Chances are, your wellness journey includes some heavy-hitting workouts, and a good deodorant is key to feeling confident after every session. Mainstream products can contain harmful ingredients that may actually be blocking some of your body’s natural processes as well as potentially causing health problems down the road. If you’re ready to switch to a more natural product but are afraid that you’ll be trading better ingredients for a worse stench, then read on. We’ve gathered everything you need to know about choosing a natural deodorant that’s better for you and effective.
Sweat and Body Chemistry 101
When you sweat, the millions of bacteria that live in places like your underarm interact with the fats and proteins that your body is releasing – and those bacteria release smells that are often unpleasant. A deodorant/antiperspirant aims to block or kill those bacteria and their smelly chemical reactions. Most mainstream deodorants work by blocking sweat in a variety of ways. Aluminum is used as a physical barrier against the glands that produce sweat, while chemicals such as sodium chloride or triclosan can make your underarm uninhabitable for bacteria.
Transition Takes Time
If you’re just looking to stop the smelly part of sweating, a deodorant does the trick - if you’d like to block the actual sweat, an antiperspirant is needed. Fortunately, you can achieve both goals by using a natural deodorant that’s free from too many chemical compounds. One of the most important things to note is that transitioning away from a mainstream product to a natural one will take time – generally two to six weeks. Your body has adapted to the chemicals in your current products, so the first few weeks without them may not be pleasant. Over time, you’ll see your body’s true reaction to the new, natural products. It’s also important to remember that everyone’s body chemistry and hormones are different – what works for one person may not work for another. Experiment until you find something that’s right for you!
Aluminum-Free…and Baking Soda-Free?
Aluminum is found in almost every mainstream antiperspirant because it blocks sweat effectively. The problem is that it artificially changes how your body responds to sweat production, and some studies show it might be linked to several long-term adverse health events. Buying a natural deodorant should first and foremost mean finding something that’s aluminum-free. Baking soda is often used in natural deodorants as an effective odour and sweat blocker, but about 1 in 10 people have sensitive skin that can react to baking soda - if you find yourself in this category, look for a baking-soda free option.
Aim for 100% Natural Ingredients
Ultimately, your goal is probably to find a 100% natural deodorant. Some products certify that their products don’t contain any synthetic ingredients. For many natural options, though, one or two ingredients may be synthetic but haven’t been linked to any long-term health risks. Parabens, phthalates, and “fragrance” are big ingredients to avoid. If you find an ingredient on the list you’re unsure about, reach out to the company and ask!
Active Skin-Soothing Ingredients
While odour-blocking is the primary goal of any deodorant, having additional ingredients that help moisturize and soothe your skin is always a plus. Deodorants that use hydrating ingredients are also more likely to glide on smoothly and not stick to your clothing. Native products use shea butter to moisturize your skin while also providing antioxidants and vitamins, while Beautycounter’s deodorant uses beeswax to help hydrate skin.
Most of us assume that we need something to actually block the sweat, not just decrease odours. After switching to natural products for several weeks, however, you might learn that you don’t sweat as much as you thought – even during a hard workout! If you do realize you’d like some sweat-blocking properties, though, Arm & Hammer’s Essentials deodorant does the best job; it contains one synthetic ingredient, but it’s aluminum/paraben/colorant/animal-ingredient free.
In addition to the must-have qualities discussed above, many companies that make natural deodorants also embrace wellness goals that might match your philosophy. If vegan, cruelty-free, and/or planet-friendly packaging is important to you, seek out a brand that provides good natural coverage without compromising these values. Each and Every products check all of these boxes and come in a variety of fragrances, including unscented. Meow Meow Tweet offers a “classic” option and baking soda-free and creams (these come in refillable jars rather than the usual stick!). Lume offers OB/GYN-developed creams that can block odour anywhere on your body (and we mean anywhere!) – so if you’ve always wanted a versatile deodorant, this is for you!
If you’re ready to make the switch to a natural deodorant, then order a few sample packs, head to the gym, and put them to the test!