(Sorry... I'll stop now.)
So you want to switch to a natural deodorant (YAY) but you can't find anything that works (BOO.)
And you're tired of being smelly and spending money on stuff that doesn't really do anything.
I get it. I really, really do.
Cheer up, buttercup. Things are about to get so much better for you and your pits.
You CAN make this natural deodorant thing work. I can help.
First of all, let's go back to basics and talk about the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant.
A deodorant is meant to block/stop body odor, where as an antiperspirant is meant to stop you from actually sweating.
And unfortunately, there aren't really any natural antiperspirants.
So if you're trying to keep it natural, you're looking for a deodorant.
Which means when you are wearing a deodorant, you WILL STILL SWEAT WHEN YOU GET HOT. Because sweat is how your body cools itself down when it gets overheated to prevent you from dying. (And despite what everyone on the internet says, sweat's main purpose is not to "detox" your body. That job belongs your kidneys, liver, and colon.)
However, a good deodorant will stop you from smelling when you get sweaty, up to a certain point. Body odor happens when the sweat mingles with bacteria on your skin, and bacteria thrives in moist, warm conditions -
so at a certain point, you're going to have to take a shower, change your shirt, or at least wash your underarms. (If you aren't able to get in the shower, I recommend "washing" your underarms with a few spritzes of toner.)
Sorry to burst your dirty little bubble there...
But while I'm at it -
The reason why your underarms get so stinky is because the glands under your arms produce a thicker kind of sweat than those your forehead or back, and that thicker sweat provides even more nutrients for bacteria. Basically, the hotter you get, the more bacteria are going to show up to get in on that sweaty action, and the more you will stink.
I know, it's really gross.
So what do you do about it?
I mean, there's no magic, miracle formula. All you can really do is try to control the bacteria.
Obviously, I'm not a scientist, but I believe that my deodorant works so well because it absorbs moisture to keep you dry which keeps bacteria at bay, and because the essential oils that I use in my fragrances are naturally anti-bacterial.
Also... let's talk baking soda.
It's kind of complicated, and you can spend hours reading weirdo conflicting theories about it on the internet, but the bottom line is that it is effective at neutralizing bad odors, but some people are sensitive to it and it can cause a rash. From what I understand, (like I said, I'm not a scientist,) baking soda is an amphoteric substance, which means that it will react against a substance that is either very alkaline or very acidic. Sweat is acidic, so the baking soda fights to neutralize it or make it more alkaline.
You won't really know if you have a baking soda sensitivity until you try it, and I'll tell you that it doesn't take much baking soda to A) be effective at controlling odor, or, B) cause an uncomfortable, stinging, bumpy situation under your arms.
Personally, I like to only use baking soda when I know I really need it. Like when I'm working out, or if it's hot outside, or if I know I'm going to be in a stressful situation where I might get nervous.
Of course, this could literally be everyday, (especially if you're a nervous driver like myself) but if just hanging out at home, or if it's wintertime, I go with baking soda free.
Which brings me to the whole point of this blog...
Making natural deodorant work for YOU.
If you're committed to making it work, you can find a way.
You're the boss.
Don't forget that the deodorant works for you!
So, if you're seriously struggling with this deodorant thing, take back control of the situation right this second. Don't you let it get the best of you!
Don't let it see you sweat!
(Sorry... I'll stop now.)
(Sorry... I'll stop now.)
Here is your plan of action:
1. Get used to feeling sweaty when you get hot.
I think this is the main reason why people give up on natural deodorant and say it doesn't work. It feels so unnatural to feel wet under your arms, which is funny, because it's a totally natural bodily function!
I love my deodorant because it absorbs moisture and makes your underarms feel really silky and dry. However, if you get hot and sweaty, you do have to reapply to get that nice dry feeling back. Sorry, but them's the facts!
2. Try baking soda, but have a backup on hand.
This is the reason that I sell $10 1 oz unscented deodorants. So that you can have your main deodorant in the fancy scent in your preferred formula, but alternate it with the other formula as needed. If baking soda normally works just fine for you, but you suddenly get irritated (this happens to me sometimes when I get really overheated, and my personal unscientific theory is that the baking soda chemical reaction is working overtime in an attempt to neutralize the situation) you can switch to baking soda free for a day or two until it calms down.
And vice versa - if you normally have good results with baking soda free but you are staring a new fitness class or have to give a big presentation, you might want to have a baking soda formula on clutch for emergency sweat situations.
You can also order the deodorant duo and get one of each in your favorite scent at a discount.
3. Layer with alternative products.
In my shop, I offer himalayan salt crystals, but I've also had good luck with layering natural deodorant with the rock crystal brand that they sell at most natural grocery stores. You wet it down, rub it on your armpits (newsflash, the salt may not feel great if you just shaved but it goes away and the deodorant mositurizes/soothes) and once it's all dry, add the deodorant on top. Again, I don't know how it works exactly, but I can tell you from personal experience that the salt is super effective at neutralizing odor.
There's also body powder.
Yes, it's super old school, and you may not think you have any room for an extra product in your life, but it really is so great at absorbing moisture, which keeps bacteria from multiplying. Even if you don't want to powder your pits, you've GOT to try it in your shoes and/or gym bag!
(My personal favorite way to use it is to sprinkle it on my bedsheets in the summer!)
So, perhaps right now you're thinking, "Stefanie, this is all well and good, but I don't actually have money to buy this stuff you're recommending!"
I'm now going to share with you my DIY deodorant recipe that started it all.
It's simple, cheap, effective, requires no special ingredients, equipment, or any skill whatsoever beyond stirring. I bet that you if you're reading this blog, you've got all of this stuff on hand, but even if you don't, it's all very inexpensive.
Here's what you need:
Virgin coconut oil, a thickening agent, (you can use tapioca, arrowroot, or cornstarch interchangeably - I initially used tapioca starch because I had a box in my cupboard that was about to expire!) baking soda, (totally optional) an empty wide mouth jar, and essential oils, (whatever you like, they pretty much all have antibacterial properties) I'm going to be really basic here and use tea tree and lavender.
A. Start with a clean, dry jar.
This is essential. You're going to be dipping your fingers in this (please wash them first) and rubbing them into a bacteria prone place on your body. Sanitize this jar in the dishwasher if you can, or wipe it down with some rubbing alcohol or vinegar and let it dry completely. Water breeds bacteria, so dry packaging/equipment is key when you're DIYing.
Here, I've washed out an old beauty butter jar, which holds about 2 oz, or 1/4 cup.
B. Put about 2 1/2 tablespoons of coconut oil in the jar.
Obviously, adjust the amount depending on the size of the jar you're using. 1/4 cup is 4 tablespoons, so I wanted to almost fill it up here while leaving enough room to add ingredients and stir without spilling. (As you can see, I'm pretty messy.)
C. Stir in your thickening agent.
Add a half tablespoon at a time of whatever you're using (I'm using tapioca here) until it forms a paste with a consistency to your liking. I ended up using 3 & 1/2 tablespoons.
D. Add baking soda (TOTALLY OPTIONAL!)
I'd recommend starting without baking soda and seeing how that works for you. But if you need more effective odor control, start with a teaspoon of baking soda. (A little really does go a long way, and if you add to much it will not be comfortable, so start small!) I wouldn't go over 2 tablespoons for a 1/4 cup jar.
E. Stir in 10-20 drops of essential oils.
Here I'm using 5 drops of tea tree oil and 12 drops of lavender.
Again, a little goes a long way. I definitely would NOT go over 20 drops.
And enjoy your silky smooth stink free pits at the low low price of nothing, because I know you already had all of these ingredients on hand. This also makes a lovely sweat/odor blocking foot cream, which is how I'll be using it, since I'm pretty happy with my deodorant situation right now. ;)
And finally, it's time to
6. Get bodi-posi
Guys. I honestly think so much of making a natural deodorant work for you has to do with self confidence, and getting to know and accept your body.
You are a human. You're sweating because your body is functioning properly.
Do you need to detox?
I don't know! Do you have really unhealthy habits? Are you eating crap that makes you feel bad? I'd personally love to see you make long-term lifestyle changes that you can actually maintain instead of going for a temporary fix.
Chances are, you're totally healthy and fine and you just need to get used to feeling sweat under your arms when you get hot.
(Although the mom in me does think that we could all stand to drink more water.)
Bottom line: everyone sweats (hopefully!) and everyone gets stinky sometimes.
Over time, you'll find out what works for you, but you have to commit to trying or you'll never find out!
I didn't say this was an easy journey, did I?
'Cause it totally wasn't for me.
But I'm really glad that I made the switch, because now I get to feel really good about everything that I put on my body.
Best of luck to you!