A quick, handy guide to Natural Deodorant:
- How Natural Deodorants Work,
- Best Natural Ingredients for Deodorants,
- Ingredients to Watch Out for,
- Top Tip for Fresh Pits!
How Natural Deodorants Work
The best natural deos should work in four key ways to keep underarms fresh all day long:
- Deodorise – natural deos MUST help to neutralise any odours that may occur by sweating. Sweat itself is odourless, but becomes smelly when bacteria break the sweat down into acids. So a natural deodorant must be able to quickly and effectively combat this with key ingredients that have both deodorising and sweat absorption actions.
- Soothe – skin under the arms can be very sensitive, more so than on other parts of the body. It can also get irritated when hot or when wearing tight, synthetic clothing. The best natural deos contain skin loving ingredients to look after skin whilst also keeping it free from odour.
- Detoxify – one of the reasons many people switch to natural deodorant is because they are worried about how mass market anti-perspirants work to block sweat glands, stopping pores from releasing sweat effectively. When switching to a natural deo, it can take a bit of time for sweat glands to respond and reach a new balance, so the ideal natural deodorant helps with this process using key detoxifying ingredients.
- Nourish – underarms and other sweaty areas of our body still deserve to be looked after! Natural deos should ideally keep skin looking supple, feeling moisturised and calm.
Best Natural Ingredients for Deodorants
There are many natural deodorant brands and products available today (trust us, we’ve tried MANY of them!) but they do vary widely in quality and effectiveness.
A trend of ‘make your own’ natural deo has also started and whilst it may work for some, we would not recommend doing this without some proper training first! We like to leave our armpits to the natural skincare experts, who have taken years to discover the best formula for fragrant, fresh feeling armpits.
Here’s our top five ingredients to look for when choosing a natural deo this season:
Coconut Oil – This amazing nourishing natural oil contains Vitamin E, essential amino acids, lauric and caprylic acid which form part of skin’s barrier function and help maintain the natural flora. The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of Coconut Oil are absolutely perfect for natural deodorants. Due to it’s high saturated fat content, Coconut oil ensures skin remains highly moisturised after use helping to soothe as well as treat. Finally, Coconut oil has the added benefit of being able to reach the dermis (deep layers of the skin) allowing the antibacterial action to begin under the surface. An essential ingredient for any natural deo!
Arrowroot Powder – Sweat is the enemy of the natural deo so it is essential to have an ingredient that absorbs wetness effectively. Much like talcum powder, this starch (obtained from the rootstock of tropical plants/tubers) activates the skin’s ability to absorb moisture. The absorbent quality of arrowroot powder leaves skin feeling silky and smooth, and also has natural deodorizing properties.
Salt – Natural salt, such as Himalayan Pink Salt, contains a whole host of beneficial minerals such as magnesium, potassium, iodine and iron which act as key detoxifiers and neutralizers of odour.
Magnesium Oxide – Remember ‘milk of magnesia’? This is the same ingredient which is now cleverly used in many natural deodorants due to it’s amazing ability to neutralise odour as well as a whole host of other health benefits.
Essential Oils – The purest potent life force and energy of a plant is found in an essential oil. They are the distilled concentrated matter that keeps the plant pure, helps it to resist disease and allows it to thrive by communicating with insects. The best essential oils work for both skin AND mood, helping to keep skin feeling fresh and our minds calm, balanced or energised. Popular natural deodorant essential oils include: mint, tea tree, lemon, sweet orange, patchouli and geranium.
Ingredients to Watch Out for in Natural Deodorants
The word ‘natural’ can be used in any context and this includes on skincare labels. Unfortunately, in an era of greenwashing, many brands are claiming to their products contain ‘natural ingredients’ when they do not. Our recent UK wide skincare survey tells us that 1 in 3 ethical consumers are confused about reading ingredient labels. We’ve highlighted three ingredients to re-consider when looking for a natural deodorant and have explained why we feel they are not required.
Potassium Alum (potassium aluminium sulphate) – Sometimes known as crystal or ‘rock salt’. Some manufacturers of crystal deodorant claim that the alum compound is too large to enter the body. Yet Breast Cancer UK quotes; “It is not the aluminium salt that enters a cell, but the aluminium ion itself. Therefore, the size of the compound is not necessarily relevant. Breast Cancer UK recommends avoiding antiperspirants (and deodorants) that contain any type of aluminium salt.” Although this ingredient is not the same as the widely known harmful to health Aluminum ingredients found in conventional anti-perspirants (such as aluminium chlorohydrate, aluminum chloride, aluminum hydroxybromide, or aluminum zirconium) we feel it is still worth looking into further before buying a natural deodorant that contains this ingredient.
Sodium Bicarbonate – Also known as ‘baking soda’ this is a popular ingredient used in many natural deodorants. It is used due to its effectiveness in neutralising odours. However, there are also many reports of skin irritation occurring as a result of using natural deodorants with sodium bicarbonate in them, which can occur immediately or over a period of time. Sodium bicarbonate has a naturally high pH which is in opposition to skin’s neutral position. A chemical reaction occurs between the slightly acidic skin and the very alkaline baking soda. During this reaction, the natural acid mantle and moisture barrier are damaged. When reading the label, if it is found high up the ingredient list (i.e. used in high quantities) then proceed with caution. No one likes itchy pits!
Alcohol – When correctly used it can be an effective, safe preservative in skincare. However, in a natural deodorant, concentrated alcohol can cool the skin and dry it out very quickly. Skin may react right away to alcohol, or dry out over time, leading to a breakdown of the skin barrier and making rashes a more likely occurrence.
Top Tip – Give Underarms Time to Adapt
When transitioning from a conventional anti-perspirant deodorant to a natural deodorant for the first time it can take time for the sweat glands to adjust. Some people find a couple of weeks of more sweatiness and odour than before, get disheartened, and switch back. Give the skin and body time to ‘detox’ from the conventional deodorant. Notice how it settles down after using a natural deo regularly each day.
For advice and support when taking the plunge, head over to our Natural Beauty Facebook Group to chat with like-minded converts!
What are your experiences of using natural deodorants? We’d love to know!