I have been wearing some form of anti-perspirant/deodorant every single day since my mom bought me that first stick of Teen Spirit back in 1991. Seeing as how I work in extremely close proximity to people for a living, usually ten hours at a time, I am hyper-aware of how I smell.

Suffice it to say, I have become slightly obsessed with not offending my clients. In the past, I didn’t care what it took to stay bone dry and odor-free. I was happy to load on products described as “clinical strength” or “72 hour protection” without giving a second thought as to exactly what I may be putting under my arms.

But as I began to delve into learning about all of the ingredients in my beloved body care products, I became concerned about the effect they may be having on my health. When I found out the aluminum-containing anti-perspirants I was so insistent upon using might actually be linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s, I decided to go the more natural route.

Image via Beth Cath

How to Make the Switch

Now, I am here to tell you this was not an easy transition for me. I was used to applying a generous amount of commercial antiperspirant every morning and even then, I would be smelling funky within 12 hours. Making the switch to a natural deodorant can take some time and adjustment.

During a weekend off about five years ago, I started my “armpit detox” by committing to not wearing anything under my arms from Friday night until Monday morning. Yes, I decided to just dive right into the deep end. I chose a time in which I wouldn’t be working and I could allow my body to just do it’s natural thing and sweat! I let my pits breathe. And let me tell you; I was sweatier and smellier that I had ever been.

Remember, if you have been plugging up your sweat glands with aluminum and disrupting your body’s balance of bacteria, then this is a perfectly normal reaction.

Making the switch to a natural deodorant can take some time and adjustment.

If I started feeling extra funky, then I simply washed my armpits with soap and water. I also love using a washcloth to exfoliate. I still do this every day when I bathe. Nothing works quite as well as a good old scrubbing to refresh.

Image via Beth Cath

Best Brands to Try

You also might like to try using an underarm mask to help speed things along. Try The Healthy Underarm Detox Mask from LAVANILA. Or if you prefer the DIY route, simply mix Aztec Healing Clay with water and apply to your armpits. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes and rinse. This will help absorb impurities and build up and “reset” your body’s natural chemistry.

After a few days of wearing nothing, I chose a natural deodorant to replace my Suave Clinical Strength Powder Fresh ProSolid. I was seriously addicted to this stuff. It was a staple in my Amazon Subscribe and Save. But it was time to say farewell. For my first foray into the clean deodorant realm, I picked LAVANILA The Healthy Deodorant in the Fresh Vanilla Lemon scent. It glides on smoothly and smells wonderful.

I still keep this in my rotation as it is cornstarch based and doesn’t cause me any irritation. If you are someone who notices a rash when you use all natural deodorants, you may have a sensitivity to baking soda. There are plenty of options made without it.

The next product I added to my arsenal was Piper Wai’s Activated Charcoal Deodorant. I found this company after I had had a very bad reaction to a baking soda-containing deodorant. Piper Wai was founded by women who wanted protection without irritation. This was my first time using a formula that comes in a jar and I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to like it. But lo and behold, I loved it! It’s wonderful for sensitive skin and the charcoal really works at absorbing wetness. I also enjoy the slightly minty scent. It comes in a stick formula as well.

For those of you who can handle baking soda, nothing beats Soapwalla’s Deodorant Cream and Schmidt’s. I found both of these brands to be super long lasting and highly effective. They rub in easily, absorb quickly and are also available in formulations specifically created for sensitive skin.

Last but not least, Meow Meow Tweet deserves a spot in everyone’s medicine cabinet. Besides their impossibly cute, biodegradable packaging, they offer both stick and cream options containing magnesium and arrowroot powder that come in a variety of fragrances and different sizes perfect for travel or your purse.

Remember, making the transition to natural deodorants and antiperspirants can be tough, frustrating and smelly. It took my body a few months to completely adjust. But interestingly enough, I now find that I don’t get as wet as I did when I first switched and I don’t notice any odor until well after 24 hours.

The longer I stick with using clean products under my arms, the better my sweat glands seem to function on their own. The cumulative benefits of making the change to healthier options have definitely been worth it.

Have you made the switch?

Feature Image via Rick Bhatia



  1. Antiperspirants work with Aluminium, as it works by blocking the sweat glands from producing sweat. While this seems good, a lot of risks have been associated with Aluminium lately, which when considered critically, won’t be the best option for your skin. In addition to aluminum in antiperspirants are parabens, which disrupt how the endocrine system works. On the other hand, activated charcoal deodorant contains natural ingredients that do not harm the skin in any way. If you have to choose, activated charcoal deodorant seems to be the best option.

  2. My mom always told me that anti-perspirant was bad news! Finally made the switch a few years ago and I haven’t looked back. I use Arm & Hammer – I think it’s for men, but it smells good, works well, and isn’t secretly giving me cancer so idc if it’s marketed for monkeys. It’s perfect.

  3. I read another article about making the switch. I did the whole “armpit detox” and put some Amazonian clay on my pits and gave them a rest before trying out the natural deo.

    I made it about half way through the workday – not stinky or sticky… then all of a sudden right about after lunch my armpits started BURNING like the pits of hell (ha -ha)! But seriously, it hurt so bad I was afraid to look and see red scored armpits. I immediately put some cold paper towels under my arms.

    Needless to say, I think I was either allergic to the deo, or maybe I should have not shaved so close to switch or I wonder if it was the Amazonian detox.Do you have any advice for this? I haven’t been brave enough to try again, but I want to. 🙂 Thanks!

    1. OMG! Yes the same happened with me! Worst burning cystic itchy rash everrrrr. I would guess that you are allergic to baking soda and if the deodorant had that in it and you put it on shaved armpits, it would definitely burn. I would recommend simply taking a break from deodorant for two days and just wash your underarms with soap and water. Then shave underarms at night and apply a baking soda free deodorant in the morning. I think that will solve your issue!

      1. Oh wow!! I am glad I am not alone in this! Haha! Thank you for the reply. I do feel like it was a combo of the baking soda and shaving too close to the switch. (I use one of those electric razors) I think I’ll search for one of the brands you recommended and keep trying. Thanks again!

  4. I made the switch a year ago and really like Lavilin deodorant cream. I’m interested in trying some with charcoal in it to see how that works with wetness. Nice article.

  5. I loved the article! I made the switch a few months ago and am happy I could put my health first instead of worrying about offending someone with my “glorious scent.” On warm days I experience a little dampness under my arms, but nothing to write home about, and no weird bacteria scents. Currently using an essential oil deodorant, and will have to try these recommendations as well. Will try using a clay mask too.

  6. Such a great post! In the past couple of years I’ve paid so much more attention to what products I’m using on my body. It’s so important to be educated about ingredients! Native deodorant has been my go-to for about a year now after trying several other natural brands. Most scents are made with baking soda but they have a couple made without. I love it! 🙂

  7. After I got laser hair removal 5 years ago, I never needed deodorant after that. If I had a particularly busy work day, I’d use tom’s deodorant and it seemed to work well. Now even after a lot of my hair has grown back, I still don’t need to use any deodorant. Must be because of what the article discussed!

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