Why You Should Switch to Natural Deodorant (Plus Our Top Three Picks)
When you begin your journey to nontoxic living, swapping out personal care products can be the most intimidating—and rising to the top of the hardest things to switch is deodorant. Not only does a natural product that doesn’t prevent sweating take some getting used to, but it’s also hard to find your perfect natural deodorant fit—what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.
Don’t throw in the towel if you’ve gone the natural route and haven’t been impressed. Ditching your antiperspirant is well worth it, and finding the formula that’s right for you can be as easy as one, two, three.
Conventional deodorants contain ingredients that have been linked to health issues.
One study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that use of aluminum-based antiperspirants increased the risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life by 60 percent. Add to that a 2009 study from the University of Reading, U.K., that found a correlation between “the increase in cancers of the outside upper quadrant of the breast with the increase in the use of chemical cosmetics, including antiperspirant” (Gillian Deacon, There’s Lead in Your Lipstick, 2011). Correlation doesn’t always equal causation, but if you have a chance to potentially reduce your risk of illness by changing up your deodorant, why wouldn’t you?
Natural deodorant contains ingredients that are actually good for you.
There’s a reason charcoal is a hot ingredient for cosmetics, deodorants included: not only does it absorb at least a thousand times its own weight in moisture because of its large surface area, it can also aid gastrointestinal issues when ingested, says Jessica Edelstein of Piperwai. So your charcoal deo can help your digestion—can you say that about your conventional brand?
Natural deodorants also contain plant-based moisturizers that treat your underarms like the delicate skin they are. Ingredients like shea butter, olive oil and mineral-rich clay can actually improve the condition of your pits, leaving them smooth and less prone to irritation. An irritation-free armpit results in a closer (and longer-lasting) shave. Plus, some ingredients used in natural deodorants (like witch hazel) can also shrink pores and smooth razor burn.
Because natural deodorants don’t block your pores (antiperspirants do—that’s why you don’t sweat), they allow the good bacteria on your skin to work, helping to reduce odor, even when you’re not wearing deodorant. Sweat itself doesn’t cause body odor, but when mixed with the bacteria on your skin, it can stink. Natural deodorants help control the bacteria, therefore reducing (or eliminating) the stench.
Is there a detox period when you switch to natural deodorant?
“I don’t believe in the detox period,” says TaraPelletier, co-founder of Meow Meow Tweet. “The deodorant you choose should work for you right away. That being said, I think it’s difficult for new natural deodorant users to understand that whatever they eat, their exercise habits and even their stress levels all impact their body chemistry—which then changes the efficacy of their deodorant.”
But, you do have to get used to the fact that an aluminum-free deodorant won’t stop sweat. There’s just no way around it: Deodorant with ingredients that are safer will only help stop the stink. They won’t keep you completely dry, but perspiration is good. It’s how the body helps rid itself of toxins, and regulates temperature. So sweat can actually be a sign of a healthy, in-balance body.
Says Mindy Nacke of Green Tidings, “A helpful tip is to play around with how much you are applying. Most customers report using just one or two light ‘swipes’ can last them all day. Remember that unlike chemical deodorants, you don’t need to apply a lot for it to work effectively. ‘Less is more’ is definitely the case with our deodorants.”
Want to swap? Try these three natural deodorants for happy pits.
We’ve had great success with all of Meow Meow Tweet’s formulas, but love that the brand offers a baking-soda-free option. Baking soda can irritate the sensitive-skinned, especially right after a shave, so testing a BSF natural deodorant is a good idea if you’re finding that you have red bumps or angry underarm skin. MMT’s deos all contain amazing skin moisturizers, from shea butter to jojoba oil, and the brand offers a variety of scents, which each work differently with your body chemistry to fight odor and wetness.
Made in Southern California in a wind-powered facility, this under-the-radar brand is one of the best deos we’ve tested. It comes in both Lavender and Unscented options, and the Unscented works surprisingly well against body odor, even in the summer. With tapioca starch, magnesium oil, baking soda and shea butter, this simple formula conditions skin while keeping it fresh and safe from irritation.
PiperWai’s natural deodorant is made without harmful ingredients like parabens, aluminum and synthetic fragrances. A charcoal-base with a crème texture, it forms an invisible, absorbent, pH-balanced shield on your underarms that neutralizes odor and protects your clothes from perspiration. We’ve found both the stick and the cream formulas to work incredibly well (but what else would you expect from a brand that snagged a Shark Tank deal?).