During this time, I’m returning to my natural self.
My black roots are growing in, spray tan is gone, my fake nails are off and while I’m doing my skin care routine, I haven’t really worn any makeup in days. I’ve also started to make the switch to natural deodorant.
Deodorants are, in fact, beauty products, and we’re talking about them today.
Let’s start with what makes deodorants and antiperspirants different. Antiperspirants stop you from sweating by basically plugging your glands with aluminum, while deodorants help mask or neutralize the smell of body odor.
Lots of kinds you see at drugstores do both. However, concerns that aluminum can contribute to health issues, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease ((though experts have said there’s little evidence to prove this correlation), have led some people to make the switch to an aluminum-free formula.
You know how I feel about fear-mongering in beauty — especially when the typically undefined “clean” beauty is concerned — but I wanted to make the switch because 1) it won’t hurt, and 2) blocking my body from sweating, a natural function caused from centuries of evolution, isn’t something I want to do anymore.
When I posted on my Instagram story (follow me, @miss.gia.m) that I was making the switch during self-isolation, I received about 15 messages from other women about their journeys into natch deo. While some brands seemed to work for these women better than others, the top choices were Native Deodorant, Arm & Hammer and Schmidt’s Naturals. I decided to go with the latter, and I picked the Pineapple Coconut scent since it’s a sensitive-skin formula. Sometimes, the natural varieties are made with baking soda, which can make skin angry. If you know your skin is reactive or you have a bad reaction to a natural formula with baking soda, stop using it ASAP and look for one made without it.
The only issue with natural deodorants — or at least aluminum-free deodorants — is that they typically have a “transitional phase” that comes with a transitional smell. Once you remove that “plug” of aluminum, your body goes into overdrive to release what was blocked off. Though your liver and kidneys are the only organs in your body that help you “detox,” I’m going to refer to this purge of built-up gunk as a detox. This means lots of weird smells and lots of sweat will be coming out of your pits in the coming days or weeks.
The good news is that sweat doesn’t smell. It’s the bacteria that grows on sweat that causes the signature B.O. smell. Once your body goes through it’s natural purge, your deodorant will work to combat the smell.
We have to get through detox first and, now that we have all this time away from the world, it’s the perfect opportunity to switch to a natural formula. Here are a couple tips to get through.
If you know me, you know I think the trend of masks specifically made for your boobs, butts and hands is STUPID. (This is actually a thing.) Not because they do or don’t work, but because they contain the same ingredients as your face masks. Skin is skin for all intents and purposes, but certain ingredients will help with speeding up the underarm detox process while you use your new deodorant. They sell armpit detox masks and scrubs for this reason, such as Pacifica Coconut & Charcoal Underarm Detox Scrub, but you also can use your face masks.
Aztec Healing Clay, a powder-to-clay mask you mix with water or apple cider vinegar (Bragg is my choice — it must have “the mother”) that is meant for faces and not underarms, tends to be a natch deo darling, as its main ingredients work to draw out impurities from your skin. It also costs less than $10 on Amazon and will last you forever. Look for ingredients like charcoal, white clay (sometimes listed as kaolin clay) and exfoliating acids (aka alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids). Use products like these the same way you would treat your facial skin: two to three times per week, and stop immediately if you have any irritation.
Another tip to combat the odor is using a topical probiotic. Probiotics are live microorganisms that help balance your body’s good and bad bacteria. You may take them orally in supplements or by eating foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, but applying them right to the skin insures they get to your underarms. In my research, I’ve consistently seen rave reviews for Mother Dirt A+O Live Probiotic Spray. Spritz it on your pits twice a day to help balance bacteria and stave off stink. (Just like probiotic vitamins, these guys are alive, so store this spray in the fridge to keep it potent for longer.)
When your purge period ends — which could take up to three weeks — you may sweat slightly less after your underarms readjust to normal, but they probably won’t stop you from sweating altogether. The only thing that does that is the aluminum, but if you look for a natural formula with ingredients such as cornstarch, they may help soak up some of the sweat. However, I think I’m OK with a little pit sweat if it can help at all in the long run.
See you — hopefully not smell you — on the other side.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT