Okay, so you’re converting your beauty routine to natural. That’s awesome, now what do you do about deodorant? Do natural deodorants work? I can hear your worries dear friend, no one wants to live in fear of the ‘BO’ whiff.
So, where do you go from here? I bet you have a few questions for me, like…
What is a natural deodorant?
Can I use a DIY baking soda deodorant?
or even, is this you…?
I’ve been using a natural deodorant and my underarms are on fire. What’s happened? What’s this natural baking soda deodorant rash I seem to have bred?
Yikes! Whether you’re in search of a natural deodorant or have had a reaction to one, I’m sharing the ins and outs of the natural deodorant world. Hint – you may be surprised by what you’re about to learn…
What Is a Natural Deodorant?
I’m about to rock your world right now. Did you know some kinds of sweat are really, really smelly and others are almost fragrance-free? Yes really!
You knew this already ‘eh… ever had an emotional sweat? Those are the kind that gets the BO juices flowing. You can sweat 10 times more at the gym and still get nowhere close to the scent of an emotion.
Damn that cute boy with the broad shoulders ‘eh *winks*.
This is important to know, because which kinda sweat you sprinkle the most, determines whether you’re best off with deodorant or an anti-perspirant – they are very different my friend, some hygiene sticks even do both.
See, when you sweat through emotion, you activate 1 kinda sweat gland. The kind that reacts to hormones, these glands push out fluids bacteria love. They get all happy and feasty – hey presto, before you know it there’s a big whiff.
When you sweat through heat or exercise, you activate a different kinda sweat gland. A sweat gland that reacts to temperature and releases mostly water to cool you the heck down *winks*. That water has no sweeties for bacteria, they can’t eat, so they can’t smell.
Natural deodorants and any other kind of deodorant work by one or lots of these…
- Mask the whiff with fragrance.
- neutralise the whiff.
- Kill off bacteria, to stop the whiff from ever being made.
- Soak up your sweat to stop bacteria from feasting.
When you use a natural deodorant or non-natural deodorant, you still sweat, your underarms can still get wet – it’s just the same as normal, other than the whiff is under control.
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 23 November 2016
When you use an anti-perspirant, you’re using a product that stops the whiff, because it stops your sweat.
Anti-perspirants use ingredients like aluminum chloride or aluminum chlorohydrate, once you start sweating the salts get dissolved, some clever chemistry happens and surprise, your body’s just made a sweat gland plug. No sweat and no smell.
Going all natural means anti-perspirants are off the table.
What Is Baking Soda Deodorant?
If before finding me, you’ve trawled Google for natural deodorant info, I bet you’ve stumbled over a DIY deodorant recipe or 2… or 3 or 4, or 50! What about a DIY baking soda deodorant… find one of those?
Baking soda deodorant is the most common internet loved natural deodorant.
My advice – don’t go there!
Yikes – yes, Google led, baking soda deodorant fans may be about to *cough* give me a telling to… before they get here *winks*, let me explain why baking soda deodorant works and why you shouldn’t use it.
Baking soda is a multi-tasker. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is an…
- A baking active to get your Mary-Berry bakes a-rising.
- A scent neutraliser.
- A cockroach killer – yes pest control lives in your kitchen.
- An antacid for your heartburn.
Dear pal, this list of baking soda skills goes on and on, thing is, I bet you’ve already spotted the 2 that make natural baking soda deodorant work…
- Absorbent to soak up sweaty smells.
- Scent neutraliser to avoid a BO whiff.
There, you have it, this kitchen cupboard staple does work as a natural deodorant, thing is you might also get a natural deodorant rash from it…
It Hurts – Natural Baking Soda Deodorant Rash
Remember that last skill I listed out… antacid?
Baking soda is a super effective antacid. Baking soda is alkaline, that’s the other end of the acid ruler, add something alkaline to something acid and you neutralise them both. Kinda like mixing lots of paints, they always eventually make grey *winks*.
Now, here’s the thing to know.
Your skin has something called an acid mantle. Yeesh – technical ‘eh. All you need to know is the acid part. Your skin is acidic.
When your skin is acidic, it’s able to do its job perfectly. A* to your skin barrier. That means it can stay hydrated, keep nasty infections out and just generally feel comfortable and soothed.
Natural baking soda deodorants are alkaline, not just a little, they’re a lot alkaline.
Add something alkaline to your skin and it’s going to be roller-coastered up to alkaline pH.
All sorts of things happen when your skin is alkaline…
You may get a natural baking soda deodorant rash.
You might have an itchy burn.
Your skin will turn dry, leathery and even darkened.
You could get painful tears, breaks and even cracks.
Natural baking soda deodorant reactions are very common for this alkaline reason.
This is why you should avoid DIY baking soda deodorants, even natural baking soda deodorants.
If anyone tells you otherwise, it’s probably for this cunning reason.
So, my pal, you may be wondering just where you can head for natural deodorant? Which natural deodorants will love your skin and protect from a sweaty smell?
What Kinds of Natural Deodorants can I Use?
Want to choose a natural deodorant and avoid a nasty baking soda rash? I have just the thing… or 2 for you.
Natural deodorants without baking soda do exist – whahoooh!
There are 2 natural deodorant actives to watch for…
- Potassium alum
- Zinc ricinoleate
These guys have skills waaaay more advanced than baking soda.
Potassium alum works as a natural anti-bacterial. It’s kinda like a love triangle, once potassium alum’s in town no bacteria babies can be made. Potassium alum binds to the food bacteria need to thrive. No bacteria colonies means your sweat will not smell whiffy.
Hand clap to that.
These guys are all potassium alum natural deodorants;
- Green People Natural Aloe Vera Deodorant, £8/75ml… or Green People Neutral/Scent Free Deodorant if you have sensitive under-arms.
- Salt of the Earth Natural Deodorant, £6/90g.
- Ice Guard Natural Crystal Rollerball Deodorant Unscented, £5.50/50ml.
Next up is zinc ricinoleate. Natural deodorants containing zinc ricinoleate work in a different kinda way.
See, zinc ricinoleate likes the smell of your sweat. It likes it so much, it keeps it all for itself, zinc ricinoleate’s not releasing your body odour anytime soon.
Natural deodorants containing zinc ricinoleate are like padlocked boxes for any sweaty smells.
Wondering where to find one?
- Tom’s Of Maine Natural Long-Lasting Deodorant Stick Lemongrass, £8/65ml.
- Organic Homme 8 Stay Fresh Deodorant – yes it’s for men and yes you can use it too, £8.50/75ml – contains both potassium alum & zinc ricinoleate.
If you’re switching to natural deodorant from anti-perspirant, your new under-arm lover will feel different. Where an anti-perspirant will stop you getting sweating, deodorants let that natural process happen in a non-smelly way.
Tell me your tales dear friend. Do you use natural deodorant? Have you had a run in with a baking soda deodorant rash?
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.