If you’ve ever considered living a sustainable life, chances are high that you’ve considered using a natural deodorant.
However, making the switch could be a daunting one.
It could make you feel concerned about smelling and sweating a lot more- But with everything you’ve heard about a “transition period” or “armpit detox,” it might make you wonder if making the switch and going through the pain of being stinky is worth it?
In short, natural deodorants DON’T make you smell. However, there is a temporary period where you might smell whilst your pores are getting unblocked, causing you to sweat and be stinky.
After trying around 10 natural deodorants myself and still not smelling great, I decided to figure it out once and for all.
Let me show you what else I found!
My journey with natural deodorants
When I changed to a vegan diet, I started questioning things that I was putting in and on my body and became interested in vegan and cleaner beauty products.
I started my natural deodorant journey whilst I was in my final year at University, in 2018.
This probably wasn’t the smartest idea considering the final year of university was a stressful one – I didn’t need to also be worrying about sweating and smelling too.
What do we know about regular deodorants?
A deodorant, in whichever form you chose to buy it, is something that nearly everyone at some point in their life is introduced to. We wear it to stop us from smelling and it’s part of our daily routine.
No one wants to be known as the smelly person who smells of BO!
But did you know that sweat doesn’t actually smell? It’s the bacteria that interact with the sweat that causes you to have a smell.
A traditional deodorant is something that’s perfumed to protect against the odour, whereas an antiperspirant protects against sweat too – this is done by aluminium blocking the armpit sweat glands which stops us from sweating.
They come in the form of roll-on, cream, or aerosols.
The environmental impact of aerosol cans is terrible.
Originally aerosols became popular in the 1920s when they used the chemical CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) to propel the product. Later on, they discovered that CFCs were gathering in the environment which was depleting the ozone layer, and banning them to be used by the 70s.
Since being banned, the propellents commonly used are hydrocarbons and compressed gas that does not harm the ozone layer.
Although these components no longer harm the ozone layer, they are still contributing to global warming.
The aerosols commonly found release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to ground-level ozone levels, a key component of asthma-inducing smog. Source
For this reason, I no longer buy aerosols. I don’t believe there is any reason to contribute to global warming, especially when there are so many fantastic alternatives now.
Aluminium in deodorants
Aluminium is a common ingredient found in regular deodorants. The purpose of this ingredient is to stop you from sweating. This is done every time deodorant is applied, the liquid temporarily plugs your sweat ducks that stop your sweat from reaching the surface.
“Some research suggests that aluminium-containing underarm antiperspirants, which are applied frequently and left on the skin near the breast, may be absorbed by the skin and have estrogen-like (hormonal) effects. Because estrogen can promote the growth of breast cancer cells, some scientists have suggested that the aluminium-based compounds in antiperspirants may contribute to the development of breast cancer” National Cancer Institute
Another reason blocking your sweat glands using aluminium-based ingredients is a bad thing is because sweating is a natural and normal body function. A function that stops you from overheating.
“We have three million eccrine and apocrine sweat glands in our body, so a little extra sweat is a good thing. It’s what we are designed to do.” – realsimple.com
Will I smell When Transitioning To A Natural Deodorant?
Everyone’s bodies are different, however, the armpit detox/transition period lasts between 2 – 4 weeks.
Google “armpit detox”. Many claim this speeds up the transition time but I cannot comment as I didn’t do this.
When switching from a regular antiperspirant to a natural deodorant, the body is removing the aluminium and releases waste that has been blocked.
“This is a natural process as part of our body’s built-in mechanisms, but it may contribute to releasing some slightly unusual body odour in comparison to what you are used to. So when you first make the switch, it’s not that your natural deodorant isn’t working—but your body is—and naturally!” – realsimple.com
I definitely experienced this!
I must admit, I was so self-conscious about smelling whilst being at university so I was not strict with keeping up with the natural deodorant life. So for the last year at university, I was using both traditional and natural deodorants.
However, after leaving uni and when I was not around so many people, I felt I could stick to it without worrying so much.
There are lots of blog posts and articles on natural deodorants, that tell you which natural deodorants work but ultimately it comes down to your body chemistry and how it reacts with each natural deodorant.
I found that a lot of natural deodorants with a scent that I had tried would be ok to begin with but, after a couple of weeks of use, the scent from the deodorant mixed with the sweat would create an unpleasant smell.
So after trying different natural deodorants with a scent, I decided to try a crystal stick. A non-scented block of salt that slows down bacterial growth, stopping you from smelling.
I was a bit sceptical about rubbing a stick of salt on my armpit however, it did the trick!
I didn’t smell like sweat nor did it leave me with an odd smell that some scented natural deodorants gave me.
It is worth noting that natural deodorants do not stop you from sweating, and the scents in a natural deodorant are a lot more subtle compared to the overpowering unnatural smells that come with a traditional deodorant.
I do still feel slightly worried occasionally about smelling however, I’ve not been told I smell since switching, and I feel much happier in myself that I am putting natural ingredients on my body, instead of putting on ingredients that could potentially be harming me.
What may work for me may not work for you, it all comes down to trial and error. I ended up trying quite a few before I found the one that worked for me so when you begin your natural deodorant journey, don’t get discouraged!
As such, I still like to try new natural deodorants that pop up on the market.
I’ve been sticking with a natural deodorant for the last two years, and I won’t be going back to anything else!
So, are natural deodorants worth me trying?
Absolutely! But just understand it may take a while for your body to find one it likes, and even then you might have to go through a smelly stage for a little bit!
Let me know in the comments your experience with natural deodorants and any brands you love to use!