Have you been wondering what the hype is about all-natural deodorant?
Have you tried an aluminum-free natural deodorant but gave up after a week or two because you couldn’t get over the smell?
Girl, me too.
I have been working on this article for YEARS! I have tried to switch to all-natural, aluminum-free deodorant four different times until I was able to officially make the switch. It took me years because I would give up after a month or two convinced there was something wrong with me.
Each time I would make the switch I would wonder: why do I smell so bad?
Every Youtube video I watched said that “pit detox” (which is the natural response to switching from an aluminum-based deodorant to a natural one) would only take a couple of weeks.
Pit detox is the process of detoxifying the body from all the buildup of years of antiperspirant use. Antiperspirant blocks your pores and is designed to reduce sweating.
If you’ve used extra-strength antiperspirant like I did, for decades (I’m in my late thirties), the detox process could take up to six months as it did with me.
During the detox phase, you will actually sweat more than had you never used antiperspirant and will continue to over-produce sweat until your body reaches an equilibrium.
Why did I give up after a month or two early on?
Well, in all honesty, I stunk and I sweat so much that I was embarrassed.
Since puberty, I have used an antiperspirant from Teen Spirit to clinical strength options and the idea of sweating in my plus size body made me super self-conscience.
Why did I smell so much?
Well, bacteria is what causes us to smell and bacteria love warm, moist, dark places to gather and my sweaty pits were their perfect home.
Was I as smelly as I thought I was? My husband says no and none of my coworkers complained but from never sweating to now all of a sudden having a soaked underarm was a serious shock.
I foolishly tried to pit detox for the first time in the summer right before a family camping trip where I figured smelling would be a rite of passage, boy was I miserable. Each and every time I made the switch and started to immediately pit detox I would get a heat rash. One time it was so bad I even blistered. Imagine going from perfumed and never sweating because the chemicals did their job and kept me dry to sweaty, self-conscious, rashy, and blistered. What made things more frustrating was as soon as I went back to my antiperspirant the rash went away, the moisture left and I felt “normal again”.
I tried a couple of times again and as soon as the rash would reappear I would stop.
It wasn’t until COVID and I started to work from home that I was able to finally pit detox and make the permanent switch. I think the only reason I was able to finally persevere through the six months it took me to transition is because I stopped interacting with the outside world. My cats and my husband didn’t complain about the “smell” I thought everyone could smell and so I stuck to it.
Now you might be wondering “why is this so important to you?”
“Why did you want to make the switch so badly that you’d put yourself through hell four separate times just to use aluminum-free deodorant?”
Well, conventional deodorants include aluminum which has been linked to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It has Phthalates and Parabens which are endocrine disruptors and can cause hormone imbalance. It’s also got Formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) and I wanted to eliminate that from my routine. The armpit is so close to breast tissue, and with two grandmothers who had breast cancer, I needed the peace of mind natural deodorant could bring.
After 6 months of trial and error, hundreds of dollars spent, and endless hours on the internet researching products, I believe I’ve got a great recipe.
I want to give you all the knowledge I’ve gained so that if you want to switch over to an all-natural deodorant you can as easily as possible.
I tried different kinds of deodorant: alcohol-based, magnesium-based, baking soda-free, baking soda based, powder, gel, roll on, paste, and stick formula. I also tried diaper rash crème, hydrocortisone cream, Monistat, baby powder, and dry shampoo on my armpits to help with the rash.
In all the products I’ve tried here are some of my favorites and a few runner ups:
Arm and Hammer Essentials inRosemary Lavender $9.58 for 2pk
The number one spot goes to the least expensive option. I found this on accident doing some Amazon shopping, bought it on a whim, and then bought 8 backups just in case they decide to stop making it. I like that the scent disappears but still masks body odor.
I really love how smooth this glides on and how soothed my underarms feel due to the witch hazel, aloe, and glycerin in the formula. This doesn’t pill up at the end of the day and months later the applicator is as fresh as when I bought it.
Humble Original Formula in Palo Santo & Frankincense $9.99
They actually have 13 scents but I’ve only tried the Palo Santo scent. I love all things Palo Santo so I didn’t mind the earthiness of the scent as it wore throughout the day. This formula uses baking soda and Beeswax so if your sensitive to baking soda or want to use vegan products, you should skip it.
Native definitely lives up to the hype and now has plastic-free containers. They also have really great scents (12+) if you love a scented deodorant that lasts all day. Plus, they offer a discount if you build your own pack and buy three at one time.
JK Naturals Natural Roll-On Deodorant in Peppermint + Patchouli $19.99
This formula, completely different from all the rest, is a roll-on and has very limited ingredients. In fact, the reason I loved this formula so much was that the peppermint added a really lovely cooling sensation that felt great on warm skin. I found that a thin layer, almost like an oxidized film, would develop upon use so I don’t wear this when I am wearing a tank top. I love throwing it in my bag for touchups during the day.
This formula has both baking soda and magnesium hydroxide which I found work really well for my body. Since using the brand, I discovered that they offer personalized deodorant and recommend products based on your specific needs. If you don’t want baking soda because you have sensitive skin, they have that option. The only downside is it’s pretty pricey but the company is run by a mother-daughter team and they work really hard at providing high-quality ingredients.
I found this powder on my final attempt to switch over and it saved me! I powdered under my breasts, in my armpits, and in my cleavage when temps got really high and it was what finally helped my heat rashes. Last summer my heat rash got so bad it blistered because I was wearing tank tops due to the heat and nothing would help with the inflammation. At the height of the summer, I was applying this twice a day. I recommend this powder over baby powder because it is talc-free.
Monistat Care Chafing Relief Powder Gel® works well for chafing in your armpits, inner thighs, and breasts and I found it really helpful with the rubbing when I needed it. I preferred this over diaper rash cream (which is super-messy) when I needed an added layer on my delicate skin. Since it’s clear, it doesn’t stain anything and is undetectable.
Exfoliate your underarms in the shower with either a sugar scrub or a natural hairbrush. Sloughing off dead skin cells helps reduce the smell and helps wash off the residue from deodorants (I found natural deodorant harder to get off than normal antiperspirant).
Keep a backup in your purse or backpack and reapply mid-day when you’re feeling stinky.
Try not to shave your armpits as often in the beginning or if you have a heat rash, shaving can irritate your sensitive skin.
If it’s hot and you’re sweating more than normal, skip the tank tops and wear natural fabrics like cotton or linen as that will help absorb the moisture and will keep your upper arm away from the lower underarm and prevent chafing and rubbing.
Stay away from spray deodorant if you have sensitive skin, heat rash, or have just shaved your armpits. Spray deodorant’s main ingredient is alcohol and will seriously burn your already problematic underarms. Trust me on this, I learned from experience.
Here are some runners-up that I do like but because of one or two reasons don’t make the top of the list.
Kopari Aluminum-Free Coconut Deodorant $14
Available in 6 scents and 1 fragrance-free, I really like this deodorant but only in the winter. I took it on vacation with me in the summer and it melted in the hot car making a mess everywhere. Also, if you’re sensitive to coconut, you should pass.
I liked this deodorant but I recommend it after detoxing as I didn’t find it kept the moisture at bay enough for my liking. This was the deodorant I took camping my first attempt and it didn’t work well in the heat as the gel like formula can melt and I was in the beginning stages of detox.
Apparently, I don’t mind if my armpits smell like Palo Santo as I keep coming back to that scent.
Schmidt’s deodorant reminds me the most of a traditional deodorant in its shape and application but it didn’t make the top of the list because it dries down fast and becomes rock hard. I tried about 4 different scents to see how they work along with all the other deodorants in my stockpile, so for a normal person, I think you could get through a stick before it gets too hard. I like their line; I appreciate that they have a sensitive skin formula and glass jar version.
I think this deodorant does a good job as a deodorant and at keeping moisture at bay but it makes a mess on the packaging and it balls up in the underarm. If you don’t mind deodorant that is a little messy, you won’t mind this one but both of mine have deodorant caked in the screw tops.