Today I thought I’d talk about a few of the natural deodorant “pitfalls” (see what I did there?) I’ve picked up on since I started my crunchy, hippie, surprisingly NOT stinky natural skin care journey.
I’ve had some people express frustration with using the “natural” stuff. But there’s no need to feel pit-iful (hah! again!) because you CAN make natural deodorant work for you…if you keep a few things in mind!
Pitfall #1: using the store-bought “natural” stuff.
I’ve found that the store-bought “natural enzyme” and “aluminum-free” deodorants generally stink, both literally and figuratively. With their long ingredients lists, these crazy “enzymes” and their big promises, we assume these manufacturers (like Tom’s, for example) know something we don’t.
While they often use deodorizing essential oils like lavender, clove, or lemongrass, I’ve never had success with any of the fancy “natural” store-bought stuff (even Lavanilla doesn’t smell right after a few hours’ wear).
I’ve also found that many of the store-bought types are more expensive than the home-made stuff, so they’re not cost-effective either. (Update: there are some great Paleo/Primal brands creating natural deodorants that seem to grasp the proportions and materials that make a great natural deodorant, but none of ’em have long ingredients lists composed of enzymes and unpronounceables!)
Interestingly, the use of essential oils in store-bought deodorant doesn’t seem to compare to my homemade concoctions in which I’ve used my own preferred brand of essential oils (not available in store). It must be quality-related. The essential oils I’ve added to my homemade stuff have gone farther in eliminating odor for the long-haul AND soothing my skin than any of the strange, “natural” stuff at the store.
As a commenter pointed out below, some store-bought natural deodorants DO work, but the reason I discuss this is so nobody feels like natural deodorant WON’T work for them just because the store-bought types were a fail. If you find one you like, by all means – stick with it.
Pitfall #2: smearing instead of dabbing.
The natural deodorants I recommend, whether home-made or purchased through online sources like Primal Life Organics, generally contain baking soda along with their deodorizing essential oils. Baking soda is MAJORLY effective in stopping odor, but some find it too irritating for their skin. Sometimes, a spritz of soothing preservative-free aloe juice (I like Lily of the Desert) before application does the trick.
More importantly, it’s often the application process that causes the problems.
Contrary to what Robin Williams told Nathan Lane in The Birdcage, men (and women) DON’T “smear.” At least, not when it comes to natural deodorant.
You DON’T need to glob, smear, or rub your natural deodorant all over your under-arms. I know I used to cover quite a bit of real estate with my natural stuff, thinking MORE was better. Elbow to earlobe, I covered myself in my baking soda-based natural deodorant. And I ended up with a bumpy, irritated mess.
All you REALLY need to do is dab. Dab your natural deodorant in that small, square-inch-sized area in the pit of your pit. You shouldn’t need much more, and this shouldn’t irritate your skin. If it does, just look to one of the sensitive formulas available, like the cooling pit stick from Primal Life Organics.
Pitfall #3: thinking it will make you stop sweating.
While we’re NOT supposed to walk around smelling like a skunk-bomb, we ARE supposed to sweat. Plugging up our sweat glands – which is what the aluminum in conventional anti-perspirants does – is, in my opinion, a recipe for disaster. We’re supposed to sweat. It’s natural, and it happens for a reason. Let it be. (Or at least, let it be most of the time. Board meeting presentations and first dates are fair game.)
Bonus advice: Your diet CAN affect your body odor. When I stick to the clean eating, take it easy on the sugar (hello, dried mango), moderate the booze (sorry, upcoming 30th birthday), and drink plenty of water, I have no body odor to speak of! When I slip, though, or get a little too dehydrated for a little too long, there are times when all the baking soda in the world can’t un-stink my pits. Keep the diet & lifestyle stuff in mind – it’s critical to making natural topical skin care work!
Thanks for reading!
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