Deodorant Detox: How to Make the Switch to Natural

I’ve been on the natural beauty train for awhile. But when I started working for Pharmaca I really kicked up my commitment to keeping toxic ingredients out of everything from my makeup to my shampoo to my serums. And I’ve never looked back!

Deodorant, however, has always been the one natural hurdle I couldn’t overcome…I just have always sweat a little too much to make the transition (and I hate feeling like I stink!). But I know that switching to a natural, aluminum-free deodorant is one of the most important choices I can make when it comes to keeping my body free of toxins. So in May I decided to take the plunge—and document the journey of my deodorant detox! To kick off my quest, I chatted with Kerri Leslie, founder of Noniko Natural Deodorant, to learn about the best ways to end my relationship with anti-perspirant for good.

Kerri says the first thing to do is find the one that works for you. “I can help anybody make the transition work for them because I have tried every product on the market!” says Kerri. No matter which formula you choose (and there are a lot), there is going to be a detoxification period. “Essentially what’s happening with anti-perspirant is that the aluminum is clogging your sweat glands like a cork,” says Kerri. So when you stop using it, your body begins eliminating all the toxins—and sweating. Profusely. “During this period, you’re often washing away the deodorant with all the sweat.” (Something to look forward to!)

The good news is that Kerri swears you can get over the worst of the transition in about 2 weeks. Here are her top tips for making it go as smoothly as possible.

Get a formula that includes baking soda, but don’t overdo it.
Baking soda neutralizes odor and a swipe of it will take away any stinkiness, making it ideal for touch ups, says Kerri. The only problem is that some people are sensitive to it, so it’s good to minimize how much you’re putting on. If you do develop a rash, “stop using it!” she says. It means your skin is irritated and you should switch to a baking soda-free version (Noniko’s Sensitive Skin Formula uses magnesium in its place).

Make application the last step in your morning ritual.
This helps ensure you’ve gotten rid of any residual moisture from the shower. Starting off with dry armpits—and allowing pores to close—means you’re less likely to experience any irritation, especially if you’ve just shaved.

Carry it with you.
Just use one swipe in the morning, and for touchups during the day when you feel you need to (this should only be necessary in the first few weeks). But don’t use too much—you don’t want to feel like it’s too goopy.

Prepare yourself for being a little uncomfortable.
“It’s normal for your body to sweat,” says Kerri. “So you have to get used to and start getting comfortable with having armpits that aren’t perfectly dry.”

Wear the right clothes.
For example, if you don’t want obvious sweat stains, stay away from silk blouses. Tank tops are a good bet, since you also don’t want any odor to get ingrained in the fabric of your clothes.

Encourage detoxification.
“We’re investigating whether lymph and breast massage can help speed up the detox process, but it can’t hurt,” says Kerri. She even suggest applying a clay mask to the area to help draw out toxins (try ones from Dr. Hauschka, evanhealy or John Masters Organics).

Here goes nothing!

Day 1 (using Noniko Bergamot Grapefruit): Goes on easily, smells nice but not overwhelming. It’s a cool day so I’m not sweating much. Definitely some dampness, but nothing I can’t handle. This is gonna be easy!

Day 2: I obediently wait until the end of my morning routine to put on a few swipes. By 5pm I was a little stinky, so I reapplied once.

Day 3: After the shower my pits felt a little irritated, so I applied Derma E Tea Tree & Vitamin E Antiseptic Crème—my go-to for any skin irritations—to soothe them.

Days 4 & 5: I haven’t noticed that much more sweat, but there was definitely an odor after a few hikes and some time in the garden. Had to shower more often to get rid of it, but it’s not unbearable.

Day 6: Definitely noticing some redness, but I keep up with my Derma E treatment, applying before I apply the deodorant.

Day 7: Hanging in there! It’s definitely hotter today, so I know I’m sweating, but I reapplied at lunchtime and seem to be ok.

Day 8: I made it a week! The odor is definitely getting less and less noticeable, and the redness has mostly gone away. Excited to be almost aluminum-free.

Day 9: I feel like I took a step back. The end of yesterday was hot, so I ended up having to shower last night because I stank. And this morning my armpits were irritated again, so I decided to switch to another formula I had at home, this Weleda Citrus 24h Roll-On, which is free of baking soda.

Day 10: I was substantially stinky and irritated by the end of the day yesterday. Showered and soothed with my Derma E Crème. Went back to my Noniko this morning and hoping for the best.

Days 11 & 12: I went out of town and forgot my deodorant. But I didn’t stink at all! Even after a few hours skiing I was doing just fine.

Day 13: Reapplied once, but that did the trick to kill the stink.

Day 14: Successfully made it 14 days! I don’t feel like I am overly sweating or overly stinky. I think I will have to keep working on the irritation, but I’m hoping to switch over to the sensitive formula without baking soda.

Thinking about making the transition to natural deodorant? Check out our broad collection of sticks, sprays and roll-ons that are all free of aluminum. Good luck!

Tiffany is Pharmaca’s Senior Communications Manager. And now a natural deodorant devotee.