When I found out I was pregnant again I went through my bathroom cupboards and closet and sorted out the products that rated on Environmental Working Group’s website (EWG) as too toxic for me. Anything over a 4 or 5 (depending on my mood and how much I like the product). I sometimes forget, in the name of beauty, that just because something is vegan does not mean it’s non-toxic, safe, or natural.
I got to/had to throw out a number of eyeliners, shadows, glittery things, hair products, dye, etc. One item I typically give a pass to is my antiperspirant/deodorant. I have used Dove Fragrance-Free Invisible Solid, I know it’s owned by Unilever (yuck!!) but it worked and I gave it credit for being “unscented” and not smelling like armpit is important to me! It’s rated at a 4 out of 10, which EWG rates at moderate – I think using a product rated as a 4 is fairly conservative, but antiperspirant and aluminum get so much bad press I decided to ditch it.
This time, with this pregnancy, I wondered if I could change my habit of using antiperspirant. I know some people who just use deodorant or use nothing at all (you know who you are!) :) I envy them. I’ve always been a sweating sort of person, I’ve also gone through phases of being a nervous person – which makes me sweaty! On days when I would forget to put on my antiperspirant, even when I’m not sweating, I can catch a whiff of armpit – then I panic and probably start sweating. I’ve tried several different “natural” deodorants and haven’t had any true success, though I think I may have the bar for success at the level of the Unilever antiperspirant – apply it once in the morning and I’m good for 24 hours or more.
I began by trying a new product called Primal Pit Paste, I read great reviews of it and gave it a chance. I got the Thyme & Lemongrass scent since when I’m pregnant the smell of lemon is always good to me. So, anyway, I’m not crazy about the scent and it doesn’t seem to work very well for me. I think it’s the scent that’s doing most of the work – covering up. Then it quits working and I smell slightly like my shirtless father on a warm summer’s day. I may be a pregnant mess, but I don’t want to smell like that! I tried applying it 2-3 times a day and besides being tedious, wasn’t really helping either. Also, it’s a little sticky (is that why they call it pit paste?) and that doesn’t fall under the title of ‘desirable’ in my list. $10.95 for 2oz stick. This product is not listed on EWG’s website, but the ingredients sound pretty non-toxic!
- Full Ingredient List: Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Raw Shea Butter, Non-Aluminum Baking Soda, Organic Arrowroot Powder, Organic Essential Oils.
I then went to Whole Foods and bought Weleda Wild Rose Deodorant after reading great things about this product. I didn’t run it through the EWG website, coming from Whole Foods and being a “natural” company I smoothed it all over in my mind…but then I did get around to it AND it’s rated at a 7 out of 10 for toxicity! Holy crap!! The first ingredient is alcohol, second is “fragrance.” It burns when I spray it on after shaving and it’s a pretty intense scent of rose – a nice scent, but I’m not a heavy perfume person and it sometimes gives me a sore throat. $15 for 3.4oz.
- “Key” Ingredient List: Alcohol, Water (Aqua), Fragrance (Parfum)*, Limonene*, Linalool*, Citronellol*, Benzyl Alcohol*, Benzyl Benzoate*, Benzyl Salicylate*, Geraniol*, Citral*, Eugenol*, Farnesol*,Rosa Moschata (Rosehip) Leaf Extract, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Extract, Glycerin,Ammonium Glycyrrhizate. * from natural essential oils
Dr. Hauschka’s Deodorant – Floral Scent roll-on. $22.95 for 1.7oz, I sure hoped it would do something amazing for my armpits at that price! First off, the smell will bowl you over!! The floral scent is the one they recommend for women, but if you ask me it smells like a man. I honestly assume my husband thinks I’m having an affair when I wear this one, I smell like some man has been rubbing himself all over me! Then I tell my husband that it’s just my deodorant and I feel like I sound even more guilty. I’d say this one works with 1-2 applications a day, but it’s the scent that covers up any natural pit smells. It also gives me a sore throat. Not a good one for me. Dr. Hauschka’s deodorants are not found on EWG’s site, but his other products range from 3-6 out of 10, so I’d assume it falls somewhere in that range.
- Full Ingredient List: Water (Aqua), Alcohol, Triethyl Citrate, Glycerin, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Fragrance (Parfum), Zinc Ricinoleate, Bentonite, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Geraniol*, Limonene*, Citronellol*, Citral*, Linalool*, Benzyl Benzoate*, Eugenol*, Benzyl Alcohol*, Farnesol*, Benzyl Salicylate*, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Sucrose Laurate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Lecithin, Sodium Magnesium Silicate, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil *component of natural essential oils
While I searched for other products to try I used a combination of those three. I also started keeping one in my purse for “just in case” moments. Do I have a smelly pit paranoia? Or is it society?
My next choice was Bubble & Bee’s Pit Putty – 100% Organic Lime Geranium Deodorant. They’ve been around for a while, it has a fun label, and I’d seen it at Whole Foods (though that doesn’t mean much sometimes). EWG doesn’t have this scent listed, but rates the other scents from 0-2 out of 10 for toxicity. Awesome! I really like the scent (citrus always works for me!). It doesn’t meet my 24-hour expectations, but 2 applications a day usually keeps me covered. This one goes on really powdery and smooth too, I love that. $9.85 for 2.5oz.
- Full Ingredient List: Organic arrowroot powder, organic coconut oil, organic lime essential oil, organic geranium essential oil.
Another random grab from the beauty aisle at Whole Foods was Kiss My Face – Active Life fragrance free deodorant. The sticker says, “NEW! Clinically proven all day protection.” Sounds like what I’m looking for! It’s a clear stick that goes on smooth, but it is a sort of solid gel. It works fairly well for me AND with no scent! I’d say 2-3 applications a day and I’m pretty smell-free. This does include strange ingredients that include numbers, I don’t know anything about them, but as a rule I try to stay away from things that include numbers, but EWG rates it as a very safe 2 out of 10. They also rate the ingredient Polyglyceryl-3 Caprate as a 0 out of 10, so maybe my thinking is flawed when it comes to ingredients with numbers. $5.99 for 2.48oz
- Full Ingredient List: Propylene Glycol, Aqua, Sodium Stearate, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Zinc Ricinoleate, Steareth -100, Polyglyceryl-3 Caprate, Glyceryl Stearate, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit Seed) Extract, Sucrose Cocoate, Glycerin, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Coriandrum Sativum (Coriander) Seed Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Leaf Extract, Sodium Bicarbonate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Silica
I’m not dedicated to any one of the above and I do switch between them fairly frequently though I think Weleda is going to have to go.
Lesson learned? Crap, I don’t know. Everyone’s pits are different. Some things probably work for some while others work for others. It’s probably easy science, but I know when I wear a tank top and I have skin on skin armpit action I get smellier than if I’m wearing something with sleeves – the fabric gives me wicking action or something. While I’m adjusting and figuring out what to use under my arms to keep my friends close, I do try to reach for a t-shirt of some sort rather than a tank top. Also to be noted: I’m living in the San Francisco Bay Area now and summer isn’t really summer – it’s 65-70 and cloudy half of every day, I’m NOT in Texas or Oklahoma where I’d be sweating my ass off. I’m in a climate where it’s probably fairly suitable to go deodorant-less and not have anyone notice. Also learned, just because it’s marketed as natural does NOT mean it’s non-toxic (I’m talking about you, Weleda).
There’s something a friend once told me – a brave, wonderful, lucky soul who doesn’t wear anything under her arms (and I’ve never whiffed an odor from her either!) – she said, “If you can smell me, you’re probably a little too close.” Or something like that. It stuck in my head and I tried to keep that in mind. If I can smell me, maybe other people just aren’t that close OR maybe they need to step back.
I’ve also learned something about my brain/nose connection. It often happens that I expect to smell armpit when I go sniffing around and eventually, even if I’m smelling the remnants of yummy citrus, I wonder if that’s the deodorant or me. The scent of the deodorant becomes the bad smell because I expect a bad smell. Then that good smell often gets categorized as a bad smell in my brain. Ah, brains, what wonderful organs that love to screw with us!
If you’re not totally on board with ditching your antiperspirant may I suggest you go part time? When I lived in Denver I tried using antiperspirant during the hot summer months and then went with something natural in the winter when temps were cooler and I was wearing more fabric under my arms.
Is there a natural deodorant or method you use? Good or bad? This experiment cost me around $70 with shipping charges on some things – any further input would be helpful (and cost effective)!
Disclaimer: No companies sent me free product or coupons, asked me to write a review, or paid me. This was all on my own, for my own purposes.
After feeling let down and smelling slightly less than fresh a blogger friend also posted about deodorant. She posted it just a week or so after I published this post – very timely indeed! This recipe from Feed Your Skull sounded incredibly simple AND I had all the ingredients so I went for it – partially out of desperation. I made it and patiently waited until the next morning after my shower to give it a whirl. I was quite pessimistic but hopeful! I put it on, wore it all day, kept sniffing around for foul odors – Nothing! I went to bed and sniffed again in the morning – Nothing! 24 hours and not even the hint of not-fresh-underarms.
What the hell was going on? Everything from cheap through quite expensive “natural” deodorants had failed me, how could something I made in my kitchen from 4 ingredients work so, so well? Seriously! I thought it was a fluke so the next day I figured I would end up smelling, but I didn’t. Then the next and the next. Nope, nope, nope. I spent the day in a tank top (with smell inducing skin-on-skin armpit action) in the sun and sweating and NOTHING, no smell at all. I even tested this deodorant on a high anxiety day and it still worked. I am of the belief that there are two types of smelly armpits: sweaty from being hot and nervous sweat. Nervous sweat smells worse. This deodorant covered me in both scenarios. I also considered that maybe my body would grow accustomed to this deodorant and eventually overpower it with its evil smells but it’s been two weeks and it’s still amazing.
Find me the closest mountaintop, hand me a megaphone and let me shout it out to share with the world. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!!!!!! Total miracle status in my book. GO MAKE IT *NOW*!