THIS POST IS OUT OF DATE, PLEASE SEE MY UPDATED CLEAN DEO POSTS HERE ♥
Seriously, I have tested a LOT of brands. Over 20 brands for nearly 5 years. Ever since my first Paleo(f)x when I realized I was the only one not rubbing coconut oil and baking soda on my pits every few hours I started my quest to find one that worked for me. Turns out, natural deodorant can be really irritating to the skin though – so it’s taken me years of trying out different things to figure out a solution that works.
Over in my Healthy Inside & Out group this is one of my most frequently asked questions. And understandably, considering how bad conventional deodorant is for us. Antiperspirants are linked to everything from dementia and Alzheimer’s to cancer. From aluminum and hormone disrupting ingredients to the dreaded ‘fragrance,’ over the counter antiperspirants are full of things that hinder our health [details here].
I’ve tried ALL of the brands people suggested. I had such high hopes; I went through DOZENS and all of them made my skin break out with irritated bumps. I’m talking raw skin with open sores – from using “natural” products. Or, I smelled weird. No, thank you. That’s the whole point of what I was trying to avoid!
You guys, the struggle has been real.
But, determined I kept trying. I learned a few things I want to share along the way.
What Doesn’t Work
- Baking Soda – sodium bicarbonate can be irritating to the skin. The Material Safety Data Sheet for sodium bicarbonate warns of hazards: “Slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation.” The following are listed as potential symptoms with prolonged exposure of baking soda to the skin: rash, redness, and dry, cracked skin. [that’s me!]
- Coconut Oil – I really like this article on Coconut Oil – I feel it’s balanced and well-researched. As noted, some people get dry, irritated skin from it – and that’s definitely me. And, when used on the face it can also cause acne – another thing I didn’t realize I was doing to myself!
- pH – sensitive skin needs a low pH, most skin-friendly solutions are under 5.5; sodium bicarbonate is 8.3
The Supposed Detox Period
For those making your own deodorant or using a more natural brand, please be mindful of the above and ensure you are using ingredients that nourish your skin in a balanced, healthy way. I used some products for a long time because I was told my skin needed “adjust” or “detox” to the new product. Unfortunately, that meant I let the use build-up to cause irritation that led to raw, open wounds. I wanted natural to work and was sure it was another reason or excuse (working out, sweating, shaving, etc.). Now, my body is even more sensitive to it.
Detox would refer to your body adjusting to a pH balance or transitioning from pore-clogging aluminum-based antiperspirants to a natural deodorant. It doesn’t refer to irritated skin and rashes!
If you are experiencing rash, discomfort or any other reactions to your baking-soda-based deodorant, it is NOT because your body is “detoxing” – it’s because your body is telling you it doesn’t work for you, don’t keep using it!
So what to do instead?
It is true that your body will like “adjust” a bit as it comes off of using any product you’ve been using long term – be it on your skin, hair, or under arms. However, the goal is to nourish and heal your skin – not make it worse. You may be a bit stinky as your body’s chemistry adjusts – but skin irritation is never to be ignored! These are the 3 things that have worked for me – WITHOUT inflamed, rashy skin.
1 – Use a charcoal-based detoxifying products
Help your body adjust to change by using the Charcoal Cleansing Bar to wash my armpits daily. I still do this to help pull impurities out – BEFORE the sweat brings them out! And, I apply the Charcoal Detoxifying Balancing Mask weekly.
Wait – don’t run away!
Hang with me here. I know this sounds crazy. Like I’ve gone over the crunchy-granola-hippie edge and you’re not ready to trust fall with me. I get it. But, this mask is FANTASTIC for your face. So, worst case you either a) already own it since I talk about it ALL the time [what’s the harm in giving it a try!], or b) if you purchase it for your pits and end up not liking it, you can instead use it on your face.
Here’s my charcoal routine:
- The soap: If I’m not showering that day, I wash my underarms with the Charcoal Cleansing Bar in the sink and a wash cloth. If I do shower, I just wash under my arms with the bar soap in the shower (before I shave, to ensure all impurities don’t go into the pores when I open them). I use the Charcoal Body Wash too, but under the arms the activated charcoal is less concentrated so that’s why I recommend the bar.
- The mask: I apply the mask on a day I’m showering. I first wash under my arms with the soap in the sink, then I pat dry, and apply a thin layer of the Charcoal Detoxifying Balancing Mask to the area under my arms where I can visibly see pores. I allow to air dry while I brush my teeth, use the restroom, etc. About 5-10 minutes later, I hop in the shower and rinse off with warm water. Voila, it’s really not that crazy!
You can find the charcoal products I use and recommend by clicking the links above or shopping HERE.
2 – Go longer in between product use
When my under arm skin was at its worse, nothing I was doing was helping to relieve the soreness. I went weeks with raw open wounds and was desperate to heal, it was so painful. The only relief I got was from putting nothing on the skin at all and just washing in the shower. It was during this period that I allowed my body to “adjust” from using products because I literally couldn’t stand to use them.
It was then I discovered how helpful charcoal was since I wasn’t using any other products. Over time, this has allowed me to go longer in between product uses as well. I find that on days when I’m particularly stressed (physical or emotional) is when I do need product. Which brings us to the one I use…
3 – E&M Apothicaire Charcoal Deodorant [UPDATE: THIS IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE, I now use Clean Deo, read more HERE]
When I saw this on OneStopPaleoShop.com I was intrigued. I’d never heard of them before but loved that their first ingredient was Ottos cassava flour – plus no baking soda or coconut oil, things I know irritate my skin! I gave it a try but was worried it would stain my skin or clothes – it doesn’t, even on my fair skin! Here’s a list of some of the ingredients and why I love them:
- Cassava Flour & Arrowroot – natural starches to absorb moisture without clogging the pores with aluminum
- Magnesium Hydroxide – magnesium deficiency can cause body odor, so adding this helps your body be less stinky!
- Palm Oil & Shea Butter & Cocoa Butter – all natural fats that are less irritating for my skin than coconut oil. And safe for the earth when ethically sourced (lots of info available via google if you want to learn more)
- Rose Water – a natural hydrant frequently used in Beautycounter products
- Witch Hazel – an natural essential oil that’s also an astringent anti-inflammatory compound, produced from a shrub
- Vitamin E – nutrient that’s good for the skin
- Bamboo Charcoal – detoxes
- Essential Oil Blend – no fake fragrance!
The one gripe I have is that I’m not a huge fan of the scent, but it is gender neutral (Cole and Finn use it too). The starches do an excellent job acting the way aluminum does in antiperspirants, and I find myself sweating less – not just less smelly when I do sweat. Because of that, I don’t smell the scent on myself the way some other natural deodorants leave me smelling. I’m actually working with the brand to see if we can’t come up with another version that’s more floral – haven’t had luck so far, but keep your fingers crossed!
If you purchase this product using THIS LINK you’ll be support FOUR small businesses: me (it’s an affiliate link), OneStopPaleoShop (where I recommend buying it, since they offer free shipping), Otto’s Cassava Flour (an ingredient used and brand we love), and of course – E&M brand itself. WIN-WIN!
If you want to learn more, I posted a video about this in the Healthy Inside & Out group HERE, just join the Facebook group to get access to it and lots of info about safer skincare, cleaner cosmetics, non-toxic personal care, and healthy living. You can join our Safer Skincare list directly, too – I share exclusive sales and specials there, including a free gift with your first purchase through me for Beautycounter!
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