it's how you flush out your toxins and regulate your body temperature. Using antiperspirants block your sweat which is not good for your health. On the other hand, this is one of the enormous benefits of natural deodorants as they help prevent the bad odor without blocking your sweat glands.
Instead of using aluminum, natural deodorants turn to ingredients like arrowroot powder to absorb moisture.
3. It Prevents Blocking Your Pores
Again, this is a significant benefit that you can't ignore. While conventional deodorants block your pores, natural deodorants will let your skin breathe. Clogging your pores will accumulate the sweat under the skin, which will, in turn, serve as a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
Ultimately, your sweat will smell even worse. Using natural deodorant prevents this issue as it does not clog your pores in the first place.
4. It’s Skin Friendly
The skin under your arms is very sensitive and can get easily irritated when exposed to harsh chemicals. Natural deodorants only use plant-based ingredients that condition your skin and make it smooth and silky. Additionally, they might also help prevent other skin-related issues like rashes and allergic reactions.
With ingredients like shea butter, natural deodorants can help smoothen the skin under your arms and protect sensitive skin.
How to Deal With the Side Effects of Armpit Detox
Now, switching to a natural deodorant doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience. Beyond managing your expectations - now that you know the journey - you can still try different ways to control the funky side effects of armpit detox:
- Expedite the detox process using a bentonite clay mask to help draw out impurities.
- Avoid wearing skin-fitting clothes that can trap moisture and trigger odor-causing bacteria.
- Use an exfoliant with glycolic acid to make the surface of the skin intolerable for odor-causing bacteria.
- Consider using a probiotic mist to help promote healthy bacteria and balance the skin’s microbiome.
- Avoid eating red meats and other foods that can make your body smell a little more potent.
What to Look vs. What to Avoid in Natural Deodorants
Look for ingredients that can help neutralize underarm odor, such as clays, eucalyptus and saccharomyces ferment. Ingredients with antibacterial properties like coconut oil and tea tree oil are also excellent add-ons.
Another benefit of natural deodorants is that they can help soothe irritated skin. So, keep an eye out for soothing ingredients like beeswax and shea butter to calm irritated skin. And you want a natural deodorant that has a blend of starches that helps absorb wetness and keep your underarms dry and odor-free.
But remember, just because you see a deodorant with the words “natural” on it doesn’t mean that they’re good for you. Try to stay clear from novel-length ingredient lists when possible; these often hide not-so-natural ingredients behind fancy and unpronounceable names.
Some natural deodorants rely on synthetic fragrances to mask odors. These fragrances can sometimes be hormone-disrupting and be highly irritating, especially for sensitive skin. Some deodorants will also try to hide preservatives like phthalates that might not be as naturally friendly as you’d like.
Other ingredients to avoid are water, alcohol and glycerine; these are usually fillers that aren’t needed in natural deodorants and can introduce bacteria into the formula and thus require more potent preservatives, which are no longer natural.
If you can make it through the first 30 days, you should be out of the woods and thriving with your natural deodorant. Remember, it’s completely normal to have a smell. Your genetics, the unique bacteria of your skin microbiome, your overall health and personal hygiene all influence your trademark smell.
If you’re ready to switch, our Postbiotic Deodorant can help fight and neutralize body odor. With natural starches to help absorb moisture and help your skin stay dry throughout the day, you won’t have to worry about any uncomfortable feelings.
Our postbiotic deodorant also features a unique blend of extracts that promotes a healthy microbiome and skin ecosystem. When you have a balance of bacteria on your skin, you’re less likely to experience the side effects of armpit detox. Finally, a hit of lemongrass oil helps neutralize odor while giving you a fresh and refreshing natural scent that lasts all day.
To help you in your journey to switch to a natural deodorant, we also recommend our AO+ Restorative Mist, which fits perfectly in our Active Probiotic System. When applied to the skin under your arms, this combination can help promote a balanced skin microbiome for effective odor control. Once you achieve the perfect balance of bacteria and you control moisture on the skin, you won’t struggle with odor-causing bacteria trying to cause a smell.
Trust us. Once you come out of the woods, you’ll love making the switch to a natural deodorant.