One of the first questions I commonly receive about switching to safer personal care products is which natural deodorant I recommend. Of course I have preferences, but the reality is — as with most personal care products — everyone’s preference and experience will be very personal. One thing we can all agree on is the fact that natural, or “clean,” deodorant is here to stay.
One point I make for all personal care products is that transparency is key. For example, you will see below I recommend staying away from undisclosed fragrance. When a brand has “fragrance” listed as an ingredient, but all of the other ingredients are clean, I suggest reaching out to them to see if they are willing to disclose the ingredients used in fragrance. If they are (and if the ingredients prove to be safe) then I have no problem moving forward with that brand.
But before discussing brands and formulas, here are five things you need to know about deodorant (and why you should consider switching to a cleaner option):
1. The difference between deodorant and antiperspirant. So often there seems to be confusion about these two products. Antiperspirant is used to prevent perspiration; deodorant helps to prevent the bacteria that causes body odor. More often than not consumers are usually looking to prevent odor, understanding that sweat is an important bodily function that helps us maintain our ideal temperature.
2. Ingredients to avoid. While there are many ingredients we need to avoid in all of our personal care products, one of the main ones in deodorant is aluminum. Aluminum is a metal that can cause changes at the cellular level, can increase the growth of tumors and, in some cases, has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Another ingredient of concern is the term “fragrance.” In essence fragrance is a wildcard combination of hundreds of ingredients that do not have to be disclosed because they are considered a trade secret. Other ingredients to stay away from: triclosan, parabens, phthalates, PEG compounds and parfum.
3. What makes a deodorant natural. This is problematic because, at this point in time, there are no laws regulating the term “natural.” Ultimately you, the consumer, must take the time to learn what ingredients to look out for and then read the labels. A clean option would be any product without the ingredients listed above, has ingredients you already know and can pronounce and that have been proven safe.
4. The detox period. When making the change to natural or clean deodorant there is typically a detox period. Sometimes this is mistaken as the deodorant not working, but in reality it is just a result of the body releasing toxins that have been blocked long-term by antiperspirant ingredients. The detox period usually takes about two to four weeks, but keep in mind that the switch to cleaner options is good for your body.
5. How to make it through the detox period. First, make sure you are applying the clean deodorant correctly. Because of the formulation and ingredients, you may need to hold the deodorant on your skin for a moment to heat it up before applying. Second, reapply the clean deodorant a little more frequently for the first couple of weeks (and make sure to bathe or shower daily). Third, you can apply a detox mask of Indian clay and apple cider vinegar; this helps not only in detoxification, but exfoliates the dead skin in the underarms as well.
As a reminder, when switching to natural or clean deodorant you are truly doing your body a favor. Focusing on the long-term health benefits will help with the uncomfortable detox period, and soon you will smell and feel amazing.
Finally, a non-exhaustive list of brands I recommend to those who are looking for natural deodorant options:
Schmidt’s. This is my personal favorite; the bergamot-lime smells like a vacation!
Primally Pure. A pricier option, but works very well.
Pretty Frank. The version I use comes in a pot that I apply with my fingers, but they do have a stick option available as well.
Stinkbug Naturals. They use a proprietary blend of oils for their fragrance; I recommend reaching out to them to find out which ones are used in each fragrance before using.
Ursa Major. Another pricier version, but works well and offers beautiful scents.
Piperwai. Another option that comes in a pot, but I enjoy the transparency of their ingredient list.
Heather Disarro is the author and creator of Heather’s Dish, a clean beauty educator, a health coach and social media boss of Content Titan, a digital content powerhouse. She loves spending time with her husband and two kids doing almost anything outdoors, eating great food, reading and enjoying everything Arkansas has to offer.