The No BS Guide to Natural Deodorants, What You Need to Know (And Some Recipe's)

As a long time advocate of natural deodorants, I’ve noticed there’s still some mystery around them and still people are unaware of the benefits they bring, but also the risks associated with conventional deodorants.

I’ve written this guide to uncover what you need to know about off the shelf deodorants, how they can unbalance your body’s natural rhythms and why it’s so important you consider making the switch to these natural alternatives. 

I’ve also thrown in some of my own homemade natural deodorant recipes that I’ve tried and tested, both to save you money and lessen the environmental impact of off the shelf deodorants. 

I’ve broken this guide into three main categories. Firstly explaining how regular deodorant works, how it affects your body in somewhat unnatural ways and the differences between natural alternatives.

What you should know when transitioning away from regular deodorants, because your body has become accustomed to certain chemical ingredients and there’s actually quite a few changes that take place. 

Lastly I’ve written a section on some great quality natural deodorant recipes that will save you money, use only natural ingredients and lessen your environmental impact. 

  1. Why You Must Make the Switch To Natural Deodorants
  2. What to Expect and a Detox Guide
  3. My Tried and Tested Natural Deodorant Recipes For You to Use

Why You Must Make The Switch

There’s a Difference Between Deodorant and Antiperspirant?
The terms are used interchangeably although they’re completely different. Simply put, deodorants mask any nasty body odours but do not prevent sweating. Antiperspirants typically contain ingredients more controversial, Aluminium or Parabens to name a few. They work by blocking the pores within your skin to prevent any sweat from being excreted.

Interestingly antiperspirants are by definition a drug, and considered a drug, because it prevents sweat, and sweat is a natural bodily function.

Why we smell and how do conventional deodorants work?

Why is it that deodorant companies want to prevent the sweat? Because the sweat we excrete when combined with the natural bacteria on our skin is what causes BO. If you stop the sweat there’s nothing to combine with the bacteria and therefore there are no nasty smell. The vast majority of deodorants are combined with antiperspirant, to stop sweat entirely and keep you sweet smelling. 

Our underarms are a warm spot that allows natural bacteria to permeate and hangout. What they actually do is eat the moisture out skin produces(sweat). The waste the bacteria produces from snacking on our swear is how bad body odour comes about. 

Traditional deodorants also work by using antimicrobial agents or ethanol to kill off the bacteria. Antiperspirants go a more controversial route by blocking the pores in our skin so that the bacteria living under arms never get a chance to chow down.

Why you should sweat but not smell

While this might sound all well and good, stopping the sweat and killing the bacteria. studies have found that using these conventional deodorants can negatively affect the ecosystems on our skin. There’s a chance we’re unknowingly intensifying our body odour and even affecting the immune system.The studies participants had far more bacteria growing around their underarms, all though this bacteria that produces BO also helps us stave off infection. 

Just like our gut, bacteria sets up shop in our underarms. Our skin is supposed to have a normal amount of bacteria and stopping this can lead to some adverse effects. This is all why it’s completely natural for us to be perspiring. The armpits are the body’s natural entry and exit points, keeping them blocked can mess with the natural rhythms and cause issues within our body as the sweat looks for other ways to exit.

Should I be avoiding aluminium?

There’s been controversy over aluminium in deodorant since Adam was a boy. It’s the leading reason why natural deodorants have gained popularity. There was a theory that aluminium was associated with alzeighmers when scientists found rabbits injected with aluminium shared very similarities to alzheimer patients. 

Could Aluminium in Deodorant Cause Cancer?

The second controversy was that aluminum has been linked to breast cancer. Although there’s been no hard evidence and event the National Institute of Cancer said there’s no link between the two. Its still recommended to keep aluminum off your skin. Your skin is a natural absorbent, and absorbs 60-70% of what we put on it. Keeping this in mind its best to avoid the use of harmful ingredients.

One could say it’s a balancing act of keeping your odour and sweat at socially acceptable levels while not exposing your skin to such hard ingredients. A product may be widely marketed and commonplace in our grocery stores, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely aware of the long term risks of applying it to our bodies. There’s a large variety of complaints about skin rashes and irrition from the aluminium within our deodorants, that’s why I’ve always recommended to avoid it when possible. 

Animal Cruelty in the Skin Care Industry

Something that’s been going on for years and doesn’t look like it’s going to be stopping anytime soon, is the animal cruelty that’s common place in production of conventional deodorant. Animals are used as guinea pigs for new types of chemicals used in deodorants. This is both traumatizing and cruel for the animals. Their whole lives are spent in a lab, being covered in different chemical ingredients. 

Luckily the majority of natural deodorant brands are conscious of the wider world and have begun testing on human volunteers. These volunteers are paid to have new recipe’s applied to their skin to see if they’re any reactions. While you might be less health consious animal cruelty is something that should of stopped by 2021. Natural deodorants can also be tested on humans as they dont have huge lists of potentially harmful ingredients that are seen on conventional deodorants. This supports animal welfare and is a great step in the right direction.

What To Expect When Switching To Natural Deodorant

Support your pits

While switching to natural deodorant supporting your armpits and getting your sweat on is highly recommended. Exercise regularly will help your body sweat out the build up of unneeded toxins that has accumulated. 

This will speed up the detox process so you can begin your transition. You can further support your armpits during the initial change to natural deodorants by ensuring the natural deodorant isn’t cold when you apply it, and be sure not to apply straight after shaving.

The Detox

While switching to natural deodorant supporting your armpits and getting your sweat on is highly recommended. Exercise regularly will help your body sweat out the build up of unneeded toxins that has accumulated. 

This will speed up the detox process so you can begin your transition. You can further support your armpits during the initial change to natural deodorants by ensuring the natural deodorant isn’t cold when you apply it, and be sure not to apply straight after shaving.

Week 1

For the first week you usually don’t notice much of a difference of using natural deodorant. This is because the constant application of antiperspirants actually build up on your skin and do not go away too quickly. 

They create a gel like plug, keeping your pores blocked long after application has stopped. You may notice this when you shower as the skin under your underarms feels different and more stickly. A Lot of people use natural deodorant and find it works great for the first week, then quickly make the switch back when their body’s natural detox really begins as we’re about to find out.

Week 2

The second week is when it begins getting difficult, the natural bacteria that’s been suppressed for so long comes back with a vengeance, with it all the bodily smells that’s been suppressed for so long. Even worse you’ll begin perspiring far more because your body will make up for all that times that your pores have been blocked. It’s important to remember this increase in bacteria and swear does not last forever and soon subsides.

Week 3

According to the study on how antiperspirant affects the microbes on our skin, the bacteria will begin subsiding. Things will begin rebalancing and stop over producing both the bacteria and excessive sweating. This means the bad odour issues you were experiencing in week 2 will be fading quite quickly. 

The moisture around your underarms lessens, the ingredients in your natural deodorant will also mop up the moisture and make it far less prevalent. Natural fibers like cotton, bamboo or linen are all used as natural alternatives to keep your underarms dry.

Week 4

By now your body should be very well adjusted to the new switch you’ve made. I know mine did and I’m sure yours will be as well. It can take up to 30 days for your body to properly adjust so you’ll need a bit of patience although it’s definitely worth the wait. You can now continue using your natural deodorant, masking your body odour but still sweating as you’re supposed to. 

My Tried and Tested Natural Deodorant Recipe's

My only gripe with natural deodorant is that they’re all so expensive, I’m yet to find one that’s affordable for the average joe. To keep my weekly budget in check I actually began creating my own deodorants from scratch.

The benefits of these are that you can reuse your deodorant containers, produce in bulk and save more money the more you create. It’s great for the environment as you’re reducing your plastic use, and last but not least creating your own natural deodorants is always a lot of fun. 

My recipe’s I initially have gotten off other parts of the web, but I mixed and matched them around so much that they’re entirely original and you can trust that they work very well at keeping you sweet smelling and your sweat in check. 

Be warned that you do sweat more with natural deodorant, but as I explained above it’s completely natural. I do wear regular deodorants if I know I’m going to be exercising for a long period of time e.g hiking, or if it’s an especially hot day and I’m on my feet for a large portion of time.  But overall I stick to my homemade deodorants that work especially well.

Simple Stupid Deodorant

I call this deodorant recipe the simple stupid, it’s so easy to make it’s almost impossible for it to go wrong, while it’s not as effective as the next, it still works well. 

Ingredients

  • 6 Tbs. coconut oil
  • 4 Tbs. baking soda
  • 4 Tbs. arrowroot or cornstarch
  • Assorted essential oils

Instructions

  1. Mix the starch or arrowroot with the baking soda in a sizable dish.
  2. Mix the starch/arrowroot together with the baking soda and coconut oil, mix until its all together thoroughly.
  3. Add essential oils for the natural fragrance you are after.
  4. Once your done, store in a cool place, in a sealed container.

I found this recipe to work effectively asd the coconut oil and baking soda complemented each other well for both perspiration and odor. From researching one small negative to this recipe I have found is a rare reaction to baking soda. However this has often been fixed by reducing the amount in the recipe. Reactions also have resulted in itching for a short period of time and are nothing significant.

Shea Butter and Coconut Oil Homemade Deodorant

I found this recipe a little more complex to do properly and I won’t lie, I may of messed it up on my first ands second try. The coconut oil is essential and I’ve always loved the smell that it provides. 

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs of  coconut oil 
  • 3 Tbs baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp Shea butter
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot or cornstarch
  • Assorted essential oil
Instructions
  1. Combine the coconut oil and Shea butter by melting them together. 
  2. Grab your baking soda and mix in while the mixture is still liquid. Do this also with your arrowroot/cornstarch until it’s well blended. 
  3. Depending on what scent you’re going for you can mix in essential oils at this stage. The more used the stronger the fragrance. 
  4. Put in a jar in a cool place
 
I like this deodorant as the shea butter does a great job of protecting and moisturizing the skin. However this butter can be expensive and it’s really only cost efficient when buying in bulk, that’s why I recommend making the recipe one time, if you like it and happy with how the deodorant is self works, THEN make some in bulk and really save your self some money.

In Conclusion

Speaking for myself, making the switch to natural was a great choice I made years ago. I never liked all the supposed controversy over ingredients such as aluminium, and preferred to simply make the switch. Since I started producing my own deodorant, I haven’t had to worry about dodgey ingredients but also have far more fun with it, while reducing my carbon footprint.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you give natural deodorants some consideration and if you’ve read my blog, then hopefully you’re convinced. In my opinion there’s just too much controvery and loose ends to continue using regular deodorants.

Sarah Parker

Sarah is fascinated with all things skin care and wants to shed some light on the best everyday skin products that  you should be using. There’s so much information out there, and Sarah intends to sift through it all!