Does Natural Deodorant Really Work?

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Conventional deodorants and antiperspirants scare me. They contain chemicals and other ingredients that are absorbed into our bodies. While these ingredients have not been conclusively linked to breast cancer or Alzheimer’s, studies have shown that they could possibly have long-term health effects. The problem is that no one seems to know exactly what those heath effects are. (Here’s the National Cancer Institute’s take on the issue.)

I hate being smelly. Briefly, forever ago, I tried the crystal deodorant and the all-natural tea tree oil stuff (which actually has propylene glycolread why it’s bad for you at The Good Human) without any decent results. But I still cringe every time I roll on Secret thinking about the aluminum, the Alzheimer’s, the chemicals.

Enter fall. As I tend to sweat just a bit less during cooler weather, I thought it was the perfect time for an experiment.

I have tried three different, natural deodorants at the time of this post.

Natural Deodorant 1: Baking Soda
People swear that dusting your pits with baking soda is a great alternative to conventional deodorants. And it’s cheap, another requirement of mine. I just patted it on with a cotton ball.

The Verdict: This worked well for the first two weeks. It combated the smell and left me feeling fairly dry and silky smooth. Then I started itching. And I mean itching — all the time. People looked at me funny. And the more I scratched, the more my underarms burned. A little more research taught me that some people have an adverse reaction to baking soda. I guess I’m one of those people.

Natural Deodorant 2: Tom’s of Maine
This was on sale, which is the only reason I decided to try it. I liked the ingredient list. Other people swear that it works.

The Verdict: Hated it. If I even sweated just a tiny bit, my armpits felt sticky the rest of the day, and the smell did not agree with me.

Natural Deodorant 3: Apple Cider Vinegar
Straight up vinegar, don’t cut with water. I soak a cotton ball and then swipe it on.

The Verdict: I’m still using it, and it works for the light activity days. It doesn’t make me smell like vinegar, and while it does sting a tiny bit after shaving, it hasn’t caused a rash.

Reminder: Your body may very well go through a detox period and actually smell worse for the first week or so. Stick with it – your body’s just ridding itself of all the chemicals that have been sucked in through your lymph nodes for years.

I’m still on the search for the perfect deodorant and am branching out with recipes that include more than one ingredient. I’ll report back on my second batch of experiments.

If you try any of these deodorants, or any other homemade deodorant recipe that looks good to you, report back – I’m still searching the holy grail of deodorants.


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