How to Transition to Natural Deodorant - A Reality Check!
by Stefanie Grant-Cassel
So you're considering making the switch from a mainstream antiperspirant to a natural deodorant... awesome! This is exciting because it means that you're putting a little more thought into what you put on your body and where you spend your hard earned cash. Maybe you've tried a few natural deodorant products in the past that didn't quite work so now you're scouring the internet trying to find the one... or... is there even one that works? Or maybe you're just too gross and stinky and should just give up and go back to your drugstore standby???!
NO! Don't give up! Trust me, you are not alone in this quest. I have so been there! I originally made the switch to natural deodorant because when I went vegan I committed to only using products that are cruelty free, (pretty much all of the major antiperspirant brands are owned by large corporations that still test on animals,) but I had the hardest time trying to find something that I liked. Eventually, I ended up having to make my own!(Carried away much?!)
If, like me, you are also struggling to make the switch, but are committed to using products that are not mass produced potentially toxic junk made by huge conglomerates that don't care about animals, the environment, or the welfare of their customers, then I would now like to offer you my top 5 pieces of advice:
1. Do not take advice from random people on the internet. (Especially the ones with super popular blogs!) (Also, yes, I do include myself in this!)
Seriously though... there is some craaaaaazzzzy stuff floating around out there on the web. I'm talking very clinical sounding claims made by people who really sound like they know what they're talking about. THEY DON'T. I know we all want there to be a miracle product or solution, but research, research, research my friends. Just because something sounds pretty good and believable, does not mean it is true, even if they have 50,000,000 followers and make tons of money from their "natural lifestyle blogs." (Um, hi, they're just trying to sell you stuff!) For one thing, YOU DO NOT NEED TO DETOX YOUR PITS. Sweat does not "detoxify" your body. Your kidneys, liver, and colon have that job down pat. The purpose of sweat is to cool your body down. If you're having a bad, rash-like like reaction after switching to a new product, chances are, one or more of the ingredients is simply irritating your skin. It could be the wax, the baking soda, one of the essential oils, anything really! Just because something is natural doesn't mean that it can't be an irritant. Stinging, itching, red bumps... those are all signs that the product just isn't for you - NOT that you need to exfoliate your underarms or apply a DIY masque to "draw out the toxins." Think about it - if you develop a rash after switching to a natural deodorant because your body is trying to "rid itself of chemicals" from your last antiperspirant, wouldn't you also develop a rash if you just stopped wearing antiperspirant and deodorant altogether? Ladies, if you shave your armpits with a razor blade several times per week, or shower with a loofah or washcloth, your armpits are already getting plenty exfoliated, no?! I mean, don't take my word for it... be the conscious consumer that you are and look into in for yourself! But please, do not attempt to apply vinegar to your pits. Because ouch. Just... ouch.
2. Accept that you're going to sweat sometimes.
Okay, I know It's not convenient, but it is perfectly natural. The fact of the matter is, when you get too hot you are going to sweat. Sweat is how your body regulates its temperature so that you don't overheat, and there's really no need to mess with that! A good deodorant should help control odor in spite of a little sweat. Personally, I love that my deodorant also makes me feel nice and dry, but even the best deodorant won't stand up to a strenuous workout, or being outside in 100 degree temps. Occasionally, you will have to re-apply. This might be a little different than what you're used to with your old antiperspirant, but it's really no big deal. Actually, when you're using a product that's good for your skin with a fragrance that you love, it can be quite enjoyable!
3. Try to reduce your anxiety.
So, bad news, sometimes you don't sweat just because you're hot. Sweat can also be caused by nervousness and anxiety. And, really bad news...stress sweat smells worse than the sweat your body produces when it's overheated. I have first-hand experience with this, which is probably why I had such a difficult time finding a deodorant that worked. At my last job, it would happen like clockwork at about 10:30 every morning - right about the time I had finally finished plowing my way through the multiple hundreds of emails I'd received overnight, while realizing that my workload for the day was simply unattainable, and on top of that my boss was asking if I had started on some other project that of course I didn't get to the day before, and oh yeah, here comes a call from whatever bill I was a few days late with that month because I was trying to balance being a single mom in Los Angeles on a ridiculously small salary that was not even close to being worth all of the pressure I was under... I can still smell my BO just thinking about it! And I was in the middle of a freezing cold office under an air conditioning vent! I mean, obviously reducing your anxiety is easier said than done, and no one is immune to the occasional freak-out, but the good news is that being able to identify what's bothering you (thanks to your BO) means that you can start to do something about it. (Hopefully you can come up with something a little less insane than quitting your job and moving to Oklahoma to start your own deodorant business...) In the meantime, stop being so hard on yourself and keep a stick of deodorant on hand for emergencies!
4. If a deodorant makes you smell worse than you did when you weren't wearing any, MOVE ON!
It's not you, it's them! Just keep trying until you find something that works for you. When you find it, you'll know right away, and there shouldn't be any need for an adjustment, or "detox" trial period. Don't have the funds to buy every single stick of deodorant for sale at Whole Foods? DIY! I had the best luck with a mixture of virgin coconut oil, tapioca starch, and tea tree oil, but you can use any powdered thickening agent (like arrowroot or cornstarch) or essential oil that you have on hand. If you don't have super sensitive skin, try adding a little baking soda to see if that works for you. It may be less convenient than picking up your old cheap-o stuff from the drugstore, but the great thing about experimenting on your own is that you'll know what kind of ingredients to look for when you are able to treat yourself something new!
5. Enjoy the journey.
Upgradingyour deodorant doesn't have to be a chore. It can be a fun and luxurious way to pamper yourself just like any other beauty or personal care product. It's a little more work, but it's also a lot more fun than making your way through the crowded deodorant/toothpaste/razor aisle at Target, right? Just relax and try to have a little fun with the process. You'll be so happy when you finally find a product that you can actually feel good about using that it will all be worth it in the end - I promise!
And that's about all for now friends! I hope you found some useful info here today! I encourage you to continue doing your own research and try to enjoy the process of taking control over what you put on your body. I'd love to hear any feedback you have on the topic too... Are we on the same page? Do you disagree and happen to see detoxing your armpits as a necessity? Let me know! I'm just a weirdo who loves talking to everyone about their sweat!