Y’all. It’s been a journey. For almost a decade I’ve been in search of a clean deodorant my super sensitive skin can handle. And as soon as I thought I’d found one in January 2018, the company went out of business. What are the odds?! Honestly, this is the ghost in my clean-cosmetic-closet. Just look at this picture of my stash when we travelled last year…
Deodorants vs. Antiperspirants
one of these things is not like the other
Yes, that’s my Dove antiperspirant front and center *face palm*
Deodorants, like the one I recommend below, work to neutralize odors, whereas antiperspirants control and prevent sweat. Using ingredients like aluminum, which can plug sweat ducts and prevent the body’s natural detoxification process.
Switching to a deodorant formulated without aluminum still allows the body to sweat, which is how our body is designed to work for a reason. Sweat helps to remove heavy metals and chemicals which contribute to our toxic load, like harmful BPAs, from the body. It’s also how we humans regulate our body temperature (instead of, you know, panting like dogs).
Up until now, the ingredients required in clean deodorants to neutralize the odor-causing bacteria (namely baking soda) prevented me from being able to use it without my skin becoming inflamed.
But, I have THE. BEST. NEWS!
I have finally found a clean deodorant routine that works for me, and I’m confident it will work for you, too!
Yes, I said routine. I know. I wish I could wave a magic wand and give you a single, easy solution. The thing is, when your skin is sensitive you need to prep it, especially before and after damaging the skin and opening pores with shaving. Keep in mind, the reason cleaner-ingredient deodorants are likely causing skin irritation is because the ingredients commonly found in them can clog pores and alter the Ph balance. This routine is 5 steps, maybe you only need 3 (depending on what irritates you individually), but by starting with all 5 you’ll be able to get the inflammation under control and hopefully be able to experiment more to find what’s right for you.
Step 1: Activated Charcoal
Use a soap which contains activated charcoal. I find my skin responds best to this Charcoal Cleansing Bar but I’ve also used this body wash and this bar with success. If your skin gets particularly aggravated, I suggest using this clay-based mask with activated charcoal under the arms. Activated charcoal (in all these products) is a natural binder, it draws out impurities from the pores and supports your body’s own natural detoxification process – critical when switching from traditional deodorant that uses aluminum to intentionally clog pores as a means for antiperspirant.
Step 2: Shave Cream
They make shave cream for a reason! This creamy one nourishes the skin while allowing the razor to smoothly glide over the skin. A good shave cream reduces razor burn and with this bottle a little goes a LONG way (I’ve had mine over a year)! Don’t let the “man” label throw you, it’s unscented and perfect for anyone who shaves.
Note: until this comes back in stock, this alternative is also EWG Verified.
Step 3: Single Blade (Safety) Razor
GAME CHANGER. I know it’s expensive. I know it’s backordered. But this razor is WORTH IT if you have irritation from shaving. I did a lot of reading before investing in this purchase and it was Beyonce’s interview sharing her love of this black-owned business that finally tipped me over. I’m SO glad I did!
The reason a SINGLE BLADE razor is key if you have ingrown hair, razor burn, or dry, sensitive skin:
Your average 5 blade razor is comprised of a combination of dull and sharp blades. The first removes the hair, the rest cut the hairs so low they dive below the epidermis. As dead skin cells collect (gross, we know) the hair follicle gets clogged, the hair is trapped, and you’ve got in-growns. Since a single-blade removes the hair evenly with the skin surface (yes, still a smooth shave) there are fewer chances of the hair getting trapped, folliculitis (irritation of the follicle), and inflammation. Dermatologist recommended as “single blades minimize the trauma to the skin and therefore cause less razor bumps.” What makes Oui even better is the attention to detail in the angle, weight, and blade exposure that ends in a beautifully gentle shave.
Note: If you want to try their gel-to-milk shaving product it’s a Green EWG-2.
Step 4: Sugar Scrub
As mentioned above, your under arms – like other crevices of your body – collect dead skin cells and bacteria. This clogs the pores, traps hair and causes irritation. By using an exfoliating sugar scrub after shaving, you’re helping to clear the surface. I personally use this one and this one, but my favorite is the homemade recipe I have here. The Blue Tansy and Honey are so calming and such a wonderful scent. When I use this scrub post-shave I don’t even need deodorant after I shower (I just spray a toner)!
Step 5: Toner
Perhaps the most surprising element in this routine, don’t feel like it’s too much. It’s a SPRAY. It will take less than 5 seconds, and it’s SO important especially if your skin is reactive to baking soda. An alkaline is introduced into clean-ingredient deodorants as a way to kill bacteria that live on the skin, which is a potential cause of odor. As a base (baking soda is has a pH of around 8.3), this ingredient can irritate skin. By using a toner as a protective layer applied both post-shower/shave and prior to application of the clean deodorant, you’ll find it both glides on easier and will likely cause less of a reaction. Honestly, just adding this single step could make it work for you!
I personally shower at night, spray toner after. Then in the morning, before applying Clean Deo I spray again. I choose to use THIS ONE because rose is a natural anti-inflammatory. I also really like this Jasmine Green Tea one. But you can use what works for you or even make your own at home with apple cider vinegar (it just doesn’t smell great).
Step 6: Clean Deo
After trying about 20 different brands, the only deodorant that has ever worked for me (that’s still in business) is Beautycounter’s Clean Deo. I stay fresh and dry. Plus, I love that it’s not only safe for me, after years of testing, but better for the planet with refillable cartridges too.
I personally prefer the fragrance-free scent of Clean Rose, which is very soft and subtle, but Fresh Coconut seems to be what my body responds to best. Since I’ve had issues with clean deodorants in the past, I actually change it up sometimes so my body doesn’t rebound. I’ve been wearing it about 9 months and one refill cartridge lasts about 6 months for me. Matt applies it twice daily, so about 3 months for him.
If you’re not sure what’s right for you, you can buy one full size and the other as a refill to swap them out. They’re interchangeable!
What makes it different?
In consumer studies 100% of people found it non-irritating.
They’ve been working on this formula for over 5 years, and while I wish I could’ve had it sooner – it’s worth the wait.
Yes, there is baking soda in it. No, I was never able to use any other brand that contained it (I talk about that here). But BC’s formula has some sort of magic that is MUCH more gentle than any others I’ve tried, even “sensitive skin” formulas. Give it a try with the routine I have (definitely use the mask to help detox the aluminum out). If it doesn’t work, they have a great 60 day no-questions-asked return policy, or you can gift the others in the set.
I hope this helps your underarms feel better. I’d love to hear from you if you try these tips! Let me know if it works for you, please <3 stacy
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