Tips for transitioning to Natural Deodorant


28 Jul 2020

Many people are transitioning to more organic and natural products within their personal care routine, but we know some are hesitant when it comes to using natural deodorant. ‘Will it work, and what if it doesn’t? I don’t want to smell!’ If this thought process sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone.

Switching from an antiperspirant to a natural deodorant will present a different journey for each person, and the transition can take some time. The good news is, many people transition with relative ease to their new, natural deodorant life. We took the time to research some common hurdles and solutions, to help you make an easy, breezy switch, and stick to it!

So, how might my body react, and how do I handle the changes?

Before you start, remember that our bodies are unique, and will react differently to changes in routine. How your body will respond depends on several factors, including the type of bacteria lives on your skin and your own body chemistry which varies with your genetics, gender, age, race, diet, lifestyle, you get it. So, a deodorant that works for one person may not work for another. You might experience all (or none) of the below, but it’s important not to be discouraged when you notice changes, rather embrace them as your body adapts to an adjustment in your routine!

Armpit adjustment: I smell a little more funky than fresh!

So, you decide to switch to a natural deodorant. At first, all goes well. But a few days after you’ve made the switch, you notice a change in your body odour, not necessarily for the better. Now is an important time to remember that it is in fact not your sweat that smells!

Your body has two types of sweat glands, and the kind that reside under your arms are known as apocrine glands, that release an odourless sweat containing fats and proteins. When this sweat mixes with the natural bacterial biome that live in your armpit, -that’s- when you start to smell.

Changing the product you use on your underarms can in turn adjust the balance of bacteria that live there, and the resulting odour caused when they mix with your sweat.

What do I do about it?

Be patient! It may take 2 to 3 weeks for your armpits to adjust to the change in routine, and your new bacterial biome to finally settle down. You can use natural talc-free powder to help with an increase in moisture if needed, but otherwise just washing your armpits with soap and water as normal, and wearing breathable clothing made from natural fibres (like cotton or bamboo) as you transition will all help!

Help, my armpits are angry!

During the transition to natural deodorant, some people may experience varying sensitivity to the ingredients in natural deodorants, some redness, or a rash. Again, don’t be discouraged, it’s simply a matter of working out what might be the culprit. The most common reactions include:

  • Sensitivity to bicarb (baking) soda: Although many people use a bicarb soda-inclusive deodorant without any problems, some people with more sensitive skin are more prone to irritations.

Bicarb soda is slightly alkaline with a pH range of 8 to 9. If your sweat is more on the acidic side (something that varies person to person), there may be a chemical reaction between the alkaline bicarb soda and your sweat. If you have an ongoing irritation you may be better of using a bicarb-free deodorant option, like Earthlette’s Sensitive Pits, which is also more hypo-allergenic!

  • Become an ingredient detective: Most natural deodorants include essential oils for fragrance and naturally antibacterial properties. Your body could be sensitive to an oil (or another ingredient), so a game of elimination may be required to help deduce which might be the culprit!
  • Friction is no fun: When first learning to apply natural deodorant (particularly a paste) applying the deodorant too vigorously can result in your sensitive armpit skin feeling a little overwhelmed! So, remember to be gentle, and that a little goes a long way. Start with a small, pea-sized amount and try swiping it over your skin, as opposed to rubbing it in (you can always increase as you go!).

Also, the temporary increase in sweat production that can occur when changing from an antiperspirant can result in some chafing as your armpit skin rubs together. The best way to address this is to keep the area clean and dry with regular washing, wearing your breathable clothing and trying a light moisturiser if needed. Once you’re through the transition period, this one should resolve itself!

  • Shave it for later: Shaving your underarms can heighten the sensitivity of your delicate armpit skin, so applying deodorant immediately after can result in an understandable reaction! To address this, wait at least 30 minutes after shaving before applying your product of choice, to ensure the skin has had time to settle.

Tried all these tips and still feeling a little sensitive? Before throwing in the towel and thinking natural deodorants just aren’t for you, try this remedy:

Mix 1 tablespoon of ACV to 1 cup of distilled (or well filtered) water in a small container (a spray bottle works well). Prior to applying deodorant, (gently) rub the mixture into underarm to rebalance the skin. Wait for it to dry and then apply your deodorant as usual.

Our bodies can view change as a disruption and try to resist (even if the change is a positive one).  Just like if you change your skincare regimen for your face, you may experience a ‘breakout’ before you settle into your new normal. Your body might need time to adjust and accept the change, but don’t give up! Pit persistence can pay off*.

*That said, pay attention to your body in the instance of a reaction, and if symptoms persist beyond a typical transition period, stop use and consult your medical professional!

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