Read This Before Switching to Natural Deodrant

By | November 16, 2018
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Philipp Nemenz/Katie Buckleitner

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If you’ve ever *tried* (read: deeply wanted to switch to) a natural deodorant, wore it for a day, didn’t like how your pits felt (aka they were wet), and even caught the most subtle whiff of body odor—all before immediately retreating back to your trusty antiperspirant the next day—this post is for you. Because, friends, I’m here to tell you that there is a light at the natural deodorant tunnel, you just have to A) be patient (I know, I know, it’s hard) and B) use the right formula for you.

Allow me to explain…

A Little Underarm Intel, If You Will

Deodorant isn’t the same as antiperspirant (Note: While trace amounts of aluminum can be absorbed through the skin, there is no evidence it causes harm.). The former uses ingredients (e.g., essential oils, minerals) to block body odor, while the latter uses aluminum compounds to plug your ducts and actually stop you from sweating. “Many people who switch to natural formulations report an increase in sweating, then a normalizing of sweat levels after a few days or weeks,” says derm Rachel Nazarian, MD. “This isn’t a purge or detox period. It’s your body’s way of regaining the ability to perspire normally.” This is important, and is what you need to push through-slash-not get frustrated by when trying out a new natural formula.

Because, see, maybe the chemical-free deo you’re using does work for you, you just need to give it a week to prove itself while your body’s perspiration levels normalize. Just a thought.

Reapplying Is a Must

You know the ancient proverb: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again? Well, this can sometimes applies to natural deodorant too, although it should work right away, says Tara Pelletier, natural deo formulator and cofounder of Meow Meow Tweet. She’s of the mindset that if a formula doesn’t work for you right away, then it might not mesh with your body’s chemistry and you should try another kind. However, before you give up on the deo you’re currently road-testing, reapplying it during the day is often necessary for best results—especially if you’re stressed, hormonal, or a profuse sweater. Basically, stash one in your bag for touch-ups and if it doesn’t work after a week or two, try one of the below (because we stand by them, especially the Megababe formula, it’s LEGIT). A trick for boosting your deo’s efficacy: Exfoliate your armpits once a week to get rid of old buildup and increase absorption, says Pelletier.

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If the Deo Irritates You, You Might Be Sensitive to Its Ingredients

If you’re dealing with irritation, bumps, or itchiness, you may be sensitive to baking soda or essential oils (especially lavender, peppermint, and tea tree) in the deo’s blend. “Baking soda has a different pH than your skin’s, which can disrupt your protective barrier,” says derm Joshua Zeichner, MD. Although many essential oils have antibacterial properties (good for nixing BO), when applied in high concentrations to your thin, sensitive underarm skin, they can cause irritation or redness, says Dr. Nazarian. If you experience discomfort, look for a formula that contains gentler ingredients, such as charcoal or coconut oil, to get the job done. And always wait a few minutes before applying post-shave to reduce the possibility of irritation.

Consider Talc-Free Body Powder Your New Best Friend

While the lack of aluminum is a bonus for your white tees (when mixed with your armpit bacteria, it causes those yellow stains no one likes), it can be annoying on days when you’re wearing silk. To minimize fabric-staining moisture from happening, “dust a light, absorbent, talc-free body powder [like the one shown below] under your arms after applying deo,” says Pelletier.

Dr. Hauschka Body Silk Powder dermstore.com

$ 35.00

It’s Okay to Skip a Day

If you’re trying to push through and give your natural deo a fair shot, but aren’t cool with having wet pits for a big meeting or event (I don’t blame you), it’s fine to go back to an antiperspirant for the night. Just know that when you go back to your natural deo again, your sweat glands will need time to re-regulate themselves. So yes, you’ll be back at square one, but don’t be too hard on yourself, at least you’re trying and that counts for something!

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