Review: this column is dedicated to natural products that sensitive people may enjoy. Featuring products that are ethically made without synthetic ingredients, and/or as a bonus, are sustainably sourced and/or are run by small-business owners.
Basically, I got tired of my drug store brand deodorants and antiperspirants. They left a residue, discolored my clothing, and while they mostly did the job, I do get a rash from time to time. I’m slowly removing all synthetic elements from what I wear/eat/drink because I’m pretty sure many of these things can’t be good in the long run. (…Slowly, because often, ‘natural’/organic things can cost so much more – but that’s a whole other post on its own.)
I’ll like to start off by saying that none of these natural deodorants gave me any discomfort at all. No itch, no stinging even after applying it on freshly shaved pits.
According to Jessica of OdetteAndJoni, some people experience a little discomfort or redness when switching to natural deodorants that contain baking soda – something to do with the pH level of the skin. She recommends dabbing a vinegar solution (1:1 vinegar & water) with a cotton swab, allowing it to dry, then applying the deodorant. Within a week or less, the discomfort should disappear.
Before we dive in, here are some thoughts about armpits:
- Sweating is normal and healthy. I’ve often used antiperspirants because I am just not fond of that sweaty feeling, but the sweat still has to come out SOMEWHERE. Sweating helps cool the body and remove toxins. It makes sense and I have decided to live with it. (Isn’t it crazy how often we have to feel embarrassed by our natural body processes?! ) I understand though, if you’re working in some profession where visibly sweating isn’t really the best (e.g. if you’re a server bending over people constantly), antiperspirants could still be your choice.
- Say no to aluminum? The controversy surrounding antiperspirants concerns the aluminum that’s found in it, with some sources claiming that it’s related to breast cancer and dementia, among other things. While this has been mostly unsubstantiated thus far (depending on who you ask!), some prefer to avoid the risk.
- How you smell = what you eat. On days if you don’t want to smell especially ripe, you could try limiting heavy spices and condiments, or these other kinds of foods. (Though I really love food too much to really do anything about this.)
- Switching may cause a reaction. To avoid this, you could let your armpit ‘rest’ by not applying anything for 2-3 days before trying out a new natural deodorant.
- You could also detox your armpits. Which supposedly helps get rid of all the synthetic ingredients your body absorbed through commercial deodorants.
- Seriously sweating buckets? If you’re sweating a lot, this may be a sign of hyperhidrosis, which can be caused by factors like hormonal changes.
- Have long pit hair? If you’re growing out your pit hair, solid/stick deodorants may not be for you. You may prefer liquid roll-ons to get the deodorant close enough to your skin for it to work, or those that you can apply with your finger.
- Remove waxy residue. Any deodorant containing beeswax leaves a residue buildup over time and can end up blocking your pores. To remove it, simply use any scrub, a baking soda solution, or apply a little petroleum jelly on your pits before showering.
For all of the samples below, I tested them all through various scenarios – overnight, a regular day at work/school which involves a fair bit of walking around the city, and a typical yoga class. Do note that it IS winter here so I am definitely not sweating as I would in the summer.
Fir Needle & Lavender Deodorant
organic coconut oil, organic arrowroot powder, organic mango butter, beeswax, baking soda, organic fir needle essential oil, organic lavender essential oil
What I love: The heavenly scent. The smell of fir trees makes me extraordinarily happy. It also comes in a paper tube, making it the most environmentally-friendly of the bunch.
Does it work? Yes, for a couple of hours. Definitely not an extensive workout on a hot summer’s day kind of deodorant. I also found that this seems to leave the most beeswax residue of the bunch.
Overall: Okay for a general day-to-day light coverage. Love the paper tube, but you may want to avoid handling with wet hands.
Fat and the Moon
coconut oil*, baking soda (aluminum free), arrowroot starch*, beeswax, essential oils of black pepper*, clary sage*, bergamot*, tea tree*, grapefruit*
What I love: The scent – smells fresh, and is barely detectable after it goes on. It feels a little greasy to the touch but doesn’t feel greasy at all after application.
Does it work? Yes, although you do have to get a decent pea-sized amount and cover the entire area well – but that’s also true of all the creams that come in tubs.
Overall: I like it. The small tub also makes it a great size to test out whether baking soda deodorants work for you.
Sensitive lil’ pit cream
coconut oil*, arrowroot starch*, magnesium hydroxide (aka milk of magnesia), beeswax, essential oils of basil* & vetiver*
What I love: No baking soda, and is super gentle as promised. Greasy to the touch, but doesn’t feel greasy at all after application – barely-there sensation, no residue.
Does it work? I sweat a bunch during yoga but this kept the worst at bay.
Overall: Recommended – I found myself gravitating towards this one after testing them all out. Mostly because I’m partial to the scent of basil & vetiver!
Odette and Joni
Naked and Organic Deodorant
Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Baking Soda, Arrowroot Flour, Kaolin Clay, Sunflower Oil, Shea Butter, All Organic
What I love: Has a barely detectable scent, great for those who aren’t a fan of scented things. Contains Kaolin Clay which is supposed to be great for nourishing and purifying the skin, and also helps to manage moisture. Triple deodorizing power of Baking Soda + Clay + Arrowroot flour.
Does it work? Yes. Also held up well during a sweaty yoga class!
Overall: Recommended – this also offers the most bang for your buck.
Sensitive Skin Probiotic Deodorant
$4.75, 0.75oz twist-up tube
shea butter, beeswax, avocado oil, sunflower oil, cocoa butter, arrowroot powder, shelf stable probiotics, vitamin e oil, magnesium oil
What I love: It’s unscented, and will be suitable for those who are sensitive to scents of all kind. Since sweat is basically odorless (unless you’re eating a lot of foods that can contribute to body odor), and odor is exacerbated by bacteria that’s on your skin, the probiotic promises to nix this problem by regulating and discouraging the growth of bad bacteria. Also love the easy-to-handle packaging.
Does it work? Yes. The probiotic + magnesium oil combination seemed to work like a charm for me.
Overall: I like this for easy application! Recommended for those sensitive to baking soda.
P.S. I received these free samples in exchange for an unbiased review.
While I sampled only five, there are really a ton of other natural deodorants out there – a friend swears by the Arm & Hammer one while I’ve also tried the Crystal Salt deodorant. The salt one did not work so great for me – just an hour or two of protection before it wore off.
Do you use a natural deodorant? Which one do you swear by? Let me know in the comments!