Making The Switch To Natural Deodorant

This is a safe space, so I’ll be honest: I’m a sweaty person. My body temperature is very delicate and I tend to get overheated easily, therefore getting a bit sweaty. It’s something I’ve always been self-conscious about, especially when I worked retail. I’d tried many deodorants in the past and never found one that I felt was effective enough. Most left residue on my clothes, wore off too easily or the synthetic smell got too sweet and annoying after a while.

A few months ago, I decided it was time to switch to natural deodorant. I’d heard a lot about how using natural deodorant makes your body odor less smelly and that it was better for sensitive skin (which I have).

I first tried to just go straight from a regular deodorant to natural, but I was impatient. I wanted it work right away, and it didn’t. I had about a week where I felt like I wasn’t even wearing deodorant, which made me smell pretty bad. That’s actually a natural part of making the switch.

The first deodorant I tried was Schmidt’s, which I had seen a lot on Instagram. After a week, I noticed it was slightly irritating my underarms, but when I told my mom, she asked if the packaging said anything about when or how to use it. I checked and realized I hadn’t read it carefully - it said not to use it directly after showering and I had done that a few times. I took a week off and went back to regular deodorant, then tried to use Schmidt’s again at a time when I hadn't showered for at least 4 hours and found a day later that it was irritating me again.

I did some research and found a blog post by Sustain Yo Self that suggested doing an armpit detox before switching from standard deodorant to natural. The DIY armpit mask the blog mentioned was made up of products I already had, so I started doing it immediately. I did the armpit mask once a week for about 2 months while I was in the process of switching back to natural deodorant.

Many sites and blogs recommend an armpit detox to help clean out the toxins lingering in your armpits from past deodorants. According to Sustain Yo Self, “Conventional deodorants and antiperspirants contain a long list of nasty chemicals, used to kill bacteria and stop your body's natural ability to sweat (extremely unhealthy by the way, and can actually make you smell worse).” The rest of the research I did corroborated this statement.

Common toxins in standard deodorants are:

  • Aluminum compounds – Plug your pores and leech into your skin

  • Phthalates– Endocrine disruptors often found in plastic that can cause hormone imbalances

  • Propylene glycol – Also found in antifreeze and a known neurotoxin  

  • Formaldehyde - A known carcinogen used to kill germs

  • Parabens - A group of compounds used as preservatives in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products and the food industry; hormone disruptors

  • Antibacterial Substances- Endocrine disruptors and can negatively affect the immune system

[ingredient info from Sustain Yo Self and]

After starting the detox, I wanted to switch back to natural deodorant (going back to my old standard deo so quickly probably messed with my transition process too), but was worried about using Schmidt’s due to the irritation I experienced. I picked two more natural deodorants to try: Curie and Kopari.

While I was doing this deodorant experiment, I also switched to Saje Goddess Shave Foam for shaving my underarms (and legs). Saje’s shave foam is coconut oil-based and the brand doesn’t use any synthetic ingredients. My friend recently brought up the point that when we shave, we are cutting open our pores and any product we use can get in there and under our skin (literally). So if we are shoving products filled with parabens and phthalates into our pores, of course our underarms would be irritated and smelly.

I kept using the Saje foam and armpit mask over the last few months and it helped ease the transition, so definitely consider other elements outside of your hygiene besides the deodorant when making this change.

The first deodorant I tried was Curie’s Signature White Tea Deodorant*. This was kindly gifted to me by the company, which is San Francisco-based and local to me! The scent is really lovely and light and it didn’t leave any residue on my clothing. I wore it to a kickboxing class and I did not smell nearly as bad as I should have after the hour-long class.

Kopari and Curie.

Kopari and Curie.

Unfortunately, after about a week of using it, I had irritation on one armpit. My left armpit would get inflamed, but not my right. I’m super bummed about that because I love the scent. This likely happens to me because the deodorant contains baking soda, which irritates some people’s skin. This is probably why the Schmidt’s one didn’t work for me either. However, I believe Curie is worth a try and since some people are fine with baking soda-based deodorants, this one might be perfect for you!

The second deodorant I tried - and the one I’m still using right now - Kopari’s Coconut Deo. This deodorant is baking soda-free and instead coconut oil-based. It smells nice and I like how it rolls on. However, I feel like it doesn’t last all day. Since my body odor isn’t as bad as it used to be, this doesn’t impact me too much, but I do keep it on me if I’m going to an event or somewhere where I’d want to reapply.

I’m very satisfied with this product and I want to try more Kopari products for sure. The brand sells some body products that are good for making your shaving and body care routine cleaner and less packed with chemicals.

Both of these deodorants are aluminum-free and cruelty-free. If it weren’t for my baking soda irritation, I wouldn’t be able to pick a favorite, but Kopari just happens to work better for my body. Both products leave slight scent behind on clothing, but no discoloration. I also have less body odor under my armpits in general after using natural deo for a few months. Now, when I start to feel sweaty, I don’t get as anxious, because I know I don’t smell as bad as I used to.

If you haven't considered it yet, I highly recommend making the switch to natural deodorant! There are many brands beyond these two that offer options as well.

*This product was kindly gifted to me by the brand, but my opinions are completely my own.