Natural Deodorants: The Good, The Bad and The Stinky
When I first came to NYC and started my job, I was placed on a deodorant account. For the first year of my job, I learned everything you never wanted to know about sweat, stink, and the way antiperspirants and deodorants work. It's weird.
The Difference Between Antiperspirants and Deodorant
Most people use these terms interchangeably, but they're actually very different. Antiperspirants actually stop sweating before it occurs while deodorants merely cover up the smell.
Why Antiperspirants Get a Bad Rep
Antiperspirants contain aluminum which is a known neurotoxin. Aluminum reduces the amount of sweat on the surface of skin and also creates a hostile environment for bad odor to grow.
Antiperspirants are worrying for other reasons too. They usually contain hormone disruptor ingredients that can mess with your endocrine, reproductive, and immune systems. Especially if you have an autoimmune disorder, these disruptors can cause significant symptoms.
Antiperspirants also have unnatural staying power, no matter how much you sweat. Ever wonder how your deodorant stays for 48 hours, even when you shower? When you swipe your antiperspirant on, it actually goes into your pores and plugs up the holes where sweat would come out. These plugs don't dissolve for 48 hours and can withstand water, heat, and anything else you try to throw at it. They can do this because of the ingredients used which I cannot even pronounce. Your underarms are sensitive and very porous, meaning that those toxic ingredients are going inside your body every single day. That is terrifying to me. There are other reasons which you can read about through googling but the idea is, if you're trying to go natural or organic for health reasons or otherwise, tossing that antiperspirant is a good first step.
My Natural Deodorant Journey
I've been loyal to antiperspirant since I was 12 and have been trying to convert to natural deodorant for about 2 years now. Full disclosure: I still haven't fully converted but I'm working on it (it's been 4 weeks of natural to date)! The first thing I noticed when I used natural deodorant was a wetness in my armpits. This is apparently what hippies call sweat, which is also apparently natural and okay, but as someone who has been avoiding sweating by plugging up my armpits with antiperspirant, it was a bit unsettling initially. Once I got used to the wetness, the next thing I noticed was staying power. I no longer had 48 hours of smelling wonderful but started to smell stinky after 6 or 7 hours and needed to reapply. This, is also totally normal. The one part I couldn't handle was the rashes that came from experimenting with natural deodorant.
Antiperspirants have skin soothing chemicals that help avoid this ugly rash-but most natural deodorants use alcohol or baking soda to help smell which can be incredibly irritating to your pits. The first deodorant I tried sent me to the dermatologist with an ugly rash that needed antibiotic ointment for two weeks. A few months ago I tried a deodorant that gave me such a bad rash I couldn't lift my arms in spin class. The last one I tried actually burned through my skin and made my armpits peel.
I know, I know. You're reading this thinking you're stuck either absorbing toxins or getting rashes and the deodorant game is not easy, it's true. But-I've tested a lot of the natural deodorants for you so to ease you into it, here are my rankings-I tried so you don't have to! Go forth and have happy (non-stinky) pits!
*Stinky rankings are 1-10 with 10 being you smell so bad people avoid talking to you or politely hold their breath around you and 1 being you smell so amazing your perfume is jealous.
Primally Pure Charcoal Deodorant
The Good: This was supposed to be a limited release but it became so popular that Primally Pure is keeping it. This is my go-to deodorant. The charcoal is detoxifying and it doesn't have the harsh burn some deodorants can give you. It has a minty smell, doesn't leave deodorant stains, and keeps me smelling fresh all day. It even withstood being bundled in 5000 layers in three degree weather. Buy it. You won't regret it.
The Bad: Really nothing. It's deodorant, not antiperspirant so there is some wetness but generally keeps you smelling great.
The Stinky: 1 (best ever!)
Primally Pure Deodorant in Lemongrass
The Good: I literally don't smell with this. Like not at all. I can go all day smelling great and literally made my coworkers smell my armpits at the end of the day to confirm. They smelled NOTHING. This is the one I've been using every day and the lemongrass scent is awesome.
The Bad: When I first starting using this my armpits got so irritate they actually started peeling. It really hurt I'm not going to lie. I put coconut oil on and read on the site that it might take an adjustment period. They recommended using their Everything Spray first before putting on the deodorant which acts as a barrier. It totally worked and I've been switching between this one and the sensitive one.
The Stinky: 2 (you might feel wetness, that's normal and how our bodies are supposed to be, but no smell at all!)
Primally Pure Deodorant-Sensitive in Lavender
The Good: My armpits didn't break out with this or even feel irritated! The lavender smell was so calming throughout the day and my pits were quite happy.
The Bad: Because it's the sensitive formula (made with less baking soda), it doesn't work quite as well as the non-sensitive. I found myself needing to reapply after 4-5 hours and my pits were definitely wetter.
The Stinky: 5
Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant
The Good: This one was recommended to me by my friend's sister who used to be a buyer at Bloomingdales. Her recommendations are usually spot on and she swore by this stuff. I liked the way it smelled and it didn't irritate my pits at all. Totally worked in the colder months and felt comfortable and not sweaty during the usual in a sweater-come out from the cold into the heat-sweating beyond belief winter routine.
The Bad: I'm still kind of weirded on by putting deodorant on with my fingers and this one is a little grainy which can get on your clothes. This works in the winter but if temperatures go above 75 degrees, it doesn't really hold up.
The Stinky: Fall/Winter: 3 Spring/Summer: 7
Schmidt's Bergamot + Lime
The Good: The smell of this is delicious, almost like something you could use as a perfume.
The Bad: I literally couldn't lift my arms in Monster Cycle (it was a Rupaul Drag race too!) because my armpits were so irritated. I had a rash for days. It hurt really badly. I smelled too. Literally my armpits are hurting thinking about it.
The Stinky: 5-the smell wasn't terrible but avoid it-the rash is not worth it!
Primal Pit Paste in Lavender
The Good: I got this recommendation from one of my favorite bloggers, Lee from America who swears by it. It smells pretty and worked for the days I wasn't sweating too much.
The Bad: The days I even sweat a little bit, this pit paste didn't hold up with a lot of wetness and stink. It's also another one you have to apply with your fingers which is not my favorite application route if given a choice.
The Stinky: 7
The Best of The Rest: I haven't tried these, but hear they're great: Native, Tom's of Maine, Lavanilla, and Nourish Organics.
Let me know if you've tried a natural deodorant you've loved in the comments below!