A Guide to Natural Deodorants (Plus, the Ones that Actually Work)

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Making the switch to natural deodorants is perhaps the most daunting of all the clean beauty swaps. Mascara was tough, concealer-even tougher, but deodorant was on a whole other level. To be fair, I started my deo detox in the middle of Florida's summer. The first product I tried was a spray and although I loved the lavender vanilla scent, it was highly ineffective. It was so bad that when I was outside for a bonfire, my dad not-so-kindly told me how bad I smelt. I promptly threw it away and went back to my trusty aerosol Dove. 

Forward to the fall following the incident, I decided to give it another go and promptly spent hours researching natural deodorants. After reading what felt like all the reviews on the internet, I finally made a well-educated leap of faith with Lavanila's Sport Luxe Deodorant.

The first time I put it on, I hugged a friend who apparently got too close to my underarms but told me how good I smelt. Big upgrade from my disgusted dad's response a few months earlier... Not sure she would have said the same around 3 pm, however. Although the mornings were fine, by mid-afternoon that powdery, vanilla-scent started to fade and my panic started to rise.  It wasn't easy. I felt self-conscious for quite some time, so worried about how I smelt. I was also so confused at how much I was sweating, as a self-professed 'non-sweater'. Quickly, I figured out that my unsweatiness came from years of using sweat-gland-blocking antiperspirants, not because I was #blessed with under-active sweat ducts. I started carrying my new deodorant with me in my purse so I could re-apply mid-afternoon and once I even washed my underarms with soap and water in a public toilet while I was out drinking. That felt like an all-time low...but, I persisted. The first few days were definitely the hardest but it did gradually get easier. All-in-all, it took about 6 weeks for my body to adjust to this new change and now I can truly say the trialing adjustment was worth it in the end. In addition to decreasing the amount of toxins entering my body, I've also noticed a cleaner shave and less skin irritation since making the change. Plus, no more yellow shirt stains- did you know the aluminum in your anti-perspirant is what has been causing that?! You're welcome. 

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As a natural-deodorant convert, I do want to disclose that I am fully aware that everyone's bodies are different and that therefore, everyone's transition will be different. However, here's a few tips that may help you on your armpit-detox:

1. Understand it's a detox

The first time I did a juice detox, I felt absolutely terrible for 5 days straight. My body was ridding itself of toxins so I was plagued with headaches, extreme tiredness and irritability. It's the same with your underarms. After years of using deodorants with undesired ingredients, your body may experience changes. For one, your underarms are now freed of aluminum, the ingredient that previously plugged up your sweat glands. This can result in the sweat glands overproducing moisture, which then interacts with odor-causing bacteria. In simpler terms, you will most likely experience a phase of extra-smelliness and increased sweat. Secondly, your body may experience sensitivity or tenderness, with some people even experiencing irritation with the high levels of baking soda in natural deo's. 

2. Experiment with different varieties

There are lots of natural deodorants on the market now, ranging from sprays to sticks to cream formulations. Certain deodorants start with a base of coconut oil while some contain high levels of cornstarch or arrowroot. Some, like the stick varieties, require little patience while some require scooping cream out of a jar to rub on your underarms (don't knock it until you try it). Don't get discouraged if your first choice doesn't work out. I tried and failed for a few years, trying a new natural deodorant for a few days and promptly giving up in lieu of smelling fresh again, before I landed on my first winner.

3. Consider an armpit mask to help speed up the process

You also might like to consider an underarm mask to help speed things along. Charcoal-based masks, such as The Healthy Underarm Detox Mask from Lavanila, are super effective as they detoxify without irritating the skin (especially great for the thin skin under our arms!). Clays are also very hard-working, with a fan favorite being the ever-popular Aztec Healing Clay. Just add a little water or apple cider vinegar and let it work it's magic in absorbing all the impurities and build-up. 

4. Accept that everyone's transition is different

The detox period can last for a couple of days for some people or a few weeks for others depending on body chemistry. Some people may have reactions to the high levels of baking soda or coconut oil while others will experience no such changes. Your surrounding climate may also give you a different experience from someone else. As someone who foolishly tried to make the transition in the middle of Florida's humid summer, I would recommend spring or fall as the best seasons to start your detox. Don't compare your journey to others and figure out what works best for you!

Ready to start your transition? Here's some of my favorite natural deodorants on the market right now:

brittanie schell