By Sarena-Rae Santos, Natural Health Blogger
One of the most difficult transitions for natural-minded folks is the switch from mainstream to natural deodorant. It’s one thing many people avoid because it’s often trial and error. We have become so accustomed to not sweating and not smelling that we fail to realize not sweating is detrimental to our health.
I transitioned to natural deodorant in 2019. In 2023, I embarked on a heavy metal detox journey, where I needed to detox again. This blog will discuss why you should consider switching to natural deodorant and what to expect during the transitional phase. Hopefully, this will encourage you to make the switch and see it’s not as scary as many believe.
Why You Should Switch to Natural Deodorant
If you read our blog, Everything You Need to Know About Mainstream Deodorant, you’re probably shocked by the fact that a study showed that 99% of breast cancer samples contained parabens, a common carcinogenic ingredient in most deodorants and antiperspirants (1). You’re probably flabbergasted that many organizations dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer have claimed there isn’t a link between antiperspirants and breast cancer. I discussed the contradicting findings in my blog, The Truth About Mainstream Deodorant.
Just a quick recap of ingredients in mainstream deodorants that can cause detrimental effects on health:
- Aluminum ingredients
- Caprylyl glycol
- Fragrance – Check out our blog, Everything You Need to Know About Fragrance
Of course, this is just a small list of potential ingredients in mainstream deodorants (and even greenwashed deodorants). Now you’re probably wondering how to switch to a natural deodorant and what to expect.
First and foremost, let’s discuss why we don’t want to use antiperspirants. Antiperspirants plug the sweat glands, temporarily preventing perspiration. You may like that sound; no sweat means no stink, right? No sweat also means no way for your sweat glands to filter toxins out of the body. When your body sweats, this is your body’s way of detoxing heavy metals, eliminating chemicals, and cleansing bacteria. To learn more about sweating, check out our blog, Why We Need to Sweat (and How to Recover From it).
- Medical conditions (diabetes, gout, thyroid, liver, kidney disease, etc.)
- Hormonal changes (menstruation, menopause, pregnancy, puberty)
- Certain foods (onions, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, red meat, MSG, caffeine, spicy food, alcohol, etc.)
- Stress/anxiety – Check out our blog, Natural Remedies for Stress & Anxiety
- Certain medications
The mainstream solution to body odor is to use an antiperspirant and deodorant. Harvard University states:
“After your shower or bath, apply an antiperspirant and deodorant. Most over-the-counter antiperspirants contain aluminum-based compounds that block your body’s eccrine glands, preventing you from sweating. Deodorants repel the bacteria that cause odor, and may contain an additional fragrance. Some products combine an antiperspirant and a deodorant. If over-the-counter products don’t control sweating and body odor, your doctor can prescribe a stronger prescription-strength antiperspirant/deodorant (5).”
The mainstream solution to the problem is to block the body’s natural detox pathways from doing their job. Why not focus on potential deficiencies instead? There’s no such thing as a heavy metal or aluminum deficiency, so why not focus on deficiencies that actually affect body odor?
As stated earlier, zinc and magnesium are the two most common deficiencies associated with body odor. Zinc deficiencies affect 1.1 billion people worldwide (6). Regarding magnesium deficiencies, one study shows more than half of Americans are deficient, while other sources claim up to 90% of the population (7,8).
You can take a nutritional deficiency quiz as a starting place to discover if you have any deficiencies and which nutrients they may be related to. Use the results to further research or to talk to a holistic practitioner about your diet or supplements.
If a magnesium deficiency is a potential concern for you, consider using a magnesium-based deodorant instead of bandaging the problem. Here are my recommendations:
- Earthley’s Mineral Deodorant is a 100% natural deodorant that actually works! With absolutely no aluminum, baking soda, or artificial ingredients of any kind, you can be confident this Mineral Deodorant is safe and beneficial to your health. This deodorant uses natural magnesium chloride to detox your pits, arrowroot powder to keep you dry, and plant-based oils to gently nourish your sensitive underarm skin.
- Earthley’s Mineral PLUS Deodorants like Mineral Deodorant, the PLUS version is all-natural with no aluminum, baking soda, or artificial ingredients. This version has added French green clay to provide lymphatic system support and extra protection while detoxing the skin to help fight stink!
- Making your own deodorant is another option. Our Non-Toxic Deodorant Alternatives blog features several tried and true deodorant recipes. I’m sure one of them could become your go-to recipe.
What to Expect When Switching to Natural Deodorant
As previously mentioned, the active ingredient in most mainstream deodorants clogs your pores and blocks your ability to sweat. This forces your body to retain the chemicals, heavy metals, and other toxins your body would normally eliminate through sweating. So if you’ve been using mainstream deodorant your whole life, you may have a whole life of toxins your body needs to get rid of, and it will be a smelly process, but definitely worth it.
I highly recommend detoxing over the weekend (or whenever you can stay home) without feeling gross at work or in public. Remember, it may get smelly and feel gross, but imagine how much worse it is for your body to keep that all in. Let it all out and enjoy a toxin-free way of living.
Be prepared to take extra showers. During my transition, on days when I couldn’t take extra showers, I used baby wipes to clean the area, followed by diluted apple cider vinegar (great for antibacterial properties) or Earthley’s All Purpose Spray (can be used as a deodorant as well), and then applied deodorant again.
Some tips to make switching to natural deodorant easier are:
- Detox your armpits. I noticed a significant difference when I used Earthley’s Detoxifying Pit Mask before showering during my transitional phase. You don’t need a lot, but it works wonders.
- Take detox baths. Detox baths help the body detox from the harsh chemicals built up from years of mainstream deodorant use. I recommend Earthley’s Detox Bath or a DIY: Herbal Detox Bath.
- Invest in a high-quality probiotic. When the body sweats, it helps your body balance the good bacteria. You need to support the body in this process, especially if you’ve been blocking the ability to sweat using an antiperspirant. You can even use Earthley’s Prebiotic Mask on your armpits.
- Exercising is important when detoxing. Again, it falls back to balancing bacteria and encouraging the body to detox after being discouraged for so long. We want to encourage detoxing and sweating instead of covering up the stink.
- Practice dry brush and/or lymphatic massage techniques. Your armpits are filled with lymph nodes; as they detox, you’ll need to support your lymphatic system. You may notice achiness and pain in the underarms, maybe even bumps from lymphatic congestion.
- Stay hydrated. Hydration is more than just drinking water. Be sure you’re replenishing electrolytes to help get the lymph fluid/waste moving. I recommend Earthley’s Electrolyte Powder; you can even make your own Turmeric-Lime Electrolyte Drink or Ginger-Lemon Electrolyte Drink.
Before you start this journey, remember that you’re detoxing. When detoxing, we must remember the #1 detox mistake, which is to remember how our body got to this state.
Of course, the transitional phase from mainstream to natural deodorant goes beyond just swapping to a non-toxic brand. What works for one person may not work for the next. All deodorants aren’t created equally, even natural deodorants.
You may find baking soda too harsh for the underarm area, while others prefer it. You may find that one scent works better than the next. In my experience, I have tried many of the scents from Earthley and found the seasonal Blue Bliss scent works the best for me (so I stock up for the year every May).
Remember, the entire point of switching to natural is to avoid the toxic, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, so you may find you need to swap other things in your personal care routine to successfully detox and decrease body odor. Other things to consider when switching to a natural deodorant include:
- Body wash. Switching to a toxin-free body wash alternative avoids adding back the chemicals you’re removing. I recommend Earthley’s 3-in-1 Soap or Gentle Coconut Milk Soap.
- Consider switching to toxin-free shaving alternatives like a razor without a moisture strip and toxin-free shaving cream. I use a Leaf Shave razor with Earthley’s Nourishing Shave Soap.